china and chinese

By Daniel Lawson,2014-10-19 19:24
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china and chinese




    THE CHINESE LANGUAGE Its ImportanceIts DifficultyThe ColloquialDialects—“Mandarin”—

    IllustrationsPidgin-EnglishScarcity of Vocables Absence of Grammar

    ; The TonesCoupled WordsThe Written LanguageThe Indicators

    Picture CharactersPictures of IdeasThe PhoneticsSome Faulty Analyses ... 3


    A CHINESE LIBRARY The Cambridge (Eng.) Library--(A) The Confucian

    Canon--(B) Dynastic

    HistoryThe Historical Record”—The Mirror of History”—Biography

    EncyclopædiasHow arrangedCollections of ReprintsThe Imperial

    StatutesThe Penal Code--? GeographyTopographyAn Old Volume

    Account of Strange Nations--(D) PoetryNovelsRomance of the Three

    KingdomsPlays--(E) DictionariesThe ConcordanceIts Arrangement

    Imperial CatalogueSenior Classics ... 37


    DEMOCRATIC CHINA The EmperorProvincial GovernmentCircuitsPrefecturesMagistracies

    ; HeadboroughsThe PeopleThe MagistrateOther Provincial Officials The PrefectThe Intendant of Circuit (_Tao-tai_)--Viceroy and GovernorTaxationMencius on the People”—Personal LibertyNew

    ImpostsCombinationIllustrations ... 73



    Relative Values of Chinese and Greek in Mental and Moral TrainingLord

    GranvilleWên Tien-hsiangHan Y?-An EmperorA Land of

    OppositesCoincidences between Chinese and Greek CivilisationsThe

    Question of Greek InfluenceGreek Words in ChineseCoincidences in Chinese and Western LiteratureStudents of Chinese wanted ... 107



    Religions in ChinaWhat is Tao?--Lao TzuThe _Tao T?Ching_--Its ClaimsThe Philosophy of Lao Tzu---Developed by Chuang TzuHis View

    of TaoA Taoist PoetSymptoms of DecayThe Elixir of LifeAlchemy

    The Black ArtStruggle between Buddhism and

    TaoismThey borrow from

    One AnotherThe Corruption of TaoIts Last State ... 141



    Origin of the QueueSocial LifeAn EyeglassStreet EtiquetteGuest

    and HostThe Position of WomenInfanticideTraining and Education of WomenThe Wifes StatusAncestral WorshipWidowsFoot-binding

Henpecked HusbandsThe Chinaman a MysteryCustoms vary with Places

    Dogs FleshSubstitutes at ExecutionsDoctorsConclusion ... 175





    If the Chinese people were to file one by one past a given point, the interesting procession would never come to an end. Before the last man of those living to-day had gone by, another and a new generation would have grown up, and so on for ever and ever.

    The importance, as a factor in the sum of human affairs, of this vast

    nation,--of its language, of its literature, of its religions, of its

    history, of its manners and customs,--goes therefore without saying. Yet

    a serious attention to China and her affairs is of very recent growth.

    Twenty-five years ago there was but one professor of Chinese in the

    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; and even that one spent his

time more in adorning his profession than in imparting his knowledge to

    classes of eager students. Now there are all together five chairs of Chinese, the occupants of which are all more or less actively employed.

    But we are still sadly lacking in what Columbia University appears to

    have obtained by the stroke of a generous pen,--adequate funds for

    endowment. Meanwhile, I venture to offer my respectful congratulations

    to Columbia University on having surmounted this initial difficulty, and

    also to prophesy that the foresight of the liberal donor will be amply justified before many years are over.

    I have often been asked if Chinese is, or is not, a difficult language to learn. To this question it is quite impossible to give a categorical answer, for the simple reason that Chinese consists of at least two languages, one colloquial and the other written, which for all practical purposes are about as distinct as they well could be.

    Colloquial Chinese is a comparatively easy matter. It is, in fact, more

    easily acquired in the early stages than colloquial French or German. A

    student will begin to speak from the very first, for the simple reason that there is no other way. There are no Declensions or Conjugations to be learned, and consequently no Paradigms or Irregular Verbs.

