Jiang Lanshang, female and from the Han ethnic group, born in December 1943, is a native of Mianyang, Hubei Province and a member of the Communist Party of China. She is a member of the Presidium of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Academic Division, and Director of the Academic Division of Philosophy, Literature and History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In July, 1981, she graduated from the department of linguistics of the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and became a postgraduate. She is a researcher of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a PhD student advisor. She used to be Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, executive director of the Chinese Language Society, president of the Lexicographical Society of China, a member of the State Council Academic Degree Committee, a leader of the appraisal group of the Linguistic Division of the National Social Science Research Fund, and a member of the Chinese language advisory committee. Her academic expertise is in history, grammar and Chinese vocabulary. Since 1992, she has enjoyed a special allowance awarded by the State Council.
She Highlights Academia
Zhao Changcai, Yang Yonglong, ZuLongli (hereinafter referred to as Question): Hello, Mr. Jiang. As a famous and influential linguist in Chinese academia, can you please introduce us to how you entered this field?
Jiang Lanshen (Hereinafter referred to as Jiang): in the summer of 1962, I was admitted to the department of Chinese languages in Peking University. In the freshman year, we learned literature, language and classical literatures, so we were faced with choosing our major soon after the school started. I and most of youngsters in the department of Chinese languages were filled with the dream of literature. Few people chose the major of linguistics, so Mr. Zhu Dexi was invited to encourage the freshmen. Mr. Zhu was knowledgeable and was famous in his good eloquence. He introduced linguistics as useful and interesting. I still remember that he mentioned that the learning of linguistics can help one know how Confucius talked. I was moved by Mr. Zhu and chose this major after considering my objective conditions. Mr. Zhu Dexi introduced me to the field of linguistics in the beginning. At that time, older generations of linguists such as Mr.Wangli no longer taught lessons, and we were given class by a group of vigorous young teachers including Tang Zuopan, GuoCiliang, Shi Anshi, QiuXigui, Lu Jianming, Wang Futang, Wang Lijia and Fu Zhunqing, who have all become domestically-famous linguists by now.
That era witnessed many political movements and social practices and when I was a senior, we encountered the ‘Cultural Revolution’, so my academic years were greatly affected. I and my classmates always hold the pity of gaining nothing on entering the treasured mountain.
In 1978, the examination for graduate school was recovered. I was lucky to become a student under Mr. LuShuxiang, a famous linguist in China. I majored in contemporary Chinese, a course that was created by Mr. Lu and aided by Mr. Liu Jian as his assistant. It is at that time that I embarked on the road of studying linguistics.
Question: can you give us a detailed description of who gave you the most influence in the academic field?
Jiang: of course Mr. LuShuxiang. He gave us a great influence in both the pursuit of studies and being a man.
I learned from Mr. Lu for two decades from the day I was admitted to the graduate school to when he passed away in 1998. I got much understanding from his behaviours and pursuit of studies. I would like to talk about some of my views on his ideas and his mind-set from the perspective of four aspects that influenced me the most.
First, dialectical and scientific academic thoughts.
As a master scholar in linguistics, Mr. LuShuxiang had an outstanding characteristic in his pursuit of studies in that he had dialectical academic thoughts, a realm hard to be reached by normal scholars. In this article named Pushing Forward the Science of Linguistics in China, Mr. Lu expounded how to handle the relationships between China and foreign countries, virtual reality and truth, activeness and quietness and generality and specialty that reflect his dialectical and scientific academic thoughts.
In the relations between China and foreign countries, Mr. Lu highlighted the borrowing of Western linguistics theories and methods, and took foreign theories and methods as tools and bridges for studying regulations. He criticized the tendency of observing old traditions of linguistics in China without paying attention to the foreign theories, and the tendency of using empty words and copying foreign theories indiscriminately without combining them with the practical situation in China. Virtual reality and truth refers to the relation between theory and practice. Mr. Lu stressed that we should pay attention to theoretical studies and research on linguistic facts. In dealing with the relation between activity and quiet, Mr. Lu held that the tendency of stressing written material and neglecting oral material was wrong. He particularly encouraged research staff to do more oral research and to pay more attention to live linguistic materials. He paid high attention to handling the relation between generality and speciality in pointing out that the different aspects of linguistics studies (pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar) were organically connected and it was not advisable to emphasize one thing at the expense of another. He required that we understand modern Chinese and historical linguistics, and that Chinese major students should learn more about the theories of modern linguistics, and foreign language major students should read more ancient books. He said: ‘restricting one’s activities to a designated area is not a good method, it has limited vision and is not conducive to progress’.
Second, a tough and industrious devoted spirit.
I would take one example to show Mr. Lu’s devoted spirits. In 1955, the State Council instructed the linguistic research institute under CASS to compile the Modern Chinese Dictionary, and Mr. Lu was chosen as the chief editor. In the compiling process, he worked for as long as 12 hours per day with tough perseverance and almost brutal working attitudes. The entrepreneurship and utmost devotion on the part of Mr. LuShuxiang, Mr. Ding Shengshu and so on, who all endured great hardship in their pioneering work, helped give birth to the milestone Modern Chinese Dictionary in the history of lexicographical work in China.
