A Social View on the Chinese Language

by Jerome L. Packard (Author)
©2021 Monographs XXIV, 206 Pages


A Social View on the Chinese Language is intended to be a general linguistic introduction to the Chinese language for the general reader and can be used in beginning-level Chinese linguistics courses. It is different from other Chinese linguistics surveys because, in addition to the usual areas of interest (such as the Chinese dialects, the history of the language, the characters and the grammar), it offers a view into linguistic phenomena that are also related to human behavior and society, such as how Chinese children and US college students learn Chinese, how the brain processes Chinese, the genetic origins of Chinese, language disorders and language loss in Chinese, differences in Chinese language use in different social groups, studies of Chinese reading and psycholinguistic aspects of Chinese language use.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Abbreviations
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Chinese Language Origins
  • The Origins of Human Language
  • Out of Africa into Asia
  • The Traditional Chinese Language Historical Periods
  • Old Chinese
  • Middle Chinese
  • Early Mandarin to Modern Mandarin
  • From Proto-Chinese to Old Chinese
  • The Origin of Chinese Tones
  • Mandarin Reflexes of Derivation in Old Chinese
  • The Linguistic Affiliation of Chinese
  • Chinese Is Not Related to Japanese
  • 3 Chinese Regionalects
  • The Regionalects
  • Mandarin (Putonghua, Guoyu, Huayu)
  • Sound System
  • Syllables
  • Chinese Morphemes
  • Chinese Words
  • Grammar
  • SVO Word Order and ‘Second Position’
  • The Verb Phrase
  • The Noun Phrase
  • Question Formation
  • Topic, Focus and Old Information
  • Aspect versus Tense
  • The Left Periphery
  • Pragmatics
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Beijing Mandarin Slang—Beijing tuhua ‘北京土话’
  • Wu (e.g., Shanghainese)
  • Yue (e.g., Cantonese)
  • Min (e.g., Taiwanese)
  • Gan
  • Xiang
  • Kejia (Hakka)
  • Jin
  • Which Regionalect Is the ‘Most Difficult’?
  • Why Is Mandarin the ‘Standard’ Regionalect?
  • How Different Are the Regionalects?
  • 4 Chinese Writing and Reading
  • Chinese Writing: Origins and Development
  • What Are Characters Like Now?
  • Strokes
  • Simple versus Complex Characters
  • The Six Traditional Character Types—The liu shu (六书)
  • Phonetic-Semantic Compounds: Phonetic and Semantic Radicals
  • How Many Characters Are There?
  • How Many Characters Do People Know?
  • Simplified versus Traditional Characters
  • Which Are Easier to Learn, Simplified or Traditional Characters?
  • Reading Chinese—Psychological Aspects
  • 5 Learning Chinese
  • Chinese Children Learning to Read and Write
  • Chinese Children Learning to Speak
  • Speaking Chinese Affects Children Learning to Count
  • Adults Learning to Read and Write
  • Adults Learning to Speak
  • 6 Chinese Language and the Brain
  • Dyslexia (Reading Deficit) in Chinese
  • Factor Analytic Dyslexia (‘Cognitive’ Dyslexia) in Chinese
  • Aphasia (Language Loss) in Chinese
  • 7 Chinese Language and Culture
  • Chinese Phonetic Loan Translations and Culture
  • Chinese Naming Conventions
  • Chinese Language and Thought
  • Chinese Language and Society
  • The Speech Characteristics of Social Groups in China
  • The Simplification of Chinese Kinship Terms—China’s One- Child Policy
  • Chinese Language and Chinese Food
  • 8 What Can We Expect for the Chinese Language?
  • Chinese Regionalects
  • Chinese Writing
  • Chinese Syllables and Sounds
  • Chinese Words and Linguistic Typology
  • Index

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Figure 2.1Routes of migration into East Asia—the ‘southern’ route (red and white arrows), and the ‘overlapping’ model, which combines the northern (blue arrows) and southern routes

Figure 2.2The Split of the Proto-Sino-Tibetan Group into Proto-Tibeto-Burman and Proto-Chinese

Figure 2.3Proto-Sino-Tibetan language family tree

Figure 3.1Comparison of Tense and Aspect

Figure 3.2Min ‘Tone Sandhi Circle’

Figure 3.3Phonological Distance from Beijing Mandarin based on textual database comparison

Figure 3.4Hierarchical cluster trees for 15 Mandarin dialects and Chinese regionalects, based on (a) subjective intelligibility ratings, and (b) subjective similarity ratings

Figure 4.1Script types in the development of Chinese writing

Figure 4.2Eight basic Chinese character strokes

Figure 4.3The Chinese character ‘forever’ (yŏng), which contains the eight basic strokes

Figure 4.4The character ‘forever’, including stroke types and stroke order

←xiii | xiv→

Figure 4.5The characters zhe, biang and nang

Figure 4.6Four examples of phonetic-semantic compounds

Figure 4.7Phonetic and semantic radical position configuration

Figure 5.1Stages of Chinese reading acquisition

Figure 5.2Counting Errors in 2-, 3-and 4-year-olds in China vs. U.S.

Figure 6.1Left inferior frontal gyrus activated in Chinese morphological processing

Figure 6.2The ‘dual-route’ reading model as applied to Chinese

Figure 6.3Visual Dyslexia (Chinese)

Figure 6.4Surface Dyslexia (Chinese)

Figure 6.5Phonological Dyslexia (Chinese)

Figure 6.6Deep Dyslexia (Chinese)

Figure 8.1Historical nasal attrition in the Chinese regionalects

←xiv | xv→


Table 1.1Cross-language syllable rate, syllable inventory, syllable complexity and information density parameters

Table 2.1Historical Chinese language periods

Table 2.2Modern Mandarin reflexes of the ‘departing tone’ derivational morphology process in Old Chinese

Table 3.1Numbers of Chinese regionalect speakers

Table 3.2Mandarin initial consonants, IPA and pinyin

Table 3.3Mandarin vowels

Table 3.4The syllable ‘mi’ pronounced with each of the four tones

Table 3.5Some phonetic features in a selection of Mandarin dialects

Table 3.6Mandarin syllable structure

Table 3.7Constraints on the Mandarin syllable

Table 3.8Four Morpheme types in Chinese

Table 3.9Chinese text sample—no word parsing information

Table 3.10Chinese text sample—parsed into words

Table 3.11Chinese complex word types

Table 3.12Voicing contrasts in English, Mandarin and Shanghainese bilabial initial consonants

←xv | xvi→

Table 3.13Wu Tones (Shanghai dialect)

Table 3.14Shanghai two-syllable tone sandhi

Table 3.15Tones of different Yue dialects

Table 3.16Verb-to-noun tonal derivation in Yue

Table 3.17Head-modifier word structure in Yue

Table 3.18Min tones

Table 3.19Min tone sandhi

Table 3.20Gan regionalect Nanchang dialect tone system

Table 3.21Xiang regionalect tones (Changsha dialect)

Table 3.22Kejia tones

Table 3.23Compound word morpheme order in Kejia vs. Mandarin

Table 3.24Jin regionalect tones (Pingyao dialect)


XXIV, 206
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (May)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. XXIV, 206 pp., 25 b/w ill., 3 color ill., 71 tables.

Biographical notes

Jerome L. Packard (Author)

Jerome L. Packard is Professor Emeritus of Chinese at the University of Illinois. Professor Packard received his PhD in Chinese linguistics from Cornell University and is the author of five books and over 30 articles on the Chinese language. Professor Packard has served as a Fulbright scholar in China and has taught Chinese at the University of Massachusetts, Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Illinois.


Title: A Social View on the Chinese Language