Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/111

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97
The Cultivation of their Language by the Chinese.

described by Dr. Edkins is the " Yen-hsu-ts'ao-t^ang-pi-chi " (fff H :^ S ^ IB) by Pi Hua-cben (H $ jg). This author is oue of the very few native writers who have treated of " the •parts of speech and construction of sentences." The book seems to be rare, and tlie present writer knows of it only through Dr. Edkins' Grammars.^

A recent treatise which deserves to be better known than it is at present is the " Ku-chin-wen-tzii t*ung-shi." The meaning of this title, to be gathered from the book itself, is Historical explanations of written characters fi'om ancient to modern times. It was compiled by Lii Shi-i (g ^tf; ^) of Hsi-tsun in the same v Prefecture as Amoy. The work was finished in 18-^3 but it was not published apparently until 1879, long after the author's death. It was then printed at a private press with an introduction by Lin Wei-yuan, the great landlord of North Formosa, who had been a pupil of Lii. This latter was noted, at least in his native province, for his great learning, and specially for his knowledge of the language. He was a follower of Tuan Yii-tsai, and took the " Shuo-wen " as edited by Tuan for the basis of his work. The characters given in the "Shuo-wen" are printed at the head of the page in large type. The spelling of each is given after Tuan ; next comes a short account of the meanings and uses of the character, and then the old forms of writing. The author intended his treatise, which is in fourteen chuan, to be as it were a supplement to Tuan's "Shuo-wen," correcting the mistakes and supplying the deficiencies of that great work. It does not display much originality, but it gives in a terse, methodical manner important information about the characters treated of in the " Shuo-wen." ^

The natives of parts of Kuangtung and Fuhkien speak dialects which are very different from Mandarin. These dialects are from certain points of view distinct languages, and they have their own phonetic dictionaries, which are often re-edited and republished. Two at least of these dictionaries have been

Ed. Sh. Gr., p. 58.