    In a day or two the student should be able to say a few simple things. After three months he should be able to deal with his ordinary requirements; and after six months he should be able to chatter away more or less accurately on a variety of interesting subjects. A great deal depends upon the method by which he is taught.

    The written or book language, on the other hand, may fairly be regarded

    as a sufficient study for a lifetime; not because of the peculiar

    script, which yields when systematically attacked, but because the style

    of the book language is often so extremely terse as to make it obscure, and sometimes so lavishly ornate that without wide reading it is not easy to follow the figurative phraseology, and historical and mythological allusions, which confront one on every page.

    There are plenty of men, and some women, nowadays, who can carry on a

    conversation in Chinese with the utmost facility, and even with grace.

    Some speak so well as to be practically indistinguishable from Chinamen.

    There are comparatively few men, and I venture to say still fewer, if

    any, women, who can read an ordinary Chinese book with ease, or write an

    ordinary Chinese letter at all.

    Speaking of women as students of Chinese, there have been so far only two who have really placed themselves in the front rank. It gives me great pleasure to add that both these ladies, lady missionaries, were natives of America, and that it was my privilege while in China to know them

    both. In my early studies of Chinese I received much advice and assistance from one of them, the late Miss Lydia Fay. Later on, I came to entertain a high respect for the scholarship and literary attainments of Miss Adèle M. Fielde, a well-known authoress.

    Before starting upon a course of colloquial Chinese, it is necessary for

    the student to consider in what part of China he proposes to put his knowledge into practice. If he intends to settle or do business in Peking, it is absolute waste of time for him to learn the dialect of Shanghai. Theoretically, there is but one language spoken by the Chinese people in China proper,--over an area of some two million square miles, say twenty-five times the area of England and Scotland together.

    Practically, there are about eight well-marked dialects, all clearly of

    a common stock, but so distinct as to constitute eight different languages, any two of which are quite as unlike as English and Dutch.

    These dialects may be said to fringe the coast line of the Empire of

    China. Starting from Canton and coasting northward, before we have left

    behind us the province in which Canton is situated, Kuangtung, we reach

    Swatow, where a totally new dialect is spoken. A short run now brings

    us to Amoy, the dialect of which, though somewhat resembling that of

    Swatow, is still very different in many respects. Our next stage is

    Foochow, which is in the same province as Amoy, but possesses a special

    dialect of its own. Then on to Wênchow, with another dialect, and so on

    to Ningpo with yet another, widely spoken also in Shanghai, though the latter place really has a patois of its own.

    Farther north to Chefoo, and thence to Peking, we come at last into the

    range of the great dialect, popularly known as Mandarin, which sweeps

    round behind the narrow strip of coast occupied by the various dialects

    above mentioned, and dominates a hinterland constituting about

    four-fifths of China proper. It is obvious, then, that for a person who

    settles in a coast district, the dialect of that district must be his chief care, while for the traveller and explorer Mandarin will probably stand him in best stead.

    The dialect of Peking is now regarded as standard Mandarin; but

    previous to the year 1425 the capital was at Nanking, and the dialect of

    Nanking was the Mandarin then in vogue. Consequently, Pekingese is the language which all Chinese officials are now bound to speak.

    Those who come from certain parts of the vast hinterland speak Mandarin almost as a mother tongue, while those from the seaboard and certain adjacent parts of the interior have nearly as much difficulty in acquiring it, and quite as much difficulty in speaking it with a correct accent, as the average foreigner.

    The importance of Mandarin, the official language as the Chinese call it, is beyond question. It is

    the vehicle of oral communication between all Chinese officials, even in cases where they come

from the same part of the country and speak the same patois, between officials and their servants,

    between judge and prisoner. Thus, in every court of justice throughout the Empire the proceedings are carried on in Mandarin, although none of the parties to the case may understand a single word. The prosecutor, on his knees, tells his story in his native dialect.

