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Hofmann

Same word, different inflection

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Hofmann

Confucius said "政者 正也."

I've come across a few cases like this where 政 /tjeŋs/ (according to Baxter) is just 正 /tjeŋ/ + /s/. I also suspect 整 /tjeŋʔ/ is of the same sort.

Another such word is 衣 where /ʔjəj/ is a noun and /ʔjəjs/ is a verb. And then there's 好 /xuʔ/ "good", /xus/ "like". (FYI, Pulleyblank and a bunch of others think that a final /ʔ/ became Middle Chinese 上聲 and /s/ became Middle Chinese 去聲.)

As one can see, many verbs can be formed by adding /s/ to a word.

Then can I add /s/ to other stuff, even if it's not in the dictionary? If so, I'd probably add it to 君, 臣, 父, 子 such that "君君 臣臣 父父 子子" is read as /kjun kjuns gjin gjins pjaʔ pjas tsjəʔ tsjəs/. Is it reasonable to hypothesize that this is how this sentence was pronounced?

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Peter2010
many verbs can be formed by adding /s/ to a word.

Yeah,another e.g. is 王. wjaŋ: king, monarch; wjaŋs: be emperor, rule. 然而不王 (wjaŋs) 者,未之有也

Is it reasonable to hypothesize that this is how this sentence was pronounced?

I'm afraid only what the dictionary tells is correct.

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OneEye
I'm afraid only what the dictionary tells is correct.

Yes, we might as well not pursue any new knowledge. Only what has already been written is correct, any new insights gained by scholars is incorrect.

Back to the topic at hand, I'm certainly not qualified to judge whether the conclusion is sound, but it seems reasonable.

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Peter2010

Telling you how to pronounce a word is one of most basic functions of a dictionary. You can't pronounce a word just by speculating ( a rule generated from a few words is not necessarily followed by other words).

Besides, I do not see this has anything to do with our attitudes toward pursuing new knowledge.

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OneEye

We're talking about Old Chinese pronunciation here, which is very much a field that is still open for discussion. Any dictionary of Old Chinese pronunciation that claims to be definitive is full of crap anyway, and there is much room for speculation in regards to possible pronunciation. Your insinuation that we should be content with what we find in a dictionary has everything to do with our attitudes toward pursuing new knowledge.

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Peter2010

ofcourse we are talking about Old Chinese pronunciation. It would be appreciated if you could shed a light on the pronounciation is right or wrong (provide some evidences not speculations) rather than our attitudes toward pursuing new knowledge. Anyway, you will never change the truth by attacking one's attitude towards pursuing new knowledge .

Any dictionary of Old Chinese pronunciation that claims to be definitive is full of crap anyway, and there is much room for speculation in regards to possible pronunciation.

aha, it sounds like you're an expert of Old Chinese pronunciation. I don't know where you got this idea.

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Hofmann

Excuse me. We English speakers say stuff that aren't in dictionaries, like "unthreaten." Yes, it is a word because I, a native speaker, used it. And I'm pretty sure another native speaker would understand it perfectly.

The purpose of a dictionary is to describe how words are pronounced and what they mean. Dictionaries are always incomplete, and sometimes wrong. I am aware that what works for some words might not work for others. I'm interested in why you said that only what the dictionary says is right. Can you elaborate on that?

OneEye never said anything about it being right or wrong. Also, one does not have to be an expert to know that Old Chinese reconstructions are fuzzy at best.

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OneEye

Exactly. I'm no expert (yet), but I do know enough about it to know that it's still very much open for debate. I would also be interested in why "only what the dictionary tells is correct". And which dictionary is that? Schuessler? Baxter? And how did you arrive at the conclusion that this particular dictionary contains the One True Reconstruction® and that we will never have any better information about Old Chinese pronunciation, so we must stick with only what this particular dictionary says? It's surprising that someone could have some knowledge about the subject and yet miss these fundamental (and rather obvious) concepts.

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Peter2010

That's not a general conclusion. if you refer to the context I quoted, you may be aware that I was talking about if "君、臣、父、子" could be read like that (the central topic). Who would say dictionaries are always correct? Even I said that, I meant "君、臣、父、子" could not be read like that.