Third, rigorous and pragmatic studying styles.
In his late years, Mr. Lu concluded his principals for pursuing studies in a self-narrated resume as ‘stressing the extensive collection of cases; concluding orderliness; going against stealing novelty and talking with no roots’. He highlighted that doing research, as was the same for writing articles, requires rich linguistic materials. He often warned us that the materials we use should be first-hand, for second-hand materials were sometimes not to be trusted. He also told us that the first step for doing research work was to read and learn relevant treaties by the ancient men of letters, and it was not advisable to close your eyes and ears; we should acknowledge it when we refer to other people, and we should never ‘steal things as if they were our own’. Mr. Lu stressed that the pursuit of studies should be practical and innovative while writing articles should be innovative.
Other than his strict requirements for himself, Mr. Lu was also strict with his students and colleagues, for he was unable to stand being superficial, opportunistic and careless in pursuit of studies. When he reviewed our articles, he would not only keep a watchful eye on selected topics and the structural frame of the article, but also personally check up materials for their whereabouts. Once I handed in an essay to Mr. Lu who carefully corrected it going as far as the punctuation marks. What made me feel deeply shamed was that I quoted from a secondary source from a reference book with material taken from various sources from the Tang Dynasty, and it turned out that Mr. Luhad checked up the original source and copied it on the side in red pen. I felt terribly shamed, as if Mr. Luhad criticized me in person by saying ‘how can you be loafing on pursuit of studies like so’. I took it as a lesson and never used second-hand materials unless out of absolute necessity.
Fourth, a high and conscious sense of social responsibility.
Mr. Luwas not a scholar engaging in individual studies by absorbing books, nor was he a scholar who delimits himself to a limited research realm. One obvious characteristic of this academic research was to stress the social life of Chinese languages by paying attention to how linguistics plays a role in promoting fundamental education and improving the cultural qualities of the whole nation.
In the field of academic research, Mr. Lu’s morality and his teaching and expectations in me always spurred me to grow stronger. Other than Mr. Lu’s influence on me, two other scholars also exert great influence on my academic growth. One was Mr. Ohta Tatsuo, a famous Sinologist from Japan, and the other was Mr. Mei Zulin, a professor from Conner University, USA. In 1987, I went to Humane Studies Institute in Tokyo, Japan as a visiting scholar for one year and joined the seminar hosted by Mr. Ohta Tatsuo, then a teacher in Kyoto Sangyo University. Mr. Ohta’s acute and correct judgements in the academic field left an unforgettable impressions in me. Mr. Mei Zulin’s essays in the history of grammar and dialect studies gave me much inspiration and help in linguistic theories and research methods.
Question: your initial research was in the modern history of vocabulary and it made contributions in the case textual criticisms and explanations and systematic research in the history of cohort vocabulary. Can you briefly talk about how you entered such a field and the research progress?
Jiang: I started with research in historical vocabulary and finished my essay entitled Two Annotations of ‘Swallow Fu’ under Dunhuangunder the direction of Mr. LuShuxiang and Liu Jian, that started with annotations in Dunhuang viable form literature (a popular form of narrative literature flourishing in the Tang Dynasty). Through writing the dissertation, I obtained academic practice in terms of characters, sounds, gloss, edition records and emendations etc. It was a good starting point that gave a good foundation for my future research. Few studies on the annotations of Dunhuang variable forms and such folk literature works existed in China in the early 1980s, so my essay can be said to be one early practice.
After I graduated from graduate school, I continued to carry out deep explorations in the history of Chinese vocabulary in four stages.
In the first stage, I started from a case analysis on vocabulary. Interpretations on ‘Influences’, Excursus on ‘Example’s, On ‘Wuzi’, Collection of Phraseology Explorations and other works were authored during this era.
In the second stage, I carried out research on vocabulary in books. I observed and studied features of vocabulary on oral materials with value in the modern history of Chinese languages. Era of Languages in ‘In Search of Supernatural’ (Eight Volumes), Peking Dialect Features Reflected from ‘Beijing Women Words’, Literary Notes on ‘Travelling in the Fairy Cave’ and Re-reading ‘Liu Zhiyuan Modes of Ancient Chinese Muset’ reflect research in this field.
In the third stage, I carried out research on cohort languages. In order to master the cause and effect of vocabulary in the modern Chinese languages, I read large sums of mythical stories and anecdotes in the period of the adjacent Wei, Jin, South and North Dynasties of the Sui and Tang Dynasties, and attempted to do a comprehensive research on the vocabulary that would reflect this particular period. We all know that mythical stories and anecdotes are written in ancient Chinese, but the linguistic features of most works differ from other works in ancient Chinese from the same period, in that the narration was more close to the spoken language, and oral language mostly appeared in dialogue that can reflect the vocabulary and grammar features of the period. In 1988, Explanations on Collected Words in Novels during Wei, Jin, South and North Dynasties, my treatise, was in print and Mr. LuShuxiang mentioned in the preface of the book: ‘I think her work in this field is significant and fills in a gap in the history of Chinese vocabulary.’ Mr. GuoZaiyi made comments on three strong points in seeking confirmation, the elimination of feeling and inclusiveness, and he also pointed out the drawbacks in that some particular terms are not traced back to their source and the explanations are not accurately confirmed. His comments were both objective and pertinent.
