The Western Regions according to the Hou Hanshu
(Extensively Revised and Expanded)
John E. Hill
As a guide to the identification of ancient names in Chinese I have
usually given the reconstructed pronunciations of them as proposed by various
Following Edwin Pulleyblank’s Lexicon of Reconstructed Pronunciation in Early Middle Chinese, Late Middle Chinese, and Early Mandarin (1991), I have used the abbreviation ‘EMC’ in these notes to indicate the reconstructed pronunciations of words in ‘Early Middle Chinese.’
As Pulleyblank makes clear, ibid, p. 20, he believes it is not “possible at present to offer any complete reconstruction for stages of the language earlier than the Qieyun, first published in 601 CE.”
The reader should, therefore, take into consideration that, while these reconstructions often provide valuable clues to original place names, the language had obviously changed considerably between the time of Ban Yong’s report to the Emperor in 125 CE and the time of the Qieyun. Furthermore, the reconstructions do not indicate possible dialectical differences between the language as spoken in Central China and the usage amongst soldiers and settlers on the northwestern frontiers.
Although the reconstructions go back to the late 6th century, and are frequently useful in helping to identify place names, it must be kept in mind that there have been phonetic changes over the intervening centuries that we can only guess at.
I have not relied on Pulleyblank’s reconstructions alone, but have also made use of those in Bernhard Karlgren’s Grammata Serica (1940) and the new encyclopaedic dictionary, Le Grand dictionnaire Ricci de la langue chinoise (2001).
I have generally included the reconstructions of “Archaic Chinese” according to Karlgren’s earlier Grammata Serica in which he attempts to reconstruct pronunciations back to the Chou period (up to circa 220 BCE). These reconstructions of “Archaic Chinese” are indicated by the use of a preceding asterisk *. These are sometimes followed by Karlgren’s “Ancient Chinese” which are his reconstructions for the period equivalent to Pulleyblank’s EMC. Also, as entries are often difficult to find in Karlgren’s book, I have included his numbering system preceded by “K.”, so a typical entry from his work will look like this: K. 139s *g’ân / ɣân.
I have not indicated the modern spoken tones of Pinyin as they do not apply to ancient written Chinese.
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