And I think any words on if dictionary is perfect or our attitudes toward pursuing new knowledge would take you far away from the central topic.

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OneEye

You have yet to support your claim with any evidence. All you've said is it can't be pronounced this way because it isn't in "the dictionary". So yes, the discussion on dictionaries is quite relevant. And by extension, your statement that "only what the dictionary tells is correct" implies that there can be no new insight gained in the field beyond what has already been written in "the dictionary". So that too, is a relevant discussion. If you can't offer any evidence to support your opinion on the matter, then you can't state it as a blanket fact the way you're doing. If you can give some reason (any reason at all) that this principle can't be extended to other words, then we can have a reasonable discussion about the topic. Otherwise, you're just stating your opinion and have no ground to stand on. Which is fine, but then don't be upset if someone disagrees with you or your reasons for making such a claim.

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Daan

I'll ignore the unhelpful prescriptive comments about the dictionary and just say this: I noticed exactly the same pattern last year, and I actually wrote a paper saying that it would not be unreasonable to think that 君君,臣臣,父父,子子 would have been subject to a similar rule. A condensed version is here, and Zev Handel (who is an expert in this field, unlike me), points out in the comments why it is difficult to be certain how 君君 etc was pronounced. There is no evidence which says they were pronounced identically, but neither do we have any evidence which shows a difference between the two.

I personally think it would not be unreasonable to argue Confucius's verbal use of 君, 臣, 父 and 子 was a nonce-formation, which was simply lost in the mists of time after the text was written down and any phonological distinction vanished due to the nature of the Chinese script. But on the other hand, this isn't the only case where a verbal use of 君 is attested. And it's also unclear why this distinction would have been forgotten, while different pronunciations of, say, 敗 are recorded for the meanings 'to defeat' and 'to be defeated'. You may want to read Baxter & Sagart's 1998 article on Old Chinese morphology if you want to know more about that; the reference is:

Baxter, William H. and Laurent Sagart. 1998 . “Word formation in Old Chinese” . In New approaches to Chinese word formation: morphology, phonology and the lexicon in modern and ancient Chinese. Jerome L. Packard, ed., pp. 35-76. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

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Peter2010
You have yet to support your claim with any evidence.

Well, I believe the authors of the dictionaries have reasons for everything they wrote. They are experts. Even somethings might be wrong in the dictionaries, you have to presume they are correct before you could provide some counter evidences (which I haven’t seen in your posts). Obviously, no evidence is needed to claim presumed things are correct.

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Daan

Okay, here we go. Firstly, none of the compilers of the dictionaries we use these days were native speakers in any sense of Classical Chinese. Second, surely you will admit that quite a bit of knowledge about Classical Chinese will have been lost to the ages in the 2,500 years since the days of Confucius. So while they are experts, the odds of them missing a piece of information (be that the pronunciation of a word, or shades of meaning) are still quite high. And I do not see why you would object to people on an internet forum discussing whether this may have been the case for a specific word, given that there are reasons to think so based on evidence from similar words. Of course, that suffixation occured in one word does not definitely prove it was used in another word as well, but neither can you a priori rule out it did not happen.

You may be interested in the Wikipedia article on arguments from authority. Finally, if all of this does not convince you that dictionaries are never wrong, I would like to ask you to point out any dictionary of Mandarin Chinese that gives the correct pronunciation for 燕京, namely Yànjīng. I've never seen any, yet presumably all of these dictionaries are compiled by native speakers of Mandarin, who also have the added benefit of being able to go out and do a survey out on the streets if they're uncertain themselves, I use 'correct' (as any proper linguistics student should) in the descriptive sense of the word here.

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Daan

PS Consider the following two sentences:

(1) 晉文公敗楚於城濮。 (Shǐ jì 史記 , “Qín běnjì” 秦本紀 )

Jìn Wén gōng bài Chǔ yú Chéngpú.

Duke Wén of Jìn defeated Chǔ near Chéngpú.

(2) 戰之,大敗。 (Mèngzǐ 孟子, “Jìn xīn xià” 盡心下 )

Zhàn zhī, dà bài.

He led them into war, and suffered a great defeat.

