Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/146

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On the Interjectional and Imitative Elements.


date in the language. While being beaten or otherwise tortured or punished before a mandarin, or while suffering severe bodily pain of any kind, a Chinaman will sometimes groan, uttering a low prolonged sound like hêng-hêng. And so hêng became a word which is generally represented in writing by 哼 and denotes a moan, or sigh, or groan, and to utter a moan or groan. An instance of this last use of the word will occur to those who have learned the Hundred Lessons. In one of these a friend relates to another how he went to see a certain man about an affair of a common friend, and describes the bad treatment which he received. At the interview, however, the horrid creature (k'o-wu-ti-tung-hsi) was allowed to "pay out" all his stock of abuse, while the visitor listened patiently without uttering a single groan — "did not hêng a single sound." In books, however, and in official documents we often find the double form hêng-ho (or ha) used in this way, as in expressions like Ssŭ-pai-pan-tzŭ-mei-ko-hêng-ha, that is, he received four hundred blows without uttering a moan of pain. This hêng-ha, or a similar sound, is made, morever, by workmen while pounding earth or engaged in any labour of a like nature. They also moan or sigh out a sound which is expressed as han or ahan while doing work which requires vigorous exertion. This sound resembles somewhat the French workman's cry of han or ahan, and this last is used also as a legitimate part of speech. The Chinese hum, or moan, or groan, or chant at nearly every kind of work which calls for continued or united exertion. They sometimes even shout and howl, as their soldiers, for example, when tilting in their mock military combats. To yell in this way is generally denoted by the han or na-han (吶喊) already mentioned. This term is also used to denote the loud shout or war-cry with which Chinese soldiers attack an enemy or make an assault. It is possible that the cries and groans of the Chinese soldier and workman are to be explained as Cicero explains those made by the Roman athletes. The latter, he tells us, groan not from pain or lack of courage, but because in making the ejaculations all the body is

kept on the stretch, and the stroke comes with more force. A