Questions tagged [history]

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

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11
votes
2answers
928 views

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
185 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
616 views

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 ...
4
votes
4answers
183 views

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 ...
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
194 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
165 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
152 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
159 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
922 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
228 views

Does 宝 have its own history separate from 寶?

I was trying to figure out the characters for Sapporo, the Japanese beer, the other day and found: 七宝 was one of the translations for it. My initial reaction was to search 「七寶」 in my Japanese ...
7
votes
1answer
290 views

What is the oldest known Chinese audio recording?

I have tried search engines and Wikipedia articles on the history of audio recording, in English and Chinese, but couldn't come closer to this. What is the oldest known recording of anyone speaking (...
1
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2answers
83 views

Earliest usage of 力不从心?

What's the earliest usage of 力不从心? The earliest I've seen is: 《後汉书·西域传》 今使者大兵未能得出, 如諸國力不從心, 東西南北自在也。 Anything earlier than 后汉书? 445 is, apparently, the given year for completion of 后汉书.
3
votes
1answer
142 views

How is 古代汉语 defined?

According to Hanyu Wailaici Cidian (Dictionary of Chinese Loanwords), bóshì (博士) with the modern sense "doctor" is derived from the Japanese hakushi, which in turn is of "Ancient Chinese" (古代汉语) ...
4
votes
1answer
269 views

What's the Mandarin equivalent of the Hardcore History podcast?

So I'm looking for an very interesting and in-depth history podcast, in Mandarin, for native speakers. It's doesn't have to be about Chinese history, or any particular place or period. Any ...
6
votes
1answer
252 views

When was 华/華 first used as a reference to China?

E.g. as in 中华 or 华语, and other similar words.
7
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1answer
106 views

Were 蒸 and 祯 homonyms?

Wu Dalang, a character in Water Margin, which takes place during the Song dynasty, sold steamed buns called "炊饼". These buns were originally called 蒸饼: 凡以面為食具者,皆謂之餅,故火燒而食者呼為燒餅,水淪而食者呼為湯餅,...
3
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5answers
7k views

What is a good English translation of 土豪?

土豪 [tǔ háo] seems to be a popular Internet slang term in the last couple years. The idea that I get is that it is a rich person who flaunts their money and is somewhat snobbish or spoiled. Is this ...
12
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2answers
3k views

乐 Le and Yue: When did they diverge?

In the character 乐, it has two readings in Mandarin. In pinyin, yue4 and le4 (plus other readings I take are literary) In other dialects too, there seem to be 2 distinct forms. In cantonese, lok and ...
4
votes
2answers
225 views

What is the original meaning of 匈 (besides "chest/breast/thorax")?

The Wikipedia article on the 匈奴 gives a literal translation as 'fierce slaves'. Did 匈 mean 'fierce' in former times? What is the etymology of this character?
3
votes
1answer
106 views

Any historical connection between 筵席 and 宴席?

宴席 and 筵席: I know what both words mean, and I think it's quite funny they have similar pronunciations with quite similar meanings (give or take on both). Do the two words have similar origins? Any ...
6
votes
1answer
749 views

勇 character on soldiers' uniforms in movies

I don't know much about Chinese military history, but I do see this character appearing on historical uniforms (fictitious or actual) worn by soldiers in movies, some are set in the Qing dynasty some ...
5
votes
5answers
601 views

酵: jiào vs. xiào

I'm always hearing the pronunciations jiào and xiào being used interchangeably by native speakers for the character: 酵. What's the deal? Is there a standardized pronunciation for 酵? What's the ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

Are the Cantonese word 係 and the Japanese word はい related?

The Cantonese word meaning "to be", written as 係 (Jyutping: hai6) sounds similar to the Japanese word はい ("hai" in various Romanizations). Both words are used to answer "yes" or "it is correct" to yes-...
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 ...
2
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3answers
134 views

Through which processes became words in classical Chinese that tautological?

