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VARIATIONS IN CHINESE PROVERBS. The student of Chinese who essays to memorize Chinese sentences, whether gathered from books, or from the conversation of the natives, is beset with difficulties which place him at an immediate and conspicuous disadvantage with his surroundings. Among Western nations, the cultivation of a verbal memory is by no means in itself an end, and even where it appears to have been most cultivated, it may be doubted whether the success attained is equal to what in China would pass for failure. Under these disadvantages, he who ventures to launch upon the dangerous sea of quotation, will not improbably resemble the individual whose experience has been effectively described by the temperance orator, Mr. Gough, who struggled with the citation : “A wise son catcheth the early worm'-no, that is not it—an early bird maketh a glad father."” “As soon as they open their mouths, Foreigners make blunders” (sh - I 0. l.) was the comment of an uneducated countrymen upon a verbal slip, a class of slips which in Chinese are particularly difficult to avoid, since there is often no visible distinction between forms of expression to which usage has attached different, and perhaps radically opposite meanings.
With their unapproachable verbal memory, the Chinese combine a truly remarkable indifference to details, an indifference which does not in the least tend to diminish the difficulties of the student of their language. For dates, for example, which shall be in an Occidental sense exact, the Chinese care next to nothing. For them it is enough that an individual flourished contemporaneously with some Emperor, whose reign perhaps dragged through half a century. Whatever its historical merits may have been, the sexagenary cycle would soon drive any Western nation to distraction. Imagine the Chronology of Europe to have been settled somewhere—say at the date of the founding of Rome-with the notation of successive years by Roman letters-year one as AB, followed by BC for the second year, CD for the third, and so on until the alphabet is exhausted, when all is begun over again, on the reiterative principle of The House that Jack built. The reader of some mediæval history ascertains therefrom that a certain event-for instance the crowning of Charlemagne-happened in the year MN. Unless he is possessed of some independent means of ascertaining how many alphabetic cycles distant this occurrence was from some point which to him is fixed, it is difficult to see how he is the wiser for his lately acquired intelligence. Having no fixed point from which to start, the Chinese are obliged to be content with their cart-wheel chronology, and do not perhaps perceive its defects. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at, that their historical knowledge is often totally
lacking in perspective. Whatever anachronisms the Reader may detect in these pages, he will be obliging enough to refer to this cause. The same observations may be made-mutatis mutandis-with regard to wrong characters. What is a 'wrong character?' Scholars write 'wrong characters,' well printed and ostensibly carefully edited books abound in 'wrong characters,' and Chinese teachers maintain a species of chronic sparring match with each other, as to what is, and what is not in certain characters the correct thing as to tone and shape. No wonder that the proverb says of the Literary Graduate, with the emphasis of sarcastic reiteration: Flourishing Talent! Flourishing Talent! A mere Bag of false characters!' (.*. £.).
Citations from standard books, have of course a certain uniformity, though even these are sometimes recast into forms better adapted to popular speech than the original classical style. But it is in the ordinary proverbs, or su yü, that is to be recognized most distinctly the unfettered license of Chinese quotation. Proverbs which are not local, are described as current (), literally going through.' Now there are hundreds, and probably thousands of sayings, which do indeed 'go through' China, in the sense that they may every where be heard cited, while the forms in which they are heard in different localities, may vary widely. When such quotations are made, it is common to hear the remark: "That is not the way we say it'-followed by a different version, which not improbably merely gratifies the Chinese instinct for useless variation, without in the least either adding to or subtracting from the sense. Thus, of one who has had observation, but no experience, the Chinese say: 'Although he has never eaten pork, he has seen a pig move' (A.LL✯.). In a district where local usage has adopted the character which signifies 'to run' (H), as the equivalent of any kind of progress, that word is substituted in place of tsou at the end of the proverb just quoted, spoiling (to a foreign ear) the rhyme, and adding nothing to the meaning. The process by which other and more extensive changes have come about, may often be distinctly traced. The antithetical form of expression especially lends itself to such alterations. That each of the lines of a couplet should always be equally important, or equally adapted for popular citation, is scarcely to be expected. Probably not one reader in an hundred but is familiar with the line of Pope: "An honest man's the noblest work of God," but probably not one reader in ten could quote accurately-if indeed he could quote at all-the preceding line: "A wit's a feather, and a chief's a rod," which was obviously inserted, as critics have remarked, merely to serve as a foil for what was to follow. This example offers a complete analogue to
what has befallen a large class of Chinese couplets long and short, in which the specific gravity of one line has kept the sentence upright, so that it has contrived to go through' on one leg. The specific levity, on the contrary, of the other clause, has caused its almost complete disappearance. Yet popular sayings in China, as the song affirms of kindwords,' ' can never die,' and there is something about these one-legged expressions, which suggests at once to a Chinese, that there must have been another leg which is now lost-a conclusion at which he arrives through the same process of immediate inference,' by which a jockey is led to inquire for the 'other' footrest of a saddle which has but one stirrup, the unskilled foreigner innocently mistaking the phenomenon for a side-saddle. Still the single-limbed proverb 'goes on and on' (like the wooden leg in the ballad) until some quoter or hearer who has a 'large liver,' undertakes on his own account to supply the deficiency, and puts on a leg of his own manufactureor weaving(自編的)
A few examples will illustrate the innate capacities of variation, exhibited by Chinese proverbs. Many of them consist of two clauses either of which may be quoted without the other. Thus The eggs which are laid, will be like the fly' (FT.), and The molded brick will be like the mold' (‡‡ ##). In the numberless cases of this sort-where the connection is merely one of analogy, and each sentence furnishes a complete idea by itself, one might for years hear each of them constantly quoted, and never suspect any 'pre-established harmony' between the parts.
