Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics

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Subject: Language and Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Rint SYBESMA, Leiden University

Associate Editors: Wolfgang BEHR University of Zürich, Yueguo GU Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Zev HANDEL University of Washington, C.-T. James HUANG Harvard University and James MYERS National Chung Cheng University

Early Release Version: content being added regularly, expected completion Fall 2016.

The Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics offers a systematic and comprehensive overview of the languages of China and the different ways in which they are and have been studied. It provides authoritative treatment of all important aspects of the languages spoken in China, today and in the past, from many different angles, as well as the different linguistic traditions they have been investigated in.

More information: Brill.com

Lāhù 拉祜 Language

(3,979 words)

Author(s): James A. MATISOFF
Lahu (Lāhù 拉祜) is an important minority language of SW China and SE Asia. It belongs to the Lolo-Burmese subgroup of the Sino-Tibeto-Burman family. 1. General Lahu belongs to the Central Loloish branch of the Lolo-Burmese (= Yi-Burmese) subgroup of Tibeto-Burman. The two fundamental branches of the Lahu people are the Black Lahu (Lahu Na) and the Yellow Lahu (Lahu Shi). The Black Lahu are far more numerous than the Yellow Lahu in Yúnnán and Burma, and are the more prestigious group. The dialects spoken by these two bran…
Date: 2017-03-02

Lancaster Corpus of Mandarin Chinese

(2,113 words)

Author(s): Richard XIAO
1. Introduction The Lancaster Corpus of Mandarin Chinese (LCMC) is a one million-word balanced corpus that represents written Mandarin. The corpus is designed as a Chinese match for the FLOB (Hundt, Sand and Siemund 1998) and Frown (Hundt, Sand and Skandera 1999) corpora of British and American English. It was created as part of the research project “Contrastive English and Chinese” funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. The issues discussed below include corpus design, data collection, corpus encoding, markup, annotation and some possible uses of the corpus. 2. Corpu…
Date: 2017-03-02

Language Attrition

(1,964 words)

Author(s): Gisela JIA
Language attrition refers to the decline or loss of an individual’s language skills. The language can be the individual’s first language (L1), second language (L2) or both. The phenomenon of language attrition generates a host of questions that are intriguing to professionals across multiple disciplines as well as lay people: 1. What does forgetting a language look like? Which linguistic levels are affected by forgetting, to what degree and in what sequence? How does forgetting in one area (e.g., vocabulary) affect language skills in another (e.g., syntax)? 2. What causes som…
Date: 2017-03-02

Language Education in China: Teaching Foreign Languages

(6,192 words)

Author(s): Yi'an WU
1. Introduction China has had relations with foreign states for at least 2,000 years; the Qín and Hàn Dynasties (221 BCE–220 CE) developed international exchanges along the Silk Road. The earliest documented case of foreign language teaching, however, was at a Persian language institution, Huíhui Guózǐxué 回回國子學, set up in 1289 to train translators (Fù 1986:7–8). Foreign language teaching developed further, but it was not until the mid-1800s that it first appeared on the national agenda (Lam 2005:7…
Date: 2017-03-02

Language Education in China: The Chinese Curriculum

(2,269 words)

Author(s): Jie XU | Sicong DONG
1. A Brief History of Chinese Language Teaching in China Chinese language education in China is conventionally called yǔwén jiàoxué 語文教學. Yǔwén refers to the whole of language related disciplines, represented by , which means spoken language, and wén, which encompasses meanings related to written language (characters, texts, literature) and culture as a whole. Language education was already well developed in ancient China, according to ancient records. During the Shāng, Zhōu, Chūnqiū, and Zhànguó eras (16th century BCE–3rd century BCE), public an…
Date: 2017-03-02

Language Games

(3,193 words)

Author(s): Zheng XU
1. Introduction “Language games” refers to ways of changing language forms to create a game language that is less accessible to people who speak its source language only. This article discusses Chinese language games and their linguistic import. Language games have a long relationship to Chinese languages and linguistic theories. Game languages, or secret languages, are created based on their source languages via a set of morphological and phonological transformations. Linguistic theories of, for …
Date: 2017-03-02

