Two of the most well known Chinese poets ABC says:

poet, second in fame only to Li Bai

of Du Fu.

Did either 杜甫 or 李白 popularize or standardize any sort of 方言 through their works? (Certainly not on purpose.)

Or were they very 书面 anyway?

  • I can't think of any way for a classical era celebrity to influence a dialect, be it the poet, the emperor, or the religious idol. It's not like there's national TV back then. It would be lucky if his accent affected a few thousand people. As for the writings, they are known across the nation, if there are dialectical elements the writings, they are more likely influence the whole nation, rather than a single dialect. Oct 20, 2016 at 4:13
  • That's what I was asking actually. Perhaps it wasn't so clear. What I meant was were there any dialectical elements that became "standardized"?
    – Mou某
    Oct 20, 2016 at 4:24

4 Answers 4


They don't use 方言 in writing. In the old days, Chinese speaking and writing are two systems, they don't write what they say. They use another grammar and words in writing(文言). That makes all Chinese, no matter where you are from, can communicate without troubles.They can even communicate with Japanese, Koreans via 汉字(笔谈).


李白and杜甫 make the language of Shaanxi(陕西)popular. They were the people of tang dynasty ,and capital of the tang dynasty is Chang'an where is in Xi'an of Shaanxi province now.So the language of Shaanxi is standard for everyone like the dialect of Beijing has effect on Chinese now.

  • Can you give some sources for this? Nov 10, 2016 at 21:29

Chinese have changed a lot since town dynastic. It was Middle Chinese that used in Tang Dynastic, which Li Bai and Du Fu lived in. Cantonese is the dialect which is most close to Middle Chinese. But still they are not close enough.


Ok, the question itself have made some mistake so I will correct it slightly.

方言 refers to a variation of Chinese that is SPOKEN in a certain (local) group.

It does NOT refer to the style or variation of the writing.

李白and 杜甫 are poets during the Tang dynasty.

The format of the poem itself was standardized way before that with the uses of 平仄(a form of notation for pronouciation).

The choice of words(style of writing) in the poem, is the style of 文言韻文(which is also standardize before them). The "predecessor" of today's 書面語.

So, no, the two person did not promote 方言 in their poems and they did not standardize writings.

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