本字 Original Characters

粵語或本網誌聚焦之廣州語,又稱廣府話,為漢語內一種南方語言變體。本自中原傳入,長期獨立發展,從未成為官方共同語。地緣歷史條件令廣州語人成為香港、澳門及海外華人之重要組成部分。從而廣州語亦成為漢語除官方共同語外另一有代表性之共同語言。因廣州語為高度㳘通之話音語言,其發展過程不免音字脫節,變成有音忘字。或採納百越土語,有音無字。本選注利用本字研究尋找遺失文字。

本字研究採納前澳門大學教授陳伯煇所倡之本字原則考證本字。陳氏立論載於《論粵方言詞本字考釋》一書。基本條件為字形,字音,及字義須合。 字義從字典而來。兼考古籍出處。字須合義或近義。

陳氏於字形著墨甚小。字形古今變化存於文字紀錄,自東漢許慎著《說文解字》,字形用六書分類。六書分類法仍適用於繁體中文。但近五、六十年興起之簡體字使字形研究徒添難度。

字音講求聲 (initials),韻 (finals),調 (tones) 須合。若有一項不合,須從音變規律求證。陳氏提出十五項音變規律。 粵音或狹義之廣府音接近唐代音,又稱中古音韻。唐代字音可由唐,宋韻書推算。今網上資料多源自宋代《廣韻》。創造於宋代以後之近代字則須由明,清韻書尋音。 若音,義俱近,更可從鄰近方言、語言比較引證。

韻書記音用反切,以《廣韻》為例,由反切可推算宋代模擬之唐代字音。下圖為本選注由中古音韻至現代廣府話音之推算流程:

Middle Chinese to Cantonese

Cantonese or Guangzhou City Cantonese is one of a language varieties of Chinese used in southern China. Waves of Chinese speakers began populating the remote southern China from central China since two thousand years ago. They developed a spoken language distinct from the official common language of the times. Today, Cantonese is a de facto common language for Hong Kong, Macao and a substantial part of overseas Chinese population.

As a highly used spoken, non-alphabet based language, colloquial Cantonese has inevitably overtaken written form development. Cantonese has borrowed sounds and words not only from the official common language but also from the neighbouring or foreign languages. Sound shifts in spoken Cantonese rendered words with forgotten or missing written form. The articles in this blog is a log of efforts to rediscover the original Cantonese written characters.

The principle of Original Character is based on the research and methodology published in a 1998 book by Professor Doctor CHAN Pak Fai, University of Macao. The three requirement for a candidate to be considered as the Original Character for a particular word are the matching of word components, pronunciation, and definition. Word definition comes readily from dictionaries on old Chinese and supplemented by usages in classical literature. Candidates to be considered must be similar in meaning or close enough by extension to the target word.

Professor Chan did not elaborate on the subject of word components. Word components have been documented since the late Han Dynasty. Chinese scholars have classified them into Six Writings (六書) which is applicable to the modern Traditional Chinese characters. The introduction of Simplified Chinese characters diminished the usefulness of the Six Writings, rendering matching word components difficult to do.

Pronunciation of Chinese characters can be broken down into the initial, final and tonal sounds. For a candidate to be considered as the Original Character, the three components must match the target pronunciation. A mismatch in any one of them would require further research into sound shift patterns. Professor Chan described fifteen shift patterns which are used by the articles in this blog.

Since Cantonese in general is related to the Tang Dynasty common language, a.k.a. Middle Chinese, the articles here look for pronunciations from Chinese rime dictionaries of the period. The Guangyun (廣韻) dictionary of the early Sung Dynasty is useful in modelling the pronunciation of the characters in existence since the Tang Dynasty. It is also widely used as a reference by a number of online resources. For those characters created after the Tang Dynasty, dictionaries of the Ming and Qing Dynasties are used. After taking known sound shift patterns into consideration, if the pronunciation of the candidate is close but not exactly matching, it has been helpful to look at neighbouring Chinese language varieties or dialects for irregular sound shifts.

Rime dictionaries marked pronunciations with the Fanqie (反切) system. The Fanqie in the Guangyun models what the Sung people thought the proper Tang Dynasty pronunciation should be. The flow chart above demonstrate the steps these articles took to examine word candidates in the original book.

Linguist Wannabe 翻書仔

August 2018 二零一八年八月