Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar fills that gap and is the first comprehensive introduction to syntactical analysis of Classical Chinese. Focusing on the language of the high classical period, which ranges from the time of Confucius to the unification of the empire by Qin in , the books pays particular attention to the Mencius, the Lunyu, and, to a lesser extent, the Zuozhuan texts. Renowed for his work in Classical Chinese, Edwin Pulleyblank opens the book with a brief historical overview and a discussion of the relationship between the writing system and the phonology. An outline of the overall principles of word order and sentence structure follows.
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Preface The Chinese themselves did not make a scientific study of their classical grammar, such as the Greeks or the Indians did. The traditional Chinese approach to the language is purely lexical. One learns the special idiomatic uses of the words by studying examples. Because of the great simplicity of Chinese, this approach is effective for handling most, though by no means all, points of syntax. The teacher reads and paraphrases into modern idiom as he goes.
Sooner or later the student, who already knows Hebrew, picks up the closely cognate language of the Talmud, Aramaic.
He develops "a feel" for the grammar. The merit of this approach is that it favors intuitive understanding. The scientific study of Chinese begins only with the grammars written by Christian missionaries in the 17th century. Though our knowledge of the modern language has made great strides, and is now close to being complete, the grammar of classical Chinese has been neglected.
Edwin G. I have relied upon it heavily for my own work, but even this fine book has a number of defects which it will be instructive to point out. First there is the sheer obscurantism. Really, there is no reason to use words like "anaphoric" and "transformationally" if the intention is to be understood.
And saying "adnominal" instead of "adjective" pays unnecessary tribute to Rome. Another vice from which Pulleyblank is not entirely free is "linguistics. Finally, Pulleyblank continues the lexical tradition of the Chinese, and most of his book consists of overblown dictionary entries, rendered less useful by the above-mentioned obscurantism and linguistics.
But since it suffers from the above defects to the extent that I now have to write my own grammar of Classical Chinese, I think I may be forgiven a little plain speaking. It will no doubt be promptly objected by some that I am imposing the terminology of traditional western grammar, which comes to us from the study of Latin, on an inappropriate object.
The reply is that the terminology of Latin grammar, which is in turn based on that developed by Alexandrian scholars for the study of Greek, came about as a result of a thousand-year study of these classical languages, and is a splendid tool for understanding and describing any language. Whatever the actual mechanics of a given language, the basics remain the same. Tense, number, person, relation, degree of possibility and so on must be indicated somehow, regardless of whether they are so by specific forms as in Latin or by specific words and word order as in Chinese.
I use, for example the term "gerund" to describe a phenomenon in Chinese grammar. Now of course there are no gerunds in Chinese, in the sense that there are no special verbal forms that may be so denominated, but there are fixed combinations of verb and particle that do exactly what a gerund does: make a verb like "write" into a noun by making its action continuous "writing" , thus making a quasi-noun, which may stand as a subject "writing is tiresome" and is able to take a direct object "writing a grammar.
The proper way to teach is to make the known a bridge to the unknown. To invent unheard of terms to describe unfamiliar concepts is a capricious proceeding. But the proof of my assertions, and the vindication of my method, will come from a perusal of the texts I translate and comment on in the grammar itself. If I make the meaning clear by explanations which are consistently effective in explaining the so far intractable problems of Classical Chinese grammar, then I should in fairness be taken seriously as one whose works have in some measure superceded those of my predecessors.
The object of these translations is to make it transparently clear to the student what the Chinese means, thus I will always prefer awkward English to a smooth translation that hides the "watch-works" of the sentence. For the translations that appear with each quotation in Chinese: I shall always indicate words that I supply by enclosing them between square brackets [ ].
Sometimes I have had to paraphrase, because a word-for-word rendering would have been, by itself, unintelligible. In such cases I shall use parentheses and the word "literally" literally, ".
In the translation portions I shall give Chinese names in my own style of sound-equivalence, which is simply the best approximation of the sound which decent English orthography allows. Pinyin should only be used in transcriptions: to foist its mysteries on the unprepared reader is just scholarly malice.
