The Linguistic Ideas of Joseph Edkins (1823–1905)

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Giorgio (Georg) Orlandi



This paper analyzes and evaluates the linguistic ideas of the British Protestant missionary Joseph Edkins (1823–1905), as well as the linguistic trends of his time, in order to recognize the merits and the achievements in the field of historical Chinese phonology. Furthermore, this paper seeks to demonstrate that many ideas about the sound system of Old Chinese were posited or at least presaged by Edkins in his philological works, where the earliest attempt to reconstruct the old language of the ancient Chinese classics took place for the first time.

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