Xiao Erya

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The Xiao Erya (Chinese: 小爾雅/小尔雅; pinyin: Xiǎo Ěryǎ; Wade–Giles: Hsiao Erh-ya; "Little [Er]ya") was an early Chinese dictionary that supplements the Erya. It was supposedly compiled in the early Han Dynasty by Kong Fu (孔鮒 264?-208 BCE), a descendent of Confucius. However, the received Xiao Erya text was included in a Confucianist collection of debates, the Kongcongzi (孔叢子; K'ung-ts'ung-tzu; "The Kong Family Master's Anthology"), which contains fabrications that its first editor Wang Su (王肅, 195-256 CE) added to win his arguments with Zheng Xuan (鄭玄, 127-200CE). The Qing Dynasty scholar Hu Chenggong (胡承珙, 1776–1832), who wrote the Xiao Erya yizheng (小爾雅義證 "Exegesis and Proof for the Xiao Erya"), accepted Kong Fu as the author. Liu (2005) concludes the Xiao Erya reliably dates from the Western Han Dynasty and suggests its compiler was from the southern state of Chu.

The Xiao Erya has 374 entries, far less than the Erya with 2091. It simplifies the Erya's 19 semantically-based chapter divisions into 13, and entitles them with guang (廣 "expanding") instead of shi (釋 "explaining").

Section Chinese Pinyin Translation Erya Chapter
01 廣詁 Guanggu Expanding Old Words 01
02 廣言 Guangyan Expanding Words 02
03 廣訓 Guangxun Expanding Instructions 03
04 廣義 Guangyi Expanding Righteousness 04
05 廣名 Guangming Expanding Names X
06 廣服 Guangfu Expanding Clothing 06
07 廣器 Guangqi Expanding Utensils 06
08 廣物 Guangwu Expanding Things 13, 14
09 廣鳥 Guangniao Expanding Birds 17
10 廣獸 Guangshou Expanding Beasts 18, 19
11 廣度 Guangdu Expanding Length X
12 廣量 Guangliang Expanding Volume X
13 廣衡 Guangheng Expanding Weight X

In comparison with the Erya chapter arrangement, Xiao Erya sections 1-3 (defining abstract words) are identical. Despite the different title with yi ("righteousness") instead of qin ("relatives"), both Section 4 and Chapter 4 ("Explaining Relatives") define kinship terms. Sections 6 and 7 divide Chapter 6 ("Explaining Utensils"). Xiao Erya Section 8 combines Chapters 13 ("Explaining Plants") and 14 ("Explaining Trees"); 9 mirrors 17; and Section 10 combines 18 ("Explaining Beasts") and 19 ("Explaining Domestic Animals"). Xiao Erya sections 5 (funeral terms) and 11-13 (units of measurement) are not included in the Erya.

See also


  • ARIEL, Yoav, tr. K’ung-ts’ung-tzu: The K’ung Family Master’s Anthology: A Study and Translation of Chapters 1-10, 12-14. Princeton Library of Asian Translations. Princeton, 1989.
  • ARIEL, Yoav, tr. K’ung-ts’ung-tzu: A Study & Translation of Chapters 15-23 with a Reconstruction of the Hsiao Erh-ya Dictionary. Sinica Leidensia 35. New York: E.J.Brill, 1995.
  • Liu Hong-Yan 刘鸿雁. 2005. "Xiao Erya buzheng" 《小尔雅》补证 [Supplementary Proof for the Xiao Erya]. Journal of Yan'an University (Social Science Edition) 延安大學學報(社會科學版) 27.6:110-112. (in Chinese), login is required

External links