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By W. South Coblin

Phags-pa chinese language is the earliest type of the chinese to be written in a systematically devised alphabetic script. it's named after its author, an excellent thirteenth-century Tibetan scholar-monk who additionally served as political adviser to Kublai Khan. 'Phags-pa's invention of an alphabet for the Mongolian language is still an awfully very important accomplishment, either conceptually and essentially. With it he completed not anything below the production of a unified script for all the a variety of peoples within the Mongolian empire, together with the relevant Asian Turks and Sinitic-speaking Chinese.

'Phags-pa is of giant significance for the examine of premodern chinese language phonology. in spite of the fact that, the script is hard to learn and interpret, and secondary fabrics on it are scattered and never simply bought. the current booklet is meant as a pragmatic advent to 'Phags-pa chinese language reviews and a advisor for analyzing and studying the script. It contains components. the 1st half is an introductory part comprising 4 chapters. this can be by means of a word list of 'Phags-pa chinese language kinds and their corresponding chinese language characters, including pinyin and stroke order indexes to these characters.The first introductory bankruptcy outlines the discovery of the 'Phags-pa writing process, summarizes the foremost varieties of fabric preserved in it, and describes the ancient and linguistic contexts during which this invention happened. Following chapters aspect the historical past of 'Phags-pa experiences, the alphabet and its interpretation, and the salient positive aspects of the underlying sound process represented via the script, evaluating it with these of varied later sorts of chinese language which were recorded in alphabetic assets.

A guide of 'Phags-pa Chinese could be of distinctive curiosity to chinese language ancient phonologists and students curious about the historical past and tradition of China and significant Asia throughout the Yuan interval (A.D. 1279–1368).

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Their phonetic interpretation in Chinese 'Phags-pa is not controversial. The two fonns for 'Phags-pa k are graphic variants. A famous enigma in the script is the fact that Tibetan voiced stops and "clear" affricates are used to write Chinese voiceless plain initials, called qlng in the Chinese philological tradition. " The reasons for this oddity have been widely discussed and remain controversial. 5 Norman comments, "This situation, so startling at first sight, can be readily understood if only we remember that the 'Phags-pa script was devised for writing Mongolian and only secondarily applied to Chinese.

In particular we may note two newly published articles by Zhongwei Shen (2000, 2001). The first of these discusses a long-standing problem in the structure of the QYS from the standpoint of 'Phags-pa Chinese. The second attacks a particular orthographic problem in the 'Phags-pa system. l0 Finally, two recent papers by the present writer deal with the placement of 'Phags-pa Chinese vis-a-vis the development of competing standard forms of Chinese pronunciation as attested in alphabetic records of the past six centuries (Cob lin 1999,2001).

Luo reported his impressions of it in 1939. Afterwards, he continued to study it together with his student, Cai Meibiao ~~~. Their joint work on it was published in 1959, a year after Luo's death (1959: 83-127). Included in their treatment was a tracing of the photographic facsimile of the MGZY text, minus two missing pages. 9 With this, the text became generally available to interested readers. As noted earlier, copies of the MGZY were in the hands of some Western scholars, such as Lewicki in Poland, by the 1940s.

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