Questions tagged [history]

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

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13
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5answers
5k views

How were Chinese characters taught to Chinese children before the introduction of pinyin?

Before schools started to use pinyin for teaching characters to Chinese children, how and/or what was used to teach it instead? And what about how dictionaries showed the pronunciation of characters?
11
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4answers
4k views

Reasons for Chinese changing from monosyllabic to disyllabic?

Classical and Middle Chinese are often considered monosyllabic languages - most words are single syllables. Modern Chinese however is considered disyllabic - most words are two syllables. For example,...
9
votes
6answers
928 views

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 ...
35
votes
11answers
82k views

Is it easier to learn Chinese after learning Japanese or vice versa?

For those who speak both Chinese and Japanese, would first learning Chinese make it easier to learn Japanese? Knowing that Japanese Kanji are derived from Chinese characters, how hard is it to do the ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Do 之 and 的 come from the same word?

In modern Chinese 之 is thought of as the literary genitive particle and 的 as the colloquial. In most reconstructions of Old Chinese 之 looks very similar to the way 的 is pronounced now. For example in ...
35
votes
11answers
7k views

Etymology of the Chinese number characters (一二三四五六七八九十百千)

Main Question: What is the glyph origin of the Chinese number characters (一二三四五六七八九十百千)? Related question: Why isn't 四 four lines? (the origin of 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九) I decide to write a Q&A-style ...
31
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5answers
3k views

Why isn't 四 four lines? (the origin of 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九)

A common experience of beginner hanzi students is their raised hopes and expectations when they learn 一 二 三 - "what a wonderfully elegant language!" - which are promptly crushed when they ...
25
votes
12answers
13k views

Why is stroke order important when writing Chinese characters?

I often see people having a big focus on correct stroke order for writing Chinese characters. My question is, for most learners, is it important to know the stroke order, and if so, why is it ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

When was punctuation introduced into Chinese?

I have seen some old Chinese books. The words flowed from top to bottom on the page and there was no punctuation. How did readers know when the sentences began and ended? Were any older forms of ...
7
votes
2answers
557 views

Character 瞓: where did the pronunciations come from?

The character 瞓 is a Cantonese character meaning "sleep". It is pronounced xùn in mandarin and fan3 in Cantonese. I was wondering how two so different pronunciations (I would expect xun to match syun ...
7
votes
1answer
301 views

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?
3
votes
2answers
438 views

Hong Kong Cantonese variations

I am interested to learn whether the changes in Hong Kong pronunciation of Cantonese came about, was it because the English in Hong Kong had difficulty understanding the Cantonese? For instance, I ...
2
votes
1answer
181 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
276 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 ...
0
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2answers
144 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
153 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 ...