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This question may be a little long, but please bear with me.

Over on the Genealogy & Family History stack, here on StackExchange, I asked the question Does this Chinese gravestone belong to James Hudson Taylor? concerning a gravestone purportedly of an ancestor of my wife.

Using Google Lens was not that fruitful and not knowing how to type the characters into Google Translate, I was not able to determine the English, and thankfully, with the great help of a couple of answers, it was determined that the gravestone definitely was of her ancestor. Plus, with the help of the answer provided which I accepted, I am now able to enter the text into Google Translate to confirm the results.

Putting the original inscription

西一九三一年十二月勒石 先考、先妣戴公諱,德生府君、夫人合墓 男 存仁,媳 葛氏 敬立 他雖然死了卻因信仍就說話

into Google Translate I was able to determine that it is in Traditional Chinese saying

In December 1931, the stone was laid. The first Kao and the late concubine Dai Gongwei were buried together. The monarch and his wife of Desheng Mansion shared the tomb. The man was Cunren, and his daughter-in-law, Ge Shi, respected him. Although he was dead, he still spoke because of his faith.

The last sentence being a quote from the Christian Bible

The "modern Chinese translation" of the inscription

公元一九三一年十二月立碑 已故的父亲戴公,字德生,和已故的母亲合葬于此。 儿子存仁,儿媳葛氏 敬立此碑。 “他虽然死了,却因信仍然说话。”

according to Google Translate is in "Simplified" Chinese, saying,

The monument was erected in December 1931. The late father Dai Gong, whose courtesy name was Desheng, and the late mother were buried here. The son Cunren and the daughter-in-law Ge respectfully erected this monument. "Although he is dead, he still speaks by faith."

and translated by Leon as saying,

Monument erected in December 1931 A.D. My late father, Dai Gong (戴公), whose name was De Sheng (德生), was buried here together with my late mother.

My question about this

I am interested in the part where it says (according to Google)

The late father Dai Gong, whose courtesy name was Desheng

and according to Leon

My late father, Dai Gong (戴公), whose name was De Sheng (德生)

Through my research, Cunren, mentioned later was his son, Herbert Hudson Taylor, named in the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity at https://www.bdcconline.net/zh-hant/stories/dai-cunren as Dai Cunren (戴存仁)

I noticed the 仁 character in the inscription at

儿子存仁

and therefore, Dài (戴) was added to Cunren (存仁)

Is Dai a term of honour or endearment like San is in Japanese as a suffix in a name? Does this mean Cunren's late father's given name was Gong?

What also confuses me is the Traditional Chinese inscription translation points out that

The first Kao and the late concubine Dai Gongwei were buried together.

What/who is Kao, and was Dai Gongwei his first wife? (Cunren's father remarried after his mother's death)

5 Answers 5

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they’re many misreadings 🙀, i explain it anew:

西一九三一年十二月勒石

in december of 1931 (西一九三一年十二月), engraved (勒) [this] tombstone (石)

先考妣

special terms used by someone (here 戴存仁) to refer to his deceased father (先考) [&] deceased mother (先妣)

戴公諱德生

“戴” is the surname

“公” is a honorific term for male

“諱“ is a term in lieu of “名” when someone is dead

“德生” is the given name

in other words, when the person 戴德生 is alive, his given name (名) is 德生

if he is dead, his “given-name-when-alive” () is 德生

府君夫人合墓

“府君” is a honorific term used by son & grandson for the deceased (子孫對已故者的敬稱)

“夫人” wife, referred to the wife of 戴德生

“合墓” together tomb

男存仁媳葛氏 敬立

the son (男) [of 戴德生] , with given name (存仁), [and] the daughter-in-law [of 戴德生], with surname “葛”; respectably installed (敬立) [this tombstone]

他雖然死了・卻因信仍就說話

a quote from . . .? roughly

he although is dead (他雖然死了), by faith (卻因信), [he] still speaks (仍就說話)

so,

The late father Dai Gong, whose courtesy name was Desheng

courtesy name (字) and given name (名) are different in chinese culture

btw, here’s a page about the tomb & the tombstone:

https://cn.cdn-news.org/News.aspx?EntityID=News&PK=0000000000652e59c79cb84ee9fac44fa12b1bbc72b146e3

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  • Good! I just thought I would try! 很有意思哦!
    – Pedroski
    Commented Jun 30 at 16:17
  • 1
    I love the way you broke the inscription into chunks and explained the different characters etc. Thank you for that. Commented Jul 1 at 9:26
  • As a point of note regarding a quote from ...?, the quote was from an old translation of the bible (probably King James Version) in Hebrews chapter 4, as the family are devout Christians. Commented Jul 1 at 9:33
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Is Dai a term of honour or endearment like San is in Japanese as a suffix in a name? Does this mean Cunren's late father's given name was Gong?

No, 戴 Dài is a surname (姓氏), evidently chosen by the Taylors. However, 公 gōng is indeed such an honorific for men, used after the surname, and is common on tombstones.

