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Open Access On the Relationship of Heng 恆 and Ji 極: Evidence from Lao-Zi Texts

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On the Relationship of Heng 恆 and Ji 極: Evidence from Lao-Zi Texts

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There are quite a number of differences between the unearthed Bamboo-Silk texts of Lao-Zi and the transmitted or received ones. in Bamboo texts, for example, is written as HENG 恆and JI 極 in Silk texts, and as 常 and 極 respectively in received versions. The fact that in the Silk texts 恆 is used as a modifier while 極 is not suggests a functional complementarity between the two. Furthermore, in reconstructed Archaic Chinese, 極 and 恆 share the same initial *g-, and their finals are in rhyme categories which are phonologically parallel and relatable to each other. 恆, which means long duration through time, and 極, which means overall spatial duration, are characterized exclusively by the core meaning of going through from a starting point to the end. Based on the evidence cited above, we propose that HENG 恆and JI 極 are derived from one and the same word family. While the Silk texts represent the period when HENG 恆and JI 極 were separately derived, the Bamboo texts represent a stage earlier than that derivation.


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