Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics

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Old Chinese Phonology
(4,463 words)

1. Background

Broadly speaking, Old Chinese phonology (Shànggǔ yīn 上古音) is the sound system of Old Chinese, the language of the early first millennium BCE that underlies the rhymes (=rimes) of the Shījīng 詩經 (the Book of Odes) and the system of phonetic elements in the early Chinese script. An early stage of this language can be assumed to be the ancestor of all later attested forms of Chinese.

Scientific investigations into the phonology of Old Chinese began in China as early as the Sòng period (960–1279), underg…

Cite this page
Laurent SAGART and William H. BAXTER, “Old Chinese Phonology”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 20 March 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2210-7363_ecll_COM_00000306>
First published online: 2015

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