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Fundamentals of Chinese Characters (review)

Fundamentals of Chinese Characters (review) Reviews 579 John Jing-hua Yin. Fundamentals of Chinese Characters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006. xx, 401 pp. Paperback $45.00, isbn 0-300-10945-8. For the Jesuit Joseph de Prémare (1666–1736), author of the first comprehensive grammar of Chinese to be written in either China or Europe, each Chinese charac- ter represented the divine wisdom associated with Christian theology. For exam- ple, the character 來 (to come) was a visual representation of Christ on the cross together with two “small persons” (thieves) who died with him. The character 午 (noontime) was so constructed because Christ was crucified at that time of the day. The numerals 一, 二, and 三, all composed of a single component, the hori- zontal line, indicated the divine trini T tyo . day’s students and scholars of Chinese language would quickly laugh at these stories and easily dismiss them as fanciful imagination and wishful speculation. Deep down, however, as David Porter has shown, Prémare’s imagination and speculation was rooted in a European fascination with the form and function of Chinese characters dating back to the seventeenth century. For European readers following the footsteps of Francis Bacon (1561–1626) and Gottfried Leibniz (1646– 1716), Chinese characters possessed one http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

Fundamentals of Chinese Characters (review)

China Review International , Volume 16 (4) – Jul 13, 2011

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-9367

Abstract

Reviews 579 John Jing-hua Yin. Fundamentals of Chinese Characters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006. xx, 401 pp. Paperback $45.00, isbn 0-300-10945-8. For the Jesuit Joseph de Prémare (1666–1736), author of the first comprehensive grammar of Chinese to be written in either China or Europe, each Chinese charac- ter represented the divine wisdom associated with Christian theology. For exam- ple, the character 來 (to come) was a visual representation of Christ on the cross together with two “small persons” (thieves) who died with him. The character 午 (noontime) was so constructed because Christ was crucified at that time of the day. The numerals 一, 二, and 三, all composed of a single component, the hori- zontal line, indicated the divine trini T tyo . day’s students and scholars of Chinese language would quickly laugh at these stories and easily dismiss them as fanciful imagination and wishful speculation. Deep down, however, as David Porter has shown, Prémare’s imagination and speculation was rooted in a European fascination with the form and function of Chinese characters dating back to the seventeenth century. For European readers following the footsteps of Francis Bacon (1561–1626) and Gottfried Leibniz (1646– 1716), Chinese characters possessed one

Journal

China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jul 13, 2011

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