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bug, slug, plug, &c. And U, G can never fallen into the strange mistakes of the folform li; nor ac become bo ; &c. But in lowing passage. Chinese, as we have shown, two conventional signs do not blend into one sound, ex. tween the written and spoken words of the
“ The difference, in point of numbers, becepting only, and this is the strongest possi. Chinese language, is not so great as is geneble confirmation, in the modern system of rally imagined. In the first place, there are the compilers of the Imperial Dictionary, a great number of homophonous words, which but which system is rejected by the nation being pronounced alike are, as I presume, in at large. It follows then, that in alphabet- calculating the numbers of those significant ical systems the elementary forms only are
syllables considered as one and the same conventional; and that the syllables are not so many different words in relation to
pronunciation of different characters, and formed on an established principle, of neces. their sense. It is the same as if, in our lansity deduced from them; whilst in Chinese, guage, we should consider as one the words the element does not (so to say) exist, and fain, fane and feign, because pronounced the syllable itself is whole and indivisible alike, although they differ in meaning widely and therefore conventional. Both kinds from each other. There is another mode of are undoubledly, as the Doctor afhrms them computation which is directly the reverse of to be, sounds, as the language stands: but this. Because the monosyllables of the Chithe former necessarily, the second by suffer- have been honoured with the name of words,
nese language are signilicant, they alone ance only. Sun, Moon, could never be and their numerous compounds have been sounded light; but gih, yue, are sounded left out of view. I have said above, that those ming.–Is it not then, in the latter case, the monosyllables might be compounded, preidea (created by the combination) that sup- cisely as those of our own language in welplies the word ?
come, welfare, &c.; and I may add here, that We extract the following for its justice, formed of those compounds, which are sepa
the greatest part of the Chinese idiom is and possible usefulness:
rated only by the manner in which they are "The Portuguese orthography was once exhibited to the eye when written. Thus, in exclusively used to represent the sounds of our dictionaries, shoemaker is found as a the Chinese words by means of the letters of polysyllabic word, while pear tree is not, but our alphabet, and it was adopted and under- each of its component syllables must be looke stood by all, until national vanity and indi.ed for in its proper place, according to the vidual caprice interfered. Not only every alphabet. And yet it would seem that pearnation, but every sinologist has his own mode tree is as much a word in English as shoe. of spelling Chinese words. The English, the maker, shipwright, and so many others. French, and the Germans, have each adopted There are English words which in Chinese a mode of spelling suited to their own lan. are expressed by five significant monosylla. guage. But the evil does not stop here; bles, such for instance as the word puberty, every writer has a spelling of his own; Mor which is called fa-shin-teih-she-how. I am rison does not spell like Marshman, nor Re- not sufficiently versed in the Chinese lanmusa! like De Gaignes. Where will this guage to explain the meaning of each of confusion end ? For my part, I adopt in this these five monosyllables ; I leave the task to disquisition the spelling of the writer that sinologists. But it is evident, that nothing is first comes to hand. I shall certainly not wanting, but to give to the Chinese comtry to reconcile them, or show a preferance pounds the denomination of words, to make to one over the other.' I only wish that the that language as rich, perhaps, as those old.fashioned Portuguese mode of spelling whose composition is disguised by the foreign had been preserved; or that the alphabet of origin of the monosyllables, or the more artimy learned friend Mr. Pickering was as gen- ficial manner in which they are joined to. erally adopted by the learned of Europe and gether.”—pp. 21, 22, America, as it is by our missionaries in the With regarıl to the first sentence of this South Sea Islands and elsewhere.”—pp. 20, quotation, if there is any difference what21.
