1st Edition

Brush Conversation in the Sinographic Cosmopolis Interactional Cross-border Communication using Literary Sinitic in Early Modern East Asia

Edited By David C. S. Li, Reijiro Aoyama, Tak-sum Wong Copyright 2022
    360 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    360 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    For hundreds of years until the 1900s, in today’s China, Japan, North and South Korea, and Vietnam, literati of Classical Chinese or Literary Sinitic (wényán 文言) could communicate in writing interactively, despite not speaking each other’s languages.

    This book outlines the historical background of, and the material conditions that led to, widespread literacy development in premodern and early modern East Asia, where reading and writing for formal purposes was conducted in Literary Sinitic. To exemplify how ‘silent conversation’ or ‘brush-assisted conversation’ is possible through writing-mediated brushed interaction, synchronously face-to-face, this book presents contextualized examples from recurrent contexts involving (i) boat drifters; (ii) traveling literati; and (iii) diplo- matic envoys. Where profound knowledge of classical canons and literary works in Sinitic was a shared attribute of the brush-talkers concerned, their brush-talk would characteristically be intertwined with poetic improvisation.

    Being the first monograph in English to address this fascinating lingua-cultural practice and cross-border communication phenomenon, which was possibly sui generis in Sinographic East Asia, it will be of interest to students of not only East Asian languages and linguistics, history, international relations, and diplomacy, but also (historical) pragmatics, sociolinguistics, sociology of language, scripts and writing systems, and cultural and linguistic anthropology.

    1. Writing-mediated Cross-border Communication Face-to-face: From Sinitic Brush-talk (漢文筆談) to Pen-assisted Conversation David C. S. Li, Reijiro AOYAMA, and WONG Tak-sum 2. East Asian Brush-talk Literature: Introduction and Proposed Classification WANG Yong Part 1: Brush-talk involving traveling literati and boat drifters in East Asia 3. Brush Conversation between Maritime Officials and Foreign Seafarers in Drifting Records in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century East Asia MATSUURA Akira and Reijiro AOYAMA 4. Senzaimaru’s Maiden Voyage to Shanghai in 1862: Brush Conversation between Japanese Travelers and People They Encountered in Qing China David C. S. Li and Reijiro AOYAMA 5. Identity Verification and Negotiation through Sinitic Brush-talk in Ming China and Japan: Drifting Accounts by Ch'oe Pu (1488) and Yi Chi-hang (1696–1697) HUR Kyoung-jin 6. A Study of Salient Linguistic Features of Two Ryukyuan Brush Conversations in Sinitic, 1611 and 1803 WONG Tak-sum Part 2: Brush-talk involving diplomatic envoys in East Asia 7. Sinitic Brush-talk between Vietnam and China in the Eighteenth Century: A Study of Lê Quý Đôn’s Mission to Qing China (1758–1762) NGUYỄN Tuấn Cu'ờng and NGUYỄN Thị Tuyết 8. Lingua-cultural Characteristics of Brush-talk: Insights from Ōkōchi Documents 大河內文書 WANG Baoping 9. The Charm and Pitfalls of Sinitic Brush-talk: A Study of Brush Conversation Records between Miyajima Seiichirō (宮島誠一郎) and the First Legation Staff of Late Qing China in Japan (1870s–1880s) LIU Yuzhen 10. Japanese-Korean Brush-talk during the Early Edo Period, 1603–1867 KOO Jea-hyoun and Ian JOO 11. Brush-talk between Chosŏn Envoys and Tokugawa Literati: Contesting Cultural Superiority and ‘Central Efflorescence’ 中華, 1711–1811 JANG Jin-youp Part 3: Script-specific communication in Sinitic: Significance for historical pragmatics, cultural anthropology, and East Asian studies 12. Sociocultural Functions of Chinese Characters and Writing: Transnational Brush-talk Encounters in Mid-Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century East Asia Reijiro AOYAMA 13. Discussion Paper Rebekah CLEMENTS


    David C. S. Li (李楚成) is Professor and Head of the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies (中文及雙語學系),, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (香港理工大學). He received his BA in English (Hong Kong), MA in Applied Linguistics (France), and PhD in Linguistics (Germany). He has published widely in multilingualism in Greater China, World Englishes, Hong Kong English, China English, bilingual education and language policy, bilingual interaction and code-switching (translanguaging), Cantonese as an additional language, and South Asian Hongkongers’ needs for written Chinese. He speaks Cantonese, English and Mandarin fluently, is conversant in German and French, and is learning Japanese and Korean. More recent interests focus on the historical spread of written Chinese (Sinitic) and its use as a scripta franca until the early twentieth century in Sinographic East Asia (China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam).

