Questions tagged [history]

Questions related to the history of the Chinese language(s).

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124 views

How old is Chinese grammar? [closed]

Anyone here knows how old Chinese grammar is? In my memory, I never read the term "语法" in all the historical works, especially those of Tang and Song dynasties, the peak of Chinese ...
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Why does Mandarin Chinese have a smaller inventory of unique syllables?

From How languages compare with the number of different syllables from all words?, considering the 20,000 most frequent words in each language, Mandarin Chinese has 1274 different syllables (see also ...
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Besides the radical, what meaning does the rest of a Chinese character have (especially when it was originally created)?

I am a beginning student of Mandarin Chinese. There is a key thing about Chinese characters that I am trying to understand. Besides the radical, what purpose does the rest of a character have? Was it ...
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135 views

Is there an ancient chinese name for Asia?

The Chinese word for Asia is 亞細亞 (yaxiya). The root of these words seems to be the greek word "Asia", derived from the Akkadian "asu" which means "to rise". Thus, Asia is ...
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85 views

Different accents/dialects applicable to the pinyin “r” sound

When I first began learning Mandarin and was struggling with some of the different pronunciations I heard 2 different representations of the "r" sound in pinyin. The first representation suggested to ...
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Insight into 你好

My textbook says that ''until recently, 你好 was only used to greet foreigners, but now even native speakers use it to greet each other.'' Wow, so when was 你好 invented/added to the Chinese lexicon ? ...
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How old is the expression “老百姓”?

I have searched on line text bases, especially for 三国志 since the 2010 television version of that is what made me wonder. But I do not seem to get reliable results that way. Perhaps if I understood the ...
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161 views

Why isn't the Vietnam War called e.g. 抗美战争 (“Resistance War Against America”) like in Vietnamese?

The Vietnam War is considered by some (most?) Vietnamese people as a fight against US-led invasion of Vietnam. Hence... The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known ... in ...
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Are the Asian girls in this music video Chinese or Malaysian, and are they singing in Chinese?

https://youtu.be/BuAULI7PbRw?t=7 They are obviously Asian, and I seem to recognize some of the letters as being Chinese. Also, the song itself seems to be a famous/classic Chinese song which I've ...
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268 views

What exactly is an ancient Tang dynasty 壺?

Note: I have now asked this question on the History Stack Exchange also. There are at least 33 types of ancient sacrificial, wine, food and water ritual bronze vessels of ancient China, none of which ...
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172 views

What did Eastern Han Chinese sound like?

As I was improving an answer to this question in the History SE, I discovered that the prestige Luoyang dialect of the Eastern Han and Three Kingdoms period didn't actually fall under Old Chinese but ...
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How did three characters for _de_ emerge?

I understand that there are three characters for de depending on the usage: 跑得快 快地跑 快的车 Would anyone know how it evolved into different characters when the purpose and pronunciation are similar?
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What title did Qing China use for US presidents?

What title did Qing China use for the US president, given that US presidents are periodically "deposed"? Certainly not 王 as the office is not hereditary and could not be held for life. I am ...
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207 views

What musical instrument does “敫” refer to?

I found the character 敫 whose definition apparently is "ancient musical instrument" according to Wiktionary. However, the English Wikipedia's List of Chinese musical instruments doesn't seem to ...
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96 views

What is the origin of 火黑暗?

What is the origin of 火黑暗? According to wikipedia it comes from the Zangshu, "Book of Burial", but no where in that book (or anywhere else) can I find this supposed phrase: "Qi vapors in the fire, ...
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196 views

How to find earliest usage of a term?

This question could be split into two types of terms: new expressions & old expressions. For new expressions one could open Google &/or Baidu go to "News" (资讯) and then "Order By Date" (按时间排序)...
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94 views

Are there web-site with description of visual meaning of symbols?

I'm interested in explanation of why certain symbol means what it means, in other words what object or scene it depicts. There is some books about that, like "Origin and evolution of...", but I wonder ...
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128 views

The name of the California high school fraternity, Hi Tow Tong

Honor societies and fraternities are a fixture in U.S. colleges. Most often they use Greek letters for their names, and some have names in English. However, the men's honor society of Santa Cruz High ...
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61 views

What title did the merchants who dealt with Canton's 13 Factories have?

