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The 1615 ''Zìhuì'' is a
Chinese dictionary Chinese dictionaries date back over two millennia to the Han Dynasty, which is a significantly longer lexicographical history than any other language. There are hundreds of dictionaries for the Chinese language, and this article discusses some of t ...
edited by the
Ming Dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming Dynasty
scholar Mei Yingzuo ( 梅膺祚). It is renowned for introducing two
lexicographical Lexicography is the study of lexicon A lexicon is the vocabulary A vocabulary, also known as a wordstock or word-stock, is a set of familiar words within a person's language. A vocabulary, usually developed with age, serves as a useful a ...

lexicographical
innovations that continue to be used in the present day: the 214-radical system for indexing Chinese characters, which replaced the classic ''
Shuowen Jiezi ''Shuowen Jiezi'' () is an ancient Chinese dictionary Chinese dictionaries date back over two millennia to the Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 ...
'' dictionary's 540-radical system, and the
radical-and-stroke sorting Collation is the assembly of written information into a standard order. Many systems of collation are based on numerical order or alphabetical order Alphabetical order is a system whereby character string In computer programming Comp ...
method.


Title

The dictionary title combines ''zì'' "character; script; writing; graph; word" and ''huì'' "gather together; assemble; collection; list". Early forms of the graph ''huì'' 彙 depicted a "hedgehog" (''wèi'' ), and it was borrowed as a
phonetic loan character All Chinese character Chinese characters, also called ''Hanzi'' (), are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other East-Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing sys ...
for the word huì "gather together; collection", both of which, in the simplified character system, are . In modern Chinese usage, ''zìhuì'' or means "glossary; wordbook; lexicon; dictionary; vocabulary; (computing)
character set Character encoding is the process of assigning numbers to graphical Graphics (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country ...
" (''
Wenlin Wenlin Software for Learning Chinese () is a application software, software application designed by Tom Bishop, who is also president of the Wenlin Institute. It is based on his experience of the needs of learners of the Chinese language, predomin ...
'' 2016). English translations of ''Zihui'' include "Compendium of Characters", "Collection of Characters", "The Comprehensive Dictionary of Chinese Characters", and "Character Treasure".


