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ON LETTER CHANGES.
EXAMPLE OF LETTER CHANGE IN EUROPEAN LANGUAGES, K TO CH. CHINESE Letter CHANGES. 1. SURD AND SONANT FROM SIMPLE MUTES. 2. FORMATION OF ASPIRATED MUTES. 3. CHANGES IN THE THROAT LETTERS. 4. CHANGES IN THE PALATAL REGION. 5. CHANGES IN TOOTH LETTERS. 6. CHANGES IN LIP LETTERS. 7. CHANGES IN THE VOWELS.
Just as d slipped
But this change
DURING the last two thousand years we see in Europe a specially prominent development of k into ch, or, speaking more generally, the removal to the palate of the surd and sonant that formerly belonged to the throat. Caisar has become Cesar. Calor has become shaleur. Tewpyos has become George. Largus is now lardj. into l, so g slipped into dj or j and k into ch, sh or s. can be traced to a much earlier time. It is found also in the Sclavonic and Sanscrit vocabularies, and has its origin therefore in the period of the formation of the Indo-European system, whenever that was. No traces of it are found in the more easterly Asiatic families. When conducting inquiries among their vocabularies, it may be noticed that the hissing letters s, sh, j, and ch, all originate in the tooth series. It was an ancient characteristic in human speech for the voice to slide from the teeth to the palate. It is a modern characteristic for it to slide from the throat to the palate. In modern Chinese ki and kü have become chi and chü, but this is by the operation of a new principle, entirely unknown to the ancient language. There is no ground in the history of the Chinese language for our tracing the origin of this change from k to ch, when standing before certain vowels (i, ü), to a period farther back than three or four centuries. In the dictionaries of the Yuen dynasty there is no trace of it. In the corresponding European change, on the other hand, we cannot
place the date of its introduction later than the time when the Hindoo race had not separated from its western kindred.
The most important letter changes now to be described are, first, the division of surd and sonant flowing from the simple mutes; second, the formation of aspirated mutes; third, changes in the throat letters; fourth, in the palatal region; fifth in the tooth region; sixth, in the lip region; seventh, in the vowels.
1. SONANT AND SURD.
This change may be observed still in the relation of the Old Middle Dialect to the northern and western Mandarin. Accumulated proof has been given in the last chapter that the initials b, d, g, j, z, once belonged to the general language. They still exist in the Old Middle Dialect as spoken over a triangle of thickly populated land, of which the base reaches from the mouth of the Yang tsï kiang along the sea-coast to the south boundary of Che kiang, and of which the apex is in Kiang si. Along the sides of the triangle lies a belt of land fifty miles wide more or less, where the dialect is irregular and unfixed. Beyond it is a new system. Within it is the region of the old sonant initials. This triangle was once co-extensive with the nation. Slowly it has diminished to its present limits, comprising perhaps sixty millions of people.
In the following tables the sonants of the old language are shown breaking up into aspirates and surds in four different dialects now existing. It will be seen that the tone class to which words belong has something to do with their modern sound. Thus gio "a bridge " becomes predominantly k'iau in modern dialects, because it is in the Hia p'ing tone class. But gio "a sedan chair," being in the Hia c'hü tone class, becomes predominantly kiau in the modern dialects.
Table of tenues, mediae, and aspirates in the modern Chinese dialects.
Sixth, seventh, and eighth tones, Hia shang, Hia c'hü, Hia ju.
The other four tone classes, i.e. the other half of the vocabulary of words having mute initials, need not be here tabulated, because they have no mediae, and they had arrived at their present state before the separation of the dialects. In regard to these words, aspirates are aspirates in all the dialects, and tenues are tenues. They grew up therefore in the pre-Confucian era, or soon after the epoch of the Sage, but before the dialects assumed distinct forms.
What has taken place with the initials of the words represented in the table shows a tendency to change sonants to surds existing during twelve hundred years and extending over five-sixths of the country.
Probably a similar change affected the corresponding groups represented by the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th tone classes at an earlier period in the history of the language.
A law like that of Grimm, when found in Eastern Asia, only occurs within a limited period, and, as it would appear, within the area of one such language as the Chinese or Mongolian or Japanese.
