Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics

Get access 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

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.

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Dialect and Language Atlases of China

(1,980 words)

Author(s): Ray IWATA
A language atlas is a collection of language maps showing the spatial divergence and convergence of languages and/or dialects. The maps in the atlas are usually item- or feature-based, namely each map illustrates the spatial variations of one single linguistic item or feature (phonetic, lexical or syntactic), as represented by the pioneering atlases developed in Europe, Atlas linguistique de la France (ALF, Gilléron and Edmont 1902–1910) and Deutsche Sprachatlas (DSA, Wenker et al. 1926–1956). Also, maps demarcating dialect/language boundaries within a region have b…
Date: 2017-03-02

Dialect Characters

(2,214 words)

Author(s): Rujie YOU
In as far as the varieties of Chinese often referred to as “dialects” are written, two different systems are used: Chinese characters or an alphabetic system (Klöter 2005). This article only discusses the use of characters to write non-standard varieties of Chinese. Every major Chinese dialect has a number of morphemes that for one reason or another (see below) cannot be written in a straightforward way using standard characters, and are therefore written with what we call “dialect characters” ( fāngyánzì 方言字). In a narrow sense, dialect characters are Chinese characters th…
Date: 2017-03-02

Dialect Classification

(5,323 words)

Author(s): Jerry NORMAN †
Whenever confronted with a body of complex data, a first step toward studying the data is classification. Thus, classification seems to be a natural preliminary in many if not most sciences. In this, linguistics is no different. In this field several different approaches to language classification have been used. The most common is genetic classification; that is, classifying languages or dialects by their common descent from a hypothesized earlier language. The Germanic languages are considered…
Date: 2017-03-02

Dialect Dictionaries

(3,002 words)

Author(s): Henning KLÖTER
1. Introduction "Dialect dictionary", according to a general definition, refers to a “type of reference work containing information about one or more dialects of a language” (Hartmann and James 1998:38). If we accept this broad definition, the history of Chinese dialect lexicography is as old as the history of Chinese lexicography. However, a dictionary containing dialect expressions is not necessarily a dialect dictionary in the stricter sense. This is especially true when a Western notion of "dialect" is applied to the Sinitic context: since fāngyán 方言 in Chinese can refer to…
Date: 2017-03-02

Dialect Diversification, Major Trends

(3,252 words)

Author(s): Zev HANDEL
Chinese (a.k.a. Sinitic) is a large language family, whether measured in terms of distinct, mutually unintelligible languages (dozens, at least) or number of speakers (around a billion or more). This article explores the question: Where did this size and diversity come from? It should be noted at the outset that the terms “language” and “dialect” are confusing and contested when it comes to Chinese (Language versus Dialect). In this article, simply for convenience, we will use the term dialect in a very general sense, to refer to all the regional varieties of…
Date: 2017-03-02

Dialect Geography (Geolinguistics)

(4,391 words)

Author(s): Ray IWATA
Dialect geography is a subfield of dialectology. In its broader sense, it covers all studies concerned with spatial variations of linguistic phenomena. More specifically it refers to studies utilizing linguistic maps or atlases. The related term linguistic geography has been in use since Jules Gilliéron’s Atlas linguistique de la France was published (1902–1910). Gilliéron and his successors attempted to refute the neogrammarian hypothesis about the regularity of sound change through the study of the history of individual words (Gilliéron and …
Date: 2017-03-02

Dialect Islands

(1,953 words)

Author(s): Richard VanNess SIMMONS
Dialect islands in a broad range of sizes, compositions, and origins frequently punctuate the various territories of the major Chinese dialect groups and sub groups. A wide variety of historical, social, and geographic factors led to the development of these dialect islands. They were often formed when migrating peoples, or refugees from war or environmental catastrophe, moved into previously devastated and abandoned territories or across new or changing landforms. Dialect islands in China thus …
Date: 2017-03-02

Dialects, Premodern

(5,706 words)

Author(s): Shangfang ZHENGZHANG
1. Pre-Qín (221–206 BCE) and Hàn (202 BCE–220 CE) Times There has always been linguistic and dialectal variation within the Sinitic language group. This is something ancient books, such as Lǐjì 禮記 ( Book of Rites, at least as old as the Hàn dynasty), already make mention of. There is a clear continuity to be found between the languages used in Shījīng 詩經 ( Book of Odes, 11th–7th cent. BCE) and Chǔcí 楚辭 ( Songs of Chǔ, partially from pre-Qín and partially from Hàn times) on the one hand, and the Chinese from the Shāng dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BCE) recorded in the Oracle-Bon…
Date: 2017-03-02


(2,814 words)

Author(s): Chris Wen-chao LI
Diglossia refers to the complementary coexistence of two linguistic varieties within a speech community, typically one of which is an elevated code (the H[igh] language) used for higher order social functions such as religious sermons, government missives and formal writing, the other of which is the everyday vernacular (the L[ow] language) used in lower level exchanges with friends and family. Diglossia in China has taken different forms throughout the ages: in pre-modern China, the division be…
Date: 2017-03-02


