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Encyclopedia > Old Chinese
The Seal script characters for "harvest" (later "year") and "person." A hypothesized pronunciation for each character may explain the resemblance. Notice the pharyngealized consonants.
The Seal script characters for "harvest" (later "year") and "person." A hypothesized pronunciation for each character may explain the resemblance. Notice the pharyngealized consonants.

Old Chinese (formerly called Archaic Chinese) (Simplified Chinese: 上古汉语; Traditional Chinese: 上古漢語; pinyin: shànggǔ hànyǔ), refers to the Chinese spoken from the Shang Dynasty (ended c. 1045 BC according to recent research), well into the Former Han Dynasty (206 BC to 9 AD). There are several distinct subperiods within that long period of time. The term is usually used in Historical Chinese phonology, which tries to reconstruct the way in which Old Chinese was pronounced. Image File history File links Old_chinese. ... Image File history File links Old_chinese. ... 《尋隱者不遇》—賈島 松下問童子 言師採藥去 隻在此山中 雲深不知處 Seeking the Master but not Meeting by Jia Dao Beneath a pine I asked a little child. ... Simplified Chinese characters (Simplified Chinese: 简体字; Traditional Chinese: 簡體字; pinyin: jiÇŽntǐzì; also Simplified Chinese: 简化字; Traditional Chinese: 簡化字; pinyin: jiÇŽnhuàzì) are one of two standard character sets of printed contemporary Chinese written language. ... Traditional Chinese characters are one of two standard character sets. ... Pinyin is a system of romanization (phonemic notation and transcription to Roman script) for Standard Mandarin, where pin means spell and yin means sound. The most common variant of pinyin in use is called Hanyu Pinyin (Simplified Chinese: , Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: HànyÇ” PÄ«nyÄ«n), also known as scheme... The Shāng Dynasty (Chinese: 商朝) or YÄ«n Dynasty (殷代) (ca. ... The Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese characters: 漢朝, Simplified Chinese characters: 汉朝, pinyin Hàncháo 202 BC - AD 220) followed the Qin Dynasty and preceded the Three Kingdoms in China. ... Historical Chinese Phonology deals with reconstructing the sounds of Chinese from the past. ...


Since Old Chinese was the language spoken by Chinese when classical works such as the Analects of Confucius, the Mencius, and the Tao Te Ching were written, and was the official language of the unified empire of the Chin (Ch'in) Dynasty and long-lasting Han Dynasty, Old Chinese was preserved for the following two millennia in the form of Classical Chinese, a style of written Chinese that emulates the grammar and vocabulary of Old Chinese as presented in those works. Classical Chinese was for two millennia the usual language used for official purposes in China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. However, there is great variation within Classical Chinese, based mainly on when something was written, and the Classical Chinese of more recent writers, as well as that found outside of China, would probably be difficult for someone from Confucius's era to understand. The Four Books, or the Four Classics, are the Chinese classic texts selected by Zhu Xi in the Song dynasty to serve as an introduction to Chinese philosophy and Confucianism. ... Engraving of Confucius. ... Mencius (most accepted dates: 372 BC – 289 BC; other possible dates: 385 BC – 303 BC or 302 BC) was born in the State of Zou (鄒國), now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng (邹城市), Shandong province, only 30 km (18 miles) south of Qufu, the town of Confucius. ... The Tao Te Ching (道德經, Pinyin: D Jīng, thus sometimes rendered in recent works as Dao De Jing; archaic pre-Wade-Giles rendering: Tao Teh Ching; roughly translated as The Book of the Way and its Virtue (see dedicated chapter below on translating the title)) is... The Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: ; Simplified Chinese: ; Hanyu Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Han Chau; 206 BC–AD 220) followed the Qin Dynasty and preceded the Three Kingdoms in China. ... A millennium is a period of time, equal to one thousand years (from Latin mille, thousand, and annum, year). ... Classical Chinese or Literary Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese based on the grammar and vocabulary of very old forms of Chinese , making it very different from any modern spoken form of Chinese. ... Korea (Korean: 한국 or ì¡°ì„ , see below) is a geographic area, civilization, and former state situated on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. ...


