Talk:Classical Chinese

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Untitled[edit]

Does anybody else think the language infobox from the article is dubious? Look at the first two points it makes: Spoken in: mainland China; Taiwan; Japan; Korea and Vietnam Total speakers: Not a spoken language 222.152.105.200 (talk) 10:10, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

That's a little Delphic. Markalexander100 02:41, 6 Mar 2004 (UTC)
...Delphic? In response to the Korean bit? Anyway, salutations are certainly a small part of a letter, but the part I objected to is: "certainly not uneducated", which is, quite frankly, the understatement of the century. One needs a considerable amount of education to write wenyan properly. little Alex 09:02, Apr 23, 2004 (UTC)
Ah, fair point. ;) Markalexander100 16:47, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)
There is an analogy with Latin, which can be read in a variety of different ways depending on whether the reader is from Britain, France, Spain, Italy, or Germany. None of these are the same as the actual way Latin was spoken in ancient Rome.
Actually there isn't. There are currently two standards for Latin pronounciations (church and classical) and neither is related to local vernacular pronounciation. Roadrunner 01:17, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Oh, really? I thought that there were different ways of singing Latin at least -- in Germany, people said /ts/ for Latin "ci" and "ce", where England and France would use /s/; and in England people use the English vowels /ei i ai ou ju/ rather than /a: e: i: o: u:/. -- [[User:Ran|ran (talk)]] 17:50, Sep 7, 2004 (UTC)

I originally wrote "Some varieties that have extensive multiple readings for each Han character (notably Southern Min) require the reader to read wenyan with the literary reading." This was later changed to: "Other varieties of Chinese, such as Southern Min, have a special set of pronunciation used exclusively for Classical Chinese", which can mislead. In Southern Min the readings used for Classical Chinese are not exclusively for that purpose. The requirement is that the (so-called) literary character readings be used. There should not be any implication that these readings are only used for Classical Chinese, as they are found in everyday speech, as well. A-giau 03:57, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Homophony[edit]


Southern Min (Minnan) phonology is a hybridisation of Chinese and aboriginal speeches of that region. Minnan pronunciations are very atypical of other Han languages. Even the people there look different with wavy thick black hair, typical of people of South-East Asia and the Philipines, being quite common.

And yes, there are more than 2500 years of sound changes separating any current human languages from the grand-parent languages of over 2500 years ago, not just with the Chinese languages. So I can't see what point his sort of statement is suppose to show.

JC 31 Aug 06



More than 2500 years of sound change separates Classical Chinese from any modern language or dialect, so when reading Classical Chinese in any modern variety of Chinese (especially Mandarin) or in Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese, many characters which originally had different pronunciations have become homonyms, making it impossible to orally communicate using Classical Chinese.

What is the connection between the long history and homonyms? Are we saying there has been a reduction in the number of distinct syllables since the time of Classical Chinese? Or that new (monsyllabic) words have been created since, that relied on the written character to discriminate meaning? The Zhao Yuanren example only indicates that Classical Chinese was -- or has since evolved into -- a written language. It seems not to indicate the number of homonyms has increased (though it might well have).
A-giau 04:22, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Yes, there has been a very drastic reduction in the number of distinct syllables since the time of Confucius, especially in Mandarin, and less so in Cantonese and Minnan, as a result of the 2500-year gap between Confucius and us. Of course other processes have also occurred (e.g. people go for brevity in writing Classical Chinese and rely on character to get themselves understood), but the general trend is a drastic reduction in syllables.
The characters in Zhao Yuanren's examples may all sound like "shi" in Beijing, but they don't in Guangzhou or Xiamen, and they certainly didn't for Confucius. That passage might actually be understandable to Confucius if read aloud (I'm not sure about this, but it's definitely plausible). -- [[User:Ran|ran (talk)]] 05:05, Oct 12, 2004 (UTC)

Difference between Classical and Literary[edit]