In the fourth stage, I conducted longitudinal conclusions on Chinese vocabulary in the whole modern history. In order to systematically conclude on the results obtained in Chinese vocabulary in the modern history, I invited Mr. Liu Jianto be the chief editor in the Dictionary for Chinese Cohort Languages in Modern History series that includes Language Dictionary in Tang and Five Dynasties, Language Dictionary in Song Dynasty and Language Dictionary in Yuan Dynasty. I also compiled Dictionary in Tang and Five Dynasties with Mr. Cao Guangshun. The words contained in this set of linguistic dictionaries not only implement the views in the vocabulary history but also try implementing views in the grammar history. The compilation of the three cohort language dictionaries provides positive fundamental work for systematic research of Chinese vocabulary history and grammar history that served to push forward the research in Chinese vocabulary history.
Question: after the 1990s, the theoretical characteristics in your essay became stronger with more detailed materials collections, a broader research perspective and more scientific and rigorous research methods. The concept of ‘similar extension in meaning’ and application of the deductive method in special explanations of words that you have put forward exertsa far-reaching impact on the research of modern language vocabulary and shall play a directive role in theories and methods in the follow-up research. Would you please combine with specific research in talking about your creative views in theoretical thoughts and methodologies in the research field of vocabulary history?
Jiang: okay, I’ll take two articles to talk about my own experience.
The first one is Similarity and Extension in Meaning of Similar Words (1993).. This article not only further elaborates the theories of ‘synchronous extension’ by XuJialu and theories of ‘interdependence significance’ by Jiang Shaoyu but also put forwards its own new theoretical views. For example, the article points out that similar extensions can occur from a similar same among many polysemants; sometimes, similar extension is not the result of extension but is caused by the same context; similar extension of word meaning is different from contamination of work meaning; some homonyms can not only cause similar extensions in meaning but also share meanings; when antonyms (including words with opposite meanings) are extended in meaning, some are the same while some are still the opposite.
The second article is Textual Criticism and Explanation of Deduction and Modern Chinese Words, and it is a conclusion of methods for textual criticism and explanations after many years of engaging in this field. We all know that the most fundamental and usual method in traditional textual criticism and explanation of words is the method of induction. This method is very important but in some cases, the use of the induction method has a certain limitation. For example, when the words to be explained are isolated examples, the inductive method is useless; sometimes, several collected cases might fall for different semantic items that are similar to isolated example. Besides, to conclude semantic items following the context might sometimes prove to be difficult for grasping the core significance of words that would cause paraphrasing. So in this article I put forward that when the inductive method is not effective, we can try the deductive method to seek how to solve problems through general regulations of linguistic development. The use of deductive methods takes several linguistic facts and the acknowledgement of general regulations in the development history of the Chinese language as the basis and premise. In this article, I illustrate how to use deductive methods to make textual criticism and explanations on modern Chinese words in four aspects, namely higher ratio of synonym compound words in united structures of compound words, similar structural phenomena, similar extensions in meaning of related word meanings and interchangeable phenomena of words meaning. The deductive method sometimes not only can solve problems beyond the capacities of the inductive method, but more importantly, it can help elevate our understandings towards word meaning to a rational stage so that we can know the whys and wherefores instead of just knowing about things. However, I think I am obliged to stress that no method is omnipotent and even the best method can cause results going contrary to one’s wishes if it is used improperly. To make conclusions by the use of the deductive method requires careful demonstration or it would be just a hypothesis. In specific research processes, it is better that we combine the inductive method with deductive methods and implement the principals of rational speculation, and carefully seek confirmation in using deductive methods.
Question: many scholars only study vocabulary and grammar alone. Other than your achievements in the realm of modern Chinese vocabulary research, you have also achieved an outstanding performance in the realm of modern Chinese grammar and you started your research in this field early. How did you take this path?
Jiang: well, it started with Mr. Lu. After I graduated from the graduate school, I remember that it was January the 13th, 1982, Mr. Lu invited me to his home for a talk. He said: ‘you mainly majored in vocabulary in your graduate school years, which is allowable, but seen in the long run, you should involve some grammar and pronunciation issues and have an overall knowledge of the vertical and horizontal historical evolution processes. Of course, your research should have emphasis. Nowadays, some people would limit themselves to a certain circle which is not healthy.’ About my future work, Mr. Lu said: ‘I give you a topic—Methods of Researching Historical Grammar, you write around 10,000 words on it. It’s better for it to be an empirical essay, but you can push forward your studies by working on this essay after concluding other people’s essays’. Mr. Lu advised me to read Historical Scripts on Chinese Language (second) by Mr. Wang Li, Historical Grammar of Chinese by Mr. Ohta Tatsuo, his Essay Collections of Chinese Grammar and some essays on ancient Chinese to realize his research methods. And I followed his advice. After reading my essay, he said: ‘you got what you should know, but this essay is not to be in print until the day you can fully sense the essence of it’.
