Zhou dynasty bronze inscription
|Native to||Ancient China|
|Era||Shang dynasty, Zhou dynasty, Warring States period|
|Writing system||Oracle bone script, Bronze script, Seal script|
Old Chinese (simplified Chinese: 上古汉语; traditional Chinese: 上古漢語; pinyin: shànggǔ hànyǔ), also called Archaic Chinese in older works, refers to the form of Chinese spoken from the beginning of written records (around 1200 BC) until the 3rd century BC. The earliest inscriptions are undoubtedly Chinese, but are limited in scope and not fully understood.
Within historical Chinese phonology, the term refers to the language reflected by the rhymes of the Classic of Poetry and the phonetic components of Chinese characters, corresponding to the earlier half of the 1st millennium BC. Scholars have attempted to reconstruct the sounds of this language by comparing this data with what is known of Middle Chinese. Many details are still disputed, but most recent reconstructions agree on the basic structure. It is widely agreed that unlike later forms of the language, Old Chinese allowed consonant clusters at the beginning and end of the syllable, but lacked tones. The tone distinctions of Middle Chinese are believed to reflect earlier final consonants. Simple derivational morphology has also been identified.
The latter part of the Old Chinese period saw a flowering of literature, including classical works such as the Analects of Confucius, the Mencius, and the Tao Te Ching. As a result, Old Chinese was preserved for the following two millennia in the form of Classical Chinese, a style of written Chinese that sought to emulate the grammar and vocabulary of those works.
Timeline of periods of early Chinese history and available texts (all dates BC)
The earliest known written records of the Chinese language were found at a site near modern Anyang identified as Yin, the last capital of the Shang dynasty, and date from about 1200 BC. These are the oracle bones, short inscriptions carved on tortoise plastrons and ox scapulae for divinatory purposes, as well as a few brief bronze inscriptions. The language written is undoubtedly an early form of Chinese, but is difficult to interpret due to the limited subject matter and high proportion of proper names. Only half of the 4,000 characters used have been identified with certainty. Little is known about the grammar of this language, but it seems much less reliant on grammatical particles than Classical Chinese.
From early in the Western Zhou period, around 1000 BC, the most important recovered texts are bronze inscriptions, many of considerable length. Even longer pre-Classical texts on a wide range of subjects have also been transmitted through the literary tradition. The oldest parts of the Book of Documents, the Classic of Poetry and the I Ching also date from the early Zhou period, and closely resemble the bronze inscriptions in vocabulary, syntax and style. A greater proportion of this more varied vocabulary has been identified than for the oracular period.
The four centuries preceding the unification of China in 221 BC (the later Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period) constitute the Chinese classical period in the strict sense. There are many bronze inscriptions from this period, but they are vastly outweighed by a rich literature written in ink on bamboo and wooden strips and (toward the end of the period) silk. Although these are perishable materials, and many books were destroyed in the Burning of the Books in the Qin dynasty, other texts have been transmitted as copies. Such works from this period as the Analects, the Classic of Filial Piety, the Mencius and the Commentary of Zuo have been admired as models of prose style since the Han dynasty. The Classical Chinese language of such works formed the basis of Literary Chinese, which remained the written standard until the early twentieth century.
At the time of the oracle bones, Old Chinese words were uniformly monosyllabic. Each character of the script represented a single word. The development of these characters follows the same three stages that characterized Egyptian hieroglyphic, Mesopotamian cuneiform and Mayan hieroglyphic writing.
Some words could be represented by pictures (later stylized) such as 日 rì "sun", 人 rén "person" and 木 mù "tree", by abstract symbols such as 三 sān "three" and 上 shàng "up", or by composite symbols such as 林 lín "grove" (two trees). About 1000 of the oracle bone characters, nearly a quarter of the total, are of this type, though 300 of them have not yet been deciphered. Though the pictographic origins of these characters are apparent, they have already undergone extensive simplification and conventionalization. Evolved forms of most of these characters are still in common use today.