(1,676 words)

Author(s): Victor MAIR
“Digraphia” signifies a situation in which a single language is written with two scripts. Perhaps the best-known instance of digraphia in the world today is that of Hindī-Urdū, which is essentially one language, but is called Hindī when written in the Devanāgarī script and Urdū when written in the Perso-Arabic script. In Chinese, digraphia is referred to as shuāngwénzhì 雙文制. “Digraphia” is to be distinguished from “diglossia” ( shuāngyǔ zhì 雙語制), which is the concurrent use of two different languages within a single population. A good example of diglossia would b…
Date: 2017-03-02


(3,457 words)

Author(s): William G. BOLTZ
Dimidiation means literally ‘through the middle’ (Lat. di-midius), i.e., ‘split in half’ and linguistically refers to a kind of lexical development whereby a monosyllabic word becomes bisyllabic as a consequence of sound change. In a Chinese language history context it is sometimes called "word-splitting" (Packard 1997:10–11) and could also be called bisyllabification. The term was first used in connection with Chinese language history by P.A. Boodberg, at first only to refer to the fǎnqiè 反切 method of indicating the pronunciation of a single character by means of th…
Date: 2017-03-02

D (index)

(3,693 words)

D’Elia, Pasquale (1890–1963): Chinese Linguistics in Italy Dà cíhǎi 大辭海 (Great sea of words): Lexicography, Modern Dà Guójiā Xiǎo Cídiǎn 大國家小詞典: Lexicography, Modern Dà Sòng chóngxiū Guǎngyùn 大宋重修廣韻 (The re-amended Guǎngyùn of the Great Sòng): Rime Dictionaries Dàbāo 大包 dialect, Jìn 晉: Jìn 晉 Dialects Dàbù 大埔 Hakka (Kèjiā 客家), spoken corpus: Táiwān Spoken Chinese Corpus Dàbù 大埔 resultatives: Resultatives Dàchíshān 大岐山: Qiāng 羌 Language Dàdū 大都: Mandarin, Varieties of Dagur (Daur, Dáwò’ěr 達斡爾): Altaic Languages | Languages and Language Families | Mongolian | Non-Sini…

Directional Complements

(2,014 words)

Author(s): Xiaoguang LI
When a verb that expresses a directional meaning is placed after another verb, either directly attached or separated by some other element, it is often referred to as a directional complement. According to Liú (1998), eleven simple directional verbs in Chinese can be used as directional complements; they are listed in (1). A sentence is given for illustration in (2). 1. 來 去 上   lái ‘come’ ‘go’  shàng ‘ascend-up’   下 進 出   xià ‘descend-down’ jìn ‘enter-in’   chū ‘exit-out’   回 過  起   huí ‘return-back’ guò ‘pass-over’  ‘rise-up’   開  到     kāi ‘open-away’  dào ‘arrive-to’      2.  一個男孩子向我跑來。(vc…
Date: 2017-03-02

Discourse Markers

(2,021 words)

Author(s): Jiajin XU
1. Introduction Discourse markers (DMs henceforth) have been a popular topic in discourse and pragmatics research over the last couple of decades (Schiffrin 1987; Miracle 1991; Fraser 1999; Rǎn 2000; Feng 2008; Yīn 2012, to name but a few publications on the topic). A recent query in the Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA; October 5, 2015) database shows that DMs have been studied in Spanish, English, French, Chinese, Japanese (in the descending order of the number of publications), and many other languages. The majority of DM rese…
Date: 2017-03-02

Discourse Processing

(3,287 words)

Author(s): Xianyou HE
1. Introduction The decoding of characters and words, the analysis of sentences and the processing of discourse are all indispensable components in discourse comprehension. As the most complicated level of comprehension, discourse is a linguistic unit consisting of a series of sentences, such as a paragraph, passage, or narrative section of text. Discourse comprehension integrates incoming information with previous information and maintains the local and global coherence. Local coherence refers to…
Date: 2017-03-02

Disfluent Speech

(2,333 words)

Author(s): Shu-Chuan TSENG
1. Introduction The study of disfluent speech is often regarded as peripheral in linguistic research. Nevertheless, a considerable proportion of conversational speech is disfluent. If we want to understand how human speech operates, it is indispensable to study how and when disfluent speech is produced. Explorations into linguistic representations of disfluent speech have attracted special attention not only from linguists and psychologists, but also from computer scientists, as interest in spoken…
Date: 2017-03-02


(2,683 words)

Author(s): Shengli FENG
The use of the notion of disyllabification as a development in the history of the Chinese language implies that there must have been a time in which the language was monosyllabic (Kennedy 1951; Chao 1968; Duanmu 2000). Whether earlier stages of the language were purely monosyllabic or not, recent studies show that Archaic (or Proto-) Chinese had a prosodic structure that differed from that of Medieval Chinese (100 BCE–100 CE) (Pulleyblank 1962, 1977–1978; Pan 2000; Zhèngzhāng 2003) (Medieval Chi…
Date: 2017-03-02