Under the good teaching and careful direction of Mr. Lu, I can consciously and quickly expand my own research realm and get further progress in the following grammar research field. But my direct contact with and entrance into the modern Chinese grammar field started with aiding Mr. Lu to classify Pronouns in Modern Chinese in late 1982. I took such an opportunity in carefully and systematically reading masterpieces by the senior masters on historical grammar, and listened respectfully to Mr. Lu’s more detailed guidance.
Question: your research involves Chinese grammar history extensively, what are the issues you have paid attention to in recent years? What are your pursuits and characteristics in research methods?
Jiang: well, my research contents and concerned issues are mainly concentrated into two major aspects: first, origins and developments of function words and second, language contact.
In writing grammar essays, I pay attention to collections of materials and try to make new progress in views in each essay. I demand of myself that I not only be good at discovering problems and carefully describing linguistic facts, but also make scientific and matter-of-fact explanations. In terms of research methods, I would, on the one hand, continue to learn from Mr. LuShuxiang’s research methods in combining pronunciation, meaning and grammar and on the other hand, try combining descriptions with explanations, induction with deduction and historical literature with modern local dialect materials.
Question: in your essays related with grammar history research, you pay particular attention to the ‘origin and development’ of grammar phenomena; your essay collection published by Commercial Press is entitled Origin and Development of Modern Chinese. It seems like a reflection of your research styles, so would you please combine with your representative masterpieces in talking about your research methods or experiences in the origin and development of function words?
Jiang: well, it is very important and inevitable to carry out detailed descriptions of some grammar phenomena when engaging in grammar research, in particular, grammar history in modern times, but tracing to the origin, to get a clear picture of context in linguistic phenomena is more important, but it is also difficult and challenging and that is where my academic pursuits and interests lie.
Though most research on the origin and development of function words is on case research and different methods might be used in different essays, they still share commonness. I personally think the essay entitled On Consanguinity between ‘Me’ and ‘Men’ (1995) can be regarded as a representative in this field. I would talk about my own experience and thoughts on the research by combining them with this essay.
This essay is actually an extension from the research results of LuShuxiang and Ohta Tatsuo and other precedent scholars. It proposes suppositions and argumentations under the premise of fully grasping linguistic materials. Following the regulations of similar extensions of synonyms, the essay starts with a question pronoun like ‘what kind’ and a certain group of people shown in plurality, as in ‘you et al’, and puts forward the supposition that the word ‘Me’ in ‘Shen Me’ (which in English means What) and ‘Men’ (the Chinese equivalent of plurality word) have homology. The ‘same category and color sample’ of ‘thing’ serves as the bond connecting the two grammar realms. The essay explains the homology relation between the etymology of ‘Wu’ (thing) and ‘Mi, Wei, Mei and Men (falling tone), Men (rising tone) and Men (level tone)’, plural suffixes since the Tang Dynasty. It then tells of the homology relation between ‘Me’ and ‘Men’ with examples in literatures and modern dialects and in the end, it concludes four features of the grammaticization of the notional word ‘Wu’ (thing). Last year (2006), some scholars pointed out in their essays that the plural suffix in the dialect of Anfu, Jiangxi Province is ‘Wu’. I was so happy in hearing this, for it proves that my supposition is not absurd.
In this essay, I would like to illustrate that the origin and development of words, and in particular that of function words featuring grammar significance， cannot be totally solved just through single words or grammar but requires research by many aspects including pronunciation, words, grammar and even word font and so on to be perfectly solved. The homological relation between ‘Me’ and ‘Men’ concerns the evolution of pronunciation (continuous system phonetics change and superposition variation), regulations of extension in meaning (similar extension of synonyms), grammar development (grammaticization going from notional words to function words to suffix) and sigmoid changes, so only after comprehensively considering the role various factors play in historical evolution and their mutual relations can we make clear the connection of the vein of homological relation between ‘Me’ and ‘Men’. Furthermore, to review the origin and development of function words cannot just focus on historical literature but require connection with live language materials, particularly modern dialects. These two points are what Mr. LuShuxiang proposed, and I have been attempting to contribute more to this field.
Question: okay, your experience can play a directing role for us of the younger generation. This essay has novel a perspective, a broad mind-set and rich material, and it has become a model for finding particular rules of grammaticization of notional words in discussions of specific questions. But your essay Exploration of ‘Ke’, a Question Adverb and the essay discussing a group of question proverbs like ‘Po, Ke, ( Qi, Ning and Gan), Hai’ in Research on Modern Chinese Function Words are not just simple researches on a certain function word but concern a group of words of the same type.
