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Ancient Wú 吳 Language

(1,472 words)

Author(s): Wuyun PAN
During the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BCE), today’s Wú-speaking region belonged to the states of Wú 吴 and Yuè 越. According to Lǚ shì chūn qiū 吕氏春秋 ( Mr. Lü’s Annals; 3rd cent. BCE), these two states had identical customs and mutually intelligible languages ( xísú tóng, yányǔ tōng 習俗同, 言語通), distinct from those of the northern state of Qí 齊. We also know that the language of Wú and Yuè was different from that of the western state of Chǔ 楚, because Liú Xiàng’s 劉向 (77–6 BCE) Shuō yuàn 說苑 ( Garden of Persuasions) records that Èjūn Zǐxī 鄂君子皙, a member of the Chǔ royal family during the …
Date: 2017-03-02

Xiéshēng 諧聲 (Phonetic Series)

(1,949 words)

Author(s): Wuyun PAN
The earliest Chinese characters were derived from pictures. For example, the character 其 stems from the oracle bone form , which is a representation of a winnowing basket. But some words, such as the third person possessive pronoun, are difficult to represent pictorially. Because the pronunciation of this word was homophonous with the pronunciation of the word for "winnowing basket", the character writing the latter could be “borrowed” to represent the former (the words are still similar in modern Mandarin pronunciation: ‘third-person possessive pronoun, ‘winnowing basket…
Date: 2017-03-02