Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/77

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63
The Cultivation of their Language by the Chinese.

curious learning of China and in the literature of his own religion. Another Buddhist monk, Hsiang Ching (相淨), with the help of other men of learning, in the year 1034 compiled the "T'ien-chu-tzŭ-yuan" (天竺字源). The meaning of this title is Origin of the Indian Letters (or characters), and in the book, which was in seven chuan, the author gave the 12 vowels and 30 consonants of the Sanskrit alphabet in Chinese characters, and instituted a comparison between the languages of India and China.

To this century belongs also Wang An-shi (born 1021, died 1086), poet, scholar, and statesman, but doomed to a bad fame for doing what was new. He was the author of a philological treatise of considerable merit and celebrity. This work, which was in twenty chuan, bore the modest title "Tzŭ-shuo" (字說) or Descriptions of Characters. It was composed when Wang was old and broken, living in obscurity at Nanking. The characters given in it are explained mainly from the point of view of the hui-i, combination-meanings, and the author, according to his critics, makes too much of this class of characters. But the great offence of the "Tzŭ-shuo" is that it dares to censure the "Shuo-wên." It has also been blamed for refinements and hyper-criticism, and it was indexed as unsound. Still its intrinsic merits kept it from utter extinction, and up to the present it is often quoted. By its bold criticism it roused orthodox scholars to take up the "Shuo-wên" and study it with renewed earnestness. Thus a fresh impetus was given to philoligical investigations, and several treatises were called forth in reply to Wang's teachings. These works were generally inferior in knowledge of the language which they displayed to the "Tzŭ-shuo," which was vanquished by an author to be noticed below. Wang's son, P'ang (雱 al. Yuan-tsê 元澤), also studied and wrote on the language. With the help of his father he compiled an edition of the "Urh-ya " which has been praised for the thorough and methodical manner in which the work was done. He was the author also of the "Tzŭ-shu-wu-tu" (字書誤讀), Faulty Reading of Written Characters.