Classical Chinese

Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese,[a] is the language of the classic literature from the end of the Spring and Autumn period through to the end of the Han dynasty, a written form of Old Chinese. Classical Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese that evolved from the classical language, making it different from any modern spoken form of Chinese. Literary Chinese was used for almost all formal writing in China until the early 20th century, and also, during various periods, in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Among Chinese speakers, Literary Chinese has been largely replaced by written vernacular Chinese, a style of writing that is similar to modern spoken Mandarin Chinese, while speakers of non-Chinese languages have largely abandoned Literary Chinese in favor of local vernaculars.

Literary Chinese is known as kanbun (漢文) in Japanese, hanmun in Korean (but see also gugyeol), and cổ văn (古文)[2] or văn ngôn (文言)[2] in Vietnamese.

Classical Chinese
Literary Chinese
古文 or 文言
RegionChina, Ryukyu, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam
Era5th century BC to 2nd century AD; continued as a literary language until the 20th century
Language codes
ISO 639-3lzh
Classical Chinese
Literal meaning"literary language writing"


Strictly speaking, Classical Chinese refers to the written language of the classical period of Chinese literature, from the end of the Spring and Autumn period (early 5th century BC) to the end of the Han dynasty (AD 220),[3] while Literary Chinese is the form of written Chinese used from the end of the Han Dynasty to the early 20th century, when it was replaced by vernacular written Chinese. It is often also referred to as "Classical Chinese", but sinologists generally distinguish it from the language of the early period. During this period the dialects of China became more and more disparate and thus the Classical written language became less and less representative of the varieties of Chinese (cf. Classical Latin, which was contemporary to the Han Dynasty, and the Romance languages of Europe). Although authors sought to write in the style of the Classics, the similarity decreased over the centuries due to their imperfect understanding of the older language, the influence of their own speech, and the addition of new words.[4]

This situation, the use of Literary Chinese throughout the Chinese cultural sphere despite the existence of disparate regional vernaculars, is called diglossia. It can be compared to the position of Classical Arabic relative to the various regional vernaculars in Arab lands, or of Latin in medieval Europe. The Romance languages continued to evolve, influencing Latin texts of the same period, so that by the Middle Ages, Medieval Latin included many usages that would have baffled the Romans. The coexistence of Classical Chinese and the native languages of Japan, Korea and Vietnam can be compared to the use of Latin in nations that natively speak non-Latin-derived Germanic languages or Slavic languages, to the position of Arabic in Persia or the position of the Indic language, Sanskrit, in South India and Southeast Asia. However, the non-phonetic Chinese writing system causes a unique situation where the modern pronunciation of the classical language is far more divergent (and heterogeneous, depending on the native – not necessarily Chinese – tongue of the reader) than in analogous cases, complicating understanding and study of Classical Chinese further compared to other classical languages.

Christian missionaries coined the term Wen-li (Chinese: 文理; pinyin: wénlǐ; Wade–Giles: wen-li) for Literary Chinese. Though composed from Chinese roots, this term was never used in that sense in Chinese,[5] and was rejected by non-missionary sinologues.[6]


Old chinese
The shape of the Oracle bone script character for "person" may have influenced that for "harvest" (which later came to mean "year"). Today, they are pronounced rén and nián in Mandarin, but their hypothesized pronunciations in Old Chinese were very similar, which may explain the resemblance. For example, in the recent Baxter-Sagart reconstruction[7], they were /niŋ/ and /nˤiŋ/, respectively, becoming /nʲin/ and /nin/ in Early Middle Chinese.