In the next stage, characters of pictorial origin were borrowed to signify similar-sounding words that could not be represented pictorially, such as abstract terms and grammatical particles (the rebus strategy). An example of such a phonetic loan is 來 lái "come", written with the character for a similar-sounding word meaning "wheat". Sometimes the borrowed character would be modified slightly to distinguish it from the original, as with 毋 wú "don't", a borrowing of 母 mǔ "mother".
The final stage was disambiguation of phonetic loans by the addition of semantic indicators, yielding phono-semantic compound characters. For example, the character 其 originally representing jī "winnowing basket" was also used to write the pronoun and modal particle qí. Later the less common original word was written with the compound 箕, obtained by adding the symbol 竹 zhú "bamboo" to the character. This type was already used extensively on the oracle bones, and has been the main source of new characters since then. In the Shuowen Jiezi, a dictionary compiled in the 2nd century, 80% of the 9,000 characters are classified as phono-semantic compounds. In the light of the modern understanding of Old Chinese phonology, researchers now believe that most of the characters originally classified as semantic compounds also have a phonetic nature.
These developments were already present in the oracle bone script. The characters had been extensively simplified and linearized, implying a significant period of development prior to 1200 BC. This may have involved writing on perishable materials, as suggested by the appearance on oracle bones of the character 册 cè "records". The character is thought to depict bamboo or wooden strips tied together with leather thongs, a writing material known from later archaeological finds.
Development and simplification of the script continued during the pre-Classical and Classical periods, with characters becoming less pictorial and more linear and regular, with rounded strokes being replaced by sharp angles. The language developed compound words, so that characters came to represent morphemes, though almost all morphemes could be used as independent words. Hundreds of morphemes of two or more syllables also entered the language, and were written with one phono-semantic compound character per syllable. During the Warring States period, writing became more widespread, with further simplification and variation, particularly in the eastern states. The most conservative script prevailed in the western state of Qin, which would later impose its standard on the whole of China.
The phonology of Old Chinese has been reconstructed using a variety of evidence, including the phonetic components of Chinese characters, rhyming practice in the Classic of Poetry and descriptions of later stages of the language, especially the Qieyun, a rhyme dictionary published in 601. Although many details are still disputed, recent formulations are in substantial agreement on the core issues. For example, the Old Chinese initial consonants recognized by Li Fang-Kuei and William Baxter are given below, with Baxter's (mostly tentative) additions given in parentheses:[a]
|Stop or Affricate||Nasal||Lateral||Fricative/
Most scholars reconstruct clusters of s- with other consonants, and possibly other clusters as well, but this area remains unsettled.
In recent reconstructions, such as the widely accepted system of Baxter, the rest of the Old Chinese syllable consists of
- an optional medial *-r-, *-j- or the combination *-rj-
- one of six vowels:
- an optional coda, which could be a glide *-j or *-w, a nasal *-m, *-n or *-ŋ, or a stop *-p, *-t, *-k or *-kʷ,
- an optional post-coda *-ʔ or *-s.
The improved understanding of Old Chinese phonology has enabled the study of the origins of Chinese words (rather than the characters with which they are written). Most researchers trace the core vocabulary to a Sino-Tibetan ancestor language, with much early borrowing from other neighbouring languages. The traditional view was that Old Chinese was an isolating language, lacking both inflection and derivation. However, since Henri Maspero's pioneering work scholars have been seriously studying the derivational morphology of Old Chinese, in terms of both compounds and affixes.
