Questions tagged [history]

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

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1 vote
4 answers
169 views

Why does 即使 mean even if?

Usually when two characters combine I can puzzle through how they obtained their combined meaning. However, even after years of study I have no idea why 即使 means even if. I’m looking to better ...
4 votes
1 answer
113 views

A Cantonese-influenced Old National Pronunciation (老國音) system

I need advice/help on creating a system similar to the Old National Pronunciation system/language for a worldbuilding project called Roses, Tulips, and Liberty. Some background: Imagines, it's a world ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
179 views

Who is the creator of Chinese language?

Who is the creator of Chinese language? When I googled "Who is the creator of Chinese language?" it didn't show what I expected. I will be very grateful for any answers.
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1 vote
1 answer
49 views

Who was 赵王 after 赵奢 in 赵国?

This is from the Standard Course Book of HSK5, chapter 15: 几年后,赵奢去世了。这一年正好秦国军队来打赵国,赵国派老将廉颇带20万大军迎战。 ... 这时,赵王正因廉颇闭门不战而生气呢,听到外面的那些谣言,果然上当了,他派赵括去换回廉颇。 So I wonder, who was 赵王 after 赵奢 in 赵国? Did he have ...
3 votes
3 answers
190 views

What language did 咖啡 reach Chinese from?

"Coffee" is originally an Arabic word that reached the English language through Turkish at some point in the 16th century. Does anyone know the history of the word 咖啡 in Chinese? When did it ...
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6 votes
4 answers
821 views

What are the oracle-bone characters for 后 and 司 which led to confusion in naming 司母戊鼎 (or 后母戊鼎)?

My grade-7 Chinese history textbook describes the gigantic bronze ding called 司母戊鼎, and adds a footnote saying it's also called 后母戊鼎: (alternative image source: 1 2) Wikipedia writes: The ...
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1 vote
3 answers
155 views

Why is it 放学 and 下班, instead of 放班 or 下学?

I know that there is also the variant 放工 but I don't think this is typical usage. The use of 下 is so common, but yet in the instance of a school we use 放 instead.
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1 vote
1 answer
121 views

Is Chinese language influenced by sanskrit and vice versa?

India and China are neighboring countries, in ancient India sanskrit was spoken and in ancient China Chinese was spoken. So could these two languages have influenced each other in any way.
6 votes
4 answers
2k views

Is the number 4 really considered unlucky because it sounds similar to the word for "death"?

From what I've Googled so far, there are lots of claims that the number 4 is considered unlucky in Chinese. 四 is understandably considered unlucky in Japanese and Korean because it sounds identical to ...
4 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is it fair to assume that 站 and 占 are the same word?

It seems that the meanings "to stand" and "to occupy" are semantically related, and considering the pronunciation is exactly the same, is it fair to assume that the difference in ...
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2 votes
2 answers
81 views

What is the origin of 名堂?Compound or loanword?

Does anyone know of the origin of this word? It feels like it must be a loan word from another language as I can't find the semantic connection to 名 and 堂。Any ideas?
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3 votes
1 answer
168 views

How/why was western-style punctuation inherited into Mandarin?

How was it decided what aspects of Western language Mandarin would inherit and why? Ex: Western punctuation (! . ?), left to right writing style (in the mainland at least), pinyin vs bopomofo, etc. ...
0 votes
1 answer
145 views

女 in 嫩 : combining characters

So I just learned a new vocabulary called 嫩. An example from a YouTube channel was given as 这块儿牛肉非常嫩 to mean “This piece of beef is very tender”. As I understand many Chinese characters can come ...
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6 votes
1 answer
133 views

What were the court/administrative languages of various dynasties?

It's called "Mandarin" (and 官话) precisely because it was the language of courtly officials at a time when there was no unified national language of China. This was the case in both the Ming ...
2 votes
1 answer
127 views

Creation of Chinese characters throughout history?

The Shuowen Jiezi, compiled around 100 AD, contain entries for some 10,000 Chinese characters. The Kangxi Dictionary, compiled almost two millennia later, contain over 47,000 characters. Of the ...
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0 votes
3 answers
98 views

Does this phrase 斩草除根 exist in dramas only?

So, I have been watching quite a bit of 古代 dramas。 I will say most if not all of them have the situation where this phrase comes up. Does this phrase exist in the dramas only or did this actually ...
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0 votes
1 answer
170 views

汉长安城的未央宫中的“前殿”是一幢房屋,还是几幢建筑在面积宽大的布局里?

首先得说,我明白现代人对古代的殿、殿堂、皇宫等建筑的样子只不过是考古上的推测。那么,根据某几个词典(现代汉语规范词典、汉语大词典、萌典、两岸通用词典),一个“殿”绝对是单独的房屋;“前殿”是“正殿”,而“正殿”就是一种殿(皇宫中的主殿)。 我在网上看到的一些对未央宫的前殿的复原设想图就大不一致。且看下面的图一和图二。 图一:陕西西安汉长安未央宫遗址前殿复原设想鸟瞰图(来源:https://...
5 votes
2 answers
599 views

Meaning of early written versions of 地 and etymology?

The glyph origin section of https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%9C%B0 shows characters that look nothing like the modern "地" (with the exception of the "Small Seal Script" in "...
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0 votes
2 answers
159 views

Any hypothesis to remember 刑?

Any easy way or background why Well + knife is Punishment? Knife is related punishment, but after killing with knife any history to through them in the well? wikitionary details about 刑: Originally ...
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3 votes
0 answers
248 views

Trying to translate signature and stamp for Chinese print (Characters identified: 戊午九月石年)

Trying to find the origin of this print and the translation of the signature and seal.
2 votes
2 answers
206 views

How the 4 tones originated?

My native language does not have tones. Why tones are part of Chinese language? How the tones were started initially? Is it because they do not have so many words? In my native language full sentences ...
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2 votes
2 answers
201 views

What is the etymology of 斥

Learning the word 斥 chì to blame,to reprimand, to expel, (of territory) to expand. What is the etymology and how it is to blame?
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2 votes
1 answer
132 views

Is syaku an ancient Chinese unit of measurement (Suanfa tong zong)?

According to multiple sources the following problem would be found in Suanfa tong zong (like on cut-the-knot) Two reeds of equal height project 3 syaku above the surface of a pond. If we draw the top ...
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6 votes
2 answers
644 views

How did 漢 come to represent the Han people and civilization?

It appears that this character consists of a meaning part and a sound part: a water radical (i.e. section header for water in Kangxi dictionary) for meaning, and the character 𦰩 for sound. Radical - ...
0 votes
2 answers
242 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 ...
12 votes
2 answers
893 views

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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2 votes
1 answer
309 views

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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
1k 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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2 votes
1 answer
240 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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1 vote
4 answers
154 views

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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8 votes
3 answers
504 views

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 ...
1 vote
2 answers
215 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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0 votes
2 answers
170 views

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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
297 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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5 votes
1 answer
291 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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3 votes
2 answers
221 views

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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5 votes
2 answers
1k views

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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7 votes
1 answer
290 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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
128 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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4 votes
2 answers
303 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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1 vote
1 answer
107 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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0 votes
2 answers
183 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 ...
0 votes
1 answer
85 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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0 votes
1 answer
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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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0 votes
2 answers
192 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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1 vote
2 answers
89 views

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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0 votes
2 answers
139 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?
1 vote
2 answers
106 views

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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1 vote
1 answer
154 views

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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3 votes
1 answer
204 views

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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