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The New International Encyclopædia/Aston, William George

AS'TON, William George (1841—). An Irish philologist and diplomat, born near Londonderry in 1841. He was educated (1859-63) at Queen's College, Belfast; one of his professors was Dr. James McCosh. He was appointed in 1864 student interpreter to the British Legation in Japan. He mastered the theory of the Japanese verb, and in Tokio began, with E. M. Satow, those profound researches into the Japanese language which laid the foundations of critical study in the Mikado's Empire. He held various offices in Japan until 1883; was made consul-general in Korea in 1884, and secretary of legation in Tokio in 1886. He retired on a pension in 1889. His publications include grammars of the Japanese language (1868 and 1872); a translation of the Nihongi, or Annals of Ancient Japan (1896), which show acute scholarship; A History of Japanese Literature (1899); and a great number of papers for learned societies on Korean and Japanese subjects, many of them in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan. His later work deals with rudimentary ethnic religions.