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.

More information: Brill.com

Ergativity and Unaccusativity

(4,058 words)

Author(s): Edith ALDRIDGE
The main goal of this lemma is to summarize how the term “ergativity” has been used in analyzing aspects of Chinese syntax. In the typological literature, “ergativity” typically refers to the patterning of transitive objects with intransitive subjects for the purposes of case-marking and certain syntactic operations like relative clause formation. The term “ergativity” is also sometimes used to refer to an alternation between the transitive and intransitive use of a verb in which the argument fu…
Date: 2017-03-02

Ergativity in Classical Chinese

(1,669 words)

Author(s): William G. BOLTZ
Ergativity is generally defined as “a grammatical pattern in which the subject of an intransitive clause is treated in the same way as the object of a transitive clause, and differently from a transitive subject” (Dixon 1994:1). In terms of the “three primitive relations” that Dixon identifies as S ‘intransitive subject’, A ‘transitive subject’ and O ‘transitive object’ (Dixon 1994:6), languages in which S and A are treated in the same way, distinct from O, are called nominative-accusative, and …
Date: 2017-03-02

Érhuà 兒化 (Rhoticization)

(2,701 words)

Author(s): Yen-Hwei LIN
The érhuà 兒化 process refers to sound changes, typically rhotacization, that occur in the root rime when the diminutive/hypocoristic ér affix is incorporated into a root syllable. Historically the diminutive/hypocoristic ér affix originates in the content morpheme ér 兒 'son, child' (Lǐ Sījìng 1986; Hsueh 1986; Li 1999). There are two major types of ér affixation across Chinese dialects: (i) the affix remains a separate syllable from the root; and (ii) the affix is incorporated into the root to produce a monosyllabic form, usually inducing phonol…
Date: 2017-03-02

Ěryǎ 爾雅

(2,799 words)

Author(s): Weldon South COBLIN
The Ěryǎ 爾雅 is generally acclaimed as the earliest Chinese lexicographical work. The received interpretation of the title is “approaching or coming close to elegance”, from  ěr 爾 ‘near’ (a loan usage for the character more commonly written as 邇) and 雅 ‘elegance, refinement, correctness’. The use of in the sense of “elegant or correct linguistic usage” is commonly associated with the phrase yǎ yán 雅言 ‘to speak elegantly or in a refined manner’, as found in the Confucian Analects (7.18). The tradition regarding the title of the work is first attested in the Eastern Hàn paronomasticon Shìm…
Date: 2017-03-02


(1,388 words)

Author(s): Gotelind MÜLLER
Esperanto is a constructed universalist language developed in the late 19th century by L. L. Zamenhof (1859–1917), a Jewish ophthalmologist, for use as a global second language. Zamenhof grew up in Poland under Russian occupation and experienced at first hand the linguistic, ethnic, national, and religious tensions between Jews, Catholic Poles, Orthodox Russians, and Protestant Germans. He identified problems of communication as a main cause of conflict and constructed Esperanto as the remedy wh…
Date: 2017-03-02


(7,560 words)

Author(s): William G. BOLTZ
1. Definition The index to William Dwight Whitney’s (1827–1894) Life and Growth of Language includes an entry that identifies etymology as “[the] foundation of linguistic science”. “The whole process of linguistic research begins and depends upon etymology, the tracing out of the histories of individual words and elements. … [and] perfecting of the methods of etymologizing is what especially distinguishes the new linguistic science from the old.” (Whitney 1896 [1875]:323, 312–313; Malkiel 1975:104–105). Whitney’s use of the phrase “the new linguistic science” is a re…
Date: 2017-03-02