Studies in Philology
A Predictionary for Classical Chinese
E Bruce Brooks and A Taeko Brooks
Good luck to those interested in classical Chinese; nowhere in the world is it taught without a prerequisite of several years of modern Chinese. The only direct access to classical, now as in 1835, is self-study. This book attempts to make the self-study a little less arduous. It consists of 256 words taken from the core vocabulary of classical Chinese, plus a few hints on grammar, plus usage examples taken from actual texts.
There are 48,902 characters in the Morohashi dictionary, but most of them are rare objects or alternate forms, and can be left in Morohashi until called for. The task of the rational student is rather to master the frequently used part of the vocabulary as quickly as possible, and with it, some sense of what those words are talking about, in the 05th through 03rd centuries. Many of these words are routine grammatical particles, and need no sustained attention. But some of the high and medium frequency words are troublesome for interpretation because they are obscure in themselves, or used in contrasting ways in the classical period, or are easily misunderstood by someone coming at the classical period from a modern standpoint. It is a selection of those words that make up this book. They are illustrated with phrases or sentences taken from the most important of the classical texts.
And which texts are the most important? The usual reading selections in this field are Confucian, and tend to promote in the reader the smugness of the "superior man" point of view. To propagate this view is not a contribution to the world at large. This book is aware of those things, because they are there, but it also gives attention to the real life of the time: enforcing laws and criticizing policy; keeping the subject population in line below, and registering protest with the ruler above; making plans to make the new army ever more effective, and making plans to defeat that new army, and to envisioning a society wholly without war. Become aware of these issues is part of acquiring literacy in this part of the world. This book may thus be of use and interest to those making contact with classical China through its textual heritage, or as a closer focus for those who know it, and some of its interpretive problems, through such introductory works as the authors' own Emergence of China.
Extracts from 256 Words:
This small book is designed as an open access point, with all of Classical China opening out at the far end. That plus a bit of work on the reader's part.
E BRUCE BROOKS is Research Professor of Chinese at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
256 Words: A Predictionary for Classical Chinese
Approximately 320 pages.
Tentative $48.95 cloth. ISBN 978-936166-40-4
Tentative $25.95 paper. ISBN 978-036166-80-0
Release Date: To Be Announced
When announced, this book may be ordered from the University of Massachusetts Press
14 August 2011 / Contact The Project / Exit to Publications Page