Ěryǎ 爾雅
(2,799 words)

The Ěryǎ 爾雅 is generally acclaimed as the earliest Chinese lexicographical work. The received interpretation of the title is “approaching or coming close to elegance”, from ěr 爾 ‘near’ (a loan usage for the character more commonly written as 邇) and 雅 ‘elegance, refinement, correctness’. The use of in the sense of “elegant or correct linguistic usage” is commonly associated with the phrase yǎ yán 雅言 ‘to speak elegantly or in a refined manner’, as found in the Confucian Analects (7.18). The tradition regarding the title of the work is first attested in the Eastern Hàn paronomasticon Shìm…

Cite this page
Weldon South COBLIN, “Ěryǎ 爾雅”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 24 May 2017 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2210-7363_ecll_COM_00000145>
First published online: 2015



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