1868 – 1936
Who was Zhang Binglin?
His philological works include Wen Shi, the first systematic work of Chinese etymology. He also made contributions to historical Chinese phonology, proposing that "the niang and ri initials [in Middle Chinese] come from the ni initial [in Old Chinese]". He developed a system of shorthands based on the seal script, called jiyin zimu, later adopted as the basis of zhuyin. Though innovative in many ways, he was skeptical of new archaeological findings, regarding the oracle bones as forgery.
An activist as well as a scholar, he produced many political works. Because of his outspoken character, he was jailed for three years by the Qing Empire and put under house arrest for another three by Yuan Shikai.
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