Publications |

Chinese Lexicography on Matters of the Heart

Françoise Bottéro & Christoph Harbsmeier, 2016, Chinese Lexicography on Matters of the Heart. An Exploratory Commentary on the Heart Radical in Shuō wén jiě zì.  ISBN 978-2-910216-11-5.  Prix 50€

Bon de commande / Order form


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 ancient Chinese psychological vocabulary.”

Table of contents

Phonetic Transcription Conventions                                                         


1. Introduction                                                                                                       

       1.1. The Shuōwén is not a Dictionary of Basic Meanings of Words         

       1.2. The Composition of the Lexical Entries in Shuōwén                        

       1.3. Taboos and Omissions                                                                     

       1.4. The Significance of the Style of the Head Graph                         

       1.5. Graphemic Versus Graphic Analysis                                         

       1.6. The Significance of the Number of Radicals                           

       1.7. The Nature of the Radicals                                                   

       1.8. The Assignment of Radicals Versus the Designation of Semantic


       1.9. The Shuōwén Entries on Radicals                                                

       1.10.Semantic Classification Versus Subsumption Under Radicals            

       1.11. The Hermeneutics of Xǔ Shèn's Glosses                                   

       1.12. The "Six Ways of Writing Down (Words)"liù shū 六書                         

        1.13. Problems with the Use of huì yì 會意                                                    

       1.14. Phonetics                                                                                     

       1.15. The Vicious Circle of Reconstruction on the Basis of Phonetic Series   

       1.16. Observations-Based Versus Conjectural Reconstructions          

       1.17. The Dú ruò 讀若"to be Pronounced Like" Problem                           

       1.18. A Caveat on our Translation of Shuōwén                                 

       1.19. A Note on our Use of Sources                                                              

2. Chinese Lexicography on Matters of the Heart                                              

       2.1. Preliminary Remarks on the Heart Radical                                          

       2.2. The Heart Constituent is Never Taken as Phonetic                        

       2.3. Disused Archaic Heart Radicals                                                             

3. Annotated Translation of Shuō wén jiě zì, Xīn Bù 心部                     

4. Appendix: Radicals Containing the Grapheme 心not Classified

       under the Heart Radical                                                                    

5. Conclusion                                                                                            

Some Basic Technical Terms                                                                  


federation typologie

flux rss  Actualités

Prix 2015 du National Institutes for the Humanities (Japon)

Les travaux d'Alexander Vovin, directeur d'études à l'EHESS (CRLAO), récompensés au Japon

Lire la suite

Prix Leonard Bloomfield 2016 de la Linguistic Society of America

Le prix a été décerné à William Baxter et Laurent Sagart pour leur livre Old Chinese: a new reconstruction (OUP, 2014)

Lire la suite

Guillaume Jacques, médaille de bronze CNRS 2015

Les travaux de Guillaume Jacques (CRLAO) récompensés par le CNRS

Lire la suite

28e Journées de Linguistique - Asie Orientale

Organisées par le CRLAO, elles se tiendront du 2 au 3 juillet 2015 à l’INALCO (Paris).

Lire la suite

Nouveaux horizons en linguistique chinoise

Colloque organisé par le CRLAO à l'occasion de la venue à Paris en juin d'une délégation de linguistes de l'Académie des sciences sociales de Chine

Lire la suite

CRLAO - UMR 8563
105 Boulevard Raspail
75006 Paris
Tél : 33 (0)1 53 10 53 71