What I know: During the period leading up to the Opium Wars, trade into China from Europe was locked down to 13 buildings in Canton known as the 13 factories. European merchants were only permitted to ...
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What are the surnames and given names of these fictional people of the Three Kingdoms?

金環三結,董荼那,阿會喃,忙牙長 What are their surnames and given names. For example, is 董 the surname of 董荼那?
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119 views

An extremely rare same name used by two people

The rare name 澹台灭明 is used by two people: A disciple of Confucious. A character is one of Liang Yusheng's novels. As I understand, the surname 澹台 and the given name 灭明 are both extremely rare in ...
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What word should be used to describe anyone who is counter-revolutionary, that is, one who opposes a revolution?

Literally translating, can one who opposes a revolutionary be called a "反革命" in Chinese? In mainland China, "反革命" used be a serious crime which may be lead to death penalty. So people are not allowed ...
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125 views

very old chinese language

I need help to determine this brand How old is the brand? Is it a stamp or a tax stamp? Does it have something to do with the silk tax?
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History/usage: 耦 vs. 偶?

According to the ABC dictionary 耦 means: a couple as a noun and to couple as a verb. Think of words like: 去耦 meaning decouple. But, 配偶 can also be written: 配耦. What is the history and ...
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Translation of a painting's signature, ink + gold (Characters identified: 日本製略曆) [duplicate]

I am very grateful for helping me with signature on lovely Chinese painting, I have one more in my collection, judging by the back of it it has at least 100 years. It is painted with ink and gold, the ...
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Antique Chinese painting

Before I ask I'd like to say how much I admire Chinese culture and art. Hence I always dig in antique shops for something from China. A few years ago I bought these beautiful twin paintings (not ...
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How many supplies did Liu Bei have at Dangyang?

I was attempting to translate this passage from the Records of the Three Kingdoms: 比到當陽,衆十餘萬,輜重數千兩,日行十餘里,別遣關羽乘船數百艘,使會江陵。 The background of this is: Cao Cao had invaded Jingzhou, Liu Bei was ...
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Historical: How was Chinese written in telegrams and early computers?

I know about "Chinese Typewriters", the question here is how Chinese was represented in earlier information systems. For example, Japanese Telegrams were always written in Katakana and many early ...
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112 views

Where was the heartland of the pre-historic Chinese branch of languages (or that of the entire language family)?

About the Indo-European family of languages, a common hypothesis is that it originated in central Asia, somewhere north of the Caspian and/or Black Seas. Do we have any idea where the Sino-Tibetan ...
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Are the two 勾魂鬼 actually 黑白无常?

哎吆,我担心了! “(孙悟空)掏出金箍棒,把两个勾魂鬼打成了肉酱。” 是不是这两个‘勾魂鬼’就是那两位‘黑白无常’? 他们成了肉酱的话,谁来捉拿去世人的魂呢? There will be an imbalance between heaven and earth. Souls will pile up! Soul pollution!
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Was the word 男朋友 borrowed from English (or maybe the opposite)?

男朋友 and 女朋友 have the same thought process as their English counterparts, as in both words are compounded of (the gender) + ("friend"), even though they're actually used to refer to a romantic partner ...
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603 views

Where does the phrase 镜中花,水中月 come from?

I was helping a friend from Pakistan to improve his English translation for a long, complicated assignment. He had the sentence below. I'd like to know where '镜中花,水中月' comes from. I just translated it ...
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130 views

The etymology of 便当 in Chinese

The following excerpt is from the top answer on 知乎: 丈夫每天吃自己做的便当(没错,是他自己做的,不是他妻子做的)她吃大餐,去一次美容院就能花4.2万。看表情就知道,这位太太毫无愧疚之心,可能还觉得自己萌萌哒。两人摊牌后,妻子没有道歉,而是要求丈夫以后更努力工作赚钱。最后以这男人跳下站台自杀,妻子改嫁结束。 The 便当 here ...
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What is the 门 in 厦门 and 澳门?