Jiang: yes, you are right. This essay seems different from “the origin and development of single function word” in the writing methods but they actually share the same research approach and methods. First, it tries to be both general and particular in descriptions of linguistic facts with reasonable and forceful analysis; second, it tries to give reasonable descriptions of linguistic phenomena based on descriptions. For example, Yoshikawa, a Sinologist, has paid attention to the use methods of question proverbs like ‘Po’ in his book Brief Records on Auxiliary Words in Six Dynasties. My essay combines this with the sentence pattern to research in detail the historical evolution of ‘Po’, use region and causes of it being used as a question proverb, so that my illustration might be more encompassing and profound. My essay argues that the auxiliary ‘Ke’ is an admonition. It has two meanings, ‘Ke’ and ‘Buke’ meaning ‘Yes’ and ‘No’: when it is used as ‘Ke’, it becomes a counter-question as in ‘Qike’? When it is used as ‘Buke’, it shows conjecture by adding ‘Po’, so other than being used as interrogate, ‘Ke’ could be used as a conjecture question in the Tang and Five Dynasties. This is a new discovery. More importantly, after further profound research, I found that most question proverbs in the same system undergo an evolution through rhetorical questions, expanding functions and conjecture. For instance, ‘Ke’ as a conjecture underwent the generalization of ‘Qi’ and ‘Ning’ and its use as a conjecture is extended from its use as a rhetorical question. In this case, some independent and seemingly irrelevant function words are integrated into one system. Though ‘Po, Ke (Qi, Ning, Gan), Hai’ and so on are not positioned in the same synchronic surface, they are a group of function words of mutual relevance in the development process of the Chinese languages, and the total regulation of question proverb systems can be indicated through diachronic inspections of this group of words.
Question: since the 1980s and 1990s, some famous linguistic masterpieces and relatively mature grammar theories and methods from foreign countries have been introduced to the domestic linguistic research. You earnestly practise what you advocate in translating and introducing many books and applying new foreign theories to the research of Chinese Language History. You are standing in the front edge of academia. Please introduce your work and representative works in this field.
Jiang: in terms of introducing foreign masterpieces in linguistics, I joined Mr. BaiGuowei in translating three masterpieces by famous Japanese scholars: On Literatures of Chinese Language History by Ohta Tatsuo (1991), Research on Grammar History of the Middle Century of China by Shimura Noyori (1995) and Research on Vernacular Words by Daisuke Matsuzaka (1997). These two masterpieces together with Historical Grammar of Chinese Language (1987) by Ahta Tatsuo, co-translated by Jiang Shaoyu and XuChanghua, are important reference materials for scholars engaging in the research of Chinese language history.
As with the detailed research through which I applied foreign grammar theories to Chinese research history, well, they are mainly reflected in the following essays: pronunciation expression of grammaticization (1999), Place Words’ Leading Case Method and Origin of ‘Di’, Structural Auxiliary Word (1999), Grammaticization of ‘Shi’ and ‘Hou’, Two Time Words (2002), Lexicalization of ‘Dehua’ Cross-Layer Non-Phrase Structure (2004) and Two Origins of ‘VP Good’ Sentences—On Grammaticization of Structures (2005) . Taking the preposition X in ‘V+X+NL’ sentential form (V is the verb, Xis the preposition and NL is the location noun) in Pronunciation Performance of Grammaticization as an example, we can discuss the corresponding relation between phonetic change and the extent of grammaticization, and thus further prove that ‘X’ as ‘De’ in the vernacular literature of the Qing Dynasty is the phonetic variation of ‘Zhu’. Research on different phonetic variations of ‘Zhu’ in Shandong and Shanxi Dialects would tell us that the variations on the synchronic level can be perceived as reflections of ‘Zhu’ after diachronic phonetic variations, and at the same time as expressions of grammaticization of ‘Zhu’. The essay conducts conclusions on relevant grammar phenomena in theories, and holds that grammaticization is a continuous gradual process while phonetic phenomena caused by grammaticizationare also a continuous gradual process. Gradual virtual effects usually accompany the process from being notional to being functional of notional words; correspondingly, phonetic changes cannot be halted abruptly and the total tendency is to continuously simplify to an extent far from the original pronunciation tending to zero form. This essay discusses the expressions of grammaticization extent from the phonetic variations of certain elements in typical sentential forms and makes useful trials on theoretical issues of grammaticization by combining ancient literature with modern dialects.
The essay Place Words’ Leading Case Method and Origin of ‘Di’, Structural Auxiliary Word starts with ‘Suo’ and ‘Xu’, place words in the vernacular material of the Han, Wei and Six Dynasties,taken as auxiliary words phenomena to prove the possibility of the revolving of place words and direction words to structural auxiliary words. That is to say, in the structure of ‘noun+ place words+ noun’, direction words are in the position of ‘Zhi’, structural auxiliary word, and when the meaning of direction words is entirely functional, direction words would serve as structural auxiliary words through re-analysis. Based on abstracting the research results of previous scholars and re-analyzing them, this essay gives explanations on the origin of the auxiliary word ‘Di’ from a new perspective. The proof and conclusions of the essay won approval by many domestic and overseas counterparts, and it is considered a relatively reasonable interpretation.
