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the written language of government, from which women were traditionally excluded.
Just stumbled on this from teh CD page. The sentence is slightly ambiguous.
The point is she learnt, unusually for a woman, Chinese.
Point two is that Chinese was the language of government.
'from which women were usually excluded.'
Yes, women were excluded from government, but that is an almost universal fact of premodern polities. I think the intent was to highlight the fact that she learnt a language which was the privileged idiom of government, a language mastery of which was usually denied women (just as, to cite a Greek example Iphigeneia in Tauris has Iphigeneia getting her father to write a letter (lines 584ff) whereas in Hippolytus, Phaedra, exceptionally, writes her own (lines856).) It's late here but I think several authorities on Heian emphasize that mastery of Chinese was a male prerogative denied women, and that the sentence meant to say this, rather than, as it now flows, suggest (as if it were notable) that women were denied a role in government. Nishidani (talk) 21:50, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, exactly that's what the sentence means. To be honest, I'm not the best with prose, so feel free to re-do it. Or I'll fix it soonish. Truthkeeper (talk) 22:04, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
"Heian women were traditionally excluded from learning Chinese." I think this statement is a bit off. There were a few thousand Heian aristocrats, which is what we are discussing here, not "Heian men" or "Heian women." It's true that male aristocrats had to study Chinese formally, since it was needed in high government work, which they monopolized. Female aristocrats were less likely to formally study Chinese, since it wasn't needed. But there are several cases of aristocratic women who obviously did study Chinese, such as Lady Murasaki and Sei Shonagon. This makes sense, since Chinese literature and poetry were highly prized by the Heian aristocrats. Most of the Buddhist scriptures were also, I believe, studied in Chinese language form, so many female believers (including nuns and abbesses)would have learned Chinese to some extent. 18.104.22.168 (talk) 13:57, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
Is there some precedent for linking each of the characters in "紫式部" to Wiktionary? It's the first I've come across it, and I'm not sure it's very helpful. The shikibu was a department of the government, but I think it's unlikely one could divine that from examining the individual characters that make up the word. Curly Turkey ⚞¡gobble!⚟ 13:00, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
I took a desultory trawl through history and looks like it's been that way for a while. I don't have a problem with them being unlinked. Victoria (tk) 22:40, 20 June 2014 (UTC)