ever between the numbers of the written and But our author does not appear to have spoken words, it is of itself fatal to the learnany definite notion of the difference between ed author's argument, “that every characsyllables and words. It may be difficult to ter necessarily represents a word.” If so, separate the tivo in Chinese: but had he how is it that many characters extant have been careful to define both, or either, he confessedly lost their sounds? The Yun. would not, we conceive, have been led into heo being formed to preserve the remainder an error. Yet there could have been no by collecting homophonous finals together. difficulty in determining, as we must for
Words of the same sound (homophonous) him, that a syllable is a sound without (ne. are, it is clear froin his own statement, recessarily) a meaning, and that a word is a presented by different and dissimilar chasound with a meaning. Had the Doctor racters because they convey dissimilar kept this in mind he would scarcely have ideas. Nor is it in the slightest degree the
same (we beg the Doctor's pardon, as our racter, such as we have seen that and these, words fain, fane, feign: the ai in the first prevented the amalgamation of the sounds of these, the a-e in the second and the eig in by the immalleabiliiy of the characters. If the third, are clearly equivalents by combi. such a process bad begun amongst sounds nation, and hence ihe almost identity of in China previous to the formation of its sound; but what is, or can be, a Chinese written characters, and the process was as equivalent, when the slightest change of probable tiere as everywhere else, in the character would produce a complete altera- interval between the creation, or the deluge, tion, both in sound and meaning also; that and the 20th century before Christ;—then it is to say, would make a totally different is not unlikely that at the time of forming word; thus by the slight change of trans- those characters the compound or polysyl. posing or adding a small stroke shang, labic terms that had come by habit and usage above, would become hea, below, or che, to were simplified into, or in some cases re. stop. Therefore, since homophonous words jected for, monosyllables. If the articula. have wholly different characters in Chinese, iory organs of the Chinese did not differ those characters do not represent the homo- from those of the whole human race bephonous sounds; and consequently cannot sides, the process of language must have represent words spoken of which those been similar in all, until checked by some sounds are the integral portion.
cause operating in them alone; and we The next oversight in this extract is know of none so obvious, simple, and natu. scarcely less striking : because wel-come, ral as this, for returning to simplicity of wel.fare, shoe-maker, pear-tree, ship-wright, language: and these considerations vindi. are single words in English, the Chinese cate the proposition of the Quarterly Recombinations of terms should be also called view, as of Rémusat, Fourmont, and others single words; and hence the language all nearly the same, and all assailed by the might fairly he termed polysyllabic ! Now ridicule of the learned President of the if those English words were the only poly. American Philosophical Society. syllabic forms of our language, this might We must, however, in fairness, make an be fairly called monosyllabic, we suggest : ample extract of the writer's argument as it but how two, four, or five words, as in the proceeds: Chinese instance quoted, each having, and preserving its separate and complete sense, “ The learned authors of the historical and should by mere juxta-position become syl- descriptive account of China, which is a part lables, i. e. without à sense, we cannot of the collection called The Edinburgh imagine. Even words, used phonetically, take, when they say that the idea of making lose their sense.
the written subservient to the spoken lanWe must distinctly avow our opinion that the difference between existing and ihe mind of a Chinese.' On the contrary, it
guage, seems never once to have occurred to original languages, is not in general suffi. is clear that the primary, and indeed the sole ciently attended to. For instance, it is object of the inventors of the writing, was to usually considered (and Doctor Du Pon give representative signs, to the words of the ceau is no exception) that languages were oral idiom, and consequently to make their originally polysyllabic: and yet , wherever graphic system subservient to it
, as in fact it we can examine them closely, we find their is and ever will be. That the literati of words consist of a double term, or of a pre- and consider speech as an altogether second,
China should entertain a different opinion, fix or affix conjoined; or else of an interfix ary and subordinate mode of communication," or infix, as it is usually called. We en is not at all to be wondered at; their excestirely doubt the existence of this last, for sive vanity led them into this prejudice, and wherever we can detect it, w have reason maintains them in it. to suspect it is the affix to the preceding or
“So far, at least, no sign appears of an prefix to the following syllable, or, more has been called. lis object, as far as we have
ideographic language, as the Chinese writing properly, word: being in itself simply the scen, is not to recall ideas to the mind absign of a case, or at other times an epithet; stracted from sounds, but the sounds or words but, in its apparent state, forming (with it. in which language has clothed those ideas. self) two other monosyllabic words into a The written signs do not, indeed represent polysyllable. These combinations have sounds in the elementary form of letters, but descended into subsequent forms of language in the compound form of syllables and words. as genuine polysyllables, such as we are They have precisely the same effect as our accustomed to consider them-excepting, farther into the ideal world. Then we may
of letters, and do not advance a step possibly, in the case of the Chinese, where, say that it is not an idea that each character if we may assume a fact, the intrinsic dis- represents, but a word ; and if it represents connection between the sound and the cha- the idea at all it is through the word which it
calls to mind; and such is the operation of to each, and through them the idea which our alphabetical writing. The five letters those words contain ; when grouped together which, placed next to each other, form the they only bring to inind the word she, and word horse, present to our minds the idea of the abstract idea of time.* the animal so called, quile as well as the ho. Now in the English cases here quoted is rizontal and perpendicular strokes of the it not evident that the separate words go for Chinese character answering to the same word. That group of letters might also be nothing in themselves, but
, combined, are called ideographic, when, in fact, it is but the signs of one idea ; and that we think and sign of a spoken word.”-pp. 24, 25.
