The book provides a chart of 325 syllables identified as being “A LIST of all the WORDS that form the CHINESE LANGUAGE.” I’ll skip the obvious and not address why that’s ridiculous.
The chart is apparently in the first volume of the work. But since the NYPL doesn’t provide many images and Google Books provides only the second volume (scanned from the one in the NYPL collection), I wasn’t able to find any explanatory text about the chart or the authors’ views of Sinitic languages.
Here’s one column:
mouen, moui, moum, mouon, na, nai, nam, nan, nao, nem, ngai, ngan, ngao, ngue, nguen, ngeo, ngo, ni, niam, niau, niao, nie, nien, nieou, nio
Which Sinitic language these are supposed to represent isn’t clear. But, no, it doesn’t appear to be Cantonese, which tends to be the default first guess when it comes to Sinitic languages — at least until recently. My guess is that it’s some form of Mandarin that’s been written in a bastardized way, obscuring differences between what are represented in Pinyin by b and p, d and t, g and k, etc. But then there are those -m finals. What do the rest of y’all think?
- images from The Chinese traveller, New York Public Library Digital Gallery
- The Chinese traveller. Containing a geographical, commercial, and political history of China, with a particular account of their customs, manners, religion …. To which is prefixed, the life of Confucius … Collected from DuHalde, LeCompte, and other modern travellers, vol. 2, 1772, Google Books