Snapshot C: Characters and the Order of the Universe, Grammatical Form as the Expression of the Mind

  • Edward McDonald
Part of the The M.A.K. Halliday Library Functional Linguistics Series book series (TMAKHLFLS)


Dai Zhen is a major representative of the highly productive and influential school of Chinese philology usually identified by its main methodology as that of kăozhèngxué 考證學 or Evidential Analysis, which reached its peak in the late 18th to early nineteenth century (Elman 1984). In an age of increasing specialization by Chinese scholars in either philosophical or philological enquiry, Dai remained committedly a generalist, producing commentaries on the classics and treatises on phonology and mathematics as well as purely philosophical works. For Dai, the Confucian classics still formed the basis of all knowledge and social order, and “the purpose of evidential studies was to reconstruct the meanings and principles including the ethics and metaphysics of the Confucian canon’s ancient authors” (Tiwald 2009: Section 1.).

Primary sources

  1. Text 10 Dai Zhen [On the six principles of character formation and use] Dài Zhèn: liùshū 戴震《六書》Google Scholar
  2. Dai Z (1934) [Original writings of Dai Zhen] 3:14. Zhonghua Shuju. 戴震著:答江慎修先生論小學書 戴東原集 卷三 頁十四.《戴震原集》中華書局,上海, ShanghaiGoogle Scholar
  3. Text 11. Humboldt. On Language: The diversity of human language structure and its influence on the mental development of mankind. §8. Form of languages, p 49. §24. The Chinese language, p 230Google Scholar
  4. von Humboldt W (1999) On language. In: Michael Losonsky (ed). transl. by Peter Heath from Einleitung. Über die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues und ihren Einfluss auf die geistige Entwickelung des Menschengeschlechts. [In Über die Kawi-Sprache auf der Insel Java. Berlin: Druckerei der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1836.]. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar

Suggestions for further reading

    Dai Zhen

    1. Brokaw CJ (1994) Tai Chen and Learning in the Confucian Tradition. In: Elman BA, Woodside A (eds) Education and society in Late Imperial China. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp 257–291Google Scholar


    1. Joseph JE (1999) A Matter of Consequenz: Humboldt, race and the genius of the Chinese language. Historiographica Linguistica 26(1–2):89–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
    2. Robins RH (1990) Leibniz and Wilhelm von Humboldt and the history of comparative linguistics. In: de Mauro T, Formigari L (eds) Leibniz, Humboldt and the origins of comparativism. Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp 85–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
    3. Underhill JW (2009) Humboldt, worldview and language. Edinburgh University Press, EdinburghCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward McDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.SydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations