Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics

Get access Subject: Language And Linguistics
Editor-in-Chief: Rint SYBESMA, Leiden University

Associate Editors: Wolfgang BEHR University of Zürich, Yueguo GU Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Zev HANDEL University of Washington, C.-T. James HUANG Harvard University and James MYERS National Chung Cheng University

Help us improve our service

The Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics offers a systematic and comprehensive overview of the languages of China and the different ways in which they are and have been studied. It provides authoritative treatment of all important aspects of the languages spoken in China, today and in the past, from many different angles, as well as the different linguistic traditions they have been investigated in.

More information: Brill.com

Philosophy of Language: Buddhist Theories of Language

(4,442 words)

Author(s): Rafael SUTER
1. Basic Views and Terminology  Chinese Buddhism mainly continues different strands of Mahāyāna traditions (Williams 2009). Their perspective on language is defined by the basic view that all things ‘arise in co-dependence’ ( yuánqǐ 緣起, Skrt. pratītyasamutpada), that they are ‘empty’ ( kōng 空, śūnya) of intrinsic nature ( zìxìng 自性, svabhāva), and independent existence. Buddhist theories of language reject the idea that words represent things: Bodhiruci’s (Pútíliúzhī 菩提流支, fl. 508 CE) translation of the Laṅkāvatāra-sūtra (T16.671, Rùlèngjiā jīng 入楞伽經 'Sūtra on (Buddha’s) …
Date: 2017-03-02

Philosophy of Language: Eastern Hàn, Medieval and Later Developments

(5,317 words)

Author(s): Rafael SUTER
1. Introduction Since the late Western Hàn dynasty (206–9 CE), Chinese elite culture had become predominantly literary (Loewe 1999:986; Nylan 2001:32; Kern 2001). While official discourse relied on the normative standards enshrined in the “Confucian” canon (Nylan 2001), from the Wèi-Jìn period (220–420 CE) onwards, the Lǎozǐ 老子 and the Zhuāngzǐ 莊子, categorized in the bibliographical category of “Daoism”, served as an additional argumentative reservoir for scholars opposing the prevalent Confucian nomenclature. The ensuing establishment of Budd…
Date: 2017-03-02

Philosophy of Language: Pre-Qín through Eastern Hàn

(13,828 words)

Author(s): Rafael SUTER
Reflection about language in China goes back to the beginnings of Chinese literature traditionally dated into the 9th cent. BCE. As an academic discipline, “philosophy” reached China at the turn from the 19th to the 20th century. The term zhéxué 哲學 is a 19th century Sino-Japanese neologism. Although the philosophy of language and its 19th century offspring, scientific linguistics, only arrived in the early 20th century, the problems of the philosophy of language have been discussed in China in various institutional contexts for…
Date: 2017-03-02

Phonemicization of Mandarin

(2,606 words)

Author(s): Chris Wen-chao LI
The inventory of consonantal and vocalic phonemes for Modern Standard Chinese (whose phonology is defined as identical to that of Běijīng Mandarin; Běijīng, The Language of) has undergone numerous reformulations since the early twentieth century. Proposals, which roughly reflect developments in linguistic science from American structuralism and Jakobsonian feature analysis to Chomskyan generativism and, more recent, autosegmental and feature geometric configurations, span the gamut from minimali…
Date: 2017-03-02


(7,629 words)

Author(s): Xiaonong ZHU
"Chinese phonetics" refers to general phonetics pursued inside and outside of China, using data available and addressing issues arising from the languages of China, mainly the Hàn-Chinese (Sinitic) languages. Phonetics was one of the most prosperous disciplines in Chinese linguistics during the early decades of the last century. Yet in the latter half of the century it had become marginalized before being revived in the new millennium. The rise and fall of its status in Chinese linguistics has been determined mainly by its …
Date: 2017-03-02

Phonology, Overview

(1,448 words)

Author(s): Zev HANDEL
This article provides an overview of the large and complex field of Chinese phonology, giving cross-references to other articles in the ECLL that provide more detailed information. It summarizes three main aspects of Chinese phonology: synchronic, historical, and traditional. 1. Synchronic Although Chinese is a large family made up of (at least) dozens of mutually unintelligible languages, each with considerable internal dialectal diversity, the family is fairly compact and homogeneous when it comes to phonological typology. All Chines…
Date: 2017-03-02

Phonotactic Constraints

(3,933 words)

Author(s): Alan YU
1. Introduction The study of phonotactics is concerned with speakers’ knowledge of possible and impossible sound combinations. Mandarin, according to Duanmu (2003), should theoretically have 1,900 possible syllables (without tones), assuming 18 onset consonants, 3 glides, 5 vowels and 4 finals (2 glides [i u] and two nasals). Yet, only about 400 are observed. Likewise, Cantonese has approximately 1,900 distinct syllables (Kirby and Yu 2007). This syllable inventory, however, only encompasses aroun…
Date: 2017-03-02

Pidgins and Creoles

(2,029 words)

Author(s): Umberto ANSALDO
Pidgin and Creole languages traditionally fall under the study of contact languages. Contact languages are ubiquitous in all parts of the world; China, with its diversity of languages within and beyond the Sinitic family, as well as its rich history of migration, conquest and foreign invasion, is no exception.  The question of whether we find bona fide pidgin and Creole languages in China is purely a definitional matter. It has been suggested that there is only one reasonably defendable definition of Creole (or any other) language, namely a so…
Date: 2017-03-02

P (index)

(5,444 words)

P200: Character Recognition and Phonological Access, Neurolinguistic Studies | Lexical Semantic Processing, Neurolinguistic Studies | Morphological Processing of Compounds, Neurolinguistic Studies | Neurolinguistics, Overview P600: Relative Clause Comprehension, Neurolinguistic Studies P600, bilinguals: Bilingualism, Neurolinguistic Studies Paekche language, Chinese readings: Sino-Xenic Readings Paha language (Bāhā 巴哈): Tai-Kadai Languages Paiwanic: Puyuma Language Páiwān 排灣: Austronesian Languages | Rukai (Tona) Language Pakan: Austroasiatic Languages…

Pínghuà 平話 Dialects

(3,445 words)

Author(s): Hilário de SOUSA
Pínghuà 平話 refers to a group of Sinitic dialects that are primarily spoken in Guǎngxī Zhuàng Autonomous Region 廣西壯族自治區 in Southern China. People in Nánníng 南寧, the capital of Guǎngxī, traditionally recognize four speech varieties spoken in the area: Guān Píng Tǔ Bái 官平土白, referring to Mandarin, Pínghuà, Zhuàng, and Cantonese respectively. Zhāng Jūnrú 張均如 (1982) first argued that Pínghuà is not Yuè 粵 Chinese while comparing the phonologies of Sino-Zhuàng (Chinese loanwords in Zhuàng), Pínghuà and Nánníng Cantonese (a v…
Date: 2017-03-02

Pivot Construction

(2,541 words)

Author(s): Zhiguo ZHAO | Fan LIU | Yang SHEN
In so-called pivot constructions ( jiānyǔ jiégòu 兼語結構; alternatively called “telescopic constructions”), the subject of the second predicate is at the same time the object of the first predicate. For instance: 1. 司令員命令部隊出發。   Sīlìngyuán     mìnglìng  bùduì   chūfā.   commander  order         troops  set.out   ‘The commander ordered the troops to set out.’ Example (1) has the configuration: Noun1 (commander) + Verb1 (order) + Noun2 (troops) + Verb2 (set out). Noun2 bùduì 部隊 ‘troops’ in the structure is not only the object of Verb1 but also the subject of Verb2. Ther…
Date: 2017-03-02