Chinese characters are not alphabetic and only rarely reflect sound changes. The tentative reconstruction of Old Chinese is an endeavor only a few centuries old. As a result, Classical Chinese is not read with a reconstruction of Old Chinese pronunciation; instead, it is always read with the pronunciations of characters categorized and listed in the Phonology Dictionary (韻書; pinyin: yùnshū, "rhyme book") officially published by the Governments, originally based upon the Middle Chinese pronunciation of Luoyang in the 2nd to 4th centuries. With the progress of time, every dynasty has updated and modified the official Phonology Dictionary. By the time of the Yuan Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, the Phonology Dictionary was based on early Mandarin. But since the Imperial Examination required the composition of Shi genre, in non-Mandarin speaking parts of China such as Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian, pronunciation is either based on everyday speech as in Cantonese; or, in some varieties of Chinese (e.g. Southern Min), with a special set of pronunciations used for Classical Chinese or "formal" vocabulary and usage borrowed from Classical Chinese usage. In practice, all varieties of Chinese combine these two extremes. Mandarin and Cantonese, for example, also have words that are pronounced one way in colloquial usage and another way when used in Classical Chinese or in specialized terms coming from Classical Chinese, though the system is not as extensive as that of Southern Min or Wu. (See Literary and colloquial readings of Chinese characters)

Japanese, Korean, Hokkien-Taiwanese, Cantonese or Vietnamese readers of Classical Chinese use systems of pronunciation specific to their own languages. For example, Japanese speakers use On'yomi pronunciation when reading the kanji of words of Chinese origin such as 銀行 (ginkō) or the name for the city of Tōkyō (東京), but use Kun'yomi when the kanji represents a native word such as the reading of 行 in 行く (iku) or the reading of both characters in the name for the city of Ōsaka (大阪), and a system that aids Japanese speakers with Classical Chinese word order.

Since the pronunciation of all modern varieties of Chinese is different from Old Chinese or other forms of historical Chinese (such as Middle Chinese), characters that once rhymed in poetry may not rhyme any longer, or vice versa, which may still rhyme in Min or Cantonese. Poetry and other rhyme-based writing thus becomes less coherent than the original reading must have been. However, some modern Chinese varieties have certain phonological characteristics that are closer to the older pronunciations than others, as shown by the preservation of certain rhyme structures. Some believe Classical Chinese literature, especially poetry, sounds better when read in certain varieties that are believed to be closer to older pronunciations, such as Cantonese or Southern Min, because the rhyming is often lost due to sound shifts in Mandarin.

Another phenomenon that is common in reading Classical Chinese is homophony (words that sound the same). More than 2,500 years of sound change separates Classical Chinese from any modern variety, so when reading Classical Chinese in any modern variety of Chinese (especially Mandarin) or in Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese, many characters which originally had different pronunciations have become homonyms. There is a famous Classical Chinese poem written in the early 20th century by the linguist Chao Yuen Ren called the Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den, which contains only words that are now pronounced [ʂɨ́], [ʂɨ̌], [ʂɨ̀], and [ʂɨ̂] in Mandarin. It was written to show how Classical Chinese has become an impractical language for speakers of modern Chinese because Classical Chinese when spoken aloud is largely incomprehensible. However the poem is perfectly comprehensible when read silently because Literary Chinese, by its very nature as a written language using a logographic writing system, can often get away with using homophones that even in spoken Old Chinese would not have been distinguishable in any way.

The situation is analogous to that of some English words that are spelled differently but sound the same, such as "meet" and "meat", which were pronounced [meːt] and [mɛːt] respectively during the time of Chaucer, as shown by their spelling. However, such homophones are far more common in Literary Chinese than in English. For example, the following distinct Old Chinese words are now all pronounced in Mandarin: *ŋjajs 議 "discuss", *ŋjət 仡 "powerful", *ʔjup 邑 "city", *ʔjək 億 "100,000,000", *ʔjəks 意 "thought", *ʔjek 益 "increase", *ʔjik 抑 "press down", *jak 弈 "Chinese chess", *ljit 逸 "flee", *ljək 翼 "wing", *ljek 易 "change", *ljeks 易 "easy" and *slek 蜴 "lizard".[8]

Romanizations have been devised giving distinct spellings for the words of Classical Chinese, together with rules for pronunciation in various modern varieties. The earliest was the Romanisation Interdialectique (1931–2) of French missionaries Henri Lamasse, of the Paris Foreign Missions Society, and Ernest Jasmin, based on Middle Chinese, followed by linguist Wang Li's wényán luómǎzì (1940) based on Old Chinese, and Chao's General Chinese Romanization (1975). However none of these systems has seen extensive use.[9][10]

Grammar and lexicon

Classical Chinese is distinguished from written vernacular Chinese in its style, which appears extremely concise and compact to modern Chinese speakers, and to some extent in the use of different lexical items (vocabulary). An essay in Classical Chinese, for example, might use half as many Chinese characters as in vernacular Chinese to relate the same content.

