Old Chinese

OCancient ChineseArchaic ChineseOldOld Chinese languageancient Chinese scriptArchaicChineseclassic ChineseClassical
Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the ancestor of all modern varieties of Chinese.wikipedia
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Analects

Analects of ConfuciusLunyuThe Analects
The latter part of the Zhou period saw a flowering of literature, including classical works such as the Analects, the Mencius, and the Zuo zhuan.
The Analects (Old Chinese: [r]u[n] ŋ(r)aʔ; literally "Selected Sayings", also known as the Analects of Confucius, is an ancient Chinese book composed of a collection of sayings and ideas attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and his contemporaries, traditionally believed to have been compiled and written by Confucius's followers.

Chinese language

ChineseChinese:Regional dialect
Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the ancestor of all modern varieties of Chinese.
The phonetic categories of Archaic Chinese can be reconstructed from the rhymes of ancient poetry.

Mencius (book)

MenciusMengzicollected works
The latter part of the Zhou period saw a flowering of literature, including classical works such as the Analects, the Mencius, and the Zuo zhuan.
The Mencius (Old Chinese: *mˤraŋ-s tsəʔ) is a collection of anecdotes and conversations of the Confucian thinker and philosopher Mencius on topics in moral and political philosophy, often between Mencius and the rulers of the various Warring States.

Chinese characters

ChineseChinese characterChinese:
Old Chinese was written with several early forms of Chinese characters, including Oracle Bone, Bronze, and Seal scripts.
When the script was first used in the late 2nd millennium BC, words of Old Chinese were generally monosyllabic, and each character denoted a single word.

Chu (state)

ChuState of ChuChu state
Similarly, the Chuci provides rhyme data for the dialect spoken in the Chu region during the Warring States period.
Chu (, Hanyu Pinyin: Chǔ, Old Chinese: *s-r̥aʔ) was a hegemonic, Zhou dynasty era state.

Tone (linguistics)

tonetonal languagetones
Most recent reconstructions also describe Old Chinese as a language without tones, but having consonant clusters at the end of the syllable, which developed into tone distinctions in Middle Chinese.
Unlike in Bantu systems, tone plays little role in the grammar of modern standard Chinese, though the tones descend from features in Old Chinese that had morphological significance (such as changing a verb to a noun or vice versa).

Chinese character classification

phonetic loan characterradical-phonetic charactersphono-semantic compound
Later on, to reduce ambiguity, new characters were created for these phonetic borrowings by appending a radical that conveys a broad semantic category, resulting in compound xingsheng (phono-semantic) characters.
Reconstructing Middle and Old Chinese phonology from the clues present in characters is part of Chinese historical linguistics.

Oracle bone script

Oracle scriptoracle bone inscriptionsJiaguwen
Old Chinese was written with several early forms of Chinese characters, including Oracle Bone, Bronze, and Seal scripts.
Despite the pictorial nature of the oracle bone script, it was a fully functional and mature writing system by the time of the Shang dynasty, i.e., able to record the Old Chinese language in its entirety and not just isolated kinds of meaning.

Sino-Tibetan languages

Sino-TibetanSino-Tibetan languageSino-Tibetan language family
Most researchers trace the core vocabulary of Old Chinese to Sino-Tibetan, with much early borrowing from neighbouring languages.
Old Chinese is by far the oldest recorded Sino-Tibetan language, with inscriptions dating from 1200 BC and a huge body of literature from the first millennium BC, but the Chinese script is not alphabetic.

Classical Chinese

Literary ChineseChineseclassical
These works served as models for Literary Chinese (or Classical Chinese), which remained the written standard until the early twentieth century, thus preserving the vocabulary and grammar of late Old Chinese.
Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese, is the language of the classic literature from the end of the Spring and Autumn period through to the end of the Han dynasty, a written form of Old Chinese.

Qin (state)

QinState of QinQin state
The most conservative script prevailed in the western state of Qin, which would later impose its standard on the whole of China.
Qin (Old Chinese: *) was an ancient Chinese state during the Zhou dynasty.

Oracle bone

oracle bonesbonesplastromancy
The earliest examples of Chinese are divinatory inscriptions on oracle bones from around 1250 BC, in the late Shang dynasty.
The character 卜 (pinyin: bǔ or pǔ; Old Chinese: *puk; "to divine") may be a pictogram of such a crack; the reading of the character may also be an onomatopoeia for the cracking.

Chu Ci

ChuciSongs of ChuVerses of Chu
Similarly, the Chuci provides rhyme data for the dialect spoken in the Chu region during the Warring States period.
In this case, the nonce word of choice is 兮 (, Old Chinese: *gˤe).

