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Newspaper article in the Three Character Classic. The San Zi Jing (Three Character Classic), written in the 13th century, is not one of the traditional six Confucian classics, but rather is a distillation of the essentials of Confucian thought expressed in a way suitable for teaching young children. Until the latter part of this century, it served as a child's first bit of formal education at home. It is written in couplets of three characters (syllables) for easy memorization. One might call it a Confucian catechism. George Yeo, then Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry in an address at the Chinese University of Hong Kong described the work thus: For centuries, Chinese children, before they could read or write, were taught to recite the San Zi Jing through which the Confucianist idea of society being one big happy family is programmed into young minds. The three-character phrases are like strands of cultural DNA which are passed on from generation to generation. The author of the San Zi Jing is said to be to have been Wang Yinglin (1223-1296), but this fact is not universally accepted; see, for instance, "the only genuine Wang Yinglin page on the whole WWW!" The only translations I am aware of are by Herbert Giles, originally written in 1910, and subsequently republished in a corrected version in 1963, and one published in Singapore in 1989 (EPB Publishers) by S. T. Phen. Giles book is written for students studying Chinese and uses the San Zi Jing to as an introduction to the Chinese characters. Giles' barebones translation can be found at a web-site .
Three Character Classic
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