Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

verfation, he had any difficulty in never says that he will depart to. determining whether the idea of fun morrow; because the expreilion of (which thines), or thảt of fon (obey- the morrow is fuficient to ascertain ing his father), was meant to be that his departure must be future. conveyed, though the words are not The plural number is remarked by to be diftinguished in the pronuncia- the addition of a word, without tion. Synonymous words are also which the fingular always is applivery frequently introduced in Chi- ed. Neither the memory, nor the nese dialogue, as has been before organs of speech are burthened with observed, to prevent any doubt a the pronunciation of more founds to bout the intended sense. If, how- express ideas, than are absolutely ever, in an intricate discussion, any neceflary to mark their difference. uncertainty thould still remain as to The language is entirely monofyllathe meaning of a particular expref- bic. A single fyllable always exfion, recourse is had to the ultimate presses a complete idea. Each fylcriterion of tracing with the finger sable may be founded by an Euro. in the air, or otherwise, the form of ropean consonant preceding bowel,

the character, and thus ascertaining fometimes followed by a liquid: at once which was meant to be ex- Such an order of words, prevents prefled.

the harshness of succeeding confo66 The learner of Chinese is, be- nants founding ill together; and fides, not puzzled with many minute renders the language as soft and rules of grammar, conjugation, or harmonious as the Italian is felt to declension. There is no necessity of be, from the rarity of consonants, distinguishing substantives, adjec- and the frequency of its vowel tertives, or verbs: nor any accordance minations, of gender, number, and case, in a " The first sounds emitted proChinese sentence. That language bably by man, were exclamations furnishes, indeed, a practical proof, confifting of single sounds, or mothat the laborious ftru&ure, and in- nosyllables. The names, or sounds, tricate machinery of the Greek and by which men may be first fupposed Arabic tongues, are by no means to have distinguished other animals, necessary either for a complete when occasion offered to designate communication on all the busi- , them in their absence, were atness of life, or even to the grace of tempts at an imitation of the sounds elocution, or to the harmony of peculiar to those beings; and still, verse. The beginning or end of in Chinese, the name, for example, words is not altered, as it is in the of a cat, is a pretty near resemGreek verb alone, in above one blance of its usual cry. It occurthousand instances, by the times of red as naturally to endeavour, in performing the action meant to be speaking, to imitate the voice, if expressed, or the cases in which the practicable, as it was in writing, to things mentioned are intended to be sketch a rude figure of the object of placed. A very few particles de- defcription. It is observable, that note the past, the present, and the the radical words of most languages, future; nor are those auxiliaries em- separated from the servile letters, ployed when the intended time may which mark their inflections, ac. be otherwise inferred with certainty. cording to their conjugations or deA Chinese who means to declare his clensions, are nionofyllabic. A part intention of departing to-morrow, of each radical word is retained in

H2

com.

composition to denote the meaning the written language, there are at and etymology of the compound, least eighty thousand characers, or which thus becomes polysyllabic; different forms of letters; which but the Chinese grammarians, a- number, divided by the first, gives ware of the inconvenience resulting nearly tifty senses, or characters, upfrom the length and complication of on an average, to every sound exsounds, confined all their words, preffed ; a disproportion, however, however fignificant of combined that gives more the appearance, ideas, to fingle sounds; and retain- than the reality, of equivocation and ed only in writing, some part, at uncertainty to the oral language of least, of the form of each character the Chinese. Johnson's English denoting a simple idea, in the com- Dictionary affords instances of words pound characters conveying com- taken in upwards of one hundred plex ideas.

different senses, without any doubt 66 There is in the Chinese a cer- being thereby felt in Englith contain order, or settled syntax in the versation; where, indeed, if there succession of words in the same sen- were, no recourse can be had for tences; a fucceffion fixed by custom, ascertaining its precise sense, as in differently in different languages; but the Chinese, to the form of the writ. founded on no rule or natural order ten character peculiar to each sense of ideas, as has been fonretimes tup- in which the word is received. posed; for though a sentence con “ The number of words in any lists of several ideas, to be rendered language, or at least of fenses in by several words, these ideas, all which each word is understood, exist and are connected together in muft depend chiefly on the fate of the same inftant: forming a picture, civilization to which the people that or image, every part of which is use it are arrived; and in some deconceived at once. The formation gree also, on the population of the of Chinese sentences is often the country, and on the arts flourishing fimplest and most artless possible, among them. It is not surprising, and luch as may naturally have oc- therefore, that the Chinese dictioncurred at the origin of fociety. To ary should contain, at least eighty interrogate, for example, is often, at thousand characters. Perhaps if least, to require the folution of a every sense in which an Englifh question, whether the subject of term is fometimes received, were doubt be in a particular way, or the confidered as a distinct word, and contrary; and accordingly, a Chi- the vast variety of those employed nele inquiring about his friend's in the different arts and occupatios health, will fometimes fay, bou, poo of life were taken into the account, tou. The literal meaning of which the number would not be much is, ó well, not well?' A fimple cha- fewer than that of the Chinese. racter, repeated, ftands, fometimes “ The characters of the Chinelo for more ihan one of the objects, language were originally traced. in which, fingly, it denotes; and moit inttances, with a view w erfometimes for a collective quantity preis either real images, or the alleof the same thing. The character gorical signs of ideas: a circle, for of mo, tingly, is a tree; repeated, example, for the fun, and a crescent is a thichet; and tripled, is a to- for the moon. A man was reprereit.

