Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/92

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The Cultivation of their Language by the Chinese.

number of characters grouped under the usual four tones and 201 finals. It gives the spelling of each, the original meaning, and a short analysis. For the two last it generally follows the "Shuo-wên," but other works, such as those of Hsü Hsüan, Kuo Chung-shu, and Ssŭ-ma-kuang, are also quoted as authorities. Native students have a liking for the "Tzŭ-chien," which is a useful little book and is often reprinted.[1]

One of the great scholars who adorned the reign of the Mongols was Chou Poh-ch'i (周伯琦) al. Poh-wên (伯温), of P'o-yang in Kiangsi. He was author of the "Liu-shu-chêng-o" (六書正譌), The Six Classes of Characters Right and Wrong. This book gives a selection of above 2,000 characters, under the tones and according to initials and finals. Of each character an old form is given, and the modern way of writing is added below. Then we have the spelling and an explanation of the character, its meaning and right and wrong variants. Chou Poh-ch'i was also the author of the "Shuo-wên-tzŭ-yuan," Sources of the Characters in the "Shuo-wên." This was an earlier and more ambitious work than the "Liu-shu-chêng-o," which owed its existence to the earlier treatises. The later work is still occasionally reprinted and consulted by students and others as a good authority.[2]

The founder of the Ming dynasty was a patron of all kinds of learning and promoted efforts to recover and preserve the valuable treatises which had been lost or become very rare. He also in various ways encouraged the study of the written language. In his reign (1368 to 1399) and by his orders a new and revised edition of the "Yun-hui" was prepared and published, but that treatise still remained unacceptable. In the meantime the Emperor appointed a commission of learned men to make a new pronouncing dictionary. The principal members of this commission were Sung Lien (宋濂) al. Ching-lien (景濂), of Chin-hua (金華) in Chekiang, and Yo Shao-fêng (樂韶鳳), officials and scholars of great learning and abilities. They produced a dic-

  1. 字鑑 (Reprint of 1685, ed. by 朱彝尊).
  2. 六書正譌 ed. by 胡正言 of Ming dynasty.