Middle Chinese and its southern neighbours Tai–Kadai, Miao–Yao and the Vietic branch of Austroasiatic have similar tone systems, syllable structure, grammatical features and lack of inflection, but these are believed to be areal features spread by diffusion rather than indicating common descent. The most widely accepted hypothesis is that Chinese belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family, usually as a primary branch. The evidence consists of some hundreds of proposed cognate words, including such basic vocabulary as the following:
|Meaning||Old Chinese||Written Tibetan||Written Burmese|
|"two"||二 *njijs||gnyis||hnać < *hnik|
|"six"||六 *C-rjuk[c]||drug||khrok < *khruk|
|"sun", "day"||日 *njit||nyi-ma||ne < niy|
|"name"||名 *mjeŋ||ming||ə-mañ < *ə-miŋ|
|"dog"||犬 *kʷʰenʔ||khyi||khwe < khuy|
Some progress has been made on the sound correspondences between Chinese and Tibeto-Burman languages, though hampered by the difficulty of reconstruction on both sides. The initial systems are similar, except that Proto-Tibeto-Burman as reconstructed by Benedict and Matisoff lacks an aspiration distinction on initial stops and affricates, which is believed to be a Chinese innovation arising from earlier prefixes. Proto-Sino-Tibetan is reconstructed with a six-vowel system as in recent reconstructions of Old Chinese, with Tibeto-Burman distinguished by the merger of the mid-central vowel *-ə- with *-a-. The other vowels are preserved by both, with some alternation between *-e- and *-i-, and between *-o- and *-u-.
During the Old Chinese period, Chinese civilization expanded from a compact area around the lower Wei River and middle Yellow River eastwards across the North China Plain to Shandong and then south into the valley of the Yangtze River. There are no records of the non-Chinese languages formerly spoken in those areas and subsequently displaced by the Chinese expansion. However they are believed to have contributed to the vocabulary of Old Chinese, and may be the source of some of the many Chinese words whose origins are still unknown.
Jerry Norman and Mei Tsu-lin have identified early Austroasiatic loanwords in Old Chinese, possibly from the peoples of the lower Yangtze basin known to ancient Chinese as the Yue. For example, the early Chinese name *kroŋ (江 jiāng) for the Yangtze was later extended to a general word for "river" in south China. Norman and Mei suggest that the word is cognate with Vietnamese sông (from *krong) and Mon kruŋ "river".
- *ʔjaŋ (秧 yāng) "rice seedling" from proto-Miao–Yao *jaŋ
- *luʔ (稻 dào) "unhulled rice" from proto-Miao–Yao *mblauA
Other words are believed to have been borrowed from languages to the south of the Chinese area, but it is not clear which was the original source, e.g.
- *zjaŋʔ (象 xiàng) "elephant" can be compared with Mon coiŋ, proto-Tai *jaŋC and Burmese chaŋ.
- *ke (雞 jī) "chicken" versus proto-Tai *kəiB proto-Miao–Yao *kai and proto-Viet–Muong *r-ka.
In ancient times, the Tarim basin was occupied by speakers of Indo-European Tocharian languages, the source of *mjit (蜜 mì) "honey", from Proto-Tocharian *ḿət(ə) (where *ḿ is palatalized; cf. Tocharian B mit), cognate with English mead. The northern neighbours of Chinese contributed such words as *dok (犢 dú) "calf" – compare Mongolian tuɣul and Manchu tukšan.
Many students of Chinese have noted "word families", words with related meanings and variant pronunciations, sometimes written using the same character. A common case is "derivation by tone change", in which words in the departing tone appear to be derived from words in other tones. If Haudricourt's theory of the origin of the departing tone is accepted, these derivations can be interpreted as a suffix *-s. As Tibetan has a similar suffix, it may be inherited from Sino-Tibetan. Examples include:
- *dzjin (盡 jìn) "to exhaust" and *dzjins (燼 jìn) "exhausted, consumed"
- *kit (結 jié) "to tie" and *kits (髻 jì) "hair-knot"
- *nup (納 nà) "to bring in" and *nuts < *nups (內 nèi) "inside"
- *tjək (織 zhī) "to weave" and *tjəks (織 zhì) "silk cloth" (compare Written Tibetan 'thag "to weave" and thags "woven, cloth")
Another alternation involves transitive verbs with an unvoiced initial and passive or stative verbs with a voiced initial:
- *kens (見 jiàn) "to see" and *ɡens (現 xiàn) "to appear"
- *kraw (交 jiāo) "to mix" and *ɡraw (殽 yáo) "mixed, confused"
- *trjaŋ (張 zhāng) "to stretch" and *drjaŋ (長 cháng) "long"
Some scholars hold that the transitive verbs with voiceless initials are basic and the voiced initials reflect a de-transitivizing voiced prefix. Others suggest that the transitive verbs were derived by the addition of a causative prefix *s- to a stative verb, causing devoicing of the following voiced initial. Both postulated prefixes have parallels in Tibeto-Burman languages. Several other affixes have been proposed.
