Old Chinese

From Academic Kids

Old Chinese, or Archaic Chinese (Simplified Chinese上古汉语, Traditional Chinese上古漢語), refers to the Chinese spoken during the Zhou Dynasty (10th century BC - 256 BC). The term is usually used in Historical Chinese phonology, which tries to reconstruct the way in which Old Chinese was pronounced.

Since Old Chinese was the language spoken by Chinese when classical works such as the Analects of Confucius, the Mencius, the Tao Te Ching, etc. were written, Old Chinese was preserved for the next two millennia in the form of Classical Chinese, a style of written Chinese that emulates the grammar and vocabulary of Old Chinese as presented in those works. Classical Chinese was for two millennia the usual language used for official purposes in China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

The phonology of Old Chinese was not preserved in Classical Chinese, however, because the Chinese writing system does not specifically show pronunciation. As a result, the pronunciation of Old Chinese can only be very tentatively reconstructed, and is unknown outside academic circles.

Phonology

For the pronunciation of Classical Chinese, see Classical Chinese#Pronunciation

There is much dispute over the precise way in which Old Chinese was pronounced. It is, however, generally agreed that Old Chinese had consonant clusters such as kl- and pl-, which do not occur in any modern Chinese dialect. Moreover, many modern linguists specializing in historical Chinese phonology contend that Old Chinese was not a tonal language: the tones of Middle Chinese and modern spoken Chinese evolved from consonant clusters that have since disappeared.

Grammar

See Classical Chinese#Grammar

Chinese: spoken varieties
Categories:

Mandarin | Jin | Wu | Hui | Xiang | Gan | Hakka | Yue | Pinghua | Min
Danzhouhua | Shaozhou Tuhua | Xianghua

Subcategories of Min: Min Dong | Min Bei | Min Zhong | Pu Xian | Min Nan | Qiong Wen | Shao Jiang
Note: The above is only one classification scheme among many.
Comprehensive list of Chinese dialects
Official spoken varieties: Standard Mandarin | Standard Cantonese
Historical phonology: Old Chinese | Middle Chinese | Proto-Min | Proto-Mandarin | Haner
Chinese: written varieties
Official written varieties: Classical Chinese | Vernacular Chinese
Other varieties: Written Cantonese

fr:Chinois archaquezh:上古漢語

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