Translating Ancient Chinese Wisdom into Medicine for Today
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Literary Chinese 1

Literary Chinese for Practitioners of Chinese Medicine

Block One:

Basic Vocabulary and Grammar plus Foundational Medical Terminology and Passages

This course is the first of three blocks dedicated to teaching literary Chinese to practitioners of Chinese medicine who want direct access to the classical medical literature.

Required Texts, Articles, and other References

  • Nigel Wiseman and Yuhuan Zhang, Chinese Medical Characters, Volume One: Basic Vocabulary (Paradigm, 2003).

  • Sandra Hill, Chinese Medicine from the Classics: A Beginner’s Guide (Monkey Press, 2014)

  • Nigel Wiseman and Feng Ye, Chinese Medical Chinese: Grammar and Vocabulary (Paradigm, 2002)

  • A version of Paul Kroll et als, A Student’s Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese (Brill, 2014): The hard copy is $259, the paperback version ca. $50, and the Pleco add-on only $39.99 with the educational discount.

In addition, one of the following two electronic resources is required, depending on your use of a computer or tablet:

  • Wenlin CD-ROM software (www.wenlin.com) for computers.

  • Pleco, an application for ipads, tablets, or smart phones. The basic app is free but the “Basic Bundle” ($29.99) will become more and more indispensable as this class progresses from studying individual characters to reading phrases, sentences, and then texts. It includes the Optical Character Recognition feature, enhanced handwriting, flashcards, stroke order diagrams, a text file reader, audio pronunciation, etc. Pleco does offer an educational discount and also contains a host of additional dictionaries at a very reasonable price. You will not regret acquiring this tool!

Recommended Textbooks, Articles & Other Information Resources

Helpful files and links



Course Outline and Assignments

Lesson One: Introduction to Chinese Language and Writing

Discussion Questions to prepare for this session:

  1. What do you think is a realistic goal for this block of 10 classes and for our course of study altogether?

  2. What are your greatest concerns and what do you most look forward to?

  3. Why do you want to study classical Chinese as a medical practitioner? How might it help you in your clinical practice?

Readings:

  • Wiseman, Chinese Medical Characters I, 1-26 (introduction).

  • Pinyin chart and sound practice

  • Archie Barns, “Introduction to Chinese Script.”

Lesson Two: Pinyin Pronunciation and First Characters

Lesson Three: Pinyin Practice, Writing Characters, Dictionaries

  • Wieger, Chinese Characters, pp. 5-33 (Introduction).

  • Wiseman, Chinese Medical Characters, pp. 54-83.

  • Quiz

Lesson Four: Introduction to Classical Chinese Grammar and the Theory of Correspondences and the Dao 道

  • Wiseman, Chinese Medical Characters, 84-125.

Lesson Five and SIX: More Characters and pinyin practice. Basic Grammar and Yinyang and Five Phases 陰陽五行

  • Wiseman, Chinese Medical Characters, to p. 141. Memorize and practice writing and pronouncing each of your new characters. Also review old ones. Come prepared to write all of these characters. Remember to not do your homework all in one session but to study and practice several times over the coming week/s. Also practice the grammar particles 者 (nominalizer or topic-comment marker),也 (sentence end marker of nominal sentences),之 (possessive “’s”),and 不 (“not” for verbal sentences).

  • Wiseman, Chinese Medical Chinese, Grammar 1-2 (pp. 1-14).

  • Hill, Chinese Medicine From the Classics, 1-21.

  • Practice: 1) Write each of the new characters NEATLY on a sheet of paper 10 times.

    2) Translate the following sentences:

    1. Neatly write out the characters, spacing them widely.

    2. Write the intoned pinyin pronunciation underneath each character.

    3. Give the 1-word English definition according to Kroll’s dictionary (copy and paste the characters into Pleco!) or the Wiseman book.

    4. Attempt a translation. Don’t worry if you cannot make sense of the sentence. You are just starting this process. This is just for fun.Attempt a translation. Don’t worry if you cannot make sense of the sentence. You are just starting this process. This is just for fun.

    • 六腑者膽胃大腸小腸膀胱三焦也。

    • 肺主氣。

    • 土不生金。

    • 肝木生心火。

    • 苦入心。

Lesson Seven: Character Practice, Fuller’s Basic Sentence Structures, and The Three Treasures (Shen, Jing, Qi)

  1. Vocabulary: Wiseman, Chinese Medical Characters, to p. 161.

  2. Grammar: Michael Fuller, An Introduction To Literary Chinese, “Introduction,” pp. 1-32. Please read the “Introduction” to this textbook for classical Chinese, which I used to use for this class. I will review the material in class so if the grammar explanations are over your head, don’t worry! Fuller’s understanding of Chinese grammar is outstanding but may be hard for you to follow since you lack a background in modern Chinese (which is his intended audience of students).

  3. Classical Medicine: Hill, Chinese Medicine From the Classics, pp. 21-29.

  4. Character Practice:

    1. Write each of the new characters NEATLY on a sheet of paper 10 times.

    2. Create a few sentences using the two sentence patterns you have learned (Subject-Verb-Object and “A者B也” nominal sentences). Write out characters and pinyin. It may help to use the 五行(Five Element) relationships of 生and 剋.

    3. Translate the following sentences:

      1. Neatly write out the characters, spacing them widely.

      2. Write the intoned pinyin pronunciation underneath each character.

      3. Give the 1-word English definition according to Kroll’s dictionary (copy and paste the characters into Pleco!) or the Wiseman book.

      4. Attempt a translation. Don’t worry if you cannot make sense of the sentence. You are just starting this process. This is just for fun.

      清者乃治熱之法也。

      肝為氣之王,腎為氣之根。(Hint: 為 is second tone here and means “constitutes.”

      病在上。

      Note: If you need yet more work, it might be fun to go through the other sentences on the Powerpoint I am sending you in preparation for classes.. I want you to start learning how to use Pleco to look up characters….

Lesson Seven: Nominal versus Verbal Sentences and The Zàng Organs I (Kidney and Liver)

  • Wiseman, Chinese Medical Characters, review.

  • Hill, Chinese Medicine from the Classics, pp. 30-54.

  • Quiz

Lesson Eight: Wiseman’s Verbal Sentences and the Zàng Organs Continued (Heart, Spleen and Lung)

  • Wiseman, Chinese Medical Characters, to p. 199.

  • Wiseman: Chinese Medical Chinese, Grammar 3 (pp. 14-22).

  • Hill, pp. 54-83.

  • Quiz

Lesson Nine: First Reading Selection (Daodejing)

  • Homework file to be prepared

  • Wiseman, Chinese Medical Characters, to the end.

Lesson Ten: Introduction to the Neijing: The Yellow Emperor and the History of the Text

  • Homework file to be prepared

  • Review and Final