Query on var.nabheda

dlusthau at mailer.fsu.edu dlusthau at mailer.fsu.edu
Wed Mar 5 22:28:08 UTC 1997

>it has often
>been noted that the term _fan3_ (lit. "to reverse, return")-_qie4_
>("to split, cut, splice, cleave") has no convincing etymology in Chi-
>nese, i.e. "turning-and-cutting[-spelling]" ,"reverse cutting[-spelling]"
>etc., commonly found as glosses in standard dictionaries, don not
>seem particularly convincing.

I'm less than convinced that there is no convincing gloss for the Chinese
term. Fan3 does not simply mean reverse/return, but, especially in older
Chinese literature, suggests opposing ends, or the terminal extremes of a
pendulum's swing. Qie, as suggested, means to splice together. So fanqie
quite reasonably translates as splicing together the two extreme ends,
i.e., the first part of the first syllable and the last part of the ending
syllable (of the two words), which is precisely how fanqie works.

Victor Mair's imaginative search for nonChinese precedents for Chinese
terms and works (e.g., the Laozi derives from the Bhagavad Gita) are always
amusing and erudite, but frequently need to be taken with a grain of salt
and a chuckle.

Dan Lusthaus
Florida State University

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