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Jiyun 集韻

Jul 17, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Jiyun 集韻 "Assembled rhymes" is a character dictionary from the Northern Song period 宋 (960-1279). The characters are arranged according to pronunciation, in rhyme groups. It was compiled shortly after the publication of the Guangyun 廣韻 dictionary. The latter was criticised as quoting outdated material and as being too short for a dictionary.

A less known dictionary, the Yunlüe 韻略, was likewise criticized for its shortness and many errors in the structure. Emperor Renzong 宋仁宗 (r. 1022-1063) therefore ordered Ding Du 丁度 (990-1053) to compile a new rhyme dictionary, which was completed and submitted to the throne in 1039.

The structure of the Jiyun is largely the same as in the Guangyun. There are differences in the order of the homophonic groups and the classification of rhyme groups as exclusive or "stand-alone" groups (duyong 獨用) or as sounds shared by several characters (tongyong 同用 or 通用). Some characters are also listed under different rhyme groups than in the Guangyun. Compared to the Guangyun the Jiyun also renders a lot of alternative readings (you yin X 又音某 "has also the pronunciation X"). The main difference between the two dictionaries is yet that the Jiyun contains 53,525 characters, almost the double figure as in the Guangyun. Quite a few of these these are alternative characters (yitizi 異體字). This seems to be an advantage, but on the other hand, the Jiyun does not render sources or explanations for the different shapes of the same character.

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