perceive by this alone and through associaThe question here, however, is not wheth. tion? In fact, do not ideas pass through our
The question here, however, is not wheth- minds incessantly without giving us the time er the idea is as well represented, but wheth. to shape them into words ? and if we wish to er by the same process. Again,
detain them is it not by mentally shaping “ Man spoke before he wrote, and lan- them into words? To argue otherwise and guages were fixed before any system of writ- insist, with our author, that the word pre. ing was invented. Before ihe invention of cedes the idea, would be to make the mate. their characters, the Chinese communicated rial more feet and less tangible than the by means of knotted cords like the Quipos of the Peruvians. They might be yet in a
immaterial—to affirm that thought is slower savage state when they invented their writ than speech. ing, but nevertheless they spoke and urder. If it be replied, that it is not the word itself, stood each other. Their ideas, then, had re- but the idea of the word that suggests itself, ceived an external shape, the impression of this is but shifting the ground without for. which was made through the sense of bear. warding the argument; for it is only saying ing, and therefore they were not driven, like that we prefer the idea of the representation those born deaf and dumb, to give them an original form, derived only from their sensa.
to the idea of the reality, and in our wish to tions. Where a solitary language exists, be see the thing itself we turn, instead, to its it ocular or auricular, 'ideas present them- reflex. selves to the mind clothed in the forms that In ihe Chinese illustrations of the latter that language has given them. The deaf part of our quotation, we think the Doctor and dumb man, before he has learned to read, satisfactorily refutes his own argument—and thinks in the visible signs by means of which we have already examined a precisely simi. he communicates with his fellows; when, by lar instance. the art of De l'Epée and his followers, he has learned to understand some written language,
From his resolute adhesion to the opinion he thinks in the groups of letters or charac- that the system in question represents words ters the meaning of which he knows, and and no ideas it naturally arises that the which memory presents to his recollection learned president cannot enter in the feeling through the mental eye. Without these helps of pleasure boasted by the Chinese as de. his ideas would be vague and confused, hav, rived from the bare inspection of their writing nothing on which to fix themselves; and they would be reduced to the feeling of that the process by which these impress the
ten characters. Having made up
his mind present sensations and the recollections of The past.”—p. 25.
understanding is precisely the same as the These “ visible signs
formative systein of our alphabets, he is con
are conventional, not elementary.
tent to refer, in a somewhat bantering and
sceptical tone, the perception of those " pic. “When we say hand-maid, we think of a turesque beauties" to the force of imagina. female servant, not of the part of the body tion in natives, and in scholars also. The called the hand. When we say Bridewell, we neither think of a bride nor of a well, much
Chinese-says one of their writers—lay the less of St. Bridget or St. Bride, after whom stress on the characters, not on the sounds. the place was denominated; we think only Foreign nations prefer sounds, and these are of a house of detention. When we say a sonorous and admirable. The Chinese prehogshead, (meaning a cask to contain liquor,) fer symbols, 23 more perspicuous and far we do not ihink of the animal called hog, nor more readily varied. They seek delight by any part of nis body. When we speak of the
Our fair characters charm the eye, hands of a ship, we ihink of the men, not of
“ It their hands. It is the same with the Chinese. our chief medium of communication. The word she or chi, which signifies time, is seems to me impossible," says M. de Remu. represented in writing by a group of three
*However complicated any character may characters, which severally signify the sun, the earth, and a measure; as who should say, appear, still the compound, though it embrace six
or seven characters, like compounds in Greek 'the sun measuring the earth,' or in plainer and Sungskrit, expresses only one idea, and still language, the revolutions of the sun round remains an adjective, a substantive, a verb &c,, the earth;' a very just and ingenious meta. as capable of union with other characters, as the phor. But, though these three characters simplest character in the language. Marshma, separately represent the several words affixed Clavis Sinica, p. 4."
