Beginning Chinese for the Aspiring Sage
by Geoffrey Barto of gbarto.com
Welcome to the Dao-9 Project, an exploration in progress of the first nine books of the Dao or Tao.† It is the aim of this project to teach the curious a little about Chinese, a little about the Dao and a little about how they go together.† As the subtitle indicates, this is a language course for the aspiring sage, for the person who has always loved those pretty editions of the Tao in which the Chinese is printed on the facing page but had no idea what those characters meant.† This guide is far from perfect, for I, too, am an amateur in Chinese, working from dictionaries and commentaries and not from an impeccable Chinese that I have never had the good fortune to learn under the tutelage of a wise and wizened master.† But it will show, I believe, that a dedicated amateur can learn about this wonderful book and those wonderful characters, even without a sage for a guide.† Will show that you, as I, can glean something for yourself that will make this amazingly baffling text come alive with a new and altogether more elegant unintelligibility that will have you, too, embracing the nature of the Tao that cannot be told.
The Chinese text that I offer will not be found anyplace else; nor should it be.† I have assembled it on my own from various manuscripts in order to create something you can use to get your feet wet.† When youíre done, you will be ready to go into a bookstore, pick out a book of your own, and have a go at it.† There will be, of course, tricky spots, but there will also be enough familiar characters that you will recognize different passages, have your own understandings come to mind as you look through them and try, anew, to decipher them.
Immediately below are links to introductory information and to those books of the Dao which have so far been launched.† Afterwards, I have included a list of some of the resources used in putting this together.
Introductory material and sources
The sources for the text and interpretations are:
Henricks, Robert G.† Te Tao Ching.† NY:† Random House, 1989.
Kwok, Man Ho, Martin Palmer
and Jay Ramsay.† Tao Te Ching.†
Pine, Red.† Tao Te Ching.† SF, CA:† Mercury House, 1996.
Wu, John C.† Tao Te Ching.†
Recommended dictionaries are:
Go, Ping Gam.† What Character Is That?† Larkspur, CA:† Simplex, 1995.
Manser, Martin.† Concise English-Chinese, Chinese English