Text

The ''Zihui'' dictionary comprises 14 volumes (), with a comprehensive and integrated format that many subsequent Chinese dictionaries followed. Volume 1 contains the
front matter Book design is the art of incorporating the content, style, format, design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specific ...
, including Mei Yingzuo's preface dated 1615, style guide, and appendices. For instance, the "Sequences of Strokes" shows the correct
stroke order Stroke order is the order in which the strokes A stroke is a medical condition in which poor blood flow Hemodynamics American and British English spelling differences#ae and oe, or haemodynamics are the Fluid dynamics, dynamics of blood ...
, which is useful for students, "Ancient Forms" uses early
Chinese script styles In Chinese calligraphy Chinese calligraphy is the writing of Chinese characters as an art form, combining purely visual art and interpretation of the literary meaning. This type of expression has been widely practiced in China and has been ...
to explain the six Chinese character categories, and "Index of Difficult Characters" lists graphs whose radicals were difficult to identify. Volume 14 encompasses the
back matter Book design is the art of incorporating the content, style, Word processor, format, design, and sequence of the various components and elements of a book into a coherent unit. In the words of renowned typographer Jan Tschichold (1902–1974), book ...
, with three main appendices. "Differentiation" lists 473 characters with similar forms but different pronunciations and meanings, such as and or and . "Rectification" corrects misunderstandings of 68 characters commonly used in contemporary
printed Printing is a process for mass reproducing text and Printmaking, images using a master form or template. The earliest non-paper products involving printing include cylinder seals and objects such as the Cyrus Cylinder and the Cylinders of Nabo ...
books. "Riming" gives rime tables intended to explain the
four tones This article summarizes the phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound system of any particular lan ...
of
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country ...
and ''
fanqie ''Fanqie'' ( zh, t= 反切, p=fǎnqiè) is a method in traditional Chinese lexicography to indicate the pronunciation of a monosyllabic character Character(s) may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Character'' (novel), ...
'' pronunciation glosses. Note that the above image of early ''Zihui'' dictionaries shows the traditional hand representation of the four tone classes. The main body of the ''Zihui'' dictionary is divided into 12 volumes (2-13) called ''ji'' (, collections) and numbered according to the twelve
Earthly Branches The twelve Earthly Branches or Terrestrial Branches are a Chinese ordering system used throughout East Asia in various contexts, including its ancient dating system, astrological traditions, zodiac The zodiac is an area of the sky that ext ...
. Each one begins with a grid diagram showing all the radicals included in the volume and their page numbers. This reference guide to the volumes made looking up characters more convenient than in the previous dictionaries. The ''Zihui'' included 33,179 head character entries, most of which were from
Song Lian
Song Lian
's 1375 ''Hongwu zhengyun'' (洪武正韻,
Hongwu The Hongwu Emperor (21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), personal name Zhu Yuanzhang (), was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynast ...
Dictionary of Standard Rhymes). The entries included common characters used in the
Chinese classics Chinese classic texts or canonical texts () or simply dianji (典籍) refers to the Chinese texts which originated before the imperial unification by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC, particularly the "Four Books and Five Classics" of the Neo-Confuciani ...
and some popular or nonstandard characters (''súzì'' 俗字), both contemporary and early. Mei Yingzuo made his dictionary more easily accessible to the general literate public by using the current
regular script Regular script (; Hepburn: ''kaisho''), also called (), (''zhēnshū''), (''kǎitǐ'') and (''zhèngshū''), is the newest of the Chinese script styles In Chinese calligraphy, Chinese characters can be written according to five major st ...
form of characters. Beginning with the ''Shuowen jiezi'', earlier Chinese dictionaries were arranged according to radicals written in the obsolete
seal script Seal script () is an ancient Chinese script styles, style of writing Chinese characters that was common throughout the latter half of the 1st millennium BC. It evolved organically out of the Bronze script, Zhou dynasty bronze script. The Qin (s ...
. The basic format of each ''Zihui'' character entry comprised first the pronunciations including variants, and then the definitions, giving the primary meaning followed by common and extended meanings. In addition to using the traditional ''
fanqie ''Fanqie'' ( zh, t= 反切, p=fǎnqiè) is a method in traditional Chinese lexicography to indicate the pronunciation of a monosyllabic character Character(s) may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Character'' (novel), ...
'' spelling, Mei indicated pronunciation with a commonly used
homophonous A homophone () is a word that is pronouncedPronunciation is the way in which a word or a language is spoken. This may refer to generally agreed-upon sequences of sounds used in speaking a given word or language in a specific dialect ("correct ...
character, no doubt in recognition of the fact that it was "almost impossible for the average reader to derive correct current readings from Tang dynasty ''fanqie''". Definitions are for the most part brief and readily understandable, and reference to a text is almost always given by way of examples, generally from ancient books and partly from colloquial language. ''Zihui'' innovations in dictionary format, such as the arrangement of meanings, the use of plain language, and usage examples from informal language, made the book "exceptional at the time". The best-known lexicographical advances in Mei Yingzuo's ''Zihui'' are reducing the unwieldy ''Shuowen Jiezi'' 540-radical system for collating Chinese characters into the more legical 214-radical system, and arranging graphs belonging to a single radical according to the number of residual strokes, making finding character entries a relatively simple matter. To illustrate the inefficiencies of the ''Shuowen Jiezi'' system, only a few characters are listed under some radicals. For instance, its "man radical" 男, which compounds the modern "field radical" 田 and the "power radical" 力, only lists three: ''nan'' 男 ("man; male"), ''sheng'' 甥 ("nephew; niece"), and ''jiu'' 舅 ("uncle; brother in law"). In contrast, the ''Zihui'' eliminates the "man radical" and lists ''nan'' 男 under the "power radical", ''sheng'' 甥 under the "life radical" 生, and ''jiu'' 舅 under the "mortar radical" 臼. The 214 radicals are arranged according to stroke number, from the single-stroke "one radical" 一 to the seventeen-stroke "flute radical" 龠. The ''Zihui'' character entries are arranged according to the stroke number left after subtracting the respective radical, for instance, the characters under the "mouth radical" 口 begin with , , and and end with , , and . This " radical-and-stroke" system remains one of the most common forms of Chinese lexicographic arrangement today,


