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Chinese Literature
Shiming 釋名 Dicionary "Explaining Terms"


The Shiming 釋名 "Explaining terms" is a glossary dictionary compiled at the end of the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220) by Kong Xi 孔熙. With the Confucian concept of retifying names and terms (zhengming 正名) he tried to write a dictionary providing the correct designation of all items humans deal with. His dictionary is therefore arranged in an encyclopedical manner, beginning with Heaven and geography, proceeding to human relationships and language, and ending with various objects of all spheres of human activity. The 27 chapters are arranged in 8 juan "scrolls". For each character entry he does not even provide an explanation but first a kind of memorizing help through a homophonous word which at the same times helps explaining the lexeme word. The whole dictionary is structured according to this concept. This method is called shengxun 聲訓 or yinxun 音訓 "explanation through sound". Although this method today seems to be simply a memorizing help during the Han period, when cosmological speculations were a common philosophical field, the homophonous similarities were also of a semantic significance.
The Shiming is not only an important source for the treasury of words of Han period everyday language, but also for the study of ancient Chinese phonology.
There is a surviving Ming period 明 (1368-1644) reprint of a Song period 宋 (960-1279) printing, which contains a lot of errors. The Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Bi Yuan 畢沅 wrote a text-critical commentary, the Shiming shuzheng 釋名疏證, in which he rectifies these errors. An additional work has been written by Wang Xianqian 王先謙, the Shiming shuzheng bu 釋名疏證補.

Source: Ye Xiangling 葉祥苓 (1988). "Shiming 釋名", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Yuyan wenzi 語言文字, p. 77. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

Guang shiming 廣釋名 "Extended Shiming"

The Guang shiming 廣釋名 "Extended Shiming" is a glossary dictionary from the Qing period 清 (1644-1911). It was written by Zhang Jinwu 張金吾 as a supplement to the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) glossary Shiming 釋名. The 2 juan "scrolls" long Guang shiming was completed in 1814. Zhang collected words and terms from the Han period not included in the Shiming and composed a supplement, arranged in the same way and constructed with the same method as the Shiming. The dictionary is divided into encyclopedic fields of nature and human acitivites. For each character, a homophonous word is given which, in a unitary cosmological sense, serves as an explanation of the lexeme.
The Guang shiming is included in the collectaneum Zhibuzuzhai congshu 知不足齋叢書.

Source: Zhou Zumo 周祖謨 (1988). "Guang shiming 廣釋名", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Yuyan wenzi 語言文字, p. 115. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

Contents of the Shiming
1. 釋天 Tian Heaven
2. 釋地 Di Earth
3. 釋山 Shan Mountains
4. 釋水 Shui Rivers
5. 釋丘 Qiu Hills
6. 釋道 Dao Regions
7. 釋州國 Zhouguo Provinces
8. 釋形體 Xingti The human body
9. 釋姿容 Zirong Females
10. 釋長幼 Changyou Age and infanticy
11. 釋親屬 Xinshu Kinship
12. 釋言語 Yanyu Language
13. 釋飲食 Yinshi Drinking and food
14. 釋綵帛 Caibo Material and textiles
15. 釋首飾 Shoushi Head adornments
16. 釋衣服 Yifu Clothing
17. 釋宮室 Gongshi Palaces and buildings
18. 釋床帳 Chuangzhang Beds and covers
19. 釋書契 Shuqi Books and writing
21. 釋典藝 Dianyi Canons and classics
22. 釋用器 Yongqi Utensils
23. 釋樂器 Yueqi Musical instruments
24. 釋兵 Bing Military
25. 釋車 Che Carts
26. 釋疾病 Jibing Diseases
27. 釋喪制 Sangzhi Funeral
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

July 18, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail