As I stated in a previous post, I read books with side-by-side Classical Chinese text and Korean translations to study Classical Chinese. Although in retrospect I should have used a grammar book to begin with, I found this method not entirely fruitless: it gave me exposure to these types of books and I was able to deduce some of the grammar rules. In Korea, it is still the norm that books on Chinese Philosophy, i.e., Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Mohism, and Legalism, be printed with side-by-side Classical Chinese text, usually with Korean grammatical particles known as Hyeonto (懸吐, 현토), and Korean translation along with translator’s annotation. For Confucian texts, some books even have the annotations in Classical Chinese original by Neo-Confucian scholars with the Korean translation. You can also find books on Neo-Confucian treatises by the Chosun dynasty scholars on those Confucian classics also with the original text and Korean translation. There are a number of publishers that print books in this format. In this post, I will cover a few of these publishers: the Institute of Traditional Culture (傳統文化硏究會, 전통문화연구회), Myungmundang (明文堂, 명문당), and Eulyoo Publishing (乙酉文化社, 을유문화사).
傳統文化硏究會 – 전통문화연구회
Institute of Traditional Culture
The Institute of Traditional Culture was established in 1988 for the goals of educating the public on traditional Korean thought and translating Chinese Classics. It has recently published a revised series of translations of Four Books and Five Classics (四書五經, 사서오경) annotated by Neo-Confucian scholars, which are called Jipju (集註, 집주), and Korean Confucian children’s instruction books from the Chosun Dynasty, such as the Gyeokmong’yogyeol (擊夢要訣, 격몽요결). The scan above is from its edition of the Analects Annotated (論語集註, 논어집주). From top to bottom, these books have the original Classical Chinese in large font, a Korean translation of the original, annotations in the original by Neo-Confucian scholars, a Korean translation of the annotations, translator’s note, and a list of difficult characters at the very bottom. These books are explicitly intended for Chinese Classics instructors, whether their students are children or college aged; however, they can be just as enjoyed by hobbyists who are trying to teach themselves the language.
明文堂 – 명문당
Myungmundang was founded in 1977 and is another publisher of Chinese Classics, including those from Buddhism and Taoism. The publisher still releases Chinese Classics printed right-to-left without Korean translations, including those classics not widely read in the original such as the Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government (資治通鑑, 자치통감). Being not fluent in Classical Chinese, I find these of little use now, while I do someday wish to be able to read without relying too heavily on Korean translations. Myungmundang also publishes Chinese Classics and Classical Chinese poetry with a format similar to as the Institute of Traditional Culture. Unlike the previous publisher, it does not have translations of the annotations. In addition, it releases history books. (Note: I grabbed the scan above from Google Images).
乙酉文化社 – 을유문화사
Readers who find the previous two publishers’ books daunting may wish to look to Eulyoo Publishing. The company was founded in 1945, also with the purpose of publishing Chinese Classics and other humanities related books, including those from Western sources. It too has recently released a series of translations of Chinese Classics from Confucianism and Taoism. The scan above is from its translation of the Inner Chapter of Zhuangzi (壯子內編, 장자내편). Note that it has a similar format: original text, Korean translation, and a translator’s annotation. It also has notes on the words used in the original Classical Chinese, pronunciation guide for each Chinese Character, and a list of difficult characters at the end of each section.
I recommend those studying Classical Chinese through Korean to use these types of books. They are a great tool to see how many characters you have memorized and how many you do not know. In addition, these types of books are also beneficial in verifying your interpretation by checking it with the Korean translation. As an aside, I would note that many Korean blogs are also in this format.