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Late Han Vernacular Elements in the Earliest Buddhist Translations [7]

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Chapter Summary

This chapter confines to the most basic aspect of the materials used: the fact that they consist of a very particular kind of written Chinese that can be studied, analyzed, and compared with other types of contemporary written idiom. It draws attention to this untapped mine of information and stimulates its use by professional linguists. The chapter presents six sample topics dealing with: lexical composition; the use of verbal complements; changes in the pronominal system; the use of some "empty words": er, yu, zhe; the use of enclitic -gu; wéi and zuo. Early Buddhist transcriptions can at best be used as a secondary tool, corroborating (or invalidating) certain conclusions reached by other ways and means. The no doubt confusing mass of grammatical features and text examples presented in the chapter is primarily intended to substantiate a four-fold working hypothesis.

Keywords: early Buddhist transcriptions; empty words; enclitic word; lexical composition; pronominal system; verbal complements; written Chinese



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