The birthplace of Lu Zhuangzhang (盧戇章/卢戆章) (1854-1928), a pioneering writing reformer, has recently been identified in Xiamen, China.
Locals said they knew the house was Lu Zhuangzhang’s ancestral home but didn’t know he was famous for his romanization work.
Lu was “the first Chinese to propose a system of spelling for Sinitic languages,” Victor H. Mair notes in his essay Sound and Meaning in the History of Characters: Views of China’s Earliest Script Reformers, which contains additional information about Lu.
Lu was from Fujian and, as a boy, he grew up in Amoy (Xiamen) where romanized writing of the local language was used widely after it was introduced by Christian missionaries. (A romanized Chinese translation of the Bible had already been made in 1852.) At age 21, Lu moved to Singapore where he studied English. After he returned to Amoy four years later, he assisted an English missionary in compiling a Chinese-English dictionary.
Lu’s Yimu liaoran chujie (First Steps in Being Able to Understand at a Glance), published in Amoy in 1892, was the first book written by a Chinese which presented a potentially workable system of spelling for a Sinitic language. His script was based on the Roman alphabet with some modifications. Among other improvements over the sinographs was linking up syllables into words and separating them with spaces. Lu’s system was designed specifically for the Amoy topolect, but he claimed that his system of spelling could also be adapted for the other languages of China. Although he believed that all of the local languages should be written out with phonetic scripts, Lu advocated that the speech of Nanjing be adopted as the standard for the whole nation, as it was when Matteo Ricci had come to China three centuries earlier. Altogether, Lu worked for 40 years to bring an efficient system of spelling to China. He is now viewed by Chinese language workers as the father of script reform.
Local authorities hope to protect the home as a cultural monument.
Tóng’ān fāxiàn Lú Zhuàngzhāng gùjū
Wǒguó “yǔwén xiàndàihuà” de xiānqū, xiàndài Hànyǔ pīnyīn de fāmíng zhě Lú Zhuàngzhāng, qí gùjū jìnrì zài Xiàmén Tóng’ān bèi fāxiàn, wénwù bǎohù zhuānjiā hūyù bǎohù gāi gùjū.
Lú Zhuàngzhāng de gùjū zài Xiàmén Tóng’ān gǔ zhuāng cūn, shì yī zhuàng yǒu bǎi-yú nián lìshǐ de Mǐnnán hóngzhuān gǔ mínjū, Lú Zhuàngzhāng jiù chūshēng zài zhèlǐ.
Cūnmín gàosu jìzhě, tāmen zhīdao zhè shì Lú Zhuàngzhāng jiā de “gǔ cuò”, dànshì bùzhīdào tā shì “yǔwén xiàndàihuà de xiānqū”, yějiù méi rén qù kèyì bǎohù zhè “gǔ cuò”, yīnwèi yīzhí dōu yǒurén jūzhù, hái méi wánquán bèi huǐhuài.
Huòxī Lú Zhuàngzhāng gùjū yīrán bǎocún zài Tóng’ān, Xiàmén Shì wénhuàjú wénwù chù chùzhǎng Chén Zhìmíng biǎoshì, zhēngqǔ ràng Tóng’ān qū wén guǎn bàn jiāng qí dìngwéi qū jí wénwù bǎohù dānwèi.
Jù liǎojiě, Lú Zhuàngzhāng shēngyú Qīngcháo xián fēng sì nián (1854 nián), shì Xiàmén Tóng’ānrén. Zài chuàngzhì pīnyīn fāng’àn, tuīguǎng jīng zhāng guānhuà (jí Pǔtōnghuà), tuīxíng báihuà kǒuyǔ, cǎiyòng héngpái héngxiě, tíchàng xīnshì biāodiǎn, shǐyòng jiǎntǐ súzì děng fāngmiàn, Lú Zhuàngzhāng zài guónèi kāile xiānhé.
source: Tóng’ān fāxiàn Lú Zhuàngzhāng gùjū, Dōngnán Kuàibào, February 15, 2006