Are there other Chinese cities besides 厦门 and 澳门 which end in 门 and what does 门 mean in this context?
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Why doesn't the Chinese language have a one character word for “young”?

There are one-character words for "old", "love," "book," and many more important concepts. Why is 青年 the way to say "young" and not a one-word character?
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What is learned by analyzing the component and relationship of 牧野 in regards to The Battle of Muye?

In other words, what am I missing by not analyzing the characters? It seems that 牧 (mù) can be used in a very Chinese sense to connote a benevolent ruler, in that the term is also used for shepherd. (...
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170 views

Who translated “deductive reasoning” into 演绎推理?

The word 演绎 had been used by Chinese literati long before it acquired the precise modern meaning. I wonder exactly who made the link between 演绎 and deduction? The definition on baidu makes you want ...
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225 views

Was Shuowen Jiezi 說文解字 originally written in the seal script 小篆?

Modern editions of Shuowen Jiezi 說文解字 use seal characters 小篆 only in the headwords. This is also the case with editions published a few hundred years ago. Was the whole original 121 edition of Shuowen ...
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Why is there a special pronunciation of 论 just for 论语?

The character 论 has pinyin lùn for all uses except in 论语 where it is lún. Is there some known historical reason for this change in pronunciation?
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How was 辣 used before the Columbian Exchange?

I'm assuming the character (and word/morpheme) 辣 is not a recent creation and goes back far in history. These days it means "chili/chilli", "pepper", "spicy". But chili peppers only came to China ...
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161 views

Western grammatical influence on vernacular Chinese in the 20th century

I am currently reading a history book by P. Zarrow on the period between 1840 and 1949. When commenting the emergence of vernacular Chinese (pioneered f.e. by 胡適)he makes sparse comments about the ...
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Which proverb / expression is original? — 爱及屋乌, 爱乌及屋, 爱屋及乌

In an ealier question (or thread) 爱、采 ( A trivalent verb takes 2 objects ) ... 3 variations/versions of a proverb or expression were mentioned : 爱及屋乌 == he loves her so much that he even loves the ...
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砲響: were there cannons in ancient China?

After reading Romance of the Three Kingdoms, I was surprised to see a lot of references to 砲響 (the sound of cannonade). Here's a few examples: 嚴綱鼓譟吶喊,直取麴義,義軍見嚴綱兵來,都伏而不動;直到來得至近,一聲砲響,八百弓弩手一齊俱發。 三國演義 ...
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A unified theory of 就 meaning

就 always bothered me. I couldn't (and maybe still can't) get a hold of its meaning. By looking at many examples of the usage I came to realization that 就 marks a process of becoming a subject to or ...
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Historical Question, Possible Wade-Giles, Sichuan river name

I am currently reading an entomologists diaries from the late 19th Century - A.E. Pratt. He travelled Sichuan Province and published his journal, To the Snows of Tibet through China, in 1892. Pratt ...
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What are the etymologies of 局 and 局面?

As far as I know 局 applies to everything which demands crooking ones body. A job behind a desk almost always means you are sitting with your back bent: A small office is 局, a chess game is 局, a game ...
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142 views

Why did people sometimes call Liu Bei “明将军”?

Reading some historical texts on Liu Bei, the famous Three Kingdoms warlord, I was surprised to see that in more than one occasion, he is referred to as 明将军. What does this name mean, and where did it ...
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129 views

Are radicals a relatively new invention for looking up dictionaries?

According to this article, radicals were invented for looking up characters in a dictionary, and didn't exist until after the publication of the Shuōwén Jiězì [說文解字] (around 100 AD). Is it true that ...
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156 views

Chinese vs English [closed]

There is a lot a gramma points/words in chinese similar to english 生日/ birthday 爸爸的笔 / dad's pen I would like know if it's a radom linguisitic fact or if it could have a chinese influence on ...
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723 views

Is there strong evidence that Classical Chinese was ever spoken?

Classical Chinese (Wenyan) diverges sharply from modern varieties, as any student of classical texts will note whether foreign or native Chinese. Wenyan has a long written history, but is there ...