言之无文,行而不远 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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yán zhī wú wén, xíng ér bù yuǎn 言之无文,行而不远

Lackluster Wording Never Travels Far.

语言如果缺乏文采和技巧,就不可能流传广泛久远。孔子(前551—前479)原话的意思是说,在外交场合,使臣须要擅长辞令,讲究语言技巧,才能达成目标、建立功业。进而引申出,一种思想如果想久远传播,就必须借助于有章法、有文采的书面文字。南朝刘勰(465?—520)在《文心雕龙》中征引了孔子的话,一方面充分肯定文辞的功效,另一方面是为了强调文章形式与技巧的重要性。该语阐明了语文对于明道经世的工具性作用,提升了文艺批评在思想文化史上的地位。

Lackluster writing or speech never travels far. What Confucius (551-479 BC) meant when he said this is that, in foreign relations, a diplomat should be eloquent and persuasive to achieve goals and become meritorious. Likewise, if an idea is to spread far or be remembered for long, it must be put to paper by rules of writing and with beautiful wording. In The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons, Liu Xie (465?-520) of the Southern Dynasties cited these words of Confucius to uphold the importance of diction and to stress the importance of an essay’s layout and technique. This term highlights the instrumental role of writing in explaining and being useful to the world, thus raising the status of literary criticism in the history of thought and culture.

引例 Citations:

◎仲尼曰:“志有之:‘言以足志,文以足言。’不言,谁知其志?言之无文,行而不远。”(《左传·襄公二十五年》)

(孔子说:“古书上记载:‘言语用以表达意愿,文采和技巧是为了实现表达意愿的功能。’不说话,有谁能知道他的意愿?语言如果缺乏文采和技巧,就不可能流传广泛久远。”)

Confucius said: “According to ancient sources, ‘Language is used to express wishes, and eloquence and literary skill perform an expressive function.’ If he doesn’t speak, who knows how he views anything? Even if he does, lackluster writing or speech will not travel far.” (Zuo’s Commentaries on The Spring and Autumn Annals)

◎言以文远,诚哉斯验。心术既形,英华乃赡。(《文心雕龙·情采》)

(语言要讲究文采和技巧才能流传广泛久远,这的确已经得到了证验。如果懂得了如何表现情志,就可以自如展现丰富的文采。)

Beautiful wording alone helps great ideas spread. This has been proved sufficiently true. Once we know how to express our feelings and aspirations, we will be able to display our literary talent with ease. (Liu Xie: The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons)

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