This will look like this M. The "M" is for Mathews and the number is for the entry. When I quote from the Mathews definition without change, I place the words in quotation marks. In this case I will use the abbreviation W. Karlgren is an absolute authority for the archaic and early-classical meaning of any given word, superceding even Mathews and Wang Li. Basic Principles Rules Though Chinese is not an easy language, it is a very simple one. Once we grasp the full extent of this simplicity, and the problems which it causes, we arrive at a truly scientific understanding of the language and our work in learning it becomes immeasurably easier.
Chinese does not mark person, number, tense, mood, voice or case in the forms of its nouns and verbs. This simplicity in the form of the language entails that word order is rigidly fixed.
Word order is considerably more flexible, however, in poetry. Context and word order are the only reliable guides to how a word is to be understood. They will be addressed individually below when the words themselves are described. Negations These will receive no special treatment here, since their employment is straightforward and without nuance.
They precede the verb or noun negated. The different negating words may be found at the end of this book, and their description there will be found adequate for a sound practical understanding. Omissions Easily inferred words are frequently omitted, and so the most fundamental part of learning Classical Chinese is coming to know what to supply.
When a word which is typically omitted is in fact given, we may assume that it is so to give additional emphasis, or to avoid ambiguity Subjects are more often than not unexpressed in declarative sentences. This is particularly the case when: the subject is easily understood from context, "He ran home, [he] picked up the newspaper, [he] scanned the ads. The pronoun object of the verb is also frequently omitted if the subject which it would have referred to to is evident.
All tenses are expressed by the present tense form of the verb. Other tenses must simply be inferred when required. Frequently the tense required will be signaled by a particle. Often, we must not only give the verb its subjects or objects, but also supply the conjunctions. Typically omitted are the conjunctions which give one verb an adverbial relation to another: when, because, although and if and of course their synonyms. Coordinating conjunctions, like and and then must also, ordinarily, be supplied.
There is no "that" in classical Chinese to mark a subordinate clause. Thus the second Chinese verb in a sequence may begin a subordinate clause. For example, it may indicate the purpose of the first verb, in which case we must preface it with a phrase like "in order to. Recognition of these structures is easy for us because English already expresses subordinate clauses of purpose, result, intention and so on without any special moods or introductory particles, usually just by adding an infinitive "He worked hard to get into medical school.
This is true with nouns as with verbs. Some of the most common omissions are the least obvious to the beginning student. Thus Chinese would say "[At] the house there are guests. The only interesting problems Classical Chinese poses to the western linguist arise from the ways in which it truly differs from an Indo-European language. These appear in the ways it supplies its most pressing lacks: relative pronouns, and infinitive and participle forms for making nouns out of verbs.
For these matters, example is not better than precept and we must carefully analyze the structures. Pronouns There is no distinction between singular and plural for the pronouns. Where a pronoun is known to be limited as to number, I have noted this. All pronouns may be used as subject or possessive, while only some are also used as object or emphatic.
The latter are indicated. The descriptions are at the moment somewhat tentative, based mainly on the unsatisfactory descriptions in Pulleyblank and Matthews. It may be that a satisfactory description of the archaic and rare pronouns will never be possible due to the scarcity of examples, and that the general principles given in bold in this paragraph are as much as one actually has by way of rules.
There will surely be exceptions in archaic texts and among archaizing authors. Note carefully that, as stated above under Basic Principles, a pronoun object always immediately precedes its verb when the verb is negated! This rule may occasionally be ignored for the sake of giving strongest emphasis. In the following I will occasionally give the original meaning of a word which came to be used as a pronoun.
This is purely a matter of etymological interest and almost never affects the sense of the pronoun. I, We.
How and Why to Learn Classical Chinese
His father, William George Edwin Pulleyblank, was a teacher of mathematics who later became a school vice-principal, and his mother, Ruth Pulleyblank, had also been a teacher. Pulleyblank was an avid student with a bright intellect and an excellent memory for details, and taught himself Ancient Greek while in high school. This Unit was the civilian codebreaking unit of the Canadian Government. He taught courses while pursuing doctoral studies under the German sinologist Walter Simon , and received a Ph. In , at only 31 years old, Pulleyblank was given the position of Chair of Chinese at Cambridge, which he held for 13 years.
Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar
Preface The Chinese themselves did not make a scientific study of their classical grammar, such as the Greeks or the Indians did. The traditional Chinese approach to the language is purely lexical. One learns the special idiomatic uses of the words by studying examples. Because of the great simplicity of Chinese, this approach is effective for handling most, though by no means all, points of syntax.