????????????? = A study of the theory of jianshu in Wang Yun's (1784-1854) Shuowen shili
ABSTRACT of thesis entitled "A STUDY OF THE THEORY OF JIANSHU IN WANG. YUN'S (1784-1854) SHUOWEN SHILI" submitted by Ho Tim for the degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in February, 1988.
Liushu ( "^ "^ ), the six categories of Chinese characters, were developed by Chinese scholars down the history as inductions from careful analysis of the rules behind character construction. Xu Shen (30-124), in the Eastern Han Dynasty, was able to lay down concisely the definitions of liushu and use them to explicate the structure of characters in his work Shuowen jiezi. Since his definitions were generally broad, they suffered in many cases from being less than reasonable. To remedy this shortcoming of Xu's theory, subsequent scholars proposed the possibility of versatile combinations of the liushu. The first advocate of this theory was Lin Han (?-?) of late Tang. In the Song period, Zheng Qiao (1104-1160) made this a particular section in his historical work Tong Zhi. In this section, captioned Liushu lue, Zheng contributed a more comprehensive theory of jianshu of the liushu (or .Ltyshu combinations). Due to his virtual ignorance of liushu, Zheng's proposal was flawed both in categorization and explication. It was not until Wang Yun (1784-1854), an etymologist of Qing, who first utilized ancient inscriptions on bronze objects to analyze character construction, that a more convincing and versatile theory of the liushu combinations was developed. In his Shuowen shili,
he ably showed that four of the original liushu, namely, self-indication, pictography, picto-phonetic and associative compound were the basic rules of character construction, while the other two, were ways of using characters. Of the four basic rules of character construction, he pointed out that those that conformed to Xu Shen's theory were the regular ones, while those that underwent variations and combinations were irregular ones. According to this judgement, there were thirty-three irregular rules, eighteen of which involved combinations. Moreover, a character could involve two or even up to four ways of construction. Basically, his theory was derived from Xu Shen's, but it was much more intricate and elaborate. Today, fresh impact on the study of characters comes from the prolific unearthing of oracle-bones and bronze inscriptions. Not only is the sphere of study enlarged, new theories are proliferating. Combining these recently unearthed material and results of modern investigations, we shall be able to explain more accurately the stages of the development of character construction. We come very close to Xu Shen's original proposal that the first stage is that of simple figure wen, which later develops into compound zi. Between these two stages, there is a phase of half zi. Still there is another phase in which zj. grows into compound zi_ by contracting other elements of construction. According to these delineated methods of wen zi construction, there would be simple self-indication, compound self-indication, simple pictography, compound pictography, pictography combined with phonetic, simple picto-phonetic, picto-phonetic with overlapping meaning, and picto-phonetic
without overlapping meaning, associative compound, associative compound, combined with phonetic, associative compound combined with pictography, as well as compound picto-phonetic and combined associative compound. Their relations can be illustrated as follows:
?compound pictography ?pictography with phonetic simple picto-phonetic
j i?picto-phonetic with overlapping meanings
l 1?picto-phonetic without overlapping meanings
zi ----j?associative compound
i I j?associative compound combined with phonetic j
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:wang yun 1784 1854 shuo wen shi li ?? ????
Date of Publication:01/01/1988