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The San Zi Jing in Chinese and English
三字经 - 中英

San Zi Jing 三字经 - Audio book read by Sun Xiaomei. This is a Flash file and requires a 3 minute preload with a modem, a 3 second preload with a fast connection. There is no "loader", that just slows it down even more.

Within the Flash file choose "Manual" to see the translation and pinyin. You may also click on an individual stanza to listen to the sound file. Choose the "Automatic" mode to listen continuously while reading the characters. Use the chevron << to return to the title page to change modes.

San Zi Jing 三字经 - Text Only - The text from the above link. Includes a brief introduction and the characters in simplified and traditional form. For those who may have a slow connection.

San Zi Jing Bibliography 三字经书目 - Translations of the San Zi Jing in English, French, German, and Italian. Includes literature mentioned in the San Zi Jing. Some Internet resources are included.

The San Zi Jing was written in the 13th century to introduce children to the history of China, the great works of philosophy, and the basics of Confucian ethics. For the modern English speaker who is learning Chinese and/or the culture of China, it is a invaluable resource and a jumping off place to reach out in multiple directions to learn more about China. It will give you an idea of the underlying assumptions of culture taught to children for hundreds of years. Further, it gives you a very brief history of the Chinese dynasties. As you read, you will become familiar with the names and characters of the different ruling houses from pre-history to the Qing, the last of the dynasties.

The great works that any Chinese scholar studied and mastered are mentioned, along with commentaries. I have provided links to many sources on the bibliography page that will let you expand your knowledge of the classics. When taught to children in China, each line is expanded by the teacher into a story to explain the meaning and references. There is even a play that is performed in full costume illustrating many of the stanzas. Some explanations are included in the footnotes within the Flash file, but you will want to supplement items of interest or curiosity with additional material.

Most of the characters in the San Zi Jing are still used today. I have noted most of the ancient and literary characters, so you won't mistakenly use them in modern writing or speaking. The San Zi Jing provides an excellent means to listen to and pronounce the tones. After you have read through it once, you might concentrate on the first and fifth sections for practice.

I have included the characters for the San Zi Jing in both simplified and traditional form in unicode below the Flash file (scroll down) and on the text page. You can make your own flashcards and reading aids.

Last update: July 2007
Marilyn Shea 2007