Classical is not the same as Literary. I have attempted to correct this error in the article, but I think that we really should split Literary and Classical into two articles. What do you folks think? Jiawen 14:18, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for bringing this up.... I wasn't aware of the difference. There's also "Old Chinese". I believe the definition of "Classical Chinese" is therefore basically "Written Old Chinese" (or something along those lines)?
Yes, I think so.
I think all in all this article is describing 文言文 as a whole.
The problem is, the article is not just describing 文言文; it's also describing Classical Chinese, and it's mistakenly conflating them.
While it's true that Qin-Han Wenyan, Tang-Song Wenyan, and Ming-Qing Wenyan are all pretty different (especially some of that stuff from the Qing Dynasty), there's a continuity there broken only by the promulgation of Vernacular Chinese. It really is a lot like Latin... no one says that Cicero's Latin and Renaissance Latin are really quite the same... but nevertheless they're all Latin.
As you say, there are many eras of 文言文, and I think there are almost certainly regional variants, too. I'd love to have more information on these topics; unfortunately, I don't know enough to say. Regardless, we should keep the distinction between Classical and Literary clear.
On the other hand, it would be cool to have more info on the differences between older Zhou-era Classical Chinese, and later (e.g. Qing-era) Literary Chinese. :)
I just added a little bit (about 這), but I don't remember anything else right now. I wish my Classical Chinese textbook hadn't been stolen... :)
(btw Jiawen... just went to your website and I have to say: your Chinese is amazing! Now why aren't you on Chinese Wikipedia.... ;) )
Thanks for the compliments. I don't know if it's that good, though. I certainly don't think I could add much to discussions of 文言文, 古文, etc. I think I've made some small notes about transgender issues on the Chinese pages, though. Jiawen 18:06, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
-- ran (talk) 15:29, Apr 21, 2005 (UTC)

I also want to add that the distinction between Classical and Old Chinses is needed. -- G.S.K.Lee 13:54, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

add kanji[edit]

Add the kanji for the Japanese terms mentioned. --jidanni 2006-04-15

Copula[edit]

Article says there is no copula in Classical Chinese. Is this really true? What is the function of 也 in classical Chinese then? For instance the phrase: "大也。" --JakeLM 23:29, 27 May 2007 (UTC)

In modern Mandarin, at least, 也 is just an adverb or conjunction (also/and/or), very different from a copula (which usually works as a verb "to be" or similar). Can't be sure about CCh, though.201.21.248.121 02:10, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

In Classical, 也 was quite definitely a copula. I may edit the page to reflect this; four months is a long time for that falsehood to sit there. Jiawen 12:08, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
也 is not a copula. It is typically used along with 者, forming the structure A者B也, which means "A is B". It is similar to the Japanese AはBです. 也 alone is nothing like a copula. BettyJJ (talk) 12:36, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
Neither goes, 也 is usually described as a particle with quite a variety of uses beyond the A者B也 construction.--Neqitan (talk) 23:59, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

We at least need Boltz and Baxter as sources here.[edit]

Both A handbook of Old Chinese phonology by William Baxter and The origin and early development of the Chinese writing system by William Boltz would be great sources to add to this article for further improvements. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk) 16:35, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

classical chinese public domain dictionaries[edit]

classical chinese public domain dictionaries, over 100 years old

  • Frederick William Baller, China Inland Mission (1912). Lessons in elementary Wen-li. China Inland Mission. p. 128. Retrieved 2011-5-15.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

04:17, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

Merge from Guwen[edit]

The WP:PRIMARYTOPIC of 古文 or "guwen" in English and Chinese is Classical/Literary Chinese, the subject taught in Chinese schools as part of their Language Arts class and Gaokao prep. The other page started as a discussion about scripts and never got merged here. We should fix that, although we should mention the development of the term "guwen" in the history/etymology section here.

In the alternative, (1) the current article at Guwen should be moved to Guwen (disambiguation), (2) it should be reformatted into a dab page pointing at the appropriate articles, (3) the namespace Guwen should be turned into a redirect here, and (4) a hatnote dab should be added here pointing to Guwen (disambiguation). — LlywelynII 07:58, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Guwen is certainly highly ambiguous, with meanings including
I don't think Classical/Literary Chinese is primary in English sources, as some of the others are more common. I'd favour recasting Guwen as a disambiguation page, with any unique content merged to the appropriate page. I don't think any of it would go here, though. Kanguole 15:44, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Materials and sources on Literary Chinese and relationship with the vernacular[edit]

Use the secondary sources as references, put any relevant book which is out of copyright into further reading. I folded this up so it wouldn't clutter the talk page.

Rajmaan (talk) 06:10, 23 February 2014 (UTC)