School of Chinese Seminar Series
Between Flowery Language and Everyday Speech :
Catholic Missionaries’ Learning and Writing of Chinese in Mid-Qing China
宋剛博士 Dr. Song Gang
香港大學中文學院 School of Chinese, The University of Hong Kong
Date and Time: December 4, 2015 (Friday), 5:30-6:45 PM
Venue: Room 730, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU
During the Ming-Qing transition era (approximately the 17th century), European Catholic missionaries followed one another to sail to the East and launched a new wave of missions in China, which in turn induced a broader range of cultural exchanges between China and the West. The missionaries’ observation, study, and use of both spoken and written Chinese language not only determined the effectiveness of their evangelical endeavors, but the attainment of linguistic knowledge was also tied with conflicting missionary approaches among the major Catholic orders in China. The seminar centers on a group of exemplary Christian works from the early and middle Qing periods. By way of textual comparison and contextual analysis, I will explore how the missionaries tackled the key issues while learning Mandarin, especially on the distinction between elegant and vulgar styles and the speeches embedded with regional features, and moreover, how they consciously advocated the importance of baihua (vernacular) writing and further made it a sub-tradition in parallel with the established mainstream of wenyan (literary) writing. Their achievements in language learning and real writing mirrored the continual evolvement of Chinese language at the time, and their baihua works provided a discernible stimulus for the ultimate prevalence of vernacular language in the late Qing and modern periods.
Dr. Song Gang is Associate Professor of Chinese History in the School of Chinese. He has broad interests in Chinese religions and the cultural exchanges between China and the West in history, while his research focuses on Christianity in late imperial China. He published a number of journal articles and book chapters in this field, and his ongoing research projects include late Ming Christian-Confucian dialogism, early Catholic bible translations in China, and Chinese Marian devotions in the 17th century.
All are welcome !