The essay Lexicalization of ‘Dehua’ Cross-Layer Non-Phrase Structure puts forward the concept of ‘cross-layer non-phrase structure’ and thoroughly discusses the diachronic evolution of ‘Dehua’ in vocabulary, sentence structures and pragmatic functions. It particularly points out that the ‘Hua’ in ‘Dehua’ plays the role of ‘co-reference’ in the modern vernacular.
Question: as a cause for language evolution, linguistic contact has been receiving more and more attention in late years. Chinese, as a language with long history and extensive contact with languages in foreign countries in its long course of development, would receive more attention in its language evolution caused by communication. But such research was scarce, and in particular research on language contact in Chinese grammar history is still in its initial stage. You have done much pioneering work in this field and gained outstanding achievements. Would you please introduce your research in this field?
Jiang: well, I think language contact is an inevitable thing in research of Chinese history, in particular Chinese history in modern times, for linguistic pheromone would concern such a question. The two articles Tests of ‘Xing’, Postposition (1998) and Origin of Dual-purpose of Chinese Doing and Done (1999) published previously were finished after discussions on doubts generated after reading relevant articles authored by other scholars.
Many scholars take the preposition ‘Xing’ as an interpreted word of an auxiliary word in the Mongolian language. I carried out overall investigations and demonstrations on the postposition ‘Xing’ in Tests of ‘Xing’, Postposition and raised novel views. Sentences with ‘Xing’ as the postposition in the literature of the Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties can be divided into two versions: A version, verb/preposition+ N lines (+ VP); and B version: N lines + VP. From the perspective of sentence pattern, the A version was used since ancient times and the B version was the new sentence pattern under the influence of the Mongolian language in the Yuan Dynasty. The postposition ‘Xing’ was finally reviewed as a Chinese word.
‘Jiao’ and ‘Rang’ in Chinese can be used to express Doing and Done. Some famous scholars such as Hashimoto Mantaro, a sinologist from Japan, address the phenomenon that some Chinese words have the meaning of Doing and Done as being due to a background in the Altaic language system. I raised different views in Origin of Dual-purpose of Chinese Doing and Done in that the phenomenon of dual-purpose of Doing and Done is determined by the essence of ‘Identity of Doing and One’ in Chinese lexically, something that has nothing to do with the influence of the Altaic language system. Another contribution of this essay is to prove that the giving verbs in the Chinese language have been used as doing and done in both the South and the North from ancient times to the present, which means that the characteristic of dual-purpose of doing and done in Chinese is reflected in the giving verbs. That doing also means done in the North in modern Chinese reflects the historical layer since the Tang Dynasty, while the concurrent doing and done in giving verbs in Southern Dialects reflect the historical layers in ancient times. The two are different in vocabulary selection instead of grammar types.
Other than the aforesaid two essays, Grammar Significance and Its Origin of Auxiliary Words ‘Shide’ (1992) On Development of Analogy in Chinese Language from Linguistic Penetration (1999), Chinese Word Order Research (2000) and Language Contact and Particular Judge Sentence in Yuan and Ming Dynasties (2003) also start from detailed questions to move on toin-depth discussions on how Chinese interacts with foreign languages.
Question: you have contributed to the development of regulations of Chinese grammar and provided direction and reference in theories and methods on relevant questions in such pioneering research results of language contact. Would you please talk about your views on matters to be noticed in the research of language contact?
Jiang: well, from my personal experience, I think that when researching language contact, we must first have a prudent mind-set. We should start from the specific language fact instead of first impressions and we should carry out detailed historical investigations, analysis and judgements on relevant linguistic phenomena. Only by doing so can the research results be stable and trustworthy. Secondly, we should break through the limit of historical comparison methods with language homogeny theory as the basis. We should take the theory of the non-homogeny of language as the guide to analyse complicated language phenomenon through the mutual influence and penetration occurring from language contact. Also, we should pay attention to the dynamic changing process of Chinese absorbing the influence of foreign languages.
