Written Language versus Spoken Language
(1,994 words)

Up until the May Fourth Movement of 1919, the literary language of classical Chinese, known as wényánwén 文言文, was the written standard. Although there had been proposals for writing in the vernacular in the late Qīng Dynasty (1644–1911) by people like Huáng Zūnxiàn 黄遵憲 (1947–1905) who promoted the view that “my hand writes [what] my mouth [says]” (Wǒ shǒu xiě wǒ kǒu 我手寫我口), the shift from writing in literary Chinese to writing in the vernacular did not actually occur until the Literary Revolution (Wénxué gémìng 文學革命) launched by Hú Shì 胡適 (1891–1962) and Chén Dúxiù 陳獨秀 (1879–19…

Cite this page
Shengli FENG, “Written Language versus Spoken Language”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 22 October 2017 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2210-7363_ecll_COM_000296>
First published online: 2016



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