Old Chinese morphemes were originally monosyllabic, but during the Western Zhou period many new bisyllabic words entered the language. For example, over 30% of the vocabulary of the Mencius is polysyllabic, including 9% proper names, though monosyllabic words occur more frequently, accounting for 80–90% of the text. Many words, particularly expressive adjectives and adverbs, were formed by varieties of reduplication:
- full reduplication, in which the syllable is repeated, as in *ʔjuj-ʔjuj (威威 wēiwēi) "tall and grand" and *ljo-ljo (俞俞 yúyú) "happy and at ease".
- rhyming semi-reduplication, in which only the final is repeated, as in *ʔiwʔ-liwʔ (窈宨 yǎotiǎo) "elegant, beautiful". The initial of the second syllable is often *l- or *r-.
- alliterative semi-reduplication, in which the initial is repeated, as in *tsʰrjum-tsʰrjaj (參差 cēncī) "irregular, uneven".
- vowel alternation, especially of *-e- and *-o-, as in *tsʰjek-tsʰjok (刺促 qìcù) "busy" and *ɡreʔ-ɡroʔ (邂逅 xièhòu) "carefree and happy".
- qualification of one noun by another (placed in front), as in *mok-kʷra (木瓜 mùguā) "quince" (literally "tree-melon"), and *trjuŋ-njit (中日 zhōngrì) "noon" (literally "middle-day").
- verb–object compounds, as in *sjə-mraʔ (司馬 sīmǎ) "master of the household" (literally "manage-horse"), and *tsak-tsʰrek (作册 zuòcè) "scribe" (literally "make-writing").
A number of bimorphemic syllables appeared in the Classical period, resulting from the fusion of words with following unstressed particles or pronouns. Thus the negatives *pjut 弗 and *mjut 勿 are viewed as fusions of the negators *pjə 不 and *mjo 毋 respectively with a third-person pronoun *tjə 之.
Little is known of the grammar of the language of the Oracular and pre-Classical periods, as the texts are often of a ritual or formulaic nature, and much of their vocabulary has not been deciphered. In contrast, the rich literature of the Warring States period has been extensively analysed. Having no inflection, Old Chinese was heavily reliant on word order, grammatical particles and inherent word classes.
Classifying Old Chinese words is not always straightforward, as words were not marked for function, word classes overlapped, and words of one class could sometimes be used in roles normally reserved for a different class.
|1st person||*ljaʔ 予 / *lja 余 / *ljə 台|
|*ŋa 吾||*ŋajʔ 我|
|2nd person||*njaʔ 汝 / *njəjʔ 爾 / *njə 而 / *njak 若|
|3rd person||*ɡjə 其||*tjə 之|
In the oracle bones, the *l- pronouns were used by the king to refer to himself, and the *ŋ- forms for the Shang people as a whole. This distinction is largely absent in later texts, and the *l- forms disappeared during the classical period. In the post-Han period 我 and 其 came to be used as general first and third person pronouns respectively. The second person pronouns 汝 and 爾 continued to be used interchangeably until their replacement by the phonological variant 你 nǐ in the Tang period. There were also demonstrative and interrogative pronouns, but no indefinite pronouns. The distributive pronouns were formed with a *-k suffix:
- *wək 或 "someone" from *wjəʔ 有 "there is"
- *mak 莫 "no-one" from *mja 無 "there is no"
- *kak 各 "each" from *kjaʔ 舉 "all"
As in the modern language, localizers (compass directions, "above", "inside" and the like) could be placed after nouns to indicate relative positions. They could also precede verbs to indicate the direction of the action. Nouns denoting times were another special class (time words); they usually preceded the subject to specify the time of an action. However the classifiers so characteristic of Modern Chinese did not appear until the Southern and Northern dynasties.
