Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics

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Wh-questions, Premodern
(2,230 words)

This article introduces the basic structural characteristics of wh-questions in Late Archaic Chinese (approximately 5th–3rd cents. BCE) and the principle changes in Middle Chinese which led to the emergence of modern Chinese wh-questions. The lemma also briefly summarizes the emergence of the most common wh-words in use in modern Mandarin.

1. Late Archaic Chinese

Wáng (1958) divides Late Archaic Chinese wh-words into three classes, depending on the initial consonant in the reconstructed forms. 



Cite this page
Edith ALDRIDGE, “Wh-questions, Premodern”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 05 March 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2210-7363_ecll_COM_00000451>
First published online: 2015

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