    This story is rendered into Mandarin by an official interpreter for the

    benefit of the magistrate; the magistrate asks his questions or makes

    his remarks in Mandarin, and these are translated into the local dialect

    for the benefit of the litigants. Even if the magistrate knows the

    dialect himself,--as is often the case, although no magistrate may hold

    office in his own province,--still it is not strictly permissible for him

    to make use of the local dialect for magisterial purposes.

    It may be added that in all large centres, such as Canton, Foochow, and

    Amoy, there will be found, among the well-to-do tradesmen and merchants, many who can make themselves intelligible in something which approximates to the dialect of Peking, not to mention that two out of the above three cities are garrisoned by Manchu troops, who of course speak that dialect as their native tongue.

    Such is Mandarin. It may be compared to a limited extent with Urdu, the

    camp language of India. It is obviously the form of colloquial which should be studied by all, except those who have special interests in special districts, in which case, of course, the patois of

    the locality comes to the front.

    We will now suppose that the student has made up his mind to learn

    Mandarin. The most natural thing for him, then, to do will be to look

    around him for a grammar. He may have trouble in finding one. Such works

    do actually exist, and they have been, for the most part, to quote a

    familiar trade-mark, made in Germany. They are certainly not made by

    the Chinese, who do not possess, and never have possessed, in their language, an equivalent term for grammar. The language is quite beyond reach of the application of such rules as have been successfully deduced from Latin and Greek.

    The Chinese seem always to have spoken in monosyllables, and these monosyllables seem always to have been incapable of inflection, agglutination, or change of any kind. They are in reality root-ideas, and are capable of adapting themselves to their surroundings, and of playing each one such varied parts as noun, verb (transitive, neuter, or even causal), adverb, and conjunction. The word [wo] wo, which for convenience sake I call I, must be rendered into English by me

    whenever it is the object of some other word, which, also for convenience sake, I call a verb. It has

    further such extended senses as egoistic and subjective.

    For example: [wo ài ta] wo ai ta.

    The first of these characters, which is really the root-idea of self,

    stands here for the pronoun of the first person; the last, which is

    really the root-idea of not self, other, stands for the pronoun of

the third person; and the middle character for the root-idea of love.

    This might mean in English, I love him, or I love her, or I love

    it,”—for there is no gender in Chinese, any more than there is any other indication of grammatical susceptibilities. We can only decide if him,

    her, or it is intended by the context, or by the circumstances of the case. Now if we were to transpose what I must still call the pronouns, although they are not pronouns

    except when we make them so, we should have

    [ta ài wo] ta ai wo

    he, she, or it loves me, the only change which the Chinese words

    have undergone being one of position; while in English, in addition to the inflection of the pronouns, the love of the first person becomes loves in the third person.

    Again, supposing we wished to write down

    People love him (or her),

    we should have

    [rén ai ta] jen ai ta,

    in which once more the noticeable feature is that the middle character, although passing from the

    singular to the plural number, suffers no change of any kind whatever. Further, the character for man is in the plural simply because such a

    rendering is the only one which the genius of the Chinese language will here tolerate, helped out by

    the fact that the word by itself does not mean _a_ man, but rather what we may call the root-idea of humanity.

    Such terms as a man, or six men, or some men, or many men, would be expressed each in

    its own particular way.

    All men, for instance, would involve merely the duplication of the character jen:--

    [rén rén ai ta] jen jen ai ta.

    It is the same with tenses in Chinese. They are not brought out by inflection, but by the use of

    additional words.

    [lái] lai is the root-idea of coming, and lends itself as follows to

    the exigencies of conjugation:--

    Standing alone, it is imperative:--

    [lái] Lai! = come! here!

    [wo lái] wo lai = I come, or am coming.

    [ta lái] ta lai = he comes, or is coming.

    And by inserting [bù] pu, a root-idea of negation,--

    [ta b?lái] ta pu lai = he comes not, or is not coming.

    To express an interrogative, we say,--

    [ta lái b?lái] ta lai pu lai = he come no come? i.e. is he coming?

    submitting the two alternatives for the person addressed to choose from in reply. The indefinite past tense is formed by adding the word [liao] liao or

    lo finished:--

    [ta lái liao] ta lai lo = he come finish, = he has come.

