Through examination of variants in two versions of Jinpingmei, three versions of Water Margin, two versions of Journey to the West, and between relevant sections of Qingpingshantang Scripts, Ancient and Modern Fiction, Jingshi Tongyan, and Amazing Stories, the existence of two trends of elegance and popularity in the orthography of different versions and literary works may be detected. Those texts with a more elegant character have been largely influenced by a strategy of standardized orthography, which is closely related to the creation purpose, knowledge, and cultural awareness of the authors, the willingness of booksellers to produce and sell such works, and their target consumers and readership. The differentiation between elegance and popularity in the character of literary works truly reflects the divergence of different texts within different social strata, which is not only a linguistic and philological question, but also a sociological one.
- Ming Dynasty
- standardized orthographic strategy
- Water Margin