There are a lot of different words for many concepts in classical Chinese, for instance for the personal pronouns. Due to which circumstances could this happen?
2
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4answers
287 views

Which non-sinitic languages contributed to the wordstock of common chinese words before 1800?

I am not interested in modern words like telephone, aeroplane, but words that were incorporated into the more frequent used part of the vocabulary from languages different than sinitic.
1
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3answers
437 views

What does 功亏一篑 mean and its origin?

What does 功亏一貫 mean in English and its origin? And what does 貫 mean?
10
votes
3answers
7k views

哪儿 vs. 哪里, Difference in Meaning?

Is there any difference in meaning between 哪儿 and 哪里? If not, then how did the two different words come to be employed? Does 儿 have a meaning, or is it just a sound? I know that there are many '...
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
358 views

What are these "riddle jokes"?

In Chinese there are these jokes which are delivered as a small riddle followed by the answer. They are often used humorously, with the answer used as an insult. Here are some examples: 哑巴吃黄莲/有苦说不出 ...
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 ...
1
vote
3answers
673 views

what kind of gematria systems are there in chinese?

Since in Chinese culture there is a lot of materials about astronomy and supernatural methods so I'm interested to know about Gematria as it exists in most languages... Like this: Gematria Calculator
7
votes
1answer
4k views

Are there some free fonts for the small seal, large seal, and even oracle bone script styles?

I'm very interested in the old forms of Chinese characters that you still see in many contexts including historical, artistic, and design contexts. So I'm wondering if there are free fonts for these ...
10
votes
3answers
410 views

Origin of -的干活?

There is a facetious phrase for asking someone what they do, using "的干活", most commonly in the fragment "什么的干活", or in this example exchange: A: 你的,什么的干活? (Who are you?) B: 我的,...
4
votes
1answer
449 views

What's the significance of 家 in 国家?

国家 and 国 both mean "country" or "nation". However, what's the significance of the character 家 in the word? Does it really add the meaning of "home" or "family"? Is there a cultural or historical basis ...
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
votes
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 ...
11
votes
2answers
800 views

Which period in Chinese history produced the most chengyu?

There are tens of thousands of chengyu, many of them are historical in nature, whilst others are loaned from foreign sources such as Buddhism. Which period or dynasty in Chinese history produced the ...
11
votes
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,...
6
votes
2answers
701 views

How come 驚 evolves to 惊 in mainland China

Isn't it more intuitive to just replace 馬 with 马 at the base of 驚 to get a well inductive simplified one? Quite weird, uh? Any historical, geopolitical, or other reason for the simplification of 驚 -&...
6
votes
3answers
822 views

What does it say on the stamp?

I was requested by a friend to find out what this stamp is. Do you know what it says on the stamp?
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Dog radical (犭) for non-Han ethnic groups

As far as I understand, the dog radical (犭) was used for all non-Han ethnic groups before the Chinese Communist Party took power on the mainland. Is there truth to that? If so: Why did the CCP stop ...
13
votes
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?
4
votes
5answers
1k views

Why is 德国 the “virtue country”?

Here is what I think and how it is named: In Google translate it says it means "virtue country". My guess is probably wrong but here it is: China is an alliy of America, and America boosted up the ...
1
vote
1answer
194 views

询问奸雄所见略同的由来 and how does it relate to chinese

The quote"我很想询问奸雄所见略同的由来" seems very interesting to me. And in Google Translate, it translates to "I would like to ask the king's men great minds think alike the origin of." It doesn't seem to make ...
1
vote
2answers
145 views

What is the significance of the phrase “二十五,糊窗户”?

The phrase “糊窗户” refers to the practice of pasting paper cutouts (similar to the one seen here) on one's windows. There's a common larger saying, “二十五,糊窗户”, which I assume means that this is usually ...
4
votes
4answers
650 views

Did phonological systems (namely bopomofo) standardize Chinese phonemes?

As far as I know, Zhuyin fuhao, or Bopomofo, is the first system of phonetic symbols devised to aid to write Chinese phonology. That was in 1910, so we could say very recent in the history of Chinese. ...
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 ...