A Translation of Zhao Yuanren’s “The Story of Lion-Eating Shi”

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A Translation of Zhao Yuanren’s “The Story of Lion-Eating Shi”

© China Foto Press / Barcroft Medi

© China Foto Press / Barcroft Medi

© China Foto Press / Barcroft Medi

Felix Qin, Writer

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The piece I’m presenting to you in this issue is a short story written in classical Chinese by Zhao Yuanren, a Chinese-American linguist, poet, and educator, who contributed tremendously to modern Chinese phonology and grammar. The story is unique and interesting as it’s entirely written in distinct characters with same pronunciation, “shi,” but slightly different tones.

《施式食狮史》

赵元任

石室诗士施氏,嗜狮,誓食十狮。施氏时时适市视狮。十时,适十狮适市。是时,适施氏适市。氏视是十狮,恃矢势,使是十狮逝世。氏拾是十狮尸,适石室。石室湿,氏使侍拭石室。石室拭,氏始试食是十狮。食时,始识是十狮,实十石狮尸。试释是事。

 

Shī Shì Shí Shī Shǐ》

Zhào Yuánrèn

Shí shì shī shì shī shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī. Shī shì shí shí shì shì shì shī. Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì. Shì shí, shì shī shì shì shì. Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì,  shǐ shì shí shī shì shì. Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shí shì. Shí shì shī, shì shǐ shì shì shí shì. Shí shì shì, shì shí shì shí shì shí shī. Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī, shí shí shí shī shī. Shì shì shì shì.

 

“The Story of Lion-Eating Shi”

Zhao Yuanren

The poet Shi that lived in a stone cell was fond of eating lions. Once he swore to eat ten lions. Shi frequently went to look for lions on the market. At ten o’clock, ten lions happened to come to the market. At that time, Shi also went to the market. Looking at the ten lions, Shi took out his bow and arrows, and killed the ten lions. Shi picked up the ten lions and went back to the stone cell. The stone cell was damp, Shi ordered a servant to wipe the stone cell dry. When the stone cell was wiped, Shi started to try to taste the ten lions. At the time of consuming the lions, Shi began realizing the ten lions were, in fact, ten dead bodies of stone lions. Now can you try to explain what the matter is?

 

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