The phonology of Old Chinese was imperfectly preserved in Classical Chinese, because the way the Chinese writing system indicates pronunciation is much less clear than the way an alphabet shows it. As a result, the pronunciation of Old Chinese can only be tentatively reconstructed, and is unknown outside academic circles. The Chinese written language consists of a writing system stretching back nearly 4000 years. ...

Contents

Phonology

For the pronunciation of Classical Chinese, see Classical Chinese: Pronunciation

There is much dispute over the precise way in which Old Chinese was pronounced. In recent decades it is generally agreed that Old Chinese had consonant clusters such as *mr-, *-ts, *dr- and others, which do not occur in any modern Chinese dialect. Some have proposed that Old Chinese had pharyngealized consonants or other rare features, but this idea is not accepted by specialists in the field. Classical Chinese or Literary Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese based on the grammar and vocabulary of very old forms of Chinese , making it very different from any modern spoken form of Chinese. ... In linguistics, a consonant cluster is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel. ... Pharyngealisation is a secondary feature of phonemes in a language. ...


It has long been known that Early Old Chinese did not have monosyllabic root morphemes exclusively, or even primarily. Though a few insist that Chinese has always had monosyllabic root structure, most specialists, such as Axel Schuessler and Christopher Beckwith, reconstruct some polysyllabic forms for the earliest period. Laurent Sagart has proposed that Old Chinese had many sesquisyllabic roots; this may reflect the stage in the history of Old Chinese when the language was passing from one with a variety of root structures to the monosyllabic structure, which was largely complete by the time of the Classics.


It is generally believed that Early Old Chinese was not a tonal language. The tones of Middle Chinese evolved from consonants in Old Chinese that have since changed or disappeared, and in turn the tones of modern spoken Chinese languages, such as Mandarin, have evolved from Middle Chinese tones and changed or lost consonants. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Tone (linguistics). ... Middle Chinese (Traditional Chinese: 中古漢語; Pinyin: zhōnggǔ Hànyǔ), or Ancient Chinese as used by linguist Bernhard Karlgren, refers to the Chinese language spoken during Northern and Southern Dynasties and the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties (6th century - 10th century). ... Spoken Chinese Spoken Chinese comprises many regional variants. ... Mandarin has a number of meanings: mandarin, a bureaucrat of Imperial China, and in the United Kingdom and Canada, by analogy, any government bureaucrat Mandarin, a group of dialects of spoken Chinese, or more specifically, its standardized dialect, Standard Mandarin Mandarin Airlines, a subsidiary of China Airlines mandarin duck, Aix...


Grammar

See Classical Chinese: Grammar

Classical Chinese or Literary Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese based on the grammar and vocabulary of very old forms of Chinese , making it very different from any modern spoken form of Chinese. ...

References

  • Baxter, William H. A Handbook of Old Chinese Phonology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1992. ISBN 311012324
  • Karlgren, Bernhard, ed. Grammata Serica Recensa. Stockholm: Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. 1957.
  • Pulleyblank, E.G. "The Consonantal System of Old Chinese," Asia Major 9: 58-144, 206-65. 1963.
  • Sagart, Laurent. The Roots of Old Chinese. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1999. ISBN 1556199619
  • Schuessler, Axel. ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 2006. ISBN 0824829751

Eternal links

  • An Etymological Dictionary of Common Chinese Characters, William H. Baxter
  • Odds on the Odes, Wolfgang Behr
    • Introduction to Chinese Historical Phonology, Guillaume Jacques


[edit] Chinese: spoken varieties  
Categories:

