An Investigation of Wang Niensun’s theory of the interdependence of sound and meaning (sheng-yi hsiang-t’ung sho) through the reading of Kuang-ya Shu-cheng
LANGUAGE NOTE | Document text in Chinese; abstract also in English.
In his introduction to Kuang-ya Shu-cheng, Wang Nien-sun notes that "the essence of meaning is lodged in the sound". In interpreting ancient meaning, Kuang-ya Shu-cheng usually takes different phonetics that convey the same meaning as interchangeable. In recent studies, not much has been written on the linguistic components and the tonal relations concerning Wang's interchangeable theory, and there still awaits an in-depth analysis of his theory of the interdependence of sound and meaning. This paper provides a throughout analysis of examples concerning the interdependence of sound and meaning in Kuang-ya Shu-cheng. This paper (1) explains the special terms used in the work, showing that characters of different sound but conveying the same meaning include not only loan characters (t'ung-chia tzu 通假字) but also cognate words (t'ung-yuan tzu 同源字) and variants (yi-t'i tzu 異體字). (2) provides statistical tables in support of the point that examples of interchangeable characters mentioned by various special terms are in fact homophones or near homophones. (3) examines the rationale behind Wang's discussion of loan characters. (4) evaluates Wang's theory of the interdependence of sound and meaning, so as to serve as a supplement to existing research.
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