Language, Likeness, and the Han Phenomenon of Convergence

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Language, Likeness, and the Han Phenomenon of Convergence

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dc.contributor.advisor Puett, Michael J.
dc.contributor.author Vihan, Jan
dc.date.accessioned 2012-11-01T18:10:59Z
dc.date.issued 2012-11-01
dc.date.submitted 2012
dc.identifier.citation Vihan, Jan. 2012. Language, Likeness, and the Han Phenomenon of Convergence. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University. en_US
dc.identifier.other http://dissertations.umi.com/gsas.harvard:10642 en
dc.identifier.uri http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9830346
dc.description.abstract Although in the classical Chinese outlook the world can only be made sense of through the means devised by the ancient sages and handed down by the tradition, the art of exegesis has long been a neglected subject. Scholars have been all too eager to dispute what their chosen text says than to pay attention to the nuanced ways in which it hones its tools. This dissertation aims to somewhat redirect the discipline's attention by focusing on Xu Shen's Shuowen Jiezi. I approach this compendium of Han philology, typically regarded as a repository of disparate linguistic data, as underlied by a tight theoretical framework reducible to one simple idea. I begin with the discussion of the competing visions of the six principles, for two millenia the basis of instruction in the arts of letters. I identify the relationship between abstraction and representation and the principle of convergence as the main points of contention. I take Xu Shen's convergence to pertain to the Han practice of relating words through sound similarity. This in turn I interpret as one particular manifestation of dispositional categorization (類情), a fortunes turning term in the exegetical tradition of the Change. The third chapter illustrates Xu Shen's twin techniques of relating and differentiating along with the worldview of the Change from which they derive. It introduces the concepts of matching and extension, and pits them against their counterparts of mirroring and analogy. The leitmotifs of the fourth chapter are Xu Shen's argument against the arbitrariness of sign and the relationship between linguistic and cognitive categorization. The fifth chapter compares the Shuowen to other works of Han lexicography, character primers in particular. The phenomenon of paronomastic glossing is examined here in detail. I argue that Xu Shen's ordering of classical vocabulary on the basis of graphic resemblance and the concomitant explanations are but projections of paronomasia into the realm of semiotics. The final chapter situates this likeness driven interpretative strategy against earlier attitudes to language. I close by intimating the creative potential entailed in Xu Shen's recasting of fragmentary diachronic knowledge as a comprehensive synchronic system. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship East Asian Languages and Civilizations en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dash.license LAA
dc.subject Asian studies en_US
dc.subject categorization en_US
dc.subject paronomasia en_US
dc.subject relation en_US
dc.subject Shuowen en_US
dc.subject synchronic en_US
dc.subject Xici en_US
dc.subject philosophy en_US
dc.subject language arts en_US
dc.title Language, Likeness, and the Han Phenomenon of Convergence en_US
dc.type Thesis or Dissertation en_US
dc.date.available 2012-11-01T18:10:59Z
thesis.degree.date 2012 en_US
thesis.degree.discipline East Asian Languages and Civilizations en_US
thesis.degree.grantor Harvard University en_US
thesis.degree.level doctoral en_US
thesis.degree.name Ph.D. en_US
dc.contributor.committeeMember Li, Wai-yee en_US
dc.contributor.committeeMember Feng, Shengli en_US
dc.contributor.committeeMember Holba, Jiri en_US

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