Gan | Hakka | Hui | Jin | Mandarin | Min | Ping | Xiang | Wu | Cantonese
Danzhouhua | Shaozhou Tuhua Spoken Chinese Spoken Chinese comprises many regional variants. ... Gan (赣语) is one of the major divisions of spoken Chinese, concentrated in and typical of Jiangxi Province. ... Hakka (Simplified Chinese: 客家话, Traditional Chinese: 客家話, Hakka: Hak-ka-fa/-va, pinyin: Kèjiāhuà) is a Chinese dialect/language spoken predominantly in southern China by the Hakka ethnic group and descendants in diaspora throughout East and Southeast Asia and around the world. ... The Hui (徽) dialects are unrelated to the Hui (回) ethnic group of China. ... Jin (simplified: 晋语; traditional: 晉語; pinyin: jìnyǔ), or Jin-yu, is a subdivision of spoken Chinese. ... Mandarin, or Beifanghua (Chinese: 北方話; Pinyin: BÄ›ifānghuà; literally Northern Dialect(s)), or Guanhua (Traditional Chinese: 官話; Simplified Chinese: 官话; Pinyin: Guānhuà; literally official speech) is a category of related Chinese dialects spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. ... Min (閩方言 in pinyin: min3 fang1 yan2) is a general term for a group of dialects of the Chinese language spoken in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian as well as by migrants from this province in Guangdong (around Chaozhou-Swatou, and Leizhou peninsula), Hainan, three counties in... Pinghua (平話/平话), also Guangxi Nanning, is a subdivision of spoken Chinese. ... Xiang (湘語/湘语), also Hunan, Hunanese, or Hsiang, is a subdivision of spoken Chinese. ... Wu (吳方言 pinyin wú fāng yán; 吳語 pinyin wú yÇ” lumazi wu niu(nyu)) is one of the major divisions of the Chinese language. ... Cantonese (Traditional Chinese: 粵語; Simplified Chinese: 粤语]], Cantonese: Yuet6yue5; Mandarin pinyin: YuèyÇ”, lit. ... Danzhouhua (hua = language) 儋州話 / 儋州话 is an unclassified Chinese dialect spoken in the area of Danzhou on the island Hainan. ... Shaozhou Tuhua ( 韶州土話 / 韶州土话 ) is an unclassified Chinese language spoken in the border region of the provinces Guangdong, Hunan and Guangxi. ...

Subcategories of Min: Min Bei | Min Dong | Min Nan | Min Zhong | Puxian | Qiongwen | Shaojiang
Subcategories of Mandarin: Northeastern | Beijing | Ji-Lu | Jiao-Liao | Zhongyuan | Lan-Yin | Southwestern | Jianghuai | Dungan
Note: The above is only one classification scheme among many.
The categories in italics are not universally acknowledged to be independent categories.
Comprehensive list of Chinese dialects
Official spoken varieties: Standard Mandarin | Standard Cantonese
Historical phonology: Old Chinese | Middle Chinese | Proto-Min | Proto-Mandarin | Haner
Chinese: written varieties
Official written varieties: Classical Chinese | Vernacular Chinese
Other varieties: Written Vernacular Cantonese

  Results from FactBites:
 
Chinese Language - MSN Encarta (752 words)
Chinese is also spoken by large immigrant communities in South East Asia, North and South America, and in the Hawaiian Islands.
Chinese languages, together with Tibetan and Burmese and the many tribal languages of South and South East Asia, belong to the Sino-Tibetan family of languages, forming a sub-group of their own called Chinese.
However, they are mutually unintelligible and have their own dialects, and for these reasons are classed as languages, not dialects; the differences among them are analogous to the differences in pronunciation and vocabulary among the Romance languages.
Old Chinese - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (520 words)
Laurent Sagart has proposed that Old Chinese had many sesquisyllabic roots; this may reflect the stage in the history of Old Chinese when the language was passing from one with a variety of root structures to the monosyllabic structure, which was largely complete by the time of the Classics.
It is generally believed that Early Old Chinese was not a tonal language.
The tones of Middle Chinese evolved from consonants in Old Chinese that have since changed or disappeared, and in turn the tones of modern spoken Chinese languages, such as Mandarin, have evolved from Middle Chinese tones and changed or lost consonants.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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