A Dictionary of High Frequency Function Words in Literary Chinese  book cover
1st Edition

A Dictionary of High Frequency Function Words in Literary Chinese

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after February 28, 2023
ISBN 9781032388670
February 28, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
280 Pages 456 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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 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.

Table of Contents


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

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Mei Ah Tan, Ph.D. (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.