Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/80

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
66
The Cultivation of their Language by the Chinese.

men of letters of the Sung dynasty; distinguished by almost universal knowledge." He was born at P'u-t'ien in the Hsing-hua Prefecture of Fuhkeen, and his life extended from 1104 to 1162. The sobriquet by which he is known in literature is Mr. Chia-chi (夾漈先生), from the name of the mountain in which he had a lonely retreat. In the monumental work of this scholar — the "T'ung-chih" — we find two sections devoted to our subject. One in five chuan is the "Liu-shu-liao" (六書略) and the other is headed "Ch'i-yin-liao" (七音略). The former treats in a clear and copious manner of the six divisions of characters, giving numerous examples and illustrations. It also discusses many points of interest in connection with the development of the language and the changes which words had undergone in the long tract of time. The "Ch'i-yin-liao" gives 43 Tables of Characters, in which is shown the position which each character has under the thirty-six Sanskrit initials, the native finals, the four tones, and the "Ch'i-yin" or seven musical tones. It is in these two essays that Cheng compares the sounds and writing of his own language with those of Sanskrit. He has been blamed for carrying his theories of analysis to excess, and for making too many distinctions. But few are competent to judge his teachings and decide on their merits. It is hard even to estimate the amount of patient useful labour spent on the above two works, and yet they are not all that he wrote on subjects connected with the language. He produced also a book in three chuan, "Shi-ku-wên" (石鼓文), in which he argued against the supreme antiquity of the "Stone Drums." From the resemblance of the characters on these to characters found on objects of the Ch'in dynasty (B.C. 255 to 206) he concluded that the Drums also belong to that period. Cheng composed also a commentary on the "Urh-ya," but this does not seem to have had a long life. Some of his early works on the language were incorporated in those mentioned above and it is not necessary to refer to them farther. The matchless learning and the great analytical powers which Chêng Ch'iao brought to his labours on the language have

made his writings of peculiar importance. They are in an eminent