Take the two essays on assimilated auxiliary words and analogy entitled Grammar Significance and Its Origin of Auxiliary Words ‘Shide and On Development of Analogy in Chinese Language from Linguistic Penetration (1999) as an example. First, I review the development path and network through reviews and analysis on the history of analogy in Chinese languages. I notice that from the Qing dynasty to the Tang and Song dynasties, the analogy of the Chinese language is ‘V + X +Z’ (V means likening verb, and Z means analogy auxiliary words) that is shortened as ‘X + Z’ with grammatical functions as the predicate. But the new analogy emerging in the Yuan and Jin dynasties does not use likening verbs in front but must have NP or VP following it. The analogy structure ‘X shi/Yeshi’ is, in essence, a modifier that cannot be independently used or used as predicate. So it was vastly different from analogies prior to it in both form and functions. Then how to explain this difference? Well, it requires that we jump out of the limits of historical analogy when researching historical language phenomena and consider whether influences brought about by language contact existed under the social historical conditions of the time. That is to say, we should try to consider and grasp the issue from the perspectives of language penetration and linguistic integration. Through detailed evidence, I point out that such an analogy came out under the influence of the Altai languages (mainly the Mongolian language) and that it is a direct translation of the Altai language. Analogy in the Yuan and Ming dynasties should be interpreted as so. But just paying attention to this point is not enough, so the essay further tells that on receiving this influence from the Mongolian language, the Chinese language also undergoes a process from indiscriminate imitations of the Mongolian order to gradual adjustment, transforming pending integration to the Chinese grammatical system. In this way, the question of the historical development and evolution of the Chinese analogy can be perfectly and completely solved. The going in print of these two essays provides authentic cases of how the Altai language affects Chinese grammar in the word order that arouses interest and approval among scholars in the field both at home and abroad.
Question: Dictionaries can be taken among the categories with highest compilation difficulties. The compilation of dictionaries is one of the fundamental projects for cultural building in a country and a dictionary featuring a large scale, high quality and authority would represent the cultural and academic level in a country, but compiling it would be greeted by many challenges that would be both time-consuming and energy-costing. You once compiled Dictionary of Language in Tang and Five Dynasties and Dictionary of Modern Chinese Language, so you must know the sweetness and bitterness which lies in this. You now serve as the chief compiler in Illustrated Dictionary of Modern Chinese Language, how did such a challenging task come to you?
Jiang: as is known to all, Modern Chinese Language Dictionary compiled by Mr. LuShuxiang and Ding Shengshu serves as a milestone in the progress of dictionary history in China that plays a big role in cultural education and scientific research careers. But Modern Chinese Language Dictionary is after all a mid-size dictionary, with limited words and paraphrasing due to length. We are in an era featuring big social transformations and an era of boosting knowledge, so languages are undergoing constant changes when new words and new meanings are gradually emerging, so the compilation of a dictionary needs to keep abreast with times. So based on Modern Chinese Language Dictionary, an illustrated dictionary is urgently in need of compilation.
I hesitated in assuming the role of chief compiler of the Illustrated Dictionary of Modern Chinese Language, but in the end I decided to assume this post. Well, my final decision was taken largely because of the big social significance of the compiling work, and because I felt I should continue the unfinished work of Mr. Lu and Mr. Ding. On the other hand, I would note down what I had learned in this dictionary so that I would have the chance of putting my knowledge into practice, and that is exactly where the values and responsibilities of a scholar lie in. So I decided to put my personal planning on hold and devote myself to this work.
Question: as a linguist who once assumed an important leadership post, what are your own evaluations on your drawbacks and achievements in the linguistics research field, and what are your expectations towards the future development of this discipline?
Jiang: well, in the past two decades, linguistics research in China has made obvious progress in both scope and profundity,and a batch of potential outstanding scholars emerged that impress foreign counterparts greatly. I believe that if we walk forward on this path, we will certainly make good development. Meanwhile, the era calls for great masters and for the establishment of linguistics featuring Chinese characteristics, Chinese styles and a Chinese school. From this requirement, linguistics in our country shoulders heavy responsibilities that still require a leap-frog breakthrough. Scientific history both home and abroad shows that science undergoes the process of comprehension, differentiation and re-comprehension. Modern science features both high differentiation and high comprehension, for on the one hand, science has been more subdivided with newly emerging science and realms; on the other hand, different disciplines and realms are mutually overlapped towards the orientation of comprehension and integration. The development of Chinese linguistics is heading towards this direction. In these years at the beginning of the 21st century, the building of linguistics has made some important changes and progress in the adjustment of the discipline system and the research practices of linguistics. In my eye, if linguistics research in China wants to undergo a big breakthrough, we should start paying attention to the penetration and integration of different disciplines. Discipline crossing points are usually new growing points at the cutting edge of science that would be very likely to give rise to big scientific breakthroughs.
In order to enhance the development of cross-discipline integration and discipline crossing, some corresponding reforms need to be carried out on the current scientific set-up, research ideologies and research methods. For example, in the strategic layout of discipline development, we should advocate and support the development of integrating different disciplines and direct and encourage scholars to engage in cross-discipline research so as to change the backward situation of the current cross-discipline research in linguistics in China; in organizing scientific research projects and approved topics, we should pay more attention to discipline crossing and overlapped-discipline, so as to create a more conducive environment for research on discipline-crossing that would form and encourage multidisciplinary atmospheres; in the structural adjustments in language institutes or high schools with certain requirements, discipline integration should be given a certain attention; moreover, we should nurture a group of inter-disciplinary talents that can adjust to discipline integration and cross-disciplinary research . To this end, we should advocate recruitment of graduate school students from different disciplines so that cross-discipline education can be enhanced.
