Collection:
Collection des Cahiers de Linguistique Asie orientale
Date:
April, 2016

Chinese Lexicography on Matters of the Heart

An Exploratory Commentary on the Heart Radical in Shuō wén jiě zì

Françoise Bottero
Christoph Harbsmeier

The Chinese Shuōwén Dictionary (AD 100) by Xǔ Shèn is the most famous book in the history of Chinese philology, and it is one of the most important documents in the history of linguistics and lexicography of the world. This stunningly ambitious dictionary explains systematically why 9,353 Chinese characters including nearly all the common characters of the time were written exactly the way they came to be written. Thus the Shuōwén is a vast systematised encyclopaedia of the principles of literacy in one of the most literate civilisations of the ancient world.
This book sets out to explain Xǔ Shèn’s scientific principles as well as the details of their implementation in his Dictionary by providing an extensive introduction to the whole work, followed by a detailed annotated “ thick” reading of the section of the Shuōwén that focusses mainly on the anc ient Chinese psychological vocabulary.