Many sayings are met with in both longer and shorter forms, with no essential difference in meaning. Thus 'To add flowers to embroidery' (E), is a common figure denoting e.g. presents to the rich, who do not need them. To send charcoal in a snowstorm' (1), signifies timely assistance in extremities, as to the very poor. Linked together, with a clause added, these expressions form an antithetical proverb in constant use: He who sends charcoal in a snowstorm is the true Superior man' (7), 'He who adds flowers to embroidery is a Mean man'(錦上添花是小人。). So also: On public service one is not his own master' (7 TE.), Or, Let him who would be a man, avoid public service, a public servant is not his own master; go he must, however high the wind, and come he must, however great the rain' (AY☀ *.7 差不自在風裏也得去、雨裏也得來。). When the windlass stops, the garden bed is dry' (THT), is condensed into:
'Windlass stopped-bed dry' (E). Endless variations are caused by the introduction of empty words,' and clauses which do not
modify the sense. 'One branch moves, an hundred branches shake' (-..). When one leaf moves, all the branches shake' (~ # H.7#.). If one branch does not move, an hundred branches do not shake' (~7 H.7 #7.).
Everyone has heard of the lad whose jack-knife first lost its handle, which was replaced by another, and then lost its blade, for which a fresh one was substituted. Some one having subsequently found the old handle and the old blade and recombined them, the question arose in which of the knives the original identity was now lodged.
In like manner, many Chinese proverbs have lines which have been otherwise married elsewhere. Every sect has its doctrine, and every doctrine its sect' (PP £ £ ¤† 1); 'Every sect has its doctrine, and every grain its kernel' (PY P‡‡¤ *.) ; 'Every doctrine has its door, every door has its god' (9.19 P). The loyal minister will not serve two masters; a virtuous woman can not marry two husbands' (忠臣不事二主烈女不嫁 ✯.). ‘A good horse can not wear two saddles, nor a loyal minister serve two masters'(好馬不背雙 忠臣不事二主。)‘Water which is distant can not save from a fire which is near; a relative
afar off is not equal to a near neighbor'(遠水救不了近火遠親不 .). ‘A relative at a distance is not so good as a near neighbor, and no neighbor so convenient as the one next door' (#7 E 鄰近鄰不如對門。)
In some proverbs we meet with slight variations which essentially modify, or even reverse the sense. The Chinese, like other Orientals, are convinced of the inherent jealousy of women. It is impossible to be more jealous than a woman’最好不過的是婦人心。). Another version, however, is much stronger: 'It is impossible to be more malevolent than a woman'(最毒不過的是婦人心。)‘If a horse gets no wild grass he never grows fat; if a man does not receive lucky help, he never grows rich'(馬不得野草不肥人不得外財不富。). The alteration of a character brings out the Chinese superstition in regard to the value of nicknames: If a man has no nickname, he will never become wealthy; if a horse is not fed at night he does not grow fat’(人不得外號不當、馬不得夜草不肥。). With an intelligent person you must be precise' (A), i.e. because he wishes to know the matter in all aspects. With an intelligent person you need not go into minutiæ' (,), i.e. he will take it all in at a glance. Cf. Prov. xxvi. 4-5. "Answer [not] a
fool according to his folly."
(To be continued.)
REVIEW OF A NEW MEDICAL VOCABULARY.
BY J. DUDGEON, M.D. IN our last paper* we referred chiefly to the osteological and neurotic
terms. The former in any medical dictionary are all important as lying at the foundation of the whole superstructure. What, then, shall we say of errors committed here? We cannot stop to point out a number of printer's errors in the last paper; the reader must detect them for himself. Many of them are very glaring and obvious. It may be said if the review be full of errors of this class, why object to similar errors in the work reviewed ? We have not laid very much stress on such blemishes, but we think a work done under the author's eye or under the superintendence of a competent committee and intended for permanent use, should have been brought out almost faultlessly. An evanescent review, hurriedly thrown off and published without having been seen by either writer or Editor is placed in another category. Were we strict to mark the misspellings of some pretty ordinary words, we could add not a few to the somewhat long list already submitted, such for example as supra colli instead of superficialis colli; auricular magnus, for auricularis magnus; musculo-spinal for musculo-spiral; middle superior cardiac nerve where superior is superfluous; epiglotic for epiglottic; lobus sigelli for lobus Spigelii ; auriculo-ventricula for auriculo-ventricular; chordæ tendenæ for chordæ tendineæ; appendix is at least twice spelt apendix; venæ innominatæ in one place and inominata in another place for venæ innominatæ ; carpora for corpora ; rotatoria for rotatorius; cruræus for crureus; pictineus for pectineus; glands for glans; Cowpers for Cowper's; transversus perinæ for perinæi; Pouparts for Poupart's; Gimbernants for Gimbernat's; posterior ex , placed below external jugular.
We must however refer to one or two printers' errors which have crept in that are not at first sight obvious or easy of detection, such for example as hwei-leng-kuh ( 4 ), instead of mci-leng-kuh (
). Tympanitic on Webster's authority was given by the Publishers of the Recorder as a perfectly correct word for tympanic. It is so happens that the two words are totally distinct; the former is a good medical term meaning flatulent distension of the abdomen; the latter is anatomical, and refers to the tympanum or drum of the ear.
Some of the observations and corrections in the last paper were perhaps too brief for the general and non-professional reader to under
• See pp. 30-41.