A History of the Chinese Language  book cover
1st Edition

A History of the Chinese Language

ISBN 9780415660402
Published April 6, 2014 by Routledge
218 Pages

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Book Description

A History of the Chinese Language provides a comprehensive introduction to the historical development of the Chinese language from its proto Sino-Tibetan roots in prehistoric times to Modern Standard Chinese. Taking a highly accessible and balanced approach, it presents a chronological survey of the various stages of Chinese language development, covering crucial aspects such as phonology, syntax and semantics.

Features include:

  • Coverage of the key historical stages in Chinese language development, such as Old Chinese, Middle Chinese, Early Modern Chinese, Classical Chinese and Modern Standard Chinese
  • Treatment of core linguistic aspects of the Chinese language including phonological changes, grammatical development, lexical evolution, vernacular writing, Chinese characters and Modern Chinese dialects
  • Inclusion of many authentic Chinese legends and texts throughout the book, presented through a rigorous framework of linguistic analysis to help students to build up strong critical and evaluative skills and acquire valuable cultural knowledge
  • Integration of materials from different disciplines, such as archaeology, anthropology, history and sociolinguistics, to highlight the cultural and social background of each period of the language
  • Helpful appendices to aid students with no prior knowledge of linguistics or the Chinese language
  • Companion website at www.routledge.com/cw/dong offering a wealth of supplementary resources such as additional exercises, answer keys and audio recordings of the sounds of Middle and Old Chinese.

Written by a highly experienced instructor, A History of the Chinese Language will be an essential resource for beginning students of Chinese Language and Linguistics and for anyone interested in the history and culture of China.

Table of Contents

Preface. List of tables  List of figures  1. A Walk Through Time: General Introduction  2. A Tale of Two Tribes: Prehistory  3. Thus Spake Confucius: Sounds of Old Chinese  4. Poetically they dwelt: Sounds of Middle Chinese  5. Marco Polo’s Phrasebook: Sounds of Early Modern Chinese  6. Philosophy and History: Classical Chinese  7. Literature and Religion: Vernacular Writing  8. In Other Words: vocabulary change  9. One for all: Modern Standard Chinese  10. Celebration of Diversity: Modern Chinese Dialects  11. The Legend of Cangjie: Chinese characters  References  Appendices I-V  Index

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Hongyuan Dong is Assistant Professor of Chinese Language and Linguistics at The George Washington University, USA.

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Author - Hongyuan  Dong

Hongyuan Dong

Assistant Professor of Chinese Language and Linguistics, George Washington University
Washington, DC, United States

Learn more about Hongyuan Dong »


"This is an important and valuable book for anyone interested in the Chinese language and its history. It offers a gripping account of what the language was like thousand years ago and how it reached its present state. The author's clear and reader-friendly style makes it a pleasure to read." Boping Yuan, University of Cambridge, UK.

"The book takes us on a very interesting journey through the history of the Chinese language. The subheadings catch our imagination and lead us into a rich world by showing the language through a social and historical perspective. The reader friendly approach makes the reading enjoyable…a good reference for students and teachers of Chinese as well as for scholars interested in the Chinese language." Lianyi Song, SOAS, UK.

"Students and amateur linguists interested in the history of Chinese language have not always been able to find introductory-level materials written in English on the topic; A History of the Chinese Language remedies this lack most commendably. The author has done a marvelous job in condensing the vast landscape of the historical development of Chinese languages into a brief but comprehensive single volume -- a careful synthesis of Chinese linguistic facts, non-controversial research accomplishments, and fundamental facts about the history of Chinese language woven together with amusing stories and legends. This neatly packaged history lays a solid foundation for beginning readers and prepares them for further exploration of the field while proving itself a fascinating, engaging, and absorbing read."- Song Jiang, The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, USA

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Companion Website

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