Old Chinese verbs, like their modern counterparts, did not show tense or aspect; these could be indicated with adverbs or particles if required. Verbs could be transitive or intransitive. As in the modern language, adjectives were a special kind of intransitive verb, and a few transitive verbs could also function as modal auxiliaries or as prepositions.Adverbs described the scope of a statement or various temporal relationships. They included two families of negatives starting with *p- and *m-, such as *pjə 不 and *mja 無. Modern northern varieties derive the usual negative from the first family, while southern varieties preserve the second. The language had no adverbs of degree until late in the Classical period.
Particles were function words serving a range of purposes. As in the modern language, there were sentence-final particles marking imperatives and yes/no questions. Other sentence-final particles expressed a range of connotations, the most important being *ljaj 也, expressing static factuality, and *ɦjəʔ 矣, implying a change. Other particles included the subordination marker *tjə 之 and the nominalizing particles *tjaʔ 者 (agent) and *srjaʔ 所 (object).Conjunctions could join nouns or clauses.
As with English and modern Chinese, Old Chinese sentences can be analysed as a subject (a noun phrase, sometimes understood) followed by a predicate, which could be of either nominal or verbal type.
予 惟 小 子 *ljaʔ *wjij *sjewʔ *tsjəʔ I be small child
The negated copula *pjə-wjij 不惟 is attested in oracle bone inscriptions, and later fused as *pjəj 非. In the Classical period, nominal predicates were constructed with the sentence-final particle *ljaj 也 instead of the copula 惟, but 非 was retained as the negative form, with which 也 was optional:
其 至 爾 力 也 其 中 非 爾 力 也 *ɡjə *tjits *njəjʔ *C-rjək *ljajʔ *ɡjə *k-ljuŋ *pjəj *njəjʔ *C-rjək *ljajʔ its arrive you strength P its centre not you strength P
孟 子 見 梁 惠 王 *mraŋs *tsəjʔ *kens *C-rjaŋ *wets *wjaŋ Mencius see Liang Hui king
"Mencius saw King Hui of Liang." (Mencius 1.1/1/3)
Besides inversions for emphasis, there were two exceptions to this rule: a pronoun object of a negated sentence or an interrogative pronoun object would be placed before the verb:
歲 不 我 與 *swjats *pjə *ŋajʔ *ljaʔ year not me wait
"The years do not wait for us." (Analects 17.1/47/23)
An additional noun phrase could be placed before the subject to serve as the topic. As in the modern language, yes/no questions were formed by adding a sentence-final particle, and requests for information by substituting an interrogative pronoun for the requested element.
In general, Old Chinese modifiers preceded the words they modified. Thus relative clauses were placed before the noun, usually marked by the particle *tjə 之 (in a role similar to Modern Chinese 的 de):
不 忍 人 之 心 *pjə *njənʔ *njin *tjə *sjəm not endure person P heart
"... the heart that cannot bear the afflictions of others." (Mencius 3.6/18/4)
A common instance of this construction was adjectival modification, since the Old Chinese adjective was a type of verb (as on the modern language), but 之 was usually omitted after monosyllabic adjectives.
Similarly, adverbial modifiers, including various forms of negation, usually occurred before the verb. As in the modern language, time adjuncts occurred either at the start of the sentence or before the verb, depending on their scope, while duration adjuncts were placed after the verb. Instrumental and place adjuncts were usually placed after the verb phrase. These later moved to a position before the verb, as in the modern language.
- Reconstructed Old Chinese forms are starred, and follow Baxter (1992) with some graphical substitutions from his more recent work: *ə for *ɨ and consonants rendered according to IPA conventions.
- Baxter describes his reconstruction of the palatal initials as "especially tentative, being based largely on scanty graphic evidence".
