This is one of those things that I hesitate to post because I figure anyone who can use it probably already knows about it, but I usually turn out to be wrong about that, so here it is (thanks to tellurian): the Chinese Text Project. “The Chinese Text Project is a web-based e-text system designed to present ancient Chinese texts, particularly those relating to Chinese philosophy, in a well-structured and properly cross-referenced manner, making the most of the electronic medium to aid in the study and understanding of these texts.” Read more about it here, and check out the list of texts here (hey, etymology!). Sticking my toe in, I discover that to the left of each line of text is a symbol that takes you to a page where each character of the line is given a full dictionary entry. It looks very useful, so if you are one of those who can use it and don’t already have it bookmarked, here it is!


  1. Very useful? Understatement is not your usual mode, LH. Such thorough and orderly analysis of each character is mind-bogglingly worthwhile. So accessible! Thanks for the link.

  2. I agree, humbleness doesn’t suit you LH!! 🙂
    I too was really happy to learn of this tool.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. This is a great resource, I wish I’d known about it before spending an hour looking up an obscure text in the library this afternoon! Thanks a lot!

  4. Ah, once again my premonitions of futility turn out to be misplaced! Now I’m glad I posted it.

  5. This resource is absolutely amazing. Absolutely fabulous.
    I have great difficulty with Classical Chinese. The language is incredibly difficult to get a handle on because of its terseness. This resource helps a lot, although the bodily lifting of dictionary definitions without telling you exactly what sense is meant still leaves you scratching your head. For example, what are you to make of 其 when it is defined like this:
    Third-person possessive pronoun: his, her, its, their. / Demonstrative pronoun: that, those. / Adverb expressing estimation or guess. / Adverb expressing imperative. / Adverb expressing rhetorical question. / Adverb expressing future tense. / Connective expressing hypothesis: if, supposing. / Connective expressing choice: or. / Connective expressing concession: even if. / Particle used after an adjective. / Particle: of. / Particle used for emphasis after single-character adjectives or onomatopoeia. / Particle used in the middle of a sentence to alter the tempo.
    The other problem is that a lot of this stuff frankly leaves me cold. I’m not sure how 2,500 years of sophisticated civilisation could be built on gems like this:
    They are few who, being filial and fraternal, are fond of offending against their superiors. There have been none, who, not liking to offend against their superiors, have been fond of stirring up confusion. The superior man bends his attention to what is radical. That being established, all practical courses naturally grow up. Filial piety and fraternal submission! – are they not the root of all benevolent actions?

  6. Although the site has existed for a while, the more accessible annotation and search system would help many a Classical Chinese reader immensely. I’m an occasional user of the site, though I haven’t looked up them recently so I didn’t know they provide parallel passages now.
    In fact, if I’m looking up for some Chinese canonical text, this is usually the site I ended up as they have rather well-edited and annotated text. Especially for some lesser known texts, this is probably the only online extant source! Even for Chinese, the completeness of pre-Qin and Han classics there is seldom repeated elsewhere.

  7. I think it good for you to have this idea, and I’ve checked that site which is really amazing. As we all know ancient Chinese is so difficult and let alone the philosophy part.
    [Spam link removed. —LH]

  8. The last entry is a spam link to an online Chinese school, by the way.

  9. Thanks, I removed it. Naughty, naughty shellyuan, slipping a spam link past the Hat!

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