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Chemical Nomenclature.


S some of the readers of the RECORDER know, the writer is compiling a comprehensive work on chemistry. It is

hoped to have the portion on inorganic qualitative analysis and the vocabulary ready early in 1894. In the preparation of this work he has been confronted with the difficulties of a faulty, inexpressive and incomplete nomenclature. This fact has rendered it advisable to make a few practical suggestions at this point on the subject of scientific nomenclature in general and of chemic terms in particular.

All of the scientific terms at present in use in China have been adopted by, or through, the influence of Westerners. To give to China a faulty scientific nomenclature, or to perpetuate the faults of Western terms by slavishly translating or transliterating them, will surely be nothing to the credit of Western educators. We now have two Committees on Revision of Nomenclature-one of the general missionary body and one of the Medical Missionary Association. It would seem to be wisdom on their part to attack this question as if they expected to settle it for all time. They should endeavor not to leave anything with the expectation of its being changed within the next generation. It seems to the writer that something like the following rules should guide them in their duties:


1st. To retain no term at present in use, however venerable its associations, when a better term can be found.

2nd. Not to transliterate a Western term when it can be translated, even though the rendering be rather "far-fetched," and it be necessary to give a special technic meaning to the Chinese term.

3rd. To translate, for use in text books, only the most modern and the most expressive terms. Old terms and terms not technically correct might be put in an addendum to their report for use by those who desire them. But the preferred term should be the one that most nearly describes the object. It is not worth while to transmit the inaccuracies of Western common terms, simply for the present convenience of a few Western teachers.

A thorough revision of terms is more practicable at the present time than it ever will be again. The editions of many of the text-books and scientific works are about exhausted, and new editions

can easily be made with the new nomenclature. Many works now in preparation are only awaiting the action of these Revision Committees, in order to have a settled terminology before publication. Let us, therefore, have a thorough revision and a useful and usable vocabulary.

And now for a few suggested changes in chemic nomenclature. First of all, the present term for nitrogen (,) should be changed. While answering to the requirement that the character should, if possible, express some quality or function of the object it represents, this term is most unfortunate. It is evidently meant to represent nitrogen's use as a diluent of the atmosphere. At the same time

is almost the only term that can be used in the sense of "dilute," or to express the operation of dilution, and sometimes most confusing combinations occur. As e. g., in chemic terms may mean either dilute hydrochloric acid, or nitro hydrochloric acid. Other instances of such confusion might be given. Dilution of the atmosphere is not the only, nor indeed the most important function of the element nitrogen. It is the essential element of all living things; the activity and change characteristic of all living things are only found where this element is present. Nitrogenized bodies are a necessary part of the food of all organic life. Plants consume it as ammonia, while animals uso it largely in the form of the albuminates (Parkes. op. cit.) Therefore a term meaning the vital, or energising element would be descriptive of its most important function. In these senses either of the characters, H, or could be used. The writer's preference is in the order named. Either of the terms is not open to serious objection, and would be most useful as expressing a very important use of the element, not only to students of medicine but to all classes of students. The character, which is an approximate translation of the Western term, is not usable for three reasons: 1st. It perpetuates the misconception of this element's important use, which gave rise to the name nitrogent", lit. nitre producer. 2nd. It is the common name of an article of commerce in China, which article contains not only nitre but also salts of sodium and of other bases. The use of such a term would be misleading and confusing to the Chinese student. 3rd. As the source of pure potassic nitrate, as well as of other salts, must be constantly used in descriptive chemistry, and this term would therefore be open to the same objection offered to, viz., that it would be used with two distinct technic meanings in the same book, and that such use would produce confusion rather than simplicity.

Another change that would tend to simplify terms very much is the discarding of from the names of the mineral acids and the

using of simply the name of the distinguishing element with As e.g.,,, . To these may be prefixed certain terms to designate the grade of the acid. The use of and 強 養 in the names of acids I regard as a meaningless expedient, and inasmuch as their use is entirely unnecessary they should be at once discarded. The use of is particularly objectionable since the one so designated is not peculiarly an oxygen acid, but all grades of acid, except the hydro-ic, contain oxygen. I propose to use as a prefix to represent the Western -ic, or -ate; -ous, or -ite; for hypo-ous, or hypo-ite; and for per-ic or perate. The ides will require no prefix, except where more than one with the same base occurs; when to the ous-ide may be prefixed and to the ic-ide. The following list will give an idea as to how these terms are to be used :



Hydrochloric Acid,

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Perchloric Acid,

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Pyrophosphoric Acid,

H4 P2 07




Fe' C16.




Na* SO3.


The character

should not be used in the names of salts with organic radicals. These salts are not nearly all acid in reaction, and is therefore misleading. The characterizing term of the radical with the name of the base is sufficient to express all that is needed, e.g., K*Q* &, etc. The use of to designate acid, or "bi" salts is also the perpetuation of an inaccuracy. All such salts should be distinguished by the use of ask. , etc. I would also do away with the meaningless and use "basic, middle and acid character" (,,, ) in expressing a salt's reaction.

These are a few of the many changes that might be made, and all would tend to make the nomenclature more simple, expressive and uniform.



