The Hunjang spends a fair bit of time commuting, mostly from the 산촌 to work and back. And I like to have a book in-hand to make the time pass faster.
I was looking for something to read and flipped through a few books. In this flipping, the Hunjang came across some of what have to be the most obtuse and forced sentences ever.
Most people know that (in the pre-modern era, anyway), Chinese words each have a meaning attached to them, but their actual part of speech in any sentence is determined by the location in that sentence. So a word like 馬: 말 마 could be a noun (horse), a verb (to act or be like a horse), an adverb (in a horse-like manner) and so on. In the interest of simplicity, let's not get into that bizarre 白馬非馬 (백마비마) dialogue
. Okay, that should be all the background you need.
Please translate the following:
龍 雨 龍 雨 龍 雨 龍 龍 龍 不 雨 龍 龍 龍 雨 龍 雨。☞ Those would be 龍: 미르 용, 雨: 비 우, and 不: 아니 불
Would punctuation help? It's not the traditional approach, but okay:
龍, 雨! 龍, 雨! 龍雨, 龍龍. 龍不雨, 龍龍? 龍, 雨! 龍, 雨!
Does that help?
The 해석 is supposed to be...ahem..."용아 비를 내리게 하라! 용아 제발 비를 내리게 하라! 용이 비를 내리게 하여야 용이 참다운 용이지, 용이 비를 내리게 할 수 없다면 어찌 참다운 용이 되겠느냐? 용아 비를 내리게 하라! 용아 제발 비를 내리게 하라!"
Was that one too easy?
This next one is credited to at least several Korean scholars, including the wild and crazy 김삿갓
是是非非是是非.☞ 是: 옳을 시, 非: 아닐 비
해석? I'm glad you asked.
옳은 것 옳다 하고 그런 것 그르다 함, 이 것이 옳음 아니고,
그른 것 옳다 하고 옳은 것 그르다 함, 옳지 않음 아닐세.
그른 것 옳다 하고 옳은 것 그르다 함, 이 그럼이 아닐진대,
옳은 것 옳다 하고 그른 것 그르다 함, 이 것이 시비로구나.
This is very much in the same vein as these two lines that have been attributed to 김시습
(1435 - 1493). Since it's the same pattern, how hard could this one be?
異同同異異同同.☞ 同: 한가지 동, 異: 다를 이
Which, of course, comes out as:
다른 것 같다 하고 같은 것 다르다 하니, 같고 다름이 다르고,
같은 것 다르다 하고 다른 것 같다 하니, 다르고 같음이 같구나.
There is one last one, and this one has a story as an added bonus.
Quick background: During the Chinese Han 한 漢 dynasty there was a woman named 왕소군 王昭君
, who was one of ancient China's four famous beauties
, in the harem of Emperor Yuan 원 元
. He had too many women in his harem to "service" them all regularly. He had his painter go paint portraits of the ladies so he could pick his company each evening on the basis of the paintings. Most of the ladies bribed the painter to use his artistic license on their behalf. 왕소군 was too upright and sure of her beauty to bribe the man and he painted an unflattering portrait. Later, the Emperor had occasion to wed one of his harem off to the barbarians on the border in order to ensure peace. On the basis of the portrait, he picked 왕소군. He saw her at the sendoff and realized that she was very beautiful, but it was too late to do anything. She rode off into the Mongolian sunset. Later poets loved her tragic story and there is a famous poem about her that ends in the following lines:
胡地無花草, As that barbarian land does not have flowering grasses,
春來不似春. Though spring comes, it doesn't seem like spring.☞ 胡: 오랑캐 호, 地: 따 지, 無: 없을 무, 花: 꽃 화, 草: 풀 초, 春: 봄 춘, 來: 올 래, 似: 같을 사.
Once in the 조선 dynasty a local magistate was administering a low-level examination for those who wished to begin a career in the government. The exam required the hopeful testees to compose a poem on an assigned topic, and the topic assigned for this particular exam was "胡地無花草" (the first line above). When the answer sheets were collected, the magistrate found that, as would be expected, most were eloquent rhapsodies on 왕소군 and her plight. But the magistrate was overcome by the brilliance of one author in particular, and he awarded the that man highest marks on the exam.
오랭캐 땅이라 화초가 없다 하나
오랑캐 땅엔들 화초가 없을까?
어찌 땅에 화초가 없으랴만
오랑캐 땅이라 화초가 없도다!
Lest you doubt the truth of this verse, I invite you to take a look at 오랑캐 땅
for yourself. See any flowering grasses? ^^