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The Evolution of Chinese Writing the Inaugural Lecture of the

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If we except acknowledged forgeries, there are very few things in Chinese literature which serious critics claim to be older than the Chou dynasty. The earlier portions of the Shu Ching, or Book of History, contain the records of the reigns of Yao and Shun (2356-2206 B. C. ), and of the first two dynasties, Hsia and Shang (2205-1123 B. C. ); and five of the Praise-Songs in the Shih Ching, or Book of Odes, are said to belong to the early part of the Shang dynasty, or 1720 B. C. Popularly these a
...re supposed to be contem- poraneous records ; but scholars only claim that they are based upon such records.
The script in which these old portions of the classics are now written abounds with phonograms, and in that regard do not differ from the script of to-day. It would seem, therefore, that we must hold these old portions of the classical books to be forgeries or admit that the phonetic system of writing in China began more than 2, 000 years B. C.
There is, however, a very simple and satisfactory way out of this apparent dilemma.


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