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The Ancient Chinese Language

Primary Sources of Warring States Texts

Etymology and Derivational Morphology

Writing and Language in Early China

Jaxontov, S. E.Drevnekitajskij jazyk. Moscow: Nauka, 1965.

This article covers linguistics of Chinese language in the historical period from the earliest records around 1200BCEto Late Han. It should be emphasized at the very beginning that the popular term Classical Chinese is reserved here for reference to the language of the Warring States (5th3rd centuryBCE) edited literature, as is usual among linguists of premodern Chinese. Thus, Classical Chinese is understood here merely as one particular stage of Ancient Chinese, one variety (or a subset of varieties) of the language spoken in China in the Eastern Zhou period, and it is represented by one section as consequence. It is true that the expression Classical Chinese is quite often used as a vague label applied to premodern literary language of practically any historical period from the earliest records to the 20th century, resembling thus the similarly vague Chinese termguwen. However, such usage is typically encountered outside the linguistic discourse and is avoided here. After Late Han (3rd c.CE), the written language became progressively dissociated from the spoken language and changed into an artificial literary standard calledwenyanwen, and both varieties evolved further under strong influence of Buddhism. Therefore, the end of Late Han dynasty traditionally marks off the end of the linguistic (late) antiquity, and linguistics of the so called Middle Chinese, the language of the era following the fall of the Han empire, constitutes a discipline on its own. Even Classical Chinese proper cannot be nowadays seriously studied both without the broader historical framework of earlier stages of the language and the evidence of only relatively recently excavated texts mostly on bamboo and silk, but also on other materials. These discoveries along with the progress on the part of reconstructions of Ancient Chinese pronunciation and morphology and in the closely related field of comparative Sino-Tibetan linguistics shed a completely new light on the language traditionally known as Classical Chinese, and depicted as an isolated and isolating language. This is naturally also true of our understanding of the nature of the early writing system, which obviously appears to be very different from the standardized Han and post-Han script we are accustomed to and on the basis of which we classify it typologically. Importantly, Classical Chinese proper actually represents a transitional stage in which ancient structures inherited from the past and characteristic for the bone and bronze inscriptions coexisted and competed with newly arising and evolving structures, which later became characteristic for post-classical, medieval, and in some cases even modern Chinese. Although the extent of Western scholarship on the topic is not negligible, a good command of Modern Chinese is nevertheless indispensable for anyone possessing a serious interest in Classical Chinese.

Rural Society in Contemporary China

Primary Sources of Warring States Texts

Poverty and Living Standards since 1949

Language of Oracle Bone Inscriptions and Bronze Inscriptions

Genealogy of Chinese and Sino-Tibetan Comparative Linguistics

Dictionaries of Function Words and Monographs on Function Words

Today still the best and most widely used general overview, aptly introducing all important aspects of Chinese language. Recommendable for instance to linguists of other languages with interest in Chinese or to undergraduate students. Translated into Chinese asHanyu gaishu() 1995 and used in Peoples Republic of China (PRC) as well.

Yanan and the Revolutionary Base Areas

Ethnicity and Minority Nationalities Since 1949

Language of Oracle Bone Inscriptions and Bronze Inscriptions

Dictionaries of Function Words and Monographs on Function Words

Poetics, Chinese-Western Comparative

Childrens Culture and Social Studies

General overviews introducing into Ancient Chinese in general are mostly contained in comprehensive grammars or scattered across textbooks, although these usually tend to be very brief. This is the case of the textbook and the accompanying grammar byGassmann and Behr 2011(see theTextbookssection) andGassmann and Behr 2013, in which the latest views of the language are presented to students, or Jaxontovs book on Classical Chinese (Jaxontov 1965). Apart from that, similar material can be found in all-encompassing monographs on Chinese language as a whole, such asNorman 1988. In Chinese,Wang 1980has become the classical reference book for diachronic Chinese linguistics. Very nice introductions by the best scholars in the field are included in some encyclopedic publications, such asPeyraube 2004, a contribution to theCambridge Encyclopedia of the Worlds Ancient Languages, orBoltz 1999, an essay in theCambridge History of China. One of the best starting points isHarbsmeier 1998, which however focuses on the relationship between the language and logic or thinking in general, and basically omits references to some purely linguistic domains of research, such as reconstructed phonology and morphology.

Sun Yat-sen and the 1911 Revolution

Population Structure and Dynamics since 1949

Primary Sources of Warring States Texts

Etymology and Derivational Morphology

Family Relations in Contemporary China

A comprehensive description of Classical Chinese in all its complexity with emphasis on grammar with a neat and highly readable general introduction. It is the classic of Russian sinology.

Assertive Nationalism and Chinas Core Interests

Imperialism and China, c. 1800-1949

Boltz, William. Language and Writing. InThe Cambridge History of China. Edited by M. Loewe and E. Shaughnessy, 74123. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Contemporary Chinese Art Since 1976

A well-balanced lemma in an encyclopedia intended for a wider linguistic audience, covering all the most important linguistic features of Classical Chinese (prehistory and history, writing system, phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicon). Includes a basic up-to-date bibliography.

Dictionaries of Function Words and Monographs on Function Words

United States-China Relations, 1949-present

Genealogy of Chinese and Sino-Tibetan Comparative Linguistics

Environmental Issues in Pre-Modern China

Regional and Global Security, China and

Peyraube, Alain. Ancient Chinese. InEncyclopedia of the Worlds Ancient Languages. Edited by R. Woodhard, 9881014. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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Chinese Communist Party Since 1949, The

Chinese Communist Party to 1949, The

The supplementary chapter 10 contains a very insightful and most up-to-date summary of new developments in such crucial though often neglected fields of research as genealogy or morphology of Old Chinesesynthetic presentations of latest views on this matter of this type are rare indeed.

Writing and Language in Early China

Genealogy of Chinese and Sino-Tibetan Comparative Linguistics

An introduction into Old Chinese from the archaic up to the classical period, focusing on such domains as genealogy, typology, phonology, or morphology. Grammar (syntax, function words) is not addressed here. One of the most well-informed introductions into early Chinese writing system in the second part.

Population Dynamics in Pre-Modern China

Hukou (Household Registration) System, The

Wang Li .Hanyu shigao(). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1980.

Still the best comprehensive diachronic overview of history of Chinese language, structured according to the subsystems of language (syntax, phonology, lexicon, etc.). In some sections, such as historical phonology, already somewhat outdated.

Intellectual Trends in Late Imperial China

Norman, Jerry.Chinese. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

The Unequal Treaties and Treaty Ports

Marketing System in Pre-Modern China, The

Language of Oracle Bone Inscriptions and Bronze Inscriptions

Environmental Issues in Contemporary China

Dialect Groups of the Chinese Language

Harbsmeier, Christoph.Logic and Language.Science and Civilization in China. Vol. 7. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Etymology and Derivational Morphology

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Media Representation of Contemporary China, International

Drama (Xiqu ) Performance Arts, Traditional Chinese

Gassmann, Robert H., and Wolfgang Behr.Grammatik des Antikchinesischen. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2013.

Management Style in Chinese Capitalism

Great Leap Forward and the Famine, The

Relevant chapters represent a highly inspiring introduction to the nature of the Classical Chinese language with a special emphasis on its relationship to logical issues and thought in general. Lacks reference to some aspects of the language, such as phonology or morphology.

Texts in Pre-Modern East and South-East Asia, Chinese

Writing and Language in Early China


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