This view is based on the following facts. 1. In Chinese the changes of letters are open to easy observation, and they take place now, as they have done for centuries past, in a way something like that of Grimm's law. D changes to t and to the aspirated t in proportion as the area of the northern and western Mandarin trenches gradually more and more on the region of the central and southern dialects. In the translations of Hiuen tsang, who after his return from India twelve centuries ago lived at Chang an, in the modern Shen si, the sonant initials are found distinct and unquestionable. At present the dialect of that province has no trace of them so far as has yet been discovered. They have merged into the unaspirated and aspirated letters of the surd series.
2. The initials k, k' and g occur commonly within the range of any
given phonetic. Thus kan "a pole" 20, is also han and k'an in the dictionary Kwang yun. So kiai "all" 570 takes as initials the lower h and k' in the same work. These transitions of sound are the equivalent of the transitions which Grimm's law is concerned with, but they take place within the area of one language, and as to their time they are anterior to the date of the dictionary in which they occur, and of the origin of the syllabic spelling.
3. In Mongol, while the same word humun "man," for example, occurs in the dictionary only under one initial, it is found in the dialects to be hwun, k'wun, and guun. The Sunid people prefer g. The western Mongols like k'. The eastern Mongols have a fancy for h. This is a law occurring under the same conditions as in China. We cannot learn the changes of Mongol sounds from old dictionaries as we can the Chinese. But so far as the existing dialects afford us information, they reveal the existence of a law similar to that which exists in Chinese. In either of these languages it will be found that within an area of a few hundred miles initial g in one dialect will be exchanged for an aspirated initial k in another, and (in Mongolian) for h in a third.
Phonetics in Chinese, originally, as we may suppose, having one initial, show a tendency to break up into parcels distinguished by a difference in the initials.
Thus chung 122 "middle," "to strike the middle," "faithful," occurs as jung "insect," "reptile," "empty," and as c'hung "sad," "empty." These initials are changed from t, d, t'. The corresponding Mongol word for "middle" is domda, in which da is suffix and m is the old final, which has in Chinese become ng.
In Mongol the derivatives are all such as have the initial occurring in one form only. Thus when d is the initial of the root, it will be also that of the derivatives. In Chinese, where our means of examination are much more extended, we may suppose reasonably that chwang "to pack full," and c'hung "full," are the same word modified. T'ung "to penetrate" is the same as t'sung "penetrating in ability and perception."
The natural intonations attached to Chinese words help to separate words which were once alike. Chung "middle" has the first intonation. With the active sense "to strike in the middle," it has the departing tone or third.
Kiue or kit, "this," "that," "he," is probably the same with k'i , also called gi, c'hi, ji, and anciently pronounced, as is most likely, git.
A difference in the initial of two words did not prevent the same phonetic from being used for both. A difference in the phonetic of two words cannot, if we study the letter changes, conceal their original kinship when their meaning and sound point to the fact.
2. ASPIRATED MUTES.
Whether the aspirated k, t, and p belonged to the earliest form of Chinese cannot be determined. In the lower tone classes (V. to VIII.) they spring from the sonant g, d, b. What was their history in the upper tone classes is beyond our research. T'en "heaven,” k'un "dog," were aspirated as long ago as we can trace their sound.
This class of letters has attained a very distinct development in the Tartar languages and in Tibetan, as also in Sanscrit, and may therefore be expected to be a primitive feature in Chinese.
Definite information on this point it is vain to expect from the phonetics. Thus 338 ku, 4, kok, "valley," is k'io, c'hiïe, 4, k'ok, when used with R. city. Phonetics have been employed as symbols of words without reference to whether those words were aspirated or not.
Here is another example. P. 86 c'heu, t'ok, name of the hour 1 to 3 A.M., is also nieu, nok, in Kwy, and sieu, sok, in P. 730. The three initials have all sprung from a common source t, t', or d. now tell which was the oldest.
The compilers of Kang hi notice under R. heart, P. leaf, the dictionaries Kwy, Tsy, both give tip and dip as the sounds, but that Chy gives only tip. The two former pronunciations are more likely to be right, they add, and the phonetic might warrant this being expected. That is to say, the aspirated and sonant initials occur commonly in the same words or phonetics, and the surd is often more recent than either.
Recently the aspirated letters have been entering into the language with increased frequency. ch'an "to bear children," "produce," is shan in Kwy, Tsy, and also c'han in the same works. so that which," is used in spelling words with its old initial sh. All the sonant initials capable of taking the aspirated surd form