In terms of conciseness and compactness, Classical Chinese rarely uses words composed of two Chinese characters; nearly all words are of one syllable only. This stands directly in contrast with modern Northern Chinese varieties including Mandarin, in which two-syllable, three-syllable, and four-syllable words are extremely common, whilst although two-syllable words are also quite common within modern Southern Chinese varieties, they are still more archaic in that they use more one-syllable words than Northern Chinese varieties. This phenomenon exists, in part, because polysyllabic words evolved in Chinese to disambiguate homophones that result from sound changes. This is similar to such phenomena in English as the pen–pin merger of many dialects in the American south and the caught-cot merger of most dialects of American English: because the words "pin" and "pen", as well as "caught" and "cot", sound alike in such dialects of English, a certain degree of confusion can occur unless one adds qualifiers like "ink pen" and "stick pin." Similarly, Chinese has acquired many polysyllabic words in order to disambiguate monosyllabic words that sounded different in earlier forms of Chinese but identical in one region or another during later periods. Because Classical Chinese is based on the literary examples of ancient Chinese literature, it has almost none of the two-syllable words present in modern Chinese varieties.

Classical Chinese has more pronouns compared to the modern vernacular. In particular, whereas Mandarin has one general character to refer to the first-person pronoun ("I"/"me"), Literary Chinese has several, many of which are used as part of honorific language (see Chinese honorifics).

In syntax, Classical Chinese is always ready to drop subjects and objects when a reference to them is understood (pragmatically inferable). Also, words are not restrictively categorized into parts of speech: nouns are commonly used as verbs, adjectives as nouns, and so on. There is no copula in Classical Chinese, "是" (pinyin: shì) is a copula in modern Chinese but in old Chinese it was originally a near demonstrative ("this"); the modern Chinese for "this" is "這" (pinyin: zhè).

Beyond grammar and vocabulary differences, Classical Chinese can be distinguished by literary and cultural differences: an effort to maintain parallelism and rhythm, even in prose works, and extensive use of literary and cultural allusions, thereby also contributing to brevity.

Many final particles (歇語字 xiēyǔzì) and interrogative particles are found in Literary Chinese.[11][12]

Modern use

Classical Chinese was used in international communication between the Mongol Empire and Japan. This letter, dated 1266, was sent to Khubilai Khan from the "King of Japan" (日本國王) before the Mongol invasions of Japan; it was written in Classical Chinese. Now stored in Tōdai-ji, Nara, Japan. There are some grammar notes on it, which were to help Japanese speakers better understand it.

Classical Chinese was the main form used in Chinese literary works until the May Fourth Movement (1919), and was also used extensively in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Classical Chinese was used to write the Hunmin Jeongeum proclamation in which the modern Korean alphabet (hangul) was promulgated and the essay by Hu Shi in which he argued against using Classical Chinese and in favor of written vernacular Chinese. (The latter parallels the essay written by Dante in Latin in which he expounded the virtues of the vernacular Italian.) Exceptions to the use of Classical Chinese were vernacular novels such as Dream of the Red Chamber.

Most government documents in the Republic of China were written in Classical Chinese until reforms in the 1970s, in a reform movement spearheaded by President Yen Chia-kan to shift the written style to vernacular Chinese.[13][14]

Today, pure Classical Chinese is occasionally used in formal or ceremonial occasions. The National Anthem of the Republic of China (中華民國國歌), for example, is in Classical Chinese. Buddhist texts, or sutras, are still preserved in Classical Chinese from the time they were composed or translated from Sanskrit sources. In practice there is a socially accepted continuum between vernacular Chinese and Classical Chinese. For example, most official notices and formal letters are written with a number of stock Classical Chinese expressions (e.g. salutation, closing). Personal letters, on the other hand, are mostly written in vernacular, but with some Classical phrases, depending on the subject matter, the writer's level of education, etc. With the exception of professional scholars and enthusiasts, most people today cannot write in full Classical Chinese with ease.

