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J 60                  CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
The voice in China is trained to much flexibility by the exigencies of the language, for the Chinese is in one sense, the most musical of languages, as a word acquires half a dozen different significa­tions according to the pitch of voice, or inflection with which it is pronounced.
The number of different words in the whole Chinese tongue does not exceed three hundred and fifty; all the additional ones, are simply variations of these by lowering, or raising the voice. This leads the foreigner into endless complications and misunderstandings; for exam­ple, the word tchu pronounced clearly with the vowel of medium length, means "master," but by extending the vowel a trifle it signifies "hog;" it also means "column," and "cookery." The syllable "po" has eleven different meanings — "glass," "boil," "captive," "prepare, etc., each of which must be pronounced with a different pitch and inflection.* Among the original words are some which decidedly are taken from nature, such as " tchung,"—"bell," "miaou," — "cat," but these are very few.
Some authors have endeavored to show from these facts, that the Chinese is in all respects a musical language, but this can hardly be conceded, for the inflections spoken of, are so slight as to escape the European ear, which surely would not be the case if they were really musical notes, since we have seen that Father Pereire, in the last century, was able to note down at first
•L* Fage, Mus. des Chin. p. 241.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III