Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/98

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The Cultivation of their Language by the Chinese.

times men ignorant of the true sound of the character represented it as ya and ye.[1]

In the year 1633 was published the first edition of a small but important treatise, the "Tzŭ-hui" (字彙). This was compiled by Mei Ying-tsu (梅膺祚) al. Tan-shêng (誕生), a native of Ning-kuo Foo in the Southern part of the present Anhui. It is a dictionary in which the characters explained are given according to the number of strokes, under 214 classifiers. These classifiers are the "Radicals" which were afterwards adopted by the compilers of the Kanghsi dictionary and other similar treatises. The "Tzŭ-hui" in its original form did not give any syllabic spelling, but merely stated under a character that its pronunciation (yin) was so and so. In later editions, however, the syllabic spelling is added and the variations of sounds carefully noted. For many years it was very popular among students and it has been often reprinted, revised and improved. But it is considered inferior to later dictionaries as it has wrong ways of writing characters and makes mistakes as to the classifiers. Moreover, the meanings and illustrations which are given even in the enlarged editions are very few, and, as the Emperor Kanghsi says, the work errs by being too brief and concise. It was reprinted in an abbreviated form in 1676, in the complete form in 1681 and again in 1688, and there are still to be found different editions of it in use, varying in the quantity of the original work which they retain. In its fullest form the book is very useful and gives much valuable information about the changes of sound and form which the characters have undergone. It is to be noted that the pronunciation which it gives for a character often differs from that found in the ordinary dictionaries. Thus it gives ch'i as the sound of 一 (i), k'ü as that of 口 (k'ou), and ngü as that of 女 ().[2]

  1. 毛詩古音靠, ed. 1606; Ed. Man. Gr., p. 267 ; Phon. S. W., Pref.; "Ku-yun-piao-chun," Int.; "Liu-shu-yin-yun-piao," Pref. Some late native authors quote Ch'ên Ti simply by his name Chi-li (季立) in citing his teachings, as though these and their author were familiar to everybody.
  2. 字彙, ed. 1676 and 1688; Kanghsi Dict., Preface; Ed. Man. Gr., p. 82; " Wu-fang-yin-yun," Pref. by Nien Hsi-yao.