Zhengzhang Shangfang

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Zhengzhang Shangfang
Zheng Xiangfang (郑祥芳)

(1933-08-09)9 August 1933
Died19 May 2018(2018-05-19) (aged 84)
Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China[1]
Known forreconstruction of Old Chinese
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese郑张尚芳
Traditional Chinese鄭張尚芳

Zhengzhang Shangfang[a] (9 August 1933 – 19 May 2018) was a Chinese linguist, known for his reconstruction of Old Chinese.[2]

Zhengzhang was born as Zheng Xiangfang (郑祥芳 Zhèng Xiángfāng) in Yongjia County, on the outskirts of Wenzhou. As and have the same pronunciation in the Wenzhou dialect, his personal name became Shangfang (尚芳). While in high school, his parents changed his family name to Zhengzhang, which combined his father's surname Zheng with his mother's surname Zhang.[3]

At this time, he became interested in historical phonology and studied the works of Yuen Ren Chao, Wang Li and others at Wenzhou's library. In 1954, unable to enter university to study linguistics, he began geological work in the Beijing area.[3] In his spare time, he continued to develop his own ideas on Old Chinese phonology, particularly the finals and vowel system.[4] In the 1960s and 1970s, he undertook dialect survey work in Wenzhou for Lü Shuxiang until he was sent to work in a factory during the Cultural Revolution. During a period when the factory was closed due to a factional battle in the Chinese Communist Party, he began exchanging ideas with Pan Wuyun and Jin Shengrong, and refined his Old Chinese system to a six-vowel system.[5] Essentially the same system was independently developed by William Baxter (building on a proposal by Nicholas Bodman) and by Sergei Starostin.[6] In 1980, he joined the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.[5]


  • "Decipherment of Yue-Ren-Ge (Song of the Yue boatman)", Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 159–168, 1991, doi:10.3406/clao.1991.1345
  • The Phonological system of Old Chinese, translated by Sagart, Laurent, Paris: École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 2000, ISBN 978-2-910-21604-7
  • 上古音系 [Old Chinese Phonology] (in Chinese), Shanghai Educational Publishing House, 2003, ISBN 978-7-532-09244-4


  1. ^ [ʈʂə̂ŋ ʈʂáŋ ʂâŋ fáŋ]; simplified Chinese: 郑张尚芳; traditional Chinese: 鄭張尚芳; pinyin: Zhèngzhāng Shàngfāng


  1. ^ 【讣告】郑张尚芳先生逝世. Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  2. ^ Boltz (2002), p. 105.
  3. ^ a b Zhengzhang (2003), p. 592.
  4. ^ Zhengzhang (2003), pp. 593–594.
  5. ^ a b Zhengzhang (2003), p. 594.
  6. ^ Baxter & Sagart (2014), p. 393.

Works cited[edit]