sented by an erect figure, with lines '" In Chinete, there are foarcely to mark the extremities. It was eri. Ofteen hundred diftinct rounds. In dent that the ditculty and tedivul:

nes

nefs of imitation will have occasion- nus, of which the representation of a ed foon a change to traits more sim- curve line approaches somewhat to ple, and more quickly traced. Of the form of the object; and the the entire figure of a man, little species referable to it include all the more than the lower extremities on- sentiments, pallions, and affections, ly continue to be drawn, by two that agitate the human breast. lines forming an angle with each Each species is accompanied by other. A faint resemblance, in some fome mark denoting the genus, or few instances, itill remains of the o- heart. Under the genus •hand,' are riginal forms in the present hiero- arranged most trades and manual exglyphic characters; and the grada-ercises. Under the genus ' word, tion of their changes is traced in se. every sort of speech, study, writing, veral Chinese books. Not above understanding, and debate. A hohalf a dozen of the present charac- rizontal line marks a unit; crossed ters consist each of a single line; by another line, it stands for ten, as but most of them consist of many, it does in every nation which reand a few of fo many as seventy dif- peats the units after that number. ferent strokes. The forın of those The five elements of which the characters has not been lo flux as Chinese suppose all bodies in nature the sound of words, as appears in to be compounded, form so many the instance of almost all the co in genera, each of which comprehends tries bordering on the Chinese fea, a great number of species under it. or Eastern Asia, where the Chinese As in every compound character, or written, but not the oral language, fpecies, the abridged mark of the is understood; in like manner as genus is discernib e by a student of one form of Arabic figures to de- that language, in a little time, he is note numbers, and one set of notes enabled to consult ihe Chinese dicfor music, are uniform and intelli- tionary, in which the compound gible throughout Europe, notwith- characters, or species, are arranged standing the variety. of its lan- under their proper genera. The guages.

characters of these genera are placed “ A certain order or connection is at the beginning of the dictionary, to be perceived in the arrangement in an order, which, like that of the of the written characters of the alphabet, is invariable, and soon beChinese; as if it had been formed comes familiar to the learner. The originally upon a system to take species under each genus follow place at once, and not grown up, as each other, according to the numother languages, by flow and distant ber of strokes of which each conintervals. Upwards of two hundred fifts, independently of the one, a characters, generally consisting each few, which serve to point out he of a few lines or strokes, are made genus. The species wanted is chus to mark the principal objects of na- foon found out. Its meaning and ture, somewhat in the manner of pronunciation are giren through obilhop Wilkin's divisions, in his in- ther words ia common use, the first genious book on the subject of uni- of which denotes its fignification, versal language, or real character. and the other, its found. When These may be considered as the ge- no one common word is found to nera, or roots of language, in which render exactly the same found, it is every other word, or ipecies, in a communicated by two words, with systematic sense, is referred to its marks, to inform the inquirer that the proper genus. The heart is a ge- confonant of the first word, and the

нз.

* Towel

vowel of the second, joined toge- of them, each would hear names ther, form the precise found want- and sounds not common to both. ed.

Each reciprocally would mark down “ The composition of many of such names, in the sounds of its the Chinese characters often dil- own characters, bearing, as hieroplays, confiderable ingenuity; and glyphics, a different sense. In that serves aiso to give an inlight into instance, consequently, those chathe opinions and manners of the racters cease to be hieroglyphics, people. The character expreslive and were merely marks of found. of happiness, includes abridged If the foreign sounds could not be marks of land, the source of their exprefled but by the use of a part physical, and of children, that of of two hieroglyphics, in the manner their moral enjoyments. This cha- mentioned to be used sometimes in racter, embellished in a variety of Chinese dictionaries, the two marks ways, is hung np almost in every joined together, become in fa&t a houte. Sometinies written by the syllable. If a freqnent intercourse hand of the emperor, it is sent by Thould take place between coinmuhim as a compliment, which is very nities, speaking different languages, highly prized; and such as he was the necessity of using hieroglyphics pleated to send to the embailador.

