China books Christmas calendar (22)

Today we present the Ningpo Colloquial Handbook by Paul Georg von Möllendorff (1847-1901), German linguist, diplomat, customs officer and in the 1880s adviser to Korean king Gojong 고종 (高宗 1852-1919) under the name Mok In-dok (穆麟德 Mok Indeok). von Möllendorff wrote a number of books, several on Ningbo dialect, but also on Manchu grammar and Chinese family law. Ningbo 宁波 is a major port city in Zhejiang province, with ca 9 million inhabitants, around half of which live in the metropolitan area. Möllendorff lived the last 12-13 years of his life in Ningbo.

The Handbook gives useful phrases for everyday use, and lesson XII tells us phrases like ”Gyi feh-wæn dong-din, yi feh yin min” 其弗還銅錢又弗見面 (”He will not pay me nor even see me). Towards the end of the little book there is even a chapter from 三國志 (Records of the Three Kingdoms), or at least the Chinese heading says so. But the English says ”The Three Kingdom Novel” which would be 三國演義 (The Romance of the Three Kingdoms). These are quite different, 三國志 an actual historical record from the late 3rd century CE, and 三國演義 a novel, attributed to Luo Guanzhong 羅貫中, published in the late 14th century and a true classic of Chinese literature. The text presented in the book seems to be from chapter 78 in the 三國演義, but in Ningbo colloquial form, not from 三國志 as the Chinese heading says. You can find a Chinese-English parallell text of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms online. Records of the Three Kingdoms have not yet been fully translated to English, only parts of it. Today’s book and Möllendorff’s other work on Ningbo dialect has been translated into Chinese and published by Ningbo City Archives in 2020.

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