Browse results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 22 items for :

  • East Asian History x
  • Literature & Culture x
  • Asian Studies x

Series:

Edited by Benjamin A. Elman

The authors consider new views of the classical versus vernacular dichotomy that are especially central to the new historiography of China and East Asian languages. Based on recent debates initiated by Sheldon Pollock’s findings for South Asia, we examine alternative frameworks for understanding East Asian languages between 1000 and 1919. Using new sources, making new connections, and re-examining old assumptions, we have asked whether and why East and SE Asian languages (e.g., Chinese, Manchu, Mongolian, Jurchen, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese) should be analysed in light of a Eurocentric dichotomy of Latin versus vernaculars. This discussion has encouraged us to explore whether European modernity is an appropriate standard at all for East Asia. Individually and collectively, we have sought to establish linkages between societies without making a priori assumptions about the countries’ internal structures or the genealogy of their connections.
Contributors include: Benjamin Elman; Peter Kornicki; John Phan; Wei Shang; Haruo Shirane; Mårten Söderblom Saarela; Daniel Trambaiolo; Atsuko Ueda; Sixiang Wang.



Nogami Yaeko

Nogami Yaeko's novel The Labyrinth deals with the doubts and dilemmas of leftwing intellectuals before and during World War II. Rich in social detail and profound in its psychology, it follows the political and sentimental evolution of the protagonist Kanno Shōzō from a humiliating recantation of his socialist creed to a problematic participation in Japan's war against China. Nogami Yaeko (1885-1985) was Japan's longest-lived woman writer and has an assured place in the history of Japanese fiction. Winner of the prestigious Nomiuri prize, The Labyrinth was immediately recognized as a major critical contribution to the understanding of Japanese political and intellectual history.

Series:

Peter Kornicki

Abstract

This essay takes as its starting point the Tangut Empire, which lay to the west of China in the Song dynasty. There many Buddhist texts were translated into the Tangut vernacular and some were printed in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The readiness to translate Buddhist scriptures in the Tangut Empire is matched in Tibet and elsewhere but provides a stark contrast with Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, and this essay explores why vernacularization was accepted in some East Asian societies but rejected in others.

Series:

Wang Sixiang

Abstract

This chapter examines the politics of language in the early Chosŏn period (1392–1550s). In the frequent envoy exchanges between Chosŏn Korea (1392–1910) and Ming China (1368–1644), Korean court interpreters who mastered spoken Chinese played indispensable roles as mediators of the spoken language. Although the two courts communicated via classical Chinese, a literary language they shared, they still required oral communication. Chosŏn court interpreters also produced an extensive book-body of language manuals, which made use of the Korean alphabet in phonological glosses. Invented and promulgated in the mid-fifteenth century, the new script systematically represented the phonology of Sino-Korean, which made it readily adaptable to notating the phonology of spoken Chinese as well. Extensive use of the script by court interpreters demonstrated the importance of the script as a technology of mediation between two very different spoken languages: Korean and Chinese. On the one hand, the invention of the alphabet, often seen as either solely a prerequisite for the eventual elevation of the Korean "vernacular" over classical Chinese or a gesture of freedom from the Ming, was in fact intimately connected to the Chosŏn court’s efforts to maintain cultural and political ties with the Ming court. On the other hand, the importance of the spoken language was overshadowed by a graphocentrism among scholars, which marginalized the essential roles played by interpreters as mediators of linguistic difference.

Series:

John D. Phan

Abstract

The history of vernacular writing in Vietnam describes an intimate and evolving relationship with Literary Sinitic. As with other nascent vernacular forms in East Asia, the practice of composing in Vietnamese was long held to be inferior to or unnecessary in the face of Literary Sinitic; at best it was viewed as a pedagogical crutch for learning the classical language. Nevertheless—while Vietnamese did not truly eclipse Literary Sinitic until the twentieth century—vernacular language did experience a rapid ascent after the seventeenth century, when Vietnamese-language works rendered in the morphographic character system known as Chữ Nôm burst into popularity. The relatively dramatic escalation in Nôm composition over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries suggests an equally dramatic shift in the cultural and intellectual attitudes of the literati who practiced it. Vernacular writing had to be reinvented, however, before it could be used for the kind of intellectual and imaginative tasks exemplified by later literature. Remarkably, just such a reinvention is articulated in the prefatory material of a seventeenth-century Sino-Vietnamese dictionary called the Chỉ nam ngọc âm giải nghĩa (Explication of the Guide to Jeweled Sounds 指南語音解義). The Chỉ nam bears two prefaces: one in Literary Sinitic (written in Sinitic characters) and one in Vietnamese (written in Chữ Nôm). Though usually read separately, they in fact combine to form an interlocking argument that redefines Nôm, not as a crude or simplistic facsimile of Sinitic writing, but as a legitimate and authentic extension of the sagely and civilizing technology that Han characters represented. The bilingual prefaces seek to dissolve the linguistic and cultural barriers separating the vernacular from the classical mode and to render Vietnamese intelligible in terms of Literary Sinitic intellectuality. The Chỉ nam was produced at a crossroads in the history of Vietnamese vernacular writing. Although Nôm had gained some momentum as a pedagogical tool over the fourteenth century, the ascent of Neo-Confucianism following the Ming occupation of 1407–1427 led to a revival of classical education that disrupted or even reversed the course of vernacularization. The Chỉ nam therefore represents a “rebooting” of vernacular practices, fueled by a new perception of its place, nature, and function. Its production in the mid-seventeenth century marks a watershed in the evolution of the Vietnamese vernacular—between the limited and proscribed forms of vernacular literature found in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and the flourishing traditions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Nogami Yaeko

Nogami Yaeko

Nogami Yaeko