Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/23

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9
Some Western Opinions.

and if, as is highly probable, they kept up communication from the earliest times immediately with a Tibetan nation — and through them with civilised peoples more remote — we ought to seek among the Himalayan languages, including Burmese and Siamese, rather than among the Tungusic or Mongolic classes, for affinities with the Chinese." And the conclusion to which Dr. Chalmers comes on the subject is simply that "The people and the civilisation of China are derived from the West, and only some important inventions belong to the race."[1]

Dr. Edkins dreamt of a universal kinship of languages, in which Chinese was the oldest living relative. In his dream, along with other hard tasks he tried to work, he endeavoured to prove an affinity between the roots — or so-called roots — of Chinese and those of the Aryan languages. This task was afterwards undertaken in earnest by a distinguished Dutch Sinologist, Gustave Schlegel. In the treatise of this latter we have the first scholarly and methodical attempt to compare Chinese words with those of the Aryan languages. Taking, for example, Pott's view that a resemblance between the verbs and pronouns of the two languages proves a "unité de race antérieure" he gives examples which he thinks proves this unity between the Chinese and the Aryan languages.[2]

As to the monosyllabic languages to the west of China, it seems to be generally admitted that Chinese is related to them as mother, or at least as elder sister. Logan, however, says: "On the evidence of language we may conclude that the present more western, or monosyllabic tribes, or their prototypes, were in existence when Chinese civilisation arose. Insuperable difficulties oppose the hypothesis of their having been derived from any of the languages of China after the dawn of its civilization." Yet from other passages in Logan's treatise, one would, perhaps, be justified in inferring that he regarded Chinese as related to some, at least, of the living monosyllabic tongues to

which he here refers. Marshman, also, says of the Anam, Laos,

  1. "The Origin of the Chinese," pp. 36, 78, et seq.
  2. "Sinico-Aryaca ou Recherches sur les Racines primitives dans les Langues Chinoises et Aryennes."