Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/52

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The Cultivation of their Language by the Chinese.

We have now arrived at the period of Chinese history known as that of the Three Kingdoms, or San-Kuo (三國), when the country was divided into the Han, Wei, and Wu kingdoms. During this short but troubled period, extending from A.D. 220 to 265, the cultivation of the language steadily advanced. Up to this time, we are told, there had been little care given to the spoken words or the pronunciation of characters. But now these matters also began to be thought of importance. The first, apparently, to write on the sounds of characters, was Ts'ao Chih (曹植) al. Ts'ao Tzŭ-chien (子建), who lived from 192 to 232. He was a son of the famous Ts'ao Ts'ao, Prince of Wei, in the North of China. But Ts'ao Chih was a poet and a student, choosing the quite pleasures of learning rather than the bustling turmoil of public life, nor heeding the contempt with which he was treated by his warlike relatives. He was the author of a work called The Forty-two Documents (or Tallies), (四十二契), in which he treated of more than 3,000 Shêng (聲), or sounds for characters. About the same time Li Têng (李登), a public officer of the Wei kingdom, compiled the "Shêng-lei" (聲類) in ten chapters; and this is said to have been the first book to give a classification of characters according to their sounds. But it is to be noted that with these two writers the term Shêng is used generally, and not in the restricted sense of "tone." [1]

In this period we have also the well-known treatise called "Kuang-ya" (廣雅) or "Po(博)-ya." This was compiled by Chang I (張揖), of the Wei kingdom, about the year 265. It is a supplement to the "Urh-ya," the authorship of which work Chang, in his Memorial to the Throne, ascribes to Chow Kung. The "Po-ya" is little more than a large classified vocabulary with occasional short comments or descriptions. As we have it now, the pronunciation of most of the characters is given, but this was the work of an editor in the Sui period, whose name was Ts'ao Hsien (曹憲). The pronunciation is sometimes given in the fan-

  1. "Li-shi-yin-chien" (李氏音鑑), chaps. i. and ii.; "Yun-hsio" (韻學); "Ku-shi," etc. "Yin-lun" 上.