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Between End and Means

Timothy Richard spent over forty years in China as a member of the English Baptist Missionary Society. His career has yet to be critically examined as a whole. This article focuses on an interregnum in its long span that Richard called “years of trial and suspense” (1886–1891), during which he clashed with his colleagues in Shanxi province over mission goals and methods. He insisted, for instance, that China’s “complete salvation” must consist of both soul and body. Despite the dual emphasis, however, in practice, he shifted more and more attention to matters of the body, that is, the needs of this life on earth. Herein lay the tensions of his approach. Ever mindful of the evangelical imperative, he distanced himself nonetheless from basic missionary activities like street-chapel preaching and sought to cultivate ties with the “upper classes” and utilize education and literature (translated and original) as tools for China’s “uplifting.” His message, audience, and method intersected a growing Chinese demand for change and rendered him relevant to the late Qing discourse of reform. As a pointer for future research, it is suggested that more Chinese sources are needed to illuminate and corroborate Richard’s account of his China experiences. Also, his cultural role will be better understood in a comparative context alongside the work of other Protestant figures.

The Dictionarium Latino Nankinense and Nanjing Guanhua

Adopting different points of view, this article analyzes a manuscript recently discovered in the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, the Dictionarium Latino Nankinense juxta Materiarum ordinem dispositum, handwritten by the French Jesuit missionary Benjamin Brueyre. It focuses in particular on the discovery’s potential importance for the study of Qing dynasty Nanjing Mandarin, while referencing its implications on the cross-cultural interactions between China and Europe. After an introduction presenting other fundamental texts compiled in Nanjing Mandarin by Western missionaries and scholars, the first section details the most commonly accepted grammatical theoretical framework for distinguishing Beijing Mandarin and Nanjing Mandarin. In the second section, the author presents the manuscript in detail, describing its purpose, its possible sources, and some of its linguistic peculiarities, particularly the lexicological, lexicographical, and grammatical features, as well as some illustrative examples of cross-cultural translations. Finally, in the third section, using the framework presented in the first, the author shows that the Dictionarium is a text mixing linguistic features from different varieties of Mandarin. As highlighted by the approach of missionary linguistics, the manuscript is a rare and important record of lexicological, lexicographical, grammatical, and romanization features of late Qing dynasty Chinese and deserves further research from both historical linguistic and cross-cultural perspectives.

Whispering in Early China

The word ouyu occurs with some frequency in early Chinese literature, signifying “to whisper” or “to murmur.” It is frequently associated with expressing dissatisfaction in a furtive manner and with behaving in an undisciplined or indecorous way. In this article, I cover all significant instances of this word that occur in Song and pre-Song sources and find them to be about whispering for different reasons, in different contexts and with different consequences. According to the Shiji, the First Emperor of the Qin banned ouyu about the Documents and the Odes (ouyu Shi Shu). This is the earliest attested use of the term and the passage is usually interpreted to mean that the First Emperor prohibited people from congregating to criticise his government by reference to past lore as narrated in the Documents and the Odes. This would make it the only instance in the available literature where ouyu is about anything. I argue that the commonly accepted interpretation rests on a misinterpretation of the early commentaries and suggest that the characters Shi Shu may be the result of a corruption in Shiji. What the Qin emperor outlawed was the activity of whispering as such – if people talked conspiratorially in a subdued voice, the regime saw this as proof that they harboured rebellious intentions and therefore deserved public execution, with no further evidence needed. In the last section, I discuss some literary senses of ou. I have previously argued that some of these are helpful to understanding the Qin Burning of the Books; I now dismiss them as irrelevant, since the widely attested use of ouyu as “to whisper” fully explains the Qin regime’s efforts to quell criticism of its rule, as well as all later uses of the word in similar contexts.