sat, “ to express in any language, the energy | And in proof of his assertion, he adds :
grace, bad, all. We think, wound, subst. Little consideration will suffice to show, and verb, would be a better illustration. Now that if an agreeable object, a woman, or a these are but modifications of sound produced flower, is expressed by a character that com- by combination, and resulting from the varibines the thing itself with its several attributes, ous sources whence our etymology is de. as sweetness, grace, beauty, so as to con. rived—partly from neighbouring, partly from dense that and these into a single impression ancient, partly from oriental nations. They through the
eye on the sense, the impression are, we repeat, modifications, or at the ut. must be stronger than when the result is at. most, and in some very few instances, di. tempted by a successive enumeration, which gammic changes, but in no case, like the heightens gradually, but by that very gradu. Chinese, completely and essentially different ation partially distracts. A finished picture and independent sounds such as would produces a more striking effect than when the change of bad to cole or line; of bough we see the successive finishing strokes ap- to trip; of ought to slide, &c. plied. A hideous figure, invested with all the attributes of terror, produces a far great. with the Chinese characters. And if this fact
“Of course the same thing may happen er effect when seen at once by the eye
than when these attributes are successively as. Dr. Marshman's principle, than in favour of
proves any thing, it is rather in opposition to sumed; and still more than when read of, or it: for it proves that the characters thus vary. described. This last is the more appropri. ing their pronunciation may represent differ. ate simile, since our words excite the ideas ent words, precisely as our letiers represent for the understanding, while Chinese charac. different elementary sounds.”—p. 35. ters half-picture the objects on the retina; and those characters consequently may be
If bought, dough, &c., so grouped, had considered as holding a power, inferior in. Characters are exactly like groups first, then
each two sounds, the cases might be parallel. deed, to the reality, but superior to the rela. tion of it in words; they are a conventional best. If they have the qualities of both, they
letters or parts of groups, as suits our author picturesque. That there is some difficulty in conceiving
can be neither. this fact, is perhaps an additional argument refers to poetry
The concluding argument of this section in its favour. Doctor Du Ponceau admits the occasional validity of an argument à pri " If the Chinese writings were, as it is call ori, and uses it himself. We here followed, ideographic, or, as it is asserted to be, a the example : for as the mind creates no complete ocular language, independent of the thing, but at the utmost simply combines the oral mode of communication and unconnect. results of its own or of others experience, we ed with it, it would have its poetry and its may fairly affirm that our experience of al prose, and a style peculiar to itself. It would phabets never could have helped our alpha- fact stand? The poetry of the Chinese is
be translated, not read. But how does the betic races to the above conclusion or asser- addressed to the ear. It is measured, and tion by the Chinese of the effect their charac- has even recourse for its harmony to the jina ters produce; and that to produce an effect gle of rhyme. How could a poem be read if so different from our experience and so dif. every character did not represent a single ficult to conceive when assorted and untried, word, and if those characters and the words must require a system essemially different which they are intended to express were not from our own.