- The notation "*C-" indicates that there is evidence of an Old Chinese consonant before *r, but the particular consonant cannot be identified.
- Boltz (1999), pp. 88–89.
- Boltz (1999), p. 89.
- Boltz (1999), p. 90.
- Norman (1988), p. 58; Boltz (1994), pp. 52–72; Boltz (1999), p. 109.
- Boltz (1994), pp. 52–57; Wilkinson (2000), pp. 411–412.
- Boltz (1994), pp. 59–62; Boltz (1999), pp. 114–118.
- Norman (1988), p. 61.
- Wilkinson (2000), pp. 413–414.
- GSR 952; Norman (1988), p. 60.
- Wilkinson (2000), pp. 414–415; Norman (1988), p. 43; Boltz (1994), pp. 67–72, 149.
- Boltz (1999), pp. 107, 110.
- Boltz (1994), p. 172; Norman (1988), pp. 58, 61–63.
- Schuessler (2009), p. x.
- Li (1974–75), p. 237; Norman (1988), p. 46; Baxter (1992), pp. 188–215.
- Schuessler (2007), p. 122.
- Baxter (1992), p. 203.
- Baxter (1992), pp. 222–232.
- Baxter (1992), pp. 178–185.
- Schuessler (2007), pp. xi, 1–5, 7–8.
- Maspero (1930); Sagart (1999), pp. 1–4.
- Norman (1988), pp. 8–12; Enfield (2005).
- Coblin (1986).
- Norman (1988), p. 13; Old Chinese forms from Baxter (1992); pre-Burmese forms from Gong (1980).
- Baxter (1992), p. 201.
- Coblin (1986), pp. 13–33; Norman (1988), p. 13–16.
- Schuessler (2007), pp. 58–63.
- Gong (1980), pp. 476–479; Schuessler (2007), pp. 2, 105.
- Schuessler (2007), pp. 110–117.
- Norman (1988), pp. 4, 16–17; Boltz (1999), pp. 75–76.
- Norman & Mei (1976); Norman (1988), pp. 17–18.
- Haudricourt & Strecker (1991); Baxter (1992), p. 753; GSR 1078h; Schuessler (2007), pp. 207–208, 556.
- Norman (1988), p. 19; GSR 728a; OC from Baxter (1992), p. 206.
- Schuessler (2007), p. 292; GSR 876n; OC from Baxter (1992), p. 578.
- Boltz (1999), p. 87; Schuessler (2007), p. 383; Baxter (1992), p. 191; GSR 405r; Proto-Tocharian and Tocharian B forms from Peyrot (2008), p. 36.
- Norman (1988), p. 18; GSR 1023l.
- Downer (1959).
- Baxter (1992), pp. 315–317.
- GSR 381a,c; Baxter (1992), p. 768; Schuessler (2007), p. 45.
- GSR 393p,t; Baxter (1992), p. 315.
- GSR 695h,e; Baxter (1992), p. 315; Schuessler (2007), p. 45.
- GSR 920f; Baxter (1992), p. 178; Schuessler (2007), p. 16.
- Schuessler (2007), p. 49.
- GSR 241a,e; Baxter (1992), p. 218.
- GSR 1166a, 1167e; Baxter (1992), p. 801.
- GSR 721h,a; Baxter (1992), p. 324.
- Handel (2012), pp. 63–71.
- Baxter & Sagart (1998), pp. 45–64; Schuessler (2007), pp. 38–50.
- Wilkinson (2000), p. 31–36.
- Norman (1988), p. 87.
- Baxter & Sagart (1998), p. 65.
- Schuessler (2007), p. 24.
- Baxter & Sagart (1998), pp. 65–66.
- GSR 633h; Baxter (1992), p. 411.
- Baxter & Sagart (1998), p. 67.
- Baxter & Sagart (1998), p. 68.
- Norman (1988), p. 86.
- Norman (1988), pp. 85, 98.
- Herforth (2003), p. 59.