In (1), bài 敗 is clearly a transitive verb, while in (2) it is intransitive. Does your Classical Chinese dictionary give a different pronunciation for the intransitive verb? I presume it does not. But we know that the intransitive verb was pronounced as *N-prats, while the transitive verb was pronounced as *prats (see Baxter & Sagart 1998, which I referenced earlier). This difference in pronunciation is noted, among others, in the seventh-century 顏氏家訓. Yet this distinction hasn't made it into any of the modern Classical Chinese dictionaries that I know of. It's not a stretch to conclude that modern dictionaries do not preserve all the distinctions that were made in Classical Chinese. In fact, what you read in a modern Classical Chinese dictionary does not tell you anything at all about the pronunciation of Classical Chinese as it was spoken by Confucius and his contemporaries.

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OneEye
Well, I believe the authors of the dictionaries have reasons for everything they wrote. They are experts. Even somethings might be wrong in the dictionaries, you have to presume they are correct before you could provide some counter evidences (which I haven’t seen in your posts). Obviously, no evidence is needed to claim presumed things are correct.

Yes, the authors of the dictionaries have reasons for everything they wrote. That does not mean that everything they wrote is "correct", nor that we must presume so. Everything is open for scrutiny. Just because an expert wrote it does not necessarily make it true (see "arguments from authority" above). What about when the dictionaries contradict each other? Furthermore, evidence most certainly is needed to claim "presumed" things are correct. If there is no evidence either for or against something, you cannot make a claim one way or another, no matter whether you presume it to be correct or not.

I have not given any evidence for anything in my posts because I have not made any claims in my posts. Go back and read for yourself. I haven't given my opinion on whether these characters can be read in one way or another, because I have no opinion on the matter. I have no opinion because I don't know enough about it to form an opinion (and neither do you). The only thing I've claimed in this thread is that Hofmann's logic seems reasonable. And I stand by that.

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Peter2010
if all of this does not convince you that dictionaries are never wrong

Yes, dictionaries have flaws, which I’ve stated before. I don’t see it is necessary to argue over that again. But if you insist, I would like to calculate the probability that four of these words (君臣父子) lost the distinctions of their pronunciations during the last 2500 years. I will assume a probability of 0.5 (liberal enough?) for each word since you said no evidence indicated it lost or not. Then you will see the probability that all of them lost their pronunciation distinctions would be 0.54=0.06, which is a small probability event and presumed won’t happen. In other words, it's technically wrong to claim four of these words lost their distionctions.

PS: What I argued was you should stick to dictionaries before you get some counter evidences.

Mandarin Chinese that gives the correct pronunciation for 燕京, namely Yànjīng

I don't know where you got this idea.

I've never seen any, yet presumably all of these dictionaries are compiled by native speakers of Mandarin, who also have the added benefit of being able to go out and do a survey out on the streets if they're uncertain themselves

I don’t get your idea. Do you mean native Chinese speakers are inferior to you Westerns? Well, that is quite questionable, but I won't talk about that here. Even if you’re right about that, do you have to go that far? I don't see this is helpful for your argument nor do anything constructive to our discussion.

This difference in pronunciation is noted, among others, in the seventh-century 顏氏家訓.

First of all, I’d like to confirm if you were talking about this:

“江南学士读《左传》,口相传述,自为凡例,军自败曰败,打破人军曰败。诸记传未见补败反,徐仙民读《左传》,唯一处有此音,又不言自败、败人之别,此为穿凿耳。” -- 颜氏家训•音辞第十八

If not, please ignore my words below. But if you were, I doubt if you had read this before you made your assertion or understood what he (颜之推) said if you had. It’s a paragraph; I won’t translate it literally. In general, 颜之推 said some learners, who were contemporary with 颜, in southeast of China made a distinction for the pronunciation of “败” between the meanings of “defeat others” and “be defeated by others” when they read《左传》, but 颜 said he has never found anyone (scholars before 颜’s time) had ever made a note of that distinction in any relevented reference. So颜 thought those learners of 《左传》 were just eisegetical (穿凿, I’m not sure if it’s an appropriate translation.) and of course wrong.

So likely, in颜’s words, you are穿凿.

Besides, 颜 was talking about《左传》not《孟子》. I don’t know why you quoted from《孟子》.