placed in the same order of succession ? And If further proof were necessary it would that there are beauties in the selection and
as to prose. There are some who believe be found in this passage from Marchman's in the arrangement of the characters in the grammar: "The sound of no character," formation of a period. As to the selection ; says he, “is inherent therein : it may be if the character from among which one is se. totally changed without affecting the mean. lected represent or recall the same word, ing of the character. Thus to the character which they must necessarily do, I have shown of yin, a man, might be affixed tao or lee, or that their etymography can have no effect any other name, and the character would upon the mind of the reader, which seizes still convey the same idea, because the writ: idea. As to a different arrangement of signs
the word, and through it receives the ten language speaks wholly to the eye." I representing different words, as the syntax of
the Chinese language depends chiefly on their not each, on seeing those figures so placed juxtaposition, it would create a cacophony in in fives, give them, from one to sixty, the reading that word, to the hearer, make the Chinese sounds as they appear sense of the characters perfect nonsense. is impossible, therefore, to accede to such a
And would any one pretend that these figures supposition ; the writing must servilely follow therefore contained in themselves those (althe words spoken, otherwise there will be phabetic) sounds? It follows then that all two different languages, and one must be Chinese wonld read alike the characters that translated into the other. But this is not pre- represent those sounds as conventionally estended. Besides, prose as well as poetry is tablished, and much the same as if they were written for the ear and not for the eye. written for us alphabetically, and hié and mié There is a harmony of sounds which every would rhyme sufficiently, though no part of writer is bound to attend to, and to attempt the written character hié coriesponds with to combine it with a supposed harmony of signs, would be a task, in my opinion, beyond any part of the written chatacter for mié. the power of talent and of genius, however
Doctor Du Poncheau further makes use of exalted, to compass.”—pp. 35, 36.
an argument or assumption, which we con. Referring to, rather than repeating former ceive to be strangely contrary to universal arguments, we shall merely say, that if from experience, namely, that from “words spelt his earliest years a Chinese understands that in the same manner no confusion ensues. a certain character is to recall a certain sound,
« Nor would it in the Chinese, if one it will do so with him as regularly as if the character absolutely expressed that sound.-- all the words which are pronounced in the
character only was employed to represent The figure 2 does not express the sound we same manner. M. Remusat himself gives give to it, but implies or recalls it, and at the us a fact in support of this proposition, too end of a line would thus furnish a rhyme to strong to be omitted. He says, that at this true, though its appearance amongst syllables time the merchants, mechanics, and other might be irregular enough. But our author unlettered men in China, paying very little everywhere repeats that such a process is attention to the symbols, are contented translating, not reading. The objection is
with making use of one single character for
each pronunciation, in whatever sense the not to the act, but to the word ; to translate syllable may be used, while the literati is to render from one language into another, write them with different characters. but he insists that characters do not form a Now, nothing can be more plain, than language ; it cannot then, by his own show that if any thing peculiarly requires clearing, be called translating. But the term is a ness in the mode of writing, it is the conmere quibble, and our objection little better. tracts of merchants and mechanics, and We need not stand on either; the idea or
their correspondence on matters of busithing has a representative sign or written to settle the whole question.”—p. 64.
This act appears to me sufficient character; and a spoken sign or term : the two may be independent of each other, yet The author is a scholar, but can have not be the more for this unconnected, as Dr. made tittle use of his acquired learning in Du Ponceau would dextrously imply; but this assertion. We put it to every man livproceed collaterally, like the two sides of an ing, if confusion does not constantly arise isosceles triangle, from the idea, or common from the source referred to? And if it is not point of junction, to their basis in the mind, merely from the context that the sense in where they are connected with each other.
these cases is discoverable, who can tell We take as a specimen of Chinese poetry whether the word sound, the Doctor's own the commencement of the Ode on Tea.
illustration, standing singly, signifies "noise, Mei.hoa chê pou yao.
an arm of the sea, healthy, orthodox, or tryFo-cheou hiang tsie kiè,
ing a depth ?" is not the omission of the Soung-che ouei fang ny;
diacritical points in Hebrew, Arabic, Persian; San pin tchou tsing küè.
the adop:ion, through negligence, of one orPong y tchè kio tang,
thography for total different words; the con. Ou tchè tcheng koang hiuè, Houo heou pien yu hiè,
founding by one signu b, s, t, p, for instance ; Ting yen y cheng miè.
by > ch, j, kh, h ; by »d and z; by u Zg 1, Yuè Ngueou po sien jou,
and zh; an endless stumbling-block to naTan lou ty tchan yuè,
tives themselves ? But in the particular case Ou yun king tai pan
of merchants and mechanics, does not the Ko ou, pou ko choué.
Shekesteh writing of Persia, and Hindostan Suppose every insiividual had been ac. use but a single character for each pronunci. customed through life to give these sixty ation, without reference to scientific correctChinese words as the sound of the first sixty ness of orthography, as t, k, t, for tukht? and of our numercial figures, and no other, would does not eternal confusion ensue? Is not