Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics

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Word Families
(2,954 words)

In the introduction to his Word Families in Chinese (1934:1), Bernhard Karlgren wrote: “it stands to reason that Chinese does not consist of so and so many thousands of independent monosyllables, none of them cognate to any others; in Chinese, as in all other languages, the words form families, groups of cognate words formed from one and the same primary stem”. In the same text, Karlgren also articulated the notion that in comparing Chinese with related languages, word stems, not words per se, are the appropriate objects of comparison. Karlgren’s Word Families assembled sets of words …

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Laurent SAGART, “Word Families”, 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_00000455>
First published online: 2015

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