Language of Táng Poetry

(2,489 words)

Author(s): Volker KLÖPSCH
1. Function The Táng dynasty (618–907) is widely regarded as China’s golden age, with poetry as the paragon of all the various arts and literary styles practised. The huge number of 50,000 stanzas by about 2,200 different authors that survives from this era is due to the fact that poetry played such a central role in all aspects of social and political life. The strict exigencies of the literary examinations, established during the preceding Suí dynasty (581–618), acted as a precondition for assum…
Date: 2017-03-02

Languages and Language Families

(4,968 words)

Author(s): David BRADLEY
1. What Is a Language? The Chinese linguistic terminology for languages and dialects is to some degree incommensurable with the usual foreign translations. Yǔyán 語言, usually translated as ‘language’, actually corresponds to what is better called macrolanguage; this is due to the fact that Chinese itself, with its shared history, culture, logographic writing system and its millennia of divergence, is regarded as one yǔyán in China, whereas the normal linguistic view is that Chinese subsumes a variety of mutually unintelligible spoken varieties. Many other li…
Date: 2017-03-02

Language versus Dialect

(2,518 words)

Author(s): Jonathan SMITH
Though she may have studied “Chinese” in her hometown classroom, the foreign student traveling in China will not need long to discover that this term is of little use in application to the linguistic panoply she encounters there: by the locals in Běijīng, Shànghǎi, and Guǎngdōng, for instance, she’ll be called [t’a˥], [ɦi˩˧], and [k’øy˩˧] (all ‘he, she, it’) respectively, words utterly different as regards both sound and etymological origin. Nevertheless, native words that look just as amorphous as English “Chinese” – like Mandarin Zhōngwén 中文 or Hànyǔ 漢語 (both ‘Chinese language’;…
Date: 2017-03-02

Lánqīng Guānhuà 藍青官話 and Non-standard Varieties of Standard Mandarin

(2,400 words)

Author(s): Christine LAMARRE
Non-standard varieties of Standard Mandarin are a byproduct of the long and strenuous process that led to the emergence of a codified standard language in China. Even after the issue of the variety to be chosen as the ‘standard’ for the national language was settled, for a large number of its speakers this variety of Chinese was a second language. Interference from the native language naturally gave birth in some areas to local varieties diverging to some extent from the new standard. One of these non-standard varieties was called Lánqīng Guānhuà 藍青官話, literally 'blue-green Mandarin'…
Date: 2017-03-02

Layers in Dialectology

(2,171 words)

Author(s): Zhongmin CHEN
The family tree is the traditional model of language diversification in historical linguistics. This model shows how a single ancestor (a proto-language) develops dialects that in time, through the accumulation of changes, become distinct languages and how, through continued linguistic change, these daughter languages can diversify and split up into daughters of their own. On the basis of the family-tree model, the Swedish sinologue Bernhard Karlgren propounded the first full-blown model for Chinese linguistic history in his monumental work Etudes sur la phonologie chinoise (1…
Date: 2017-03-02

Left Periphery

(2,418 words)

Author(s): Linda BADAN
1. Definition According to recent syntactic theories, clauses are structured in three main layers, which are organized into sub-units. The lowest layer is primarily lexical and consists of the verb plus its arguments, and is referred to as the VP (Verb Phrase) domain. On top of the VP layer, there is the inflectional layer called the IP (Inflectional Phrase) domain, which is the domain for the realization of tense, number, person, and structural Case. On top of this, there is a layer that links th…
Date: 2017-03-02

Legal Language

(3,195 words)

Author(s): Meizhen LIAO
1. Introduction Study of the language of law in China dates back to the 1980s, when a group of professors of Chinese in universities of political science and law, unsatisfied with their monotonous teaching of Chinese grammar, tried to break new ground in research of language and law. Their earlier efforts were characterized by a philological approach to written legal language, especially the code laws, courtroom judgements, and well-prepared defenses, with focus on identifying unique features and …
Date: 2017-03-02

