PUBLISHERS' PREFACE TO THIRD (ABRIDGED) EDITION.
In producing the present reprint of Sir Thomas Wade's great work in an abridged form, the Publishers have acted upon advice which was approved by Sir Walter Hillier — the joint Author of the 2nd edition published in 1886 — and also with the sanction of Sir Thomas Wade's executors.
Since 1886 so many new text-books on Colloquial Chinese have appeared, that much of the “Tzŭ Êrh Chi” has been superseded in the curriculum of studies prescribed for Student Interpreters in the British Legation. The “Hundred Lessons” and “Graduate’s Wooing” have been abandoned for many years in favour of other works, and as the “Tzŭ Êrh Chi” was primarily intended for the use of Consular Students it was decided for the time being at least to reprint only those Parts which have continued to hold their own as a text-book.
The present reprint contains therefore only Parts I. to IV., that is to say, the introductory Parts on Pronunciation and the Radicals, followed by the Forty Exercises and Ten Dialogues. In the opinion of competent authorities the student of Colloquial Pekingese has in these four Parts an introduction to the language which will not fail to appear to him more and more valuable as he progresses. The collection of characters to which he is introduced has been so carefully made, that a sound knowledge of them will furnish a solid foundation upon which further studies of the language can securely rest.
So much has been said and written for and against Sir Thomas Wade's system of transliteration that we will here add no more to this perennial argument than a request to the tyro: and that is, to remember that it is the only system of romanisation which has so far attained any widespread and lasting success.
As was explained in the Preface to the original edition, the title “Yü Yen Tzŭ Êrh Chi” was suggested by a passage in the Confucian work known as “The Doctrine of the Mean,” which implies that in the attainment of proficiency as in the accomplishment of a journey the start must be made from what is near. “Tzŭ Êrh” means “from what is near” while Yü Yen … Chi means “expressions (or spoken words) … collection (or compilation). The whole is therefore fairly rendered in the English title as a "Progressive Course in Colloquial Chinese.”
- April 1903