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Open Access Incorrect Arrangement of the Bamboo Tablets in the Shangshu: A Falsifiable Hypothesis?

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Incorrect Arrangement of the Bamboo Tablets in the Shangshu: A Falsifiable Hypothesis?

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image of Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics

The problem of cuojian 錯簡 “incorrect ordering of bamboo tablets” is not a new scholarly issue in the field of studies involving jiandu 簡牘 (writings on bamboo tablets). As early as Song times (960-1279), scholars began to notice that the received version of the Shangshu 尚書 was suspected to have had the problem of omitting or missing some characters in the bamboo tablets, referred to as tuojian 脫簡 in the Kanggao 康誥 chapter of the Shangshu. In Qing times (1644-1911) a counter-view was presented; namely, the song tuojian hypothesis in the Kanggao chapter was not really correct, but it was how the text was arranged that led to some discontinuity in the beginning portion of the said chapter.This paper provides two specific examples of what may have been the result of a cuojian in the Yaodian 堯典 chapter. It investigates such a possibility in terms of (A) context, (B) lexical features, (C) syntax and semantics, and (D) colometry or isocolometry.


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