1st Edition

Historical Phonology of Chinese

By Dong Tonghe Copyright 2024

    As an important introduction to the phonological history of Chinese, this title explores the phonological systems of the Chinese language and explains basic concepts, materials and methodologies.

    Unlike many historical accounts, this book adopts a reverse chronological sequence – starting with the phonology of Modern Mandarin and modern Chinese dialects, then looking back on Early Mandarin and Middle Chinese, and ultimately ending with Old Chinese phonology. This arrangement makes the book reasonably approachable to both professionals and general readers, building up knowledge along an ascending order of difficulty, from familiar, observable facts to theoretical, speculative hypotheses. Based on the extant studies and two essential types of rhyme materials, the book reconstructs the speech sounds of Middle and Old Chinese, in terms of initials, finals and tones. It also analyses the transition and evolution of phonological systems of the Chinese language in different periods.

    Marking the beginning of historical Chinese phonological studies and drawing on modern Western linguistics, this book will serve as an essential read for students and researchers of Chinese language, Chinese linguistics and especially historical Chinese phonology.

    1. Introduction  2. Standard Mandarin Phonology  3. Modern Dialects  4. Early Mandarin  5. Qièyùn-based Rhyme Dictionaries  6. Graded Rhyme Charts  7. Middle Chinese Phonology  8. Simplification of Middle Chinese Initials and Finals  9. From Middle Chinese to Modern Chinese  10. Classification of Old Chinese Rhymes  11. Reconstruction of Old Chinese Finals  12. Old Chinese Initials  13. Issues of Old Chinese Tones


    Dong Tonghe (1911–1963) was a leading linguist and historical Chinese phonologist of China. In 1932, he was enrolled in the Department of Chinese of Tsinghua University and learned historical Chinese phonology from Wang Li. In 1937, he was admitted to the Institute of History and Philology of Academia Sinica, working as assistant to the eminent Chinese linguist Yuen Ren Chao. In 1949, he was appointed as professor at the Department of Chinese Literature of Taiwan University. Dong Tonghe had outstanding achievements in his main fields of research, including Old Chinese phonology, Middle Chinese phonology, modern Chinese dialects (with special focus on Min) and Austronesian languages.