Languages & Cultures of East Asia
Trad 101, Sections 18-19-20-21 Fall 2000
Lecture Outline, 8/28/00 - Overview of Chinese
* To find out about a language
1. Where the language is spoken
* Non-uniformity of the Chinese language
Varieties of Chinese not mutually intelligible
"Chinese" a comprehensive term; referring to a large variety of Chinese forms:
(a) modern and old, (2000 BC to 2000 AD)
Old Chinese vs. Modern Chinese = Latin vs. French or Italian
Mandarin and Cantonese further apart than French and Italian
* How is the notion of Chinese as a single language sustained?
(i) the writing system
* Terms the Chinese use to refer to the language:
(i) Hanyu 'the language of the Hans'
The Chinese tradition talks of the Chinese dialects (rather than the Chinese languages)
* Location and speakers
Location: China, Taiwan, Singapore,
Speakers: more than 1,000,000 (far more than the language with the 2nd most speakers: English, 350,000)
* Genetic roots (family roots)
Germanic--> English, German, Icelandic.
Indo-European--> Germanic, Romance, Celtic, Indo-Iranian, Balto-Slavic...
Some of the major language families:
Afro-Asiatic: Hausa, Arabic
Sino-Tibetan> Chinese, Tibeto-Karen;
* How do we support a genetic relationship?
show a pattern of sound correspondences in the lexicon
Correspondences between Chinese and Tibeto-Burman noticed in the 19th century.
Tibetan: SOV, writing system adopted from Sanskrit, consonant clusters
North: Altaic languages (Mongolian)
South: languages of Southeast Asia (Thai, Vietnamese, Miao-Yao)
features shared with neighbors:
* Dialectal variations
Varieties of Chinese classified into 7 families.
Classification based on a comparison of sound structure
syllable = morpheme 99% +
e.g. happy -- 1 morpheme
Is English a monosyllabic language?
words: 1, 2, 3 syllables
1 syllable: hao 'good', che 'vehicle'
1. borrowed words e.g. hudie 'butterfly', putao 'grapes'
tones are contrastive:
Mandarin: 4 tones + 1 neutral tone
Most native speakers don't know how many tones there are in their language (until they go to school)
Does English have tones?
How does English make use of pitch or accent?
3. Lack of inflections
Grammatical relationships are shown by word order or by the use of independent grammatical particles.
Wo zai kan dianshi
Ni shi xuesheng ma?
In Old Chinese, tones were used to indicate inflection.
4. Measure words
Most nouns are accompanied by a measure word, similar to 'a cup of tea', 'a group of students'
difference between English and Chinese:
Some compatible with the objects they go with.
e.g. tiao 'strip, branch', goes with:
But some are arbitrary