    Reijiro Aoyama’s (青山玲二郎) research is concerned with transnational and global processes mediated by migration and the movement of information, symbols, capital and cultural commodities. His research interests include anthropology of work and mobility, narratives of migration, and material and non-material culture of cross-border interactions. He has conducted several long-term ethnographies of the Japanese presence in East Asia, and has published on Japanese diaspora, craftsmanship, and emotional work in service industries, Sino-Japanese animation, and historical cross-border interactions mediated by Sinitic writing. Before taking up his post at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, he taught at Fudan University, Tsinghua University, and City University of Hong Kong.

    Tak-Sum Wong (黃得森) is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He received his BEng in Computer Science from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (2004), and PhD in Linguistics from City University of Hong Kong (2018). He has built a treebank of the Tripiṭaka Koreana during his doctoral study and has been working on the quantitative study of historical syntax. His research expertise covers Chinese historical linguistics, Cantonese linguistics, corpus linguistics, computer-assisted language learning, Chinese dialectology and Chinese palæography.

    "Grounded in the most recent research on language, writing, and literary culture in premodern sinographic East Asia, David C. S. Li et al.?s exciting new Brush Conversation in the Sinographic Cosmopolis breaks new ground in this heretofore neglected field of study at the intersection of Literary Sinitic, sinography, diplomatic history, and East Asian cultural and intellectual exchange. The first book-length collection in English on the topic, this volume mobilizes an impressive range of East Asian brush talk scholars and covers numerous pre- and early modern East Asian polities. The results force us to take seriously pre- and early modern East Asian ?synchronous writing-mediated cross-border face-to-face communication? and the multi-faceted written records that this unique cultural practice produced."---Prof. Ross King, University of British Columbia

    "In this ground-breaking volume, scholars specializing in the languages and cultures of Japan, Korea, Vietnam, China, and the Ryukyus (Okinawa) plumb the historical record to reveal and analyze the fascinating array of written "brush talk" conversations that survive in the historical record. These conversations provide insights into the worlds of diplomacy, travel, espionage, and war, bringing to life a now-vanished cross-national culture with a shared foundation in Classical Chinese language and texts. The different book chapters, despite their separate authorship, are unified by a sophisticated theoretical framework. Combining scholarly rigor with dramatic storytelling, this book is the only scholarly investigation of brush talk that looks at the phenomenon with such a wide lens. As part of the current interest in the "Sinographic Cosmopolis" prior to the 20th century, this book is sure to be of interest to scholars of East Asian history, culture, language, and texts."---Prof. Zev Handel, Department of Asian Languages & Literature, University of Washington

    "Everybody working on East Asia knows what brush talk is, the use of Sinitic (literary Chinese) to conduct a silent conversation, and everybody knows how useful it was (and still can be) for communication between speakers of different languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. But that is the limit of what everybody knows, for brush talk has been extraordinarily neglected by historians, in spite of the fact that plenty of records of these written conversations survive today. This enthralling collection of essays redresses the balance by focusing on the phenomenon of brush talk in all its extraordinary variety. Koreans, Japanese and Ryukyuans shipwrecked on the Chinese coast had no alternative but to resort to brush talk to explain who they were and to find out where they had landed, so long as at least one member of the crew had some command of Sinitic. Vietnamese diplomats, like most diplomats in premodern East Asia, had little or no knowledge of any form of spoken Chinese and were forced to rely on interpreters, but for social interactions as well as for more intellectual exchanges they turned to brush talk. The essays in this pathbreaking book explore the uses of brush talk in different contexts and between speakers of various languages, they consider the value of the written records of brush conversations that survive and they weigh up the implications for attitudes towards spoken languages in premodern East Asia. This is a stimulating and fascinating book, and one that rightly draws attention to a crucially important means of communication between peoples in East Asia".--- Prof. Peter Kornicki, University of Cambridge