1st Edition

A Dictionary of High Frequency Function Words in Literary Chinese

By Mei Ah Tan Copyright 2023
    370 Pages 456 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    370 Pages 456 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    A Dictionary of High Frequency Function Words in Literary Chinese is the first comprehensive work on the subject that constitutes a new approach to teaching and learning by providing both a reference tool and a reader.

    This dictionary can serve both as a reference book and as an anthology for teaching and learning literary Chinese (the premodern written language) and both ancient and contemporary Chinese culture. It differs from the traditional design of dictionaries in that it includes detailed explanations, with examples, for different uses of the graphs most often used to represent function words in literary Chinese. To facilitate teaching and learning through association, the early meaning, extended meanings, and borrowed meanings for each graph are provided, along with explanations supported by the various stages of the historical development of the graph and other relevant research. Each word is grouped into the primary word class to which it belongs, based on its lexical or grammatical meanings, its collocations, and its function in a sentence. Modern idioms derived from words and phrases in the sample passages are provided in order to promote cultural knowledge and show the important role literary Chinese continues to play in everyday life. All Chinese words are provided with Putonghua romanization to facilitate learning and recall through sound; special pronunciations are explained.

    This book can be used as a textbook, as extended reading, or as a reference work for undergraduate or graduate classes on literary/classical Chinese, Chinese manuscript studies, Chinese language and culture, Putonghua, translation studies, or even linguistics. It can also be used as an anthology from which the teacher can select passages for students to study.


    User’s Guide

    Design of the Dictionary



    ān 安

    ānsuǒ 安所

    bù 不

    bùyì 不亦…hū乎

    dàn 但

    ér 而

    érhòu 而后/而後

    éryǐ 而已

    éryǐyǐ 而已矣

    ěr 耳

    ěryǐ 耳矣

    ěr 爾


    fēi 非

    fǒu 否

    fú 夫

    fú 弗

    gài 蓋

    gǎn 敢

    gǒu 苟

    gù 固

    hé 何

    hé rú 何如

    héqí 何其

    hé wèi 何為

    hé yǐ 何以

    héyǒu 何有

    hé 曷

    hé 盍

    hū 乎

    hū’ér 乎而/乎爾

    hūzāi 乎哉

    huò 或


    jiàn/xiàn 見

    kuàng 況

    mò 莫

    mò. . . yú 莫……於

    nǎi 乃 (迺/廼)

    qí 其

    qǐ 豈

    qiě 且

    qǐng 請

    rán 然

    ránhòu 然後

    ruò 若

    ruò ……hé 若……何

    shì 是

    shú 孰

    shú yǔ孰與

    sī 斯

    sīxū 斯須

    suǒ 所

    suǒ yǐ 所以


    wéi 唯

    wéi 唯…shì 是

    wéi 唯…zhī 之

    wéi 惟

    wū 惡

    wú 亡

    wú 毋

    wúnǎi 毋乃/無乃

    wú 無

    wù 勿

    xī 奚

    xìn 信

    yān 焉

    yé 邪/耶

    yě 也

    yǐ 以

    yǐ wéi 以為

    yǐ 矣

    yì 亦

    yú 于

    yú 與

    zāi 哉

    zhě 者

    zhī 之

    zhū 諸

    Glossary of Technical Terms


    Index of idioms


    Mei Ah Tan, PhD (2008), University of Wisconsin–Madison, is Associate Professor of Chinese at the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong. She has published on classical Chinese language and literature as well as on multidisciplinary research at the crossroads of language, literature, and history.