    This may be turned into the definite past tense by inserting some

    indication of time; e.g.

    [ta zao shàng lái liao] = he came this morning.

    Here we see that the same words may be indefinite or definite according to circumstances. It is perhaps more startling to find that the same words may be both active and passive. Thus, [diu] tiu is the root-idea of loss, to lose, and [liao] puts

    it into the past tense.

    Now [wo diu liao] means, and can only mean, I have lost”—something

    understood, or to be expressed. Strike out [wo] and substitute [shiu] a

    book. No Chinaman would think that the new sentence meant The book has

    lost”—something understood, or to be expressed, as for instance its cover; but he would grasp at once the real sense, The book is or has been lost.

    In the case of such, a phrase as The book has lost its cover, quite a

    different word would be used for lost.

    We have the same phenomenon in English. In the New York Times of February 13, I read, Mr.

    So-and-so dined, meaning not that Mr. So-and-so took his dinner, but had been entertained at dinner by a party of friends,--a neuter verb transformed into a passive verb by the logic of circumstances.

    By a like process the word [su] ssu to die may also mean to make to

    die = to kill.

    The word [jìn] chin which stands for gold as a substantive may also stand, as in English, for an adjective, and for a verb, to gold, i.e. to regard as gold, to value highly.

    There is nothing in Chinese like love, loving, lovely, as noun substantive, verb, and adverb. The word, written or spoken, remains invariably, so far as its own economy is concerned, the same. Its function in a sentence is governed entirely by position and by the influence of other words upon it, coupled with the inexorable logic of attendant circumstances.

    When a Chinaman comes up to you and says, You wantchee my, no

wantchee, he is doing no foolish thing, at any rate from his own point

    of view. To save himself the trouble of learning grammatical English, he

    is taking the language and divesting it of all troublesome inflections, until he has at his control a set of root-ideas, with which he can juggle as in his own tongue. In other words, you wantchee my, no

    wantchee, is nothing more nor less than literally rendered Chinese:--

    [ni yao wo ?yao] ni yao wo, pu yao = do you want me or not?

    In this pidgin English he can express himself as in Chinese by merely changing the positions of the words:--

    He wantchee my. My wantchee he.

    My belong Englishman.

    That knife belong my.

    Some years back, when I was leaving China for England with young children, their faithful Chinese nurse kept on repeating to the little ones the following remarkable sentence, My too muchey solly

    you go steamah; you no solly my.

    All this is very absurd, no doubt; still it is bona fide Chinese, and illustrates very forcibly how an

    intelligible language may be constructed of root-ideas arranged in logical sequence. If the last word had now been said in reference to colloquial, it would

    be as easy for us to learn to speak Chinese as it is for a Chinaman to

    learn to speak Pidgin-English. There is, however, a great obstacle still in the way of the student. The Chinese language is peculiarly lacking in vocables; that is to say, it possesses very few sounds for the conveyance of speech. The dialect of Peking is restricted to four hundred and twenty, and as every word in the language must fall under one or other of those sounds, it follows that if there are 42,000 words in the language (and the standard dictionary contains 44,000), there is an average of 100 words to each sound. Of course, if any sound had less than 100 words attached to it, some other sound would have proportionately more. Thus, accepting the average, we should have 100 things or ideas, all expressed in speech, for instance, by the one single sound I.

    The confusion likely to arise from such conditions needs not to be enlarged upon; it is at once obvious, and probably gave rise to the following sapient remark by a globe-trotting author, which I took from a newspaper in England:--

    In China, the letter I has one hundred and forty-five different ways of being pronounced, and each pronunciation has a different meaning.

    It would be difficult to squeeze more misleading nonsense into a smaller

    compass. Imagine the agonies of a Chinese infant school, struggling

    with the letter I pronounced in 145 different ways, with a different

    meaning to each! It will suffice to say, what everybody here present

    must know, that Chinese is not in any sense an alphabetic language, and

    that consequently there can be no such thing as the letter I.

    When closely examined, this great difficulty of many words with but one

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