Friday, May 13, 2011

The proper perspective of this new Chinese etymology

Someone said that radicals are known for thousands of years, and this new etymology is not new at all. Well, I have shown the views of the Chinese philologists and of the Western sinologists on Chinese character system in my previous posts. I will summarize them here.

A. Views of the Chinese philologists:
1.  魯 迅 (lǔ xùn, the greatest Chinese linguist, ) wrote,  漢 字 不  廢,  中 國 必 亡 (without abandoning Chinese character system, China will surely vanish).
2. 錢 玄 同 (Qian_Xuantong, ), one of the greatest Chinese philologist in 1930s, even promoted the replacement of Chinese with Esperanto.
3. 胡 適 (Hu Shih,  ) and 林 語 堂 (Lin Yu Tang,  ) agreed with Dr. Northrop that Chinese words are denotative and solitary -- no logical ordering or connection the one with the other.

Those known radicals did not prevent those great Chinese philologists to despise Chinese character system. In addition to a despising feeling, they took action to abandon it, and it was the reason for the launching of the simplified system in the 1960s.

B. Views of the Western sinologists:
I. School one --- Chinese characters are ideographs. The key members of this school are,
1. Portuguese Dominican Friar Gaspar da Cruz (in the 1560s)
2. Juan Gonzales de Mendoza (in the 1600s)
3. Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci (1552-1610)
4. Father J. J. M. Amiot (in the 1700s)
5. Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignani (in the 1600s)
6. Herrlee Glessner Creel [(January 19, 1905-June 1, 1994)
7. Paul Mulligan Thompson (10 February 1931 – 12 June 2007)
8. Joseph Needham ( )

II. School two ---   Chinese characters are mainly phonological in nature. And, the Ideographic idea is a  Myth. The key members of this school are,
1.  Peter Alexis Boodberg (April 8, 1903 - June 29, 1972)
2. Peter S. DuPonceau [(in the 1930s), ]
3. French sinologist J. M. Callery (in 1880)
4. John DeFrancis (August 31, 1911 – January 2, 2009, ) was an American linguist, sinologist, author of Chinese language textbooks, lexicographer of Chinese dictionaries, and Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.

Obviously, those known radicals did not allow those great Western sinologists to know that the Chinese word set is an axiomatic system.

C. The canons on Chinese character system:
1. 說 文 (So-Wen) and the  (six ways of constructing Chinese words):
              指 事 者  (pointing or assigning), 視 而 可 識 , 察 而 見 意 。 上 、 下 是 也 。
                象 形 者  (pictographic), 畫 成 其 物 , 隨 體 詰 出 。 日 、 月 是 也 。
                形 聲 者  (phonetic loan), 以 事 為 名 , 取 譬 相 成 。 江 、 河 是 也 。
                會 意 者 (sense determinators), 比 類 合 誼 , 以 見 指 偽 。 誠 、 信 是 也 。
                轉 註 者 (synonymize), 建 類 一 首 , 同 意 相 受 。 考 、 老 是 也 。
                假 借 者 (borrowing), 本 無 其 字 , 依 聲 托 事 。 令 、 長 是 也 。

2. 韻  書(the rhyme book) 
a. The oldest 韻 書 currently known is the book 切   (check rhyme) which was published during the 隋 朝 [Sui Dynasty (around 580 a.d.)]. While the original book of 切    is no longer exist, its contents are available as quotes from many other books.
b. The next 韻 書 (the rhyme book)  is the book of 唐 韻 which was published during the 唐 朝  [Tang Dynasty, from 618 to 907 a.d.].
c. The 韻 書 of today is 廣   which was published during the 宋 朝 [Song Dynasty, around 960 a.d.].

3. 康 熙 字 典 (Kangsi dictionary)

If this someone knew this new etymology by knowing those known radicals, he knew something beyond the scope of these three canonic books, which did not provide an understanding of this new etymology to neither those great Chinese philologists nor those great Western sinologists.

Tienzen (Jeh-Tween) Gong

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