merely as marks of found, would Upon the formation, changes, frequently recur. The practice and allutions of compound charac- would lead imperceptibly to the ters, the Chinese have published discovery that, with a few hieroglymany thousand volumes of philolo- phics, every sound of the foreign, gical learning. No where does cri. Janguage might be expressed ; and ticismı more abound, or is more the hieroglyphics, which answered Strict. The introduction, or altera. best this purpose, either as to exacttion of a character is a serious un- nels of sound, or fimplicity of form, dertaking; and seldom fails to meet would be selected for this particular with oppofition. The most ancient use; and, serving as so many letters, writings of the Chinese are still would form, in fact, together what classical amongst them. The lan- is called an alphabet. This natural guage seems in no inftance to have progreflion has actually taken place been derived from, or mixed with, in Canton, where, on account of any other. The written, feems to the vast concourse of persons, uling have followed the oral, language the English language, who resort to Soon after the men who spoke it it, a vocabulary has been published were formed into a regular society. of English words in Chinese chalaugh it is likely that all hiero- racters, expreflive merely of found, glyphical languages were originally for the use of the native merchants founded on the principles of imita- concerned in fcreign trade; and tion, yet in the gradual progress to- who, by such means, learn the wads arbitrary forms and sounds, it sounds of English words. To each is probable that every fociety devi- character is annexed a mark, to deated from the originals, in a differ- note that it is not intended to conent manner from the others; and vey the idea, but merely the fothus for every independent fociety, reign found attached to it. The there arote a separate hieroglyphic habit of applying the found, inftead language. As soon as a communi- of the meaning of hieroglyphics, to cation took place between any two foreign words, led to the applica

tion of them likewise as sounds, to for their mutual explanation to a allift the memory in the pronuncia- learner. tion of other hieroglyphics in the “ The principal difficulty in the same language, but not in common ftad, of Chinese writings, arises from use; and the repeated application the general exclusion of the auxiof them for those purposes may be liary particles of colloquial lanat length supposed to have effaced guage, that fixed the relation be- . their original use. Thus the paf- ween indeclinable words, such as are sage from hieroglyphic to alphabe- all those of the Chinese language.-tic writing may naturally be traced, The judgment must be constantly without the necessity of having re-exercised by the student, to supply * course to divine instruction, as the absence of such assistance. • fome learned men have conjectur- That judgment must be guided by

ed, on the ground that the art of attention to the manners, customs, · writing by an alphabet is too re- laws, and opinions of the Chinese, • fined and artificial for untutored and to the events and local circum• reason.' It is, indeed, equally na- stances of the country, to which the tural to suppose that no such art allusions of language perpetually recould have preceded the establish- fer. If it, in general, be true that ment of hieroglyphic, as that a mix a language is difficult to be underture of other nations fuperinduced stood in proportion to the distance the invention of alphabetic, lan- of the country where it is spoken, guage. The exclusive existence of and that of him who endeavours to the former still in China is a proof acquire it; because in that proporand an instance, that the number of tion the allusions to which lanforeigners who had ever found their guage has continually recourse are way among them, as the Tartars, less known to the learner ; some idea for example, however warlike and may be conceived of the obstacles victorious, bore so very finall a pro- which an European may exped to portion to the vanquished, that it meet in reading Chinese, not only introduced no more a change in from the remoteness of situation, their language, than in their usages but from the difference between and manners.

him and the native of China in all “ The Chinese printed charac- other respects. The Chinese chater is the same as is used in most racters are, in fact, sketches or at manuscripts, and is chiefly formed bridged figures, and a sentence is of ftraight lines in angular posi- often a string of metaphors. The tions, as most letters are in Eaitern different relations of life are not tongties; especially in Shanfcri marked by arbi rary founds, fioply the characters of which, in some conveying the idea of such connecindiances, adınit of additions to tion but the qualities naturally their original form, producing a expected to arise out of such relamodification of the sense. A run- tions become frequently the name ting hand is used by the Chinese by which they are respectively only on trivial occafions, or for pri- known. Kindred, for example, of vate notes, or for the eate and ex every degree, is thus diftinguithed, pedition of me writer; and differs witli a minuteneis unknown in ofrom the other as much as an Euro ther languages. That of China pean manuscript does from print. has distinct characters for every moThere are books with alternate dification, known by them, of ob ruluinns of both kinds of writing, jects in the physical and intellectual

H4 world

« AnteriorContinuar »