- Herforth (2003), p. 59; Schuessler (2007), p. 12.
- Norman (1988), pp. 87–88.
- Norman (1988), pp. 89–90, Pulleyblank (1996), p. 76.
- Pulleyblank (1996), p. 76.
- Norman (1988), pp. 117–118.
- Norman (1988), pp. 90–91.
- Schuessler (2007), p. 70.
- Norman (1988), p. 91.
- Norman (1988), pp. 91, 94.
- Norman (1988), pp. 115–116.
- Norman (1988), pp. 91–94.
- Norman (1988), p. 94.
- Norman (1988), pp. 97–98.
- Schuessler (2007), pp. 172–173, 518–519.
- Norman (1988), pp. 94, 127.
- Norman (1988), pp. 94, 98–100, 105–106.
- Norman (1988), pp. 94, 106–108.
- Pulleyblank (1996), pp. 13–14; Norman (1988), p. 95.
- Pulleyblank (1996), p. 22; Schuessler (2007), p. 14.
- Schuessler (2007), p. 14.
- Pulleyblank (1996), pp. 16–18, 22; Schuessler (2007), p. 232.
- Herforth (2003), p. 60.
- Norman (1988), pp. 125–126.
- Pulleyblank (1996), p. 14; Norman (1988), p. 10–11, 96.
- Pulleyblank (1996), p. 13.
- Pulleyblank (1996), p. 14.
- Herforth (2003), pp. 66–67.
- Norman (1988), pp. 90–91, 98–99.
- Pulleyblank (1996), p. 62; Norman (1988), pp. 104–105.
- Pulleyblank (1996), p. 62.
- Norman (1988), p. 105.
- Norman (1988), pp. 103–104.
- Norman (1988), pp. 103, 130–131.
- Works cited
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- Karlgren, Bernhard (1957), Grammata Serica Recensa, Stockholm: Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, OCLC 1999753.
- Li, Fang-Kuei (1974–75), "Studies on Archaic Chinese", translated by Gilbert L. Mattos, Monumenta Serica 31: 219–287, JSTOR 40726172.
- Maspero, Henri (1930), "Préfixes et dérivation en chinois archaïque", Mémoires de la Société de Linguistique de Paris (in French) 23 (5): 313–327.
- Norman, Jerry; Mei, Tsu-lin (1976), "The Austroasiatics in Ancient South China: Some Lexical Evidence", Monumenta Serica 32: 274–301, JSTOR 40726203.
- Norman, Jerry (1988), Chinese, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-29653-3.
- Peyrot, Michaël (2008), Variation and Change in Tocharian B, Amsterdam: Rodopoi, ISBN 978-90-420-2401-4.
- Pulleyblank, Edwin G. (1996), Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar, University of British Columbia Press, ISBN 978-0-7748-0541-4.
- Sagart, Laurent (1999), The Roots of Old Chinese, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, ISBN 978-90-272-3690-6.
- Schuessler, Axel (2007), ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-2975-9.
- —— (2009), Minimal Old Chinese and Later Han Chinese: A Companion to Grammata Serica Recensa, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-3264-3.
- Wilkinson, Endymion (2000), Chinese history: a manual (2nd ed.), Harvard Univ Asia Center, ISBN 978-0-674-00249-4.
- Dobson, W. A. C. H. (1959), Late Archaic Chinese: A Grammatical Study, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, ISBN 978-0-8020-7003-6.
- —— (1962), Early Archaic Chinese: A Descriptive Grammar, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, OCLC 186653632.
- Jacques, Guillaume (to appear), "The Genetic Position of Chinese", Encyclopedia of Chinese Languages and Linguistics, BRILL.
- "Book Review: The Roots of Old Chinese", review of Sagart (1999) by Axel Schuessler.
- "Laurent Sagart : The Roots of Old Chinese", review of Sagart (1999) by Marc Miyake.
- "Review of Axel Schuessler's ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese", review of Schuessler (2007) by Georgiy Starostin.
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