Question: during the past 20 years from the mid-eighties to the present, you have assumed the posts of research office dean, language institute chief and vice president of CASS etc. We all know that academic research consumes plenty of time and energy, but your clerical work takes up much time and vigour you might otherwise invest in research. However it seems that your academic research is not affected by the administrative posts you assume, as you publish many high-quality academic essays and always stand at the cutting edge of academia. Well, we would like to know how you balance the contradiction between handling well your scientific and administrative work, please.
Jiang: well, to be honest, it is impossible for administrative work not affect academic research at all, for you have to think and abstract your minds on many other things. But since the Party and the masses ask to be in this position, I cannot disappoint the organization and people’s trust and expectations. I have a high sense of responsibility, so I cannot leave my work undone; I have to do a thing perfectly. But at the same time, I am into academia and have been regarding myself as an intellectual. An official post is temporary but knowledge lasts a lifetime. It is because I assume the post as a scholar that I can make a good job of both administrative and research work. Though dual pressures might be large, I have been taking such pressure as motivation and face challenges with a positive mind-set. Since I have little time allocated for academic research, I would spare no efforts in doing it. In the past two decades or so, I have had almost no complete holidays and festivals,because holidays and festivals are my research days. I have books all around my bed and read some pages when I get awake at night. It is like ‘good books accompanying me to sleep all night’. During the intervals between participating in meetings, I read some academic materials. I never give up any spare time and try writing one or two essays ratified by people in the same field.
No pain, no gain. Doing administrative leadership work is also an opportunity for me to improve. Due to my post, I pay more attention to domestic and foreign affairs; I often join various international and domestic meetings that help broaden my views and vision, so that my awareness of some issues becomes more comprehensive and profound. It can be said that doing administrative leadership work helps improve my life realm and I am thankful that the organization gives me such an opportunity.
Question: in these years, you assumed leadership posts in CASS and held the posts of part-time professor in many domestic universities and research institutes. Besides, you often joined important academic meetings both home and abroad and each time, you would submit your academic essay and give academic reports that helped win universal praise and good reputation for both you and CASS. We listened to your high-levelled academic essays and reports for several times. I think they must contain huge devotions and efforts.
Jiang: well, while doing administrative work, I joined many important academic activities including those in the USA, Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, HK and Taiwan during which I shared my academic essays. I think others would regard you first as a Chinese scholar from CASS, so I would represent more than just myself. So prior to each academic meeting, I would be fully prepared in trying to make my essay have new material, new views and new opinions. Despite my efforts, I feel that I have gained so much and got a lot of pleasures in it.
Question: as you once assumed the leadership post in the linguistics institute and CASS for a long time, you must have a rich experience in scientific research organizations and management. Would you please talk about your experience of managing the institute and academy in the new era?
Jiang: I think the basis of a good CASS is to manage its institutes well and the key for managing the institutes well is to select a good leadership team together with the role displayed by the Party Commission and Academic Commission. So the leadership team should first have a correct political orientation and theoretical direction, and other than those, they should have academic strategic views which correctly grasp the development trends and orientation of the discipline so as to formulate development planning in line with actuality. The planning should be carried out by centring on how to improve the comprehensive competitiveness and core competitiveness of the institutes.
Comprehensive competitiveness normally refers to the qualities of the research teams, discipline coverage in research institutions, depth of exploration in front-edge problems in a discipline, the modernization degree of the research facilities and means, the quality of representative academic magazines and the academic reputation of this research organ. Core competitiveness is reflected in talents, results and the layout of disciplines, or whether you have academic masters or leading people acknowledged by the academic world, whether you have an influential theoretical school, key disciplines, whether the set-up and orientation of your featured discipline is reasonable or not and whether you have a soft environment beneficial for talents to contribute results
In the management of both CASS and the institutes, we should do a good job concerning academic regulations, establish a scientific academic evaluation system and a fair and competitive academic atmosphere. Since building academic study styles should be grasped firmly, leaders in both the academy and the institute should become models of having a regular study style and observing academic regulations.
Question: can you introduce to us your personal hobbies?
Jiang: when I was young, I liked drawing, dancing, drama and actually, my hobbies were extensive. But now, my hobbies are reading and writing, which are also my career.
Question: okay, then what is your life faith in one sentence?
Jiang: Be a useful person for your country, your group and others.
Question: okay, we would like to hear about your suggestions and expectations for young scholars, thanks.
Jiang: young scholars are where the hope of the academic future in a country lies in. Living in such an era, youth scholars should carry ambitious aspirations and serve the country and people consciously by what they have learned. Fickleness is highly prohibited in academic research, and we should firmly believe that fruits will repay those who drench themselves in intensive cultivation.
Zhang Changcai, Male, Born in October,
Yang Yonglong, male, born in July,
ZuShengli, male, born in November,
(Translated by Zhufuxiaofei)
Editor: Wang Daohang