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Peter2010
Yes, the authors of the dictionaries have reasons for everything they wrote. That does not mean that everything they wrote is "correct",

The authors of the dictionaries have reasons for everything they wrote, so you don’t have to provide evidences (reasons) when you quote from them. Because everyone interested in your quotation would find relevant evidences if he resorts to literatures provided by the dictionary author.

evidence most certainly is needed to claim "presumed" things are correct

Really? Do you mean you have to provide stuffs to evidence yourself are innocent (everyone is presumed so); otherwise, you will be judged guilty and sent to jail if someone claims you’re so without any evidence?

What about when the dictionaries contradict each other?

Then you get a counter evidence.

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jkhsu

Thought I'd chime in here:

@Peter2010: If you don't mind, I'd like to offer you some advice from lessons I've learned while posting in this forum. You can feel free to take it or ignore it.

I believe this whole "dictionary correctness" argument started with how you worded your sentence:

"I'm afraid only what the dictionary tells is correct."

With that sentence, you're basically asking for trouble.

From reading your posts, what you really wanted to say is that you do not think 君君 臣臣 父父 子子 should be read as /kjun kjuns gjin gjins pjaʔ pjas tsjəʔ tsjəs/ because it's not mentioned in the dictionary. And that you do not think speculating the pronunciation beyond what is provided in the dictionary for this particular case is correct. However, since this is your opinion, you should probably offer some / any reason for your belief and word the statement a bit open-ended since you never know if you could be wrong.

A couple of examples below:

1. If it's just your opinion, you could word it like this:

"I think in this case, you should just follow the dictionary pronunciation. As a native Chinese speaker from China, I have not encountered 君君 臣臣 父父 子子 read as /kjun kjuns gjin gjins pjaʔ pjas tsjəʔ tsjəs/. However, that's just my opinion. Others?"

2. If you have some evidence to point out, you could word it like this:

"These links [insert links here] seem to support the dictionary pronunciation."

If you did either of these, this whole dictionary argument probably would not have even started or at least focused on the pronunciation vs. whether a dictionary is the absolute truth or not.

Also, in @Daan's statement:

"I've never seen any, yet presumably all of these dictionaries are compiled by native speakers of Mandarin, who also have the added benefit of being able to go out and do a survey out on the streets if they're uncertain themselves..."

He's not saying anything about native Chinese speakers being inferior to Westerners. He's basically saying that (he thinks) the pronunciation of 燕京 in Mandarin dictionaries are incorrect, yet the compilers of the dictionaries have the benefit of being located in China and asking around to make sure they are correct. He doesn't understand why they don't just do that. That's his assumption. If you want to refute that, you will need to either (1) provide evidence that the pronunciation of 燕京 is correct in the dictionaries or (2) show that most people (I would assume you probably need to interview academics if you're making a dictionary) also think the dictionary is correct. If you can't provide that evidence, then @Daan's assumption is valid.

That said, I am interested how 燕京 is read myself. @Daan, what do you think of these links?

http://zhidao.baidu....n/50066538.html

http://hanyu.iciba.c...0731/1351.shtml

http://tieba.baidu.com/f?kz=1060586258

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Daan

@Hofmann, sorry for the direction this thread has taken. I hope that the link and the reference to the article I provided were helpful to you. I think the reconstruction of Old Chinese morphology is an interesting field and I am sorry that it seems impossible to have an academic discussion on this forum among open-minded and interested students of the early Chinese languages.

@Peter2010, first of all, I certainly do not mean to say that Western students are superior in any sense to native speakers of Chinese. I do not think so at all - I know how bad my own Chinese is, and that there are many, many people with a far better understanding of all these matters than myself. But anyone who is willing to use his ears and listen to the beautiful sounds of Mandarin will soon note that native speakers of Beijing Mandarin almost universally say Yànjīng and not Yānjīng, fancy etymological theories notwithstanding. It's not that I don't understand why lexicographers give the pronunciation Yānjīng - but if you look at language descriptively and not prescriptively, they should have given Yànjīng as the correct pronunciation for this word, no matter how strange this may seem etymologically. Sometimes language refuses to be predictable.