To the Editor of

"THE CHINESE RECORDER." DEAR SIR: One of the important matters in connection with the Y. P. S. C. E. in China is the choice of a Chinese name which will be uniform for the whole empire.

It is hoped that the name may be officially determined at the first convention to be held next June. But meantime there should be a general consensus of opinion. It is desired that all persons using a name, or who have a choice for a name, should send the same to the General Secretary at Shanghai, together with the reasons for the preference.


General Secretary. (Vice Rev. C. F. Reid, resigned.)


If the editor of the CHINESE RECORDER questions the existence of k in the Shanghai dialect will he not ask a native to say lok-sih for it is snowing, or mak-sang-nyen for a stranger, or pak-sing, the people,


ch'uk-su for vegetarianism? He will then admit that final k is in the Shanghai dialect. Final t and final have died out long ago, but k still remains in such examples to attest what the old language was.

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It is heard best before 8, but it is also heard before t. If any one does not feel sure let him ask other foreigners, especially those who have never learned any dialect but that of Shanghai. There can be but one answer I think. There are other examples: pek-sing-dzang, black heart; dók-sû, to read aloud; tek-sing, virtuous disposition; hoksang-tsï, pupil; tók-sû, egg plant. J. E.

[We are sorry to have to disagree with Dr. Edkins in the above, but we do so in toto,-ED.]

To the Editor of

"THE CHINESE RECORDER." DEAR SIR: Yi-hwang as a title does not, I believe, occur in any ancient book. It is not in the Tautê-king. Nor is it in Chwang-tsï, nor in Lèê-tsï, nor in Hwai-nan-tsï. Mayers was an accurate student. He made marginal notes on his Chinese books, and was in the habit of referring to them in his researches. He is likely to be quite correct in his quotation in p. 127 of the Chinese Reader's Manual respecting the date of the inaugurating edict, which gave Yü-hwang his title A.D. 1116. Mayers made a special study of the Tang and Sung dynasties.

I have looked up the passage. It says, in the ninth month the emperor visited the temple called , Yü-ch'ing-ho-yangkung, and conferred the honourable title, Yü-ti-hwei-hau. The full title was 太上開天轨 ****INE A 符御曆舍眞體道昊天玉皇 L. Liu Ling-su is condemned by the Confucianist historian as deserving death for his misguided teaching. For it was by his advice that the emperor gave the title. The emperor went himself to the temple, holding in his hand the jade tablets in which the name was inscribed. He then conferred the title as above given.

The title, Yu-ti, was, I think, first used about four centuries after Christ. I have lost the volume in which it is used, so that I cannot verify the statement now.

In the early Taoist authors ti () is used for God. The examples of this are very numerous. Shang-ti is used in the early Confucian classics for God. In the Yi-king ti alone is used, In the Odes ti

is often employed, but so also is 上帝.

It seems to me quite clear that the Taoists from time to time invented names and legends much as they pleased. Doubtless Liu Lingsu thought he had gained a great triumph when he persuaded the emperor to act as he did. The tradition of God's existence and greatness has lasted with the Chi

nese nation from the earliest times. The Buddhists failed to destroy it by refined logic, the Taoists failed to hide God from the view of China by wrapping it up in legend. This is shown by the circumstance that the Confucianists reject both the Buddhist and Taoist view and keep to that of the classics.


Our Book Table.

An explanation of the Book of Job. By Rev. J. Jackson, Kiukiang, 1893.

On receiving this volume it seemed to us a venturesome undertaking. Many points required to be considered in the case of such a work and claiming high qualification for the purpose. The age, authorship and subject matter of it all demanded special and careful investigation as if only an accomplished expert could meet the requirement. And this all the more when the work was to be done in Chinese and in a style adapted to the understanding of the native readers. However we have looked into the volume and can only express our very great appreciation of it.


The brief introduction gives us a view of the antiquity and value of the original book and the manner in which the commentator prosecuted his work. He sought only to impart his ideas to the native teacher who conveyed them appropriate language to paper and so gave them in a form and style suited to the comprehension of his readers. Following this the author indicates in four chapters the contents of the book, the circumstances connected with it, the general import of it, the time in which it was composed and the "friends" mentioned in the course of it. There is much valuable information

under these heads for Chinese readers, and the whole is suggestive to them of views and ideas as to the ways of God to man, both in personal experience and social life. This aspect of the case, as depicted in the book before us, is profoundly interesting, and while meeting the speculations and theories of the Chinese, often expressed in their proverbs and moral writings, a flood of light is poured on the subject by the work in hand, calculated to do good service, alike in the Church and outside of it. We value the book very much on this account and thank the commentator for undertaking it and for doing it so well, describing as it does the common experience of human life and explaining in some degree the mystery connected with it.

Turning to the body of the book we are interested to see the way in which our author proceeds. At first he notes the general import of a few verses, which he places at the head of the commentary, where he gives a large amount of information on the points underlying the verses in question. Almost every variety of detail is given in each casemoral, geographical, historical and in the line of practical application. Numerous references are made to other passages of Scripture in corroboration of the subject under discussion, but not in a dry and

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