Xiaoyao and Shuchi: A Few Special Uses of Alliterative and Rhyming Binomes in the Transmitted and Excavated Documents「逍遙」與「舒遟」:連綿詞的幾種特別用法 – 主講:陳致教授,香港浸會大學


10 Nov 2015







A binome (or bi-syllabic compound) in early archaic Chinese (Old Chinese) is a compound consisting of two relevant morphemic units by and large undecomposable in meaning and pronunciation.  In the words of Qing dynasty philologist, Wang Niansun 王念孫 (1744-1832), “the two characters of an reduplicative expression (binome) both have the same meaning; one cannot separate them and denote them differently”. However, some divisive applications of the binomes in Old Chinese, which is hidden behind the texts, have been overlooked by scholars. There are texts found among the transmitted Classics or inscribed on excavated documents, especially in verse, which exhibit particular uses of alliterative and rhyming binomes that do not necessarily follow the principle of non-separation.

Through the analysis of how binomes such as enuo (graceful and pliant), xiaoyao (free and unfettered) and shuyi (deliberate and reverent), are used in variegated forms within received canonical texts, bronze inscriptions, as well as bamboo and silk manuscripts, the present paper testifies how their variants and several related expressions can help us better understand the inscriptional texts discovered on recently unearthed manuscripts. By attempting this method in this new light, this paper also demonstrates new interpretation of some passages from the received Chinese classics, which had previously been misunderstood or misinterpreted.


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