Lexical and Sublexical Access

(3,995 words)

Author(s): Chunming LUO | Xiaolin ZHOU | Xingshan LI
A central question in psycholinguistic research concerns the type of information stored and the way in which information is represented in the mental lexicon. Researchers are concerned with (1) whether Chinese characters have representations at a lexical level and how they are represented (Perfetti et al. 2005, Taft 2006, Tsang and H.-C. Chen 2009); (2) whether sub-character information (radicals or strokes) is represented in the mental lexicon and how it is represented (e.g., Ding et al. 2004, Luo et al. 2014, in press, L. Zhou et al. 2013); (3) to what extent phonological media…
Date: 2017-03-02

Lexical Diffusion

(2,067 words)

Author(s): Zhongwei SHEN
1. Lexical Diffusion Lexical Diffusion is a theory of sound change proposed by William S.-Y. Wang. The term first appeared in Wang’s article “Competing Change as a Cause of Residue” in 1969. The theory of lexical diffusion challenges the traditional view of sound change as understood by a group of historical linguists of the 19th century called Neogrammarians. Sound change is not merely a change of sound as an abstract phonological entity. It is actually a change in the pronunciation of the words which contain the sound in question. According to the Neogrammarian hypothesis o…
Date: 2017-03-02

Lexical Semantic Processing, Neurolinguistic Studies

(3,034 words)

Author(s): John Xuexin ZHANG
1. Introduction Lexical processing in word recognition refers to the mental processes by which individuals access the internal entries in the mental lexicon in response to stimulus input. The lexical entries are typically considered to contain two types of representations, one for phonological and morphological information and one for semantic and syntactic information (Levelt 1993). Compared with behavioral measures, brain imaging research helps understanding the semantic aspect of lexical proces…
Date: 2017-03-02

Lexicographical Ordering, Premodern

(2,318 words)

Author(s): Francoise BOTTÉRO
In premodern China, there were different ways of organizing characters in dictionaries: it could be by semantic categories as in ancient encyclopedias ( lèishū 類書), by pronunciation (e.g., according to rhyme (=rime)), or by graphic elements: 'radicals' or bùshǒu 部首. Lexical ordering in China mostly followed the radical classification system invented by Xǔ Shèn 許慎 (c. 58–147) for his dictionary of graphic etymologies Shuōwén jiězì 說文解字 ( Explaining Graphs and Analyzing Characters) in 100 CE. But the ever increasing number of characters gathered in dictionaries as we…
Date: 2017-03-02

Lexicographic Tradition

(5,695 words)

Author(s): Francoise BOTTÉRO | Wenkan XU | Wolfgang BEHR
China has a long lexicographic tradition that demonstrably goes back to the 1st century CE. The Shuōwén jiězì 說文解字 ( Explaining graphs and analyzing characters), compiled by Xǔ Shèn 許慎 and submitted to the throne in 121 CE, represents the prototype of a Chinese dictionary. As the first systematical work on written words, the Shuōwén played an important role for the elaboration of dictionaries in the Chinese writing world. It gathers a large number of characters (9,353 entries), for which it provides semantic glosses related to the Classics. The ent…
Date: 2017-03-02

Lexicography, Modern

(4,132 words)

Author(s): Liliya KHOLKINA
A major impetus for the development of modern Chinese lexicography at the beginning of the 20th century was provided by the National Language Movement ( guóyǔ yùndòng 國語運動), epitomized by its slogans “Reunification of the National Language” ( guóyǔ tǒngyī 國語統一) and “Consistency of Speech and Writing” ( yán wén yízhì 言文一致). The former slogan involved the formulation of a common language for the entire country, which in turn implied the tasks of codification and standardization by means of compilation and publication of dictionaries. The latter s…
Date: 2017-03-02