Most Chinese people with at least a middle school education are able to read basic Classical Chinese, because the ability to read (but not write) Classical Chinese is part of the Chinese middle school and high school curricula and is part of the college entrance examination. Classical Chinese is taught primarily by presenting a classical Chinese work and including a vernacular gloss that explains the meaning of phrases. Tests on classical Chinese usually ask the student to express the meaning of a paragraph in vernacular Chinese, using multiple choice. They often take the form of comprehension questions.

The contemporary use of Classical Chinese in Japan is mainly in the field of education and the study of literature. Learning the Japanese way of decoding Classical Chinese is part of the high school curriculum in Japan.[15]

Classical Chinese is not a part of middle school and high school curricula in the Korean peninsula and Vietnam nowadays. The use of Classical Chinese in these regions is limited and is mainly in the field of Classical studies.

In addition, many works of literature in Classical Chinese (such as Tang poetry) have been major cultural influences. However, even with knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, Classical Chinese can be difficult to understand by native speakers of modern Chinese, because of its heavy use of literary references and allusions as well as its extremely abbreviated style.

See also


  1. ^ Some sources distinguish between Classical Chinese as strictly the language of the ancient classics and Literary Chinese as the classical style of writing used throughout Chinese history prior to the May Fourth Movement (see "Definitions")



  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Literary Chinese". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ a b Nguyễn, Tri Tài (2002). Giáo trình tiếng Hán. Tập I: Cơ sở. Nhà xuất bản Đại học Quốc gia Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh. p. 5.
  3. ^ Jerry Norman (1988). Chinese. Cambridge University Press. pp. xi, 83. ISBN 0-521-29653-6.
  4. ^ Norman (1988), pp. 83–84, 108–109.
  5. ^ Chao, Yuen Ren (1976). Aspects of Chinese sociolinguistics: essays by Yuen Ren Chao. Stanford University Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-8047-0909-5.
  6. ^ Jost Oliver Zetzsche (1999). The Bible in China: the history of the Union Version or the culmination of protestant missionary Bible translation in China. Monumenta Serica Institute. p. 161. ISBN 3-8050-0433-8. The term "Wenli" (文理) was "an English word derived from Chinese roots but never used by the Chinese" (Yuen 1976, 25). The original meaning is "principles of literature (or: writing)," but by the missionaries of the last century it was coined to stand for classical Chinese. For sinologues outside the missionary circle, the term "wenli" was not acceptable ("... what the missionaries persist in calling wen li, meaning thereby the book language as opposed to the colloquial"— Giles 1881/82, 151).
  7. ^
  8. ^ Baxter, William H. (1992). A Handbook of Old Chinese Phonology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 802–803. ISBN 978-3-11-012324-1.
  9. ^ Branner, David Prager (2006). "Some composite phonological systems in Chinese". In Branner, David Prager (ed.). The Chinese rime tables: linguistic philosophy and historical-comparative phonology. Current Issues in Linguistic Theory. 271. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 209–232. ISBN 978-90-272-4785-8.
  10. ^ Chen, Ping (1999). Modern Chinese: history and sociolinguistics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 173–174. ISBN 978-0-521-64572-0.
  11. ^ J. J. Brandt (1936). Introduction to Literary Chinese (2nd ed.). H. Vetch. p. 169. Retrieved 10 February 2012. PART III GRAMMATICAL SECTION THE FINAL PARTICLES (歇語字 hsieh1-yü3-tzu4) The Wenli-style abounds with so called final particles.
  12. ^ J. J. Brandt (1936). Introduction to Literary Chinese (2nd ed.). H. Vetch. p. 184. Retrieved 10 February 2012. PART III GRAMMATICAL SECTION THE INTERROGATIVE PARTICLES The Wen-li style particularly abounds with the interrogative particles.
  13. ^ Tsao, Feng-fu (2000). "The language planning situation in Taiwan". In Baldauf, Richard B.; Kaplan, Robert B. (eds.). Language planning in Nepal, Taiwan, and Sweden. 115. Multilingual Matters. pp. 60–106. ISBN 978-1-85359-483-0. pages 75–76.
  14. ^ Cheong, Ching (2001). Will Taiwan break away: the rise of Taiwanese nationalism. World Scientific. p. 187. ISBN 978-981-02-4486-6.
  15. ^ 文部省 (1951). "第七章 国語科における漢文の学習指導". 中学校 高等学校 学習指導要領 国語科編(試案). Archived from the original on 2009-12-15.


