Talk:Classical Chinese grammar

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Let me preface this by saying that I am not an expert on Classical Chinese or any Sinitic language; I am a linguist, but claim no particular knowledge of Chinese linguistics.

It seems to me that an article whose title includes grammar should at minimum describe the phonology, morphology, and syntax of the language it treats. This article describes none of these. (If the variety of Classical Chinese described here is primarily written and not spoken, or is spoken differently in different places etc., it may be impractical to discuss phonology. But if that is the case, it should be explained here.) Compare articles such as Mongolian language or Japanese grammar.

The article also appears to confuse words as such with their written forms. This perhaps arises from the close match between orthography and morphology in many Chinese varieties, but the relationship should be made more clear. Cnilep (talk) 22:31, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Simp/Trad ChineseEdit

wikisource:zh:聊齋志異/第02卷#阿寶 is an article. wikisource:zh:聊齋誌異/第02卷#阿寶 is not, it is a blank page. There are times where political ramblings are meaningless, so get over it. I've promised myself not to tank into arguments; don't make me break that. -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email guestbook complaints 05:32, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Reply to User:Itsmine: QUOTE: "however Classical CHinese must use Traditional CHinese characters." Not necessarily. Is the rule set in concrete? Are there regulations regarding it written by scholars? For example, in Upper High School within the PRC, Wenyanwen is taught using Simplified Characters. Would you mind further asserting your claim using a different argument? -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email guestbook complaints 06:35, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

New entries?Edit

How about adding 矣 (denoting completed action) into the list, similar to the modern 了. And add borders in the table so it'd be easier to read, plus pinyin and ancient pronunciations etc. (talk) 05:23, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

WP:BOLD. -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email 07:25, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

What grammar?Edit

I am a non-Chinese speaker (or reader!), and I came to this article hoping to find something about the *grammar* of Classical Chinese. But all I find is a few generalities, and examples of *words*. What was the word order (SOV, VSO, free...; prepositions or postpositions; NP structure; PRO-drop etc.) Were there noun classifiers? Was there wh-movement, or was it a wh-in-situ language? Was there any morphology, including compounding?

Some specific questions/ comments:

"four to five characters in Classical Chinese would be equivalent to an entire sentence in Vernacular Chinese." OK, but how many (average) characters per sentence in Vernacular Chinese (VC)? For that matter, the number of words per sentence is highly variable in English; one- or two-word sentences are certainly possible ("Jesus wept"). And assuming the average number of characters per sentence in Classical Chinese (CC) is supposed to be fewer than the average number of characters in VC, why? Was it a matter of fewer characters per word (which might have nothing to do with the grammar--it might be a reflection of CC having more monosyllabic words than VC)? Or were function words (prepositions for example) used less frequently? (This is *not* the same question as whether there were more or fewer function words in CC, but rather a question of how grammatical functions like indirect object, locative etc. were expressed: using pre- or post-positions, affixes, or word order.)

"Classical Chinese makes use of an entirely different sentence structure, using specific conjunctions and prepositions to link words together." Nearly all languages use "specific conjunctions and prepositions", and I'm sure VC does too. So what's different? Is it just saying that a list of CC conjunctions and prepositions would be different from a list of VC ones? If so, that doesn't sound like a grammar change, it sounds like vocabulary change.

"The number of possible meanings a character representing a conjunction can have is much larger." I certainly don't know, but I have my doubts that this is true. I suspect what it means is that you could translate a CC conjunction into many VC conjunctions (or other words). While that's possible, I would not be surprised to find that it's the same (on average) in the opposite direction: a VC conjunction or preposition might be translatable many ways into CC. At least that's the way it often works. A better measure of a change like this would be to count the number of conjunctions and prepositions (and other such particles) in VC and CC. Such counts are always suspect, because it can be debatable what category some words belong to (what category is the English word "ago"?), but it might give you some idea of lexical change in function words (which might or might not correspond to some grammatical change). Mcswell (talk) 14:17, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Translations of Example SentencesEdit

I just edited the page to bring the translations of the given example sentences in line with the commonly recognized English translations of the Analects. However, do we want to make an effort to translate all of the examples? I think in some cases, it could aid in comprehension of the grammatical function of the given character, but for some, especially grammatical particles and characters that have no good English equivalents, it would be useless or redundant. I would suggest giving modern Chinese glosses, but this is the English wiki... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:06, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Assessment commentEdit

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Classical Chinese grammar/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Last edited at 22:31, 6 May 2009 (UTC). Substituted at 11:51, 29 April 2016 (UTC)


I've never seen the pronouns like 尔等之 or 吾等之. The genitive or possive is expressed by word order. And really 尓 and 尔等 correspond with singular and plural? To me they are similar to "you" and "you guys" That table of pronouns should be deleted.--Yoshiciv (talk) 07:00, 21 February 2017 (UTC)

I deleted the old table of pronouns and replaced it with a new one.--Serafín33 (talk) 20:40, 14 June 2017 (UTC)

Thank you so much. But weren't 余 yú, 予 yú always singular? At least in Mengzi and LunYu?Yoshiciv (talk) 15:30, 18 June 2017 (UTC)

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