In 1718, in the coastal city of Quy Ninh, in what is now Vietnam’s south central coast, a group of students reprinted the “Guide for Young Learners by Category and Rhyme (指南幼學備品協韻)” in honour of their teacher. As its title suggests, the compiler intended to explicate literary Sinitic terms for young Vietnamese speakers. Divided into chapters explicating classical Chinese terms such as political figures, familial relationships, and flora and fauna, young Vietnamese speakers probably used it, and its earlier iterations, to improve their literacy level in the literary Sinitic. More than a simple dictionary, I suggest that the bi-lingual glosses reflect the influence of Cham cultural patterns and habits in its articulation of orthodox Confucian values.
This event is presented in conjunction with the Colloquium on Literacies across East Asia, a collaborative workshop focused on exploring the diversity in structure, style, vocabulary, as well as social, intellectual, and political context of Literary Chinese composition across East Asia and over time. We employ an intimate and participatory workshop format, where featured scholars lead attendees through a close reading of a Literary Chinese text as a source for comparative analysis. Our goal is to understand the relationship between the consistency of Literary Chinese across geography and history versus its potential for local expedients and hybridization.
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