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date: 09 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins with a definition of the term Chinese linguistics and gives both a brief history of this research. This long and honored tradition can be said to start with philosophical discussions of Confucius and Xunzi, followed by empirical examination of Yang Xiong, who compiled lists of words of even non-Sinitic origins, and of Xu Shen, the great lexicographer who compiled the dictionary Shuowen Jiezi. Methods of syllable decomposition into initials and finals and awareness of lexical tones were then introduced, leading to how phonological systems of Old and Middle Chinese were reconstructed. The unprecedented insight of Chen Di on language change also marked the early scientific investigation of languages in China. Chao Yuenren, Li Fangkuei, and Luo Changpei were the three pioneers who bridged traditional Chinese linguistics with the 20th-century international linguistics. The chapter closes with an overview of the 55 chapters in the volume.

Keywords: Chinese linguistics, Yang Xiong, Shuowen Jiezi, lexical tones, Old Chinese, Middle Chinese, Chen Di, language change, Chao Yuenren, Li Fangkuei

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