External links

Asian literature

Asian literature is the literature produced in Asia.

Cantonese poetry

Cantonese poetry (Cantonese Jyutping: Jyut6 si1; Traditional Chinese: 粵詩) is poetry performed and composed primarily by Cantonese people. Most of this body of poetry has used classical Chinese grammars, but composed with Cantonese phonology in mind and thus needs to be chanted using the Cantonese language in order to rhyme.

Chinese classics

Chinese classic texts or canonical texts (simplified Chinese: 中国古典典籍; traditional Chinese: 中國古典典籍; pinyin: Zhōngguó gǔdiǎn diǎnjí) refers to the Chinese texts which originated before the imperial unification by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC, particularly the "Four Books and Five Classics" of the Neo-Confucian tradition, themselves a customary abridgment of the "Thirteen Classics". All of these pre-Qin texts were written in classical Chinese. All three canons are collectively known as the classics (t 經, s 经, jīng, lit. "warp").Chinese classic texts may more broadly refer to texts written either in vernacular Chinese or in the classical Chinese that was current until the fall of the last imperial dynasty, the Qing, in 1912. These can include shi (史, historical works), zi (子, philosophical works belonging to schools of thought other than the Confucian but also including works on agriculture, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, divination, art criticism, and other miscellaneous writings) and ji (集, literary works) as well as jing (Chinese medicine).

In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Four Books and Five Classics were the subject of mandatory study by those Confucian scholars who wished to take the imperial exams to become government officials. Any political discussion was full of references to this background, and one could not be one of the literati (or, in some periods, even a military officer) without having memorized them. Generally, children first memorized the Chinese characters of the "Three Character Classic" and the "Hundred Family Surnames" and then went on to memorize the other classics. The literate elite therefore shared a common culture and set of values.

Scholarship on these texts naturally divides itself into two periods, before and after the burning of the books during the fall of the Qin dynasty, when many of the original pre-Qin texts were lost.

Chinese opera

Traditional Chinese opera (Chinese: 戲曲; pinyin: xìqǔ; Jyutping: hei3 kuk1), or Xiqu, is a form of musical theatre in China with roots going back to the early periods in China. It is an amalgamation of various art forms that existed in ancient China, and evolved gradually over more than a thousand years, reaching its mature form in the 13th century during the Song dynasty (960–1279). Early forms of Chinese theater are simple, but over time they incorporated various art forms, such as music, song and dance, martial arts, acrobatics, costume and make-up art, as well as literary art forms to become traditional Chinese opera.There are over a hundred regional branches of traditional Chinese opera today. In the 20th century the Peking opera emerged in popularity and has come to known as the "national theatre" of China, but other genres like Yue opera, Cantonese opera, Yu opera, kunqu, qinqiang, Huangmei opera, pingju, and Sichuan opera are also performed regularly before dedicated fans. Their differences are mainly found in the music and topolect; the stories are often shared and borrowed. With few exceptions (such as revolutionary operas and to some extent Shanghai operas) the vast majority of Chinese operas (including Taiwanese operas) are set in China before the 17th century, whether they are traditional or newly written.

