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I prefer to regard tok as phonetic. The suggestive principle may be rightly applied also as by Sw, but probably the phonetic principle is more prominent.

Nie, nit, to "go down" is formed of R. water on the left, and above on the right. Sw says that water and earth are here ideographic, and "sun" nit phonetic.

The suggestive and phonetic principles are often combined, p'in, 5, bin, "poor." From fen "to divide," and pei "money." Here fen is both suggestive and phonetic. The inventors of the characters selected that phonetic symbol which was nearest in sense.

hiau "filial piety" is in Kw formed ofhiau 115, two crosses above, phonetic, and son below. But hiau with the crosses as its symbol means to imitate, and imitation is an essential part of filial piety so far as the father is virtuous.

Yi, compounded of yi phonetic and beneath it ta, is so written in allusion to two persons playing at a game. This is expressed by two hands, for ta is here really altered from the ancient symbol for two hands.

Two sounds belong to some phonetics. These originate in the operation of the principle of suggestion in the peculiar application of some phonetics. Thus king "musical stone" 743 is composed of R. 79 shu "implement," on the right, of certain other elements on the left and of R. stone below. The character stone below, is an addition, and without it the sound is now sheng "sound."

This character, having probably at first the sense "sound," was used by the principle of suggestion to write king, the name of a musical stone. After this it became phonetic with the sound king.

The combination of the principles of suggestion and likeness in sound occurs in feng "wind," where the outside line is fam "all," used because wind was then called bam, and the symbol for reptile within was added, we are told, because, according to the old Chinese belief, reptiles begin to move when the wind blows.


kwan "a pipe" borrows from

for," "govern," control."

kwan the meanings "care

Lo, a common family name, is written by means of lo a "net." Li, a family name, is written by means of li a "plum."

Tt explains fei, put, as meaning an apron. The horizontal line is the line of the shoulders, from which hangs a string fastened to the waist-band. It is applied, with R. grass, to the word fei "thick and shady," as descriptive of vegetation. It is found as a verb in p'ei “to wear at the side," and forms a part of tai "girdle." The upper portion of tai represents the tying of that which hangs from the girdle.

Kwan, the upper part of "to pierce," "penetrate," is borrowed to act as the symbol of kwan "to be accustomed to." As the character is here borrowed to be applied to a new sense, so kwan “to be accustomed to" may, as a word, be derived from piercing and thoroughness, just as our word "thorough," coming from through, has attained the new sense complete, perfect in action.

In the older classics shi, 5, zhik, "time," was used for the demonstrative shi, 6, 7, zhik, "this."

sun "grandson" is used for siün "compliant" by Confucius. Very many abstract terms, verbs, adjectives and particles were supplied on this principle with the required written signs.




THE sources of information on the history of the sounds are very varied. Among them the oldest is the body of common roots found in cognate languages. These I do not now touch, wishing to limit myself, except in a few examples from Mongol and Japanese, to the Chinese field.

The next source for the history of the sounds is the phonetic characters; for convenience this will be called the first.

The second is the rhymes of old poetry.

The third is the use of certain characters in the classics and elsewhere in senses different from those intended by the inventors of the characters, and which now, through change in sounds, in many instances, do not suit them.

The fourth is Buddhist transcriptions of Sanscrit words.

The fifth is the Tonic Dictionaries.

The sixth is Japanese, Corean, Mongolian, and Cochin Chinese transcriptions.

The seventh is the dialects of Modern China.

All research tends to show that the Chinese language has a selfconsistent history. The difficulties which occur in the illustration of it may be expected to obtain a solution as the reward of research.

The present chapter will conduct the student only over a part of the wide field here sketched.


The result of this kind of inquiry is to show that there are no compound elements in the Chinese tongue.

No abrupt introduction of a foreign language into the country, which might have materially affected the traditions or language of the people, can have taken place at any period since the invention of the characters. The normal condition of a Chinese word consists in having an initial, a final, and a vowel to join them.

There is no appearance of dissyllabic structure in roots, and à fortiori words of three or more syllables cannot be found there.

All Chinese words were anciently, as now, monosyllabic. Various as are the laws of change in their sound, none are inconsistent with this principle.


The phonetic characters, which are in number above a thousand, help us to discover what final letters have been lost or changed for others. Thus tui, a common phonetic, has lost final t. It is recoverable from words written with this phonetic, e.g. with R. shwot "say," and with R. heart, yuet "to rejoice." Not only is the final restored, but the initial also can be reduced to its most ancient form by careful comparison of facts and words. T is both initial and final in all these three words. Sh and y both come from t.

One native author says there are 2425 characters formed by the five modes which are not phonetic, and 21810 by the phonetic principle.

The phonetic characters are necessarily somewhat newer than the others. Pictures of objects which had been first made formed the basis from which characters constructed on the phonetic principle were made at a later time.

Many characters now phonetic anciently belonged to the sixth or borrowed class. The Han writers, who were more learned and scholarly than those of the Cheu period, though less original and powerful as thinkers and system-founders, had much to do with extending the influence of the phonetic principle in writing. They added a radical to many words found in the classics without one. By this addition the character was transferred from the sixth class to the fifth, and became distinctly phonetic.

The special interest and philological importance of the original phonetic characters consists in this: they afford a clue to the actual

sounds attached to the characters at the time when they were made. Thus cham or tam, wherever used, has final m or final p. The old dialects of Canton, Fukien and Kiang si agree in this respect with the usage of the medieval tonic dictionaries and the rhymes of all ancient poetry. When we find this phonetic employed with four dots below in tiem "a dot," "a comma," in tiem with R. roof, yen "an inn," in djam, with R. "to stand," or in tiep "a ticket," and in any other examples, the final is m or p. There are no exceptions.

Here we obtain a firm standing ground in our examination of the ancient language. The initial was t or d. The final was m or p. This principle extends to all the words written with this phonetic, however great their variety of meaning.

Kim "now" was written 4. From it are formed, among others, k'im, gim, "a harp;"niem "to think," "to read aloud;" yem, 7, niem, "result," "evidence," with R. horse on the left and heart below;

nie, 8, niep, "take with the hand," "press between the fingers," with R. hand on the left and heart below; ham, 5, gam, "to take into the mouth," to "contain," "include;" t'am, with R. shell below, "avaricious," "greedy." It is interesting to know that, whatever may be the age of the phonetic characters, they contain in them incontestable evidence of the phonetic state of the language at the time when they were first used.

If it be asked why t aspirated occurs in the last example, it can be replied that this may be an instance of association of ideas. The upper four strokes may be a contraction for. Of such contraction many examples exist, as the reader of the Sw is constantly made aware. But the existence of the final m in the word may have had its own influence on the mind of the inventor as a labial letter symbolic of greediness, in addition to that of the suggestion derived from the whole word ham.

Final m and final p were looked on by the inventors of the phonetic characters evidently as very nearly connected. They frequently used the same phonetic for both. But possibly p may have changed to m in cases of this kind.

In the same way a phonetic in n forms compounds also in n or in t, its kindred mute. Thus tan "dawn," "the red light of sunrise," forms dan "but," "only;" tan "name of a woman," R. woman, and tat" fear," R. heart. So san," to sprinkle," "scatter,"

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