Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/110

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The Cultivation of their Language by the Chinese.

Ch'ien Ta-hsin (錢大昕) al. Chu-ting (竹汀), who lived from 1728 to 1804, was the author of the "Shêng-lei." This useful little manual was edited by Ch'ien's friend Wang Ên (汪恩) and first published in 1825. It deals with the written language and gives the peculiar meanings of words and phrases in the old literature. It also corrects mistakes in early treatises in the use of characters, and shows how words are used for other words because of a likeness to them in sound or way of writing. The philological information which this little book gives is of much interest to the student of the language. Ch'ien was a giant in learning, well read not only in all the literature of his own country but also in Western learning as taught by Ricci, Schall, and Verbiest. The "Shêng-lei" was composed very gradually, the materials for it being collected while the author was engaged in preparing his historical and other treatises. It was intended for the use of students and accordingly it was made easy to consult and of a practical character.

One of the best and most comprehensive works on the language is that by Li Ju-chên (李汝珍) al. Sung-shi (松石). This treatise, named "Li-shi-yin-chien" or Li's mirror of words, was first published about 1806 and it has passed through several editions. Li Sung-shi was a scholar who loved learning for its own sake, not using it as a means for worldly preferment. He had the command of a large library and enjoyed the society of pleasant friends who had similar tastes. The Mirror of Words is mainly in the form of question and answer, contained in thirty-three sections. In these the origin and history of the written characters, of the tones, finals, initials, modes of spelling, and other subjects, are treated in a pleasant but learned and scholarly manner. Dr. Edkins in his Grammars has quoted from and given some account of this book, and it is not necessary to dwell on it further in this place.

Another recent work on the language quoted from and

ed. 1852; "Kuo-ch'ao-han-hsio," etc., chap. iii.

ed. 1808; Ed. Shanghai Gr. (2nd ed.) p. 51, etc.; Ed. Man. Gr. (2nd ed.) p. 38, etc.