So @jkhsu (and thanks for your comments!), I'd say that a native speaker of Beijing Mandarin would pronounce it as Yànjīng, while people from other parts of China who've learnt Standard Mandarin from textbooks would be very likely to say Yānjīng instead, simply because they are learning from printed materials rather than using their ears. In due time, this may well make Yānjīng the preferred pronunciation across China, but that does not mean that it was originally the correct pronunciation to begin with. What it really boils down to is that in Mandarin, what is "correct" is decided by the language planning authorities and lexicographers, and not by the speech community itself, as is the case for English, for example. This is prescriptive linguistics as opposed to descriptive linguistics, and I stand firmly on the side of the descriptivists in this debate. Why, after all, should the opinion of a lexicographer about what is "correct" be of any more value than the opinion of any number of native speakers?

And @Peter2010, I hope this will also help you understand why I do not attach much value to the judgement about correctness that Yan Zhitui passes in the passage from the 顏氏家訓 you quoted. Who's to say that this is not simply a prescriptivistic call on his part? There is plenty more independent evidence for the existence of such a prefix; just read Baxter 1992's handbook, or at least the 1998 article I cited above. That'll hopefully also help you see that your "statistical" approach to this problem really cannot do justice to the many difficult issues involved in the reconstruction of Old Chinese phonology and morphology.

Also, please do me (and everyone else here, I presume) a favour and take jkhsu's suggestions to heart. There is an etiquette to posting on internet forums; in addition to what jkhsu's already said, open-mindedness also goes a great way towards making much more civilised and constructive discussions possible. At the end of the day we are all just people interested in Chinese, and sometimes we may disagree, but the hallmark of a great internet forum is that people can peaceably agree to disagree and merrily go on to discuss other matters.

I think I will now do just that :)

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Peter2010
However, since this is your opinion, you should probably offer some / any reason for your belief and word the statement a bit open-ended since you never know if you could be wrong.

First of all, I appreciate your advice. But I don’t understand why you guys keep asking me for evidences to support my statement that the dictionaries are right about君臣父子, the safety of which in my opinion is guaranteed because no evidence indicates that is wrong. This is also a falsifiable statement because you could defeat it with counter evidences. By contrast, the insinuation that what dictionaries tell about君臣父子 are incorrect or incomplete has yet been supported by any evidence. That’s not falsifiable because it is logically impossible to evidence dictionaries tell about君臣父子are always complete by providing stuffs. So it’s not my responsibility to provide evidences,

I never want go this far, but since you’ve offered me so much suggestions, in return, I’d like to share you something about

falsifiable.

I certainly do not mean to say that Western students are superior in any sense to native speakers of Chinese. I do not think so at all

You said none of the mandarin dictionaries compiled by native Chinese speakers (who have added benefits) is right about the pronunciation of 燕京, but you Westerner certainly get the right one without any added benefits. What else could someone infer from that with his “open mind”? Anyway, I’d like to move on since you’ve stated that’s not what you meant.

I had spent a year in Beijing and never heard anyone pronounced Yan4 jing1 for 燕京, but in Qingdao I did hear someone from other province pronounced yan4 jing1 presumably due to he was not well educated and Yan4 is much more commonly used. Even if you’re right about that (native speakers of Beijing Mandarin almost universally say Yànjīng and not Yānjīng), will you arrive safely at your conclusion that Yan4jing1 is correct? There are hundreds dialects in China (including Beijing dialects.) which pronounce the same characters (say燕京) in their own ways. In Shandong province, people can hardly understand the accents of each other if they lived more than 50 miles away. Yes, they are all correct in your DESCRIPTIVE view. But is it necessary to note them down in mandarin dictionaries? After all, they are dictionaries for mandarin not Beijing dialect or anything else. If you still think that’s necessary, how would you deal with their priorities? Even if you could, you will bring yourself back to the situation you facing now when you done that.

There is an etiquette to posting on internet forums; in addition to what jkhsu's already said, open-mindedness also goes a great way towards making much more civilised and constructive discussions possible

Well, what else should I say? To be frank, I did not mean to offend anyone here. I’ve never judged on anyone’s personality here. All I’ve done here were to speak my thoughts addressing on your arguments and see if they are sound to someone. Aren't we here to seek the truth? Why should we care about things beyond that. Whatever, that’s how I conceived my posts on an internet forum.

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