History

With the possible exception of the 1324 ''
Zhongyuan Yinyun ''Zhongyuan Yinyun'' (), literally meaning "Rhymes of the central plain", is a rime book from the Yuan dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor ...
'', there were few advances in Chinese lexicography between the sixth and seventeenth centuries. Many dictionaries prior to the Ming Dynasty were modeled on the ''Shuowen Jiezi'' 540-radical format, and new dictionaries were generally no more than minor revisions and enlargements of older works. Mei Yingzuo's ''Zihui'' represents the "first important lexicographic advance" after this long period. He greatly simplified and rationalized the traditional set of radicals, introduced the principle of indexing graphs according to the number of residual strokes, and wrote characters in contemporary regular script instead of ancient seal script. The importance of Mei's innovations is confirmed by the fact that they were promptly imitated by other Ming and
Qing The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
period dictionaries. The ''Zihui'' also formed the basis for the ''
Zhengzitong The ''Zhengzitong'' () was a 17th-century Chinese dictionary. The Ming dynasty scholar Zhang Zilie (張自烈; Chang Tzu-lieh) originally published it in 1627 as a supplement to the 1615 ''Zihui'' dictionary of Chinese characters, and called it the ...
'', written and originally published by Zhang Zilie (張自烈) as the 1627 ''Zihui bian'' (字彙辯; "''Zihui'' Disputations") supplemental correction to the ''Zihui'', then purchased by Liao Wenying (廖文英) and republished as the 1671 ''Zhengzitong''. Another Qing dynasty scholar
Wu Renchen Wu Renchen (吳任臣, ) ( 1628 – 1689), with courtesy names of Zhiyi (志伊), Erqi (爾器) and Zhenghong (征鴻), and an art name of Tuoyuan (託園), was a Chinese historian, mathematician, politician, and writer during the Qing dynasty. Or ...
published the 1666 ''Zihui bu'' (字彙補 "Zihui supplement"). The most important of the works based on the ''Zihui'' model was undoubtedly the 1716 '' Kangxi Zidian'', which soon became the standard dictionary of Chinese characters, and continues to be used widely today. After the ''Kangxi Zidian'' adopted Mei's 214-radical system, they have been known as the
Kangxi radicals The 214 Kangxi radicals (), also known as the Zihui radicals, form a system of radicals () of Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the repre ...
rather than "Zihui radicals".


Innovations

The author Thomas Creamer says Mei Yingzuo's ''Zihui'' was "one
f
f
the most innovative Chinese dictionaries ever compiled" and it "changed the face of Chinese lexicography". The best-known lexicographical advances in the ''Zihui'' are reducing the unwieldy ''Shuowen Jiezi'' 540-radical system for collating Chinese characters into the more logical 214-radical system, and arranging graphs belonging to a single radical according to the number of residual strokes, making finding character entries a relatively simple matter. To illustrate the inefficiencies of the ''Shuowen Jiezi'' system, only a few characters are listed under some radicals. For instance, its "man radical" 男, which compounds the modern "field radical" 田 and the "power radical" 力, only lists three: ''nan'' 男 ("man; male"), ''sheng'' 甥 ("nephew; niece"), and ''jiu'' 舅 ("uncle; brother in law"). In contrast, the ''Zihui'' eliminates the "man radical" and lists ''nan'' 男 under the "power radical", ''sheng'' 甥 under the "life radical" 生, and ''jiu'' 舅 under the "mortar radical" 臼. The 214 radicals are arranged according to stroke number, from the single-stroke "one radical" 一 to the seventeen-stroke "flute radical" 龠. The ''Zihui'' character entries are arranged according to the stroke number left after subtracting the respective radical, for instance, the characters under the "mouth radical" 口 begin with , , and and end with , , and . This " radical-and-stroke" system remains one of the most common forms of Chinese lexicographic arrangement today. The Chinese scholar Zou Feng (邹酆) lists four major lexicographical format innovations that Mei Yingzuo established in the ''Zihui'', and which have been used in many dictionaries up to the present day (1983). First, the ''Zihui'' includes both formal seal script and
clerical script The clerical script (; Japanese: 隷書体, ''reishotai''; Vietnamese: lệ thư), also formerly chancery Chancery may refer to: * Chancery (diplomacy), the building that houses a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy * Chancery (medieval o ...
as well as informal regular script characters, and gives the latter more significance than previously. Second, character entry presentation is improved by including both ''fanqie'' and homophonic phonetic notation, initiating a "more scientific format" for displaying definitions from original through extended meanings, using the label 〇 to display characters with multiple pronunciations and meanings, and indicating characters that have multiple
parts of speech In traditional grammar A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer t ...
, all of which are standard format elements in modern Chinese dictionaries. Third, radicals and character entries are classified in a more logical manner, as explained above. Fourth, the ''Zihui'' was the first Chinese dictionary to integrate the main body and appendices into one whole, thus improving practicality for the user.


References

* * * Footnotes


External links


字彙
''Zihui'',
Internet Archive The Internet Archive is an American digital library A digital library, also called an online library, an internet library, a digital repository, or a digital collection is an online databaseAn online database is a database In computing ...

字彙補
''Zihui bu'',
Chinese Text Project The Chinese Text Project (CTP; ) is a digital library A digital library, also called an online library, an internet library, a digital repository, or a digital collection is an online databaseAn online database is a database In computing Co ...

The 214 Radicals 部首
ChinaKnowledge {{Dictionaries of Chinese Chinese dictionaries Ming dynasty literature 1615 books