Thus we simply see a Literary Chinese equivalent of "Mr Dai" written here.

What/who is Kao, and was Dai Gongwei his first wife? (Cunren's father remarried after his mother's death)

We can see that the way that the tombstone is laid out points to both 先考、先妣 xiānkǎo, xiānbǐ, "one's late father, one's late mother". These are both highly literary terms, far removed from the scope of many dictionaries.

The parsing of "Dai Gongwei" is incorrect. We see 戴公 "Mr Dai", then the character 諱 huì (NOT the similar looking 偉 wěi) slightly offset. This character is the equivalent of saying "the deceased", and then introduces the given name (名 míng), in this case the father's given name 德生 Déshēng.

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Not good at this old stuff!

This text is a bit antiquated, probably at least an attempt at 文言文, classical style.

Apparently, it is not good to mention the full names of the deceased, that will disturb them.

先考: late father
先妣: late mother
张德生: Zhang Desheng ((just) a name as an example)
德生: a transliteration of Hudson
府君: my husband
夫人: wife
男: son
媳: daughter in law

西一九三一年十二月勒石 、
Western (time) 1931 December engrave (this) stone
先考、先妣戴公諱,
late father, late mother, Dai (whose) names (are taboo),
德生府君、夫人合墓 男 存仁,
Desheng (my) husband, (his) wife Hemu (and) son Cunren
媳葛氏敬立
daughter in law Ge Zhi respectfully erect (this stone)
他雖然死了卻因信仍就說話
He although dead still speaks to us.

戴德生(James Hudson Taylor,1832年—1905年),英国人,中国内地会的创造人,清末时来到中国。他自1853年来华直至卒年,倾其毕生于中国福音事工。

James: 詹姆斯
Taylor: 泰勒

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Four people mentioned on this tombstone:

  • 戴德生: 戴存仁's late father.
  • [Unknown name]: 戴存仁's late mother.
  • 戴存仁: The son.
  • 葛氏: 戴存仁's wife.

西一九三一年十二月勒石

Monument erected in December 1931 A.D.

  • 西: Western/A.D.
  • 一九三一年: 1931
  • 十二月: December
  • 勒: Erect
  • 石: Stone/Monument

先考 先妣 戴公 諱 德生 府君 夫人 合墓

My late father, Mr. Dai, whose given name was Desheng, was buried here together with my late mother.

  • 先: Late
    • Note that this character is shared by 考 and 妣, which is commonly seen on tombstones.
  • 先考: Late father
  • 先妣: Late mother
  • 戴: Dai
    • 戴德生's family name.
  • 公: Mr.
    • An honorific.
  • 諱: Taboo
    • It's considered a taboo for children to call their parents, especially if deceased, by given names. When people have to mention their parents' given names on a tombstone, people add 諱 to avoid disrespect.
  • 德生: Desheng
    • 戴德生's given name. It's not a courtesy name.
  • 府君: The deceased man.
    • A respectful expression for a deceased man.
    • Note that this is aligned with 考 (father).
  • 夫人: Wife.
    • Note that this is aligned with 妣 (mother).
  • 合墓: Shared tomb.
    • 戴德生 and his wife were buried together here.

男 存仁,媳 葛氏 敬立

The son, Cunren, and the daughter-in-law, Ge, erected this monument respectfully.

  • 男: Son
  • 存仁: Cunren
    • 戴存仁's given name.
  • 媳: Daughter-in-law
  • 葛氏: Ge
    • 氏 means that 葛 is her maiden name.
  • 敬: Respect
  • 立: Erect
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先考 戴公 德生 府君

戴公 - Mr. Dai. "戴" is the surname, and "公" is the honorific title that addresses old or respectable men.

- this word is used to address the name of deceased parents, or an elder, in a respectful manner, such as "父/母/名/上XX" ("XX" is the "given name" of the person being addressed). Here, "德生" is the name of "Mr. Dai(戴公)".

府君 - an honorific title for father/grandfather; for the "deceased male" laid in the grave.

男 存仁,媳 葛氏

  • 兒子(Son) 存仁(given name of the son), 媳婦(Daughter-in-law) 葛(surname of her original family before marriage)氏(the common title for married female in the past. (Note the full name of the daughter-in-law would be 戴葛XX)

Note this gravestone epitaph(墓誌銘), while it mentioned both his deceased father(先考) and mother(先妣), had left out the name of the mother, who otherwise she would be addressed as "先妣 X氏" (X represents her original family name before marriage).

The first Kao and the late concubine Dai Gongwei were buried together.

I couldn't find the source of this statement. According to this article, 戴德生 was married to Maria Jane Dyer, after Jane's death, he remarried Jane Elizabeth Faulding, but was later buried next to his first wife, Maria. Furthermore, according to this article, it seems 戴存仁 only married once, to Jeanie Gray. Neither article has mentioned Kao and Dai Gongwei.

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