Middle Chinese

Early Middle ChineseLate Middle ChineseMC
Although many of the finer details remain unclear, most scholars agree that Old Chinese differed from Middle Chinese in lacking retroflex and palatal obstruents but having initial consonant clusters of some sort, and in having voiceless nasals and liquids. Old Chinese phonology has been reconstructed using a variety of evidence, including the phonetic components of Chinese characters, rhyming practice in the Classic of Poetry and Middle Chinese reading pronunciations described in such works as the Qieyun, a rhyme dictionary published in 601 AD.
Thus Li Fang-Kuei, as a prelude to his reconstruction of Old Chinese, produced a revision of Karlgren's notation, adding new notations for the few categories not distinguished by Karlgren, without assigning them pronunciations.

Li Fang-Kuei

Fang-Kuei LiLi FangguiLi Fangkuei
For example, the Old Chinese initial consonants recognized by Li Fang-Kuei and William Baxter are given below, with Baxter's (mostly tentative) additions given in parentheses:
Li Fang-Kuei (20 August 1902 – 21 August 1987) was a Chinese linguist known for his studies of the varieties of Chinese, and for his reconstructions of Old Chinese and Proto-Tai.

Seal script

sealSeal Script (篆)Seal scripts
Old Chinese was written with several early forms of Chinese characters, including Oracle Bone, Bronze, and Seal scripts.

Rime dictionary

rime dictionariesrhyme dictionariesrhyme dictionary
Old Chinese phonology has been reconstructed using a variety of evidence, including the phonetic components of Chinese characters, rhyming practice in the Classic of Poetry and Middle Chinese reading pronunciations described in such works as the Qieyun, a rhyme dictionary published in 601 AD.
It has also been used together with other evidence in the reconstruction of the Old Chinese language (1st millennium BC).

I Ching

YijingBook of ChangesI-Ching
The oldest sections of the Book of Documents, the Classic of Poetry and the I Ching, also date from the early Zhou period, and closely resemble the bronze inscriptions in vocabulary, syntax, and style.
The Zhou yi was written in Early Old Chinese, while the Ten Wings were written in a predecessor to Middle Chinese.

Classic of Poetry

ShijingShi JingBook of Songs
Old Chinese phonology has been reconstructed using a variety of evidence, including the phonetic components of Chinese characters, rhyming practice in the Classic of Poetry and Middle Chinese reading pronunciations described in such works as the Qieyun, a rhyme dictionary published in 601 AD. The oldest sections of the Book of Documents, the Classic of Poetry and the I Ching, also date from the early Zhou period, and closely resemble the bronze inscriptions in vocabulary, syntax, and style. In addition, the rhymes of the earliest recorded poems, primarily those of the Shijing, provide an extensive source of phonological information with respect to syllable finals for the Central Plains dialects during the Western Zhou and Spring and Autumn periods.
Modern scholarship on the Classic of Poetry often focuses on doing linguistic reconstruction and research in Old Chinese by analyzing the rhyme schemes in the Odes, which show vast differences when read in modern Mandarin Chinese.

Bernhard Karlgren

Bernard KarlgrenKarlgrenKlas Bernhard Johannes Karlgren
Bernhard Karlgren and many later scholars posited the medials, and the combination to explain the retroflex and palatal obstruents of Middle Chinese, as well as many of its vowel contrasts.
In the early 20th century, Karlgren conducted large surveys of the varieties of Chinese and studied historical information on rhyming in ancient Chinese poetry, then used them to create the first ever complete reconstructions of what is now called Middle Chinese and Old Chinese.

William H. Baxter

William BaxterBaxterBaxter, William H.
For example, the Old Chinese initial consonants recognized by Li Fang-Kuei and William Baxter are given below, with Baxter's (mostly tentative) additions given in parentheses:
William Hubbard Baxter III (born March 3, 1949) is an American linguist specializing in the history of the Chinese language and best known for his work on the reconstruction on Old Chinese.

Zhou dynasty

ZhouZhou KingdomZhou dynasties
Bronze inscriptions became plentiful during the following Zhou dynasty.

Shang dynasty

ShangZiYin Dynasty
The earliest examples of Chinese are divinatory inscriptions on oracle bones from around 1250 BC, in the late Shang dynasty.

Written vernacular Chinese

vernacular Chinesebaihuavernacular
In China, Literary Chinese was only replaced by Written Vernacular Chinese (baihua), the modern written standard, after the May fourth movement in 1919.
During the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC), Old Chinese was the spoken and written form of Chinese, and was used to write classical Chinese texts.

Proto-Tibeto-Burman language

Proto-Tibeto-Burmanproto-TibetanPTB
Proto-Tibeto-Burman as reconstructed by Benedict and Matisoff lacks an aspiration distinction on initial stops and affricates.