For centuries Chinese opera was the main form of entertainment for both urban and rural residents in China as well as the Chinese diaspora. Its popularity declined sharply in the second half of the 20th century as a result of both political and market factors. Language policies discouraging topolects in Taiwan, PRC, and Singapore, official hostility against rural religious festivals in China, and de-Sinicization in Taiwan have all been blamed for the decline of various forms in different times, but overall the two major culprits were China's Cultural Revolution — which saw traditional culture systematically erased, innumerable theatre professionals viciously persecuted, and a generation raised with no exposure to Chinese opera aside from a severely altered propagandist form — and modernization, with its immense social impact and imported values that Chinese opera has largely failed to counter. The total number of regional genres was determined to be more than 350 in 1957, but in the 21st century the PRC government could only identify 162 forms for its intangible cultural heritage list, with many of them in immediate danger of disappearing. Chinese opera is no longer part of the popular Chinese culture, especially for young people, but it remains an attraction for many older people who find in it, among other things, a national or regional identity.

Chinese poetry

Chinese poetry is poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language. While this last term comprises Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Yue Chinese, and other historical and vernacular forms of the language, its poetry generally falls into one of two primary types, Classical Chinese poetry and Modern Chinese poetry.

Poetry has consistently been held in extremely high regard in China, often incorporating expressive folk influences filtered through the minds of Chinese literati. In Chinese culture, poetry has provided a format and a forum for both public and private expressions of deep emotion, offering an audience of peers, readers, and scholars insight into the inner life of Chinese writers across more than two millennia. Westerners also have found in it an interesting and pleasurable field of study, in its exemplification of essential contrasts between the Western world and Chinese civilization, and on its own terms.

Chữ Nôm

Chữ Nôm (𡨸喃, IPA: [cɨ̌ˀ nom], literally "Southern characters"), in earlier times also called quốc âm or chữ nam, is a logographic writing system formerly used to write the Vietnamese language. It used the standard set of classical Chinese characters to represent Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary and some native Vietnamese words, while new characters were created on the Chinese model to represent other words.Although formal writing in Vietnam was done in classical Chinese, until the early 20th century (except for two brief interludes), chữ Nôm was widely used between the 15th and 19th centuries by Vietnam's cultured elite, including women, for popular works, many in verse. One of the best-known pieces of Vietnamese literature, The Tale of Kiều, was composed in chữ Nôm.

In the 1920s, the Latin-based Vietnamese alphabet created by Jesuit missionaries displaced chữ Nôm as the preferred way to record Vietnamese. While Han characters are still used for decorative, historic and ceremonial value and symbols of good luck, Nôm characters have been almost forgotten by the modern Vietnamese, now only a few academics or hobbyists can read them. The task of preservation and study of Vietnamese texts written in Nôm (but also classical Chinese texts from Vietnam) is conducted by the Institute of Hán-Nôm Studies in Hanoi.

Classical Chinese poetry

Classical Chinese poetry is traditional Chinese poetry written in Classical Chinese and typified by certain traditional forms, or modes; traditional genres; and connections with particular historical periods, such as the poetry of the Tang Dynasty. Its existence was documented at least as early as the publication of the Classic of Poetry. Various combinations of forms and genres exist. Many or most of these were developed by the end of the Tang Dynasty, in 907 CE.

Use and development of Classical Chinese poetry actively continued up to until the May Fourth Movement, in 1919, and is still developed even today. Poetry created during this 2,500-year period of more-or-less continuous development displays a great deal of diversity – categorized by both major historical periods and by dynastic periods (the traditional Chinese historical method).

Another key aspect of Classical Chinese poetry is its intense inter-relationship with other forms of Chinese art, such as Chinese painting and Chinese calligraphy. Classical Chinese poetry has proven to be of immense influence upon poetry worldwide.


Kanbun (漢文, "Chinese writing"), a form of Classical Chinese as used in Japan, was used from the Heian period to the mid-20th century. Much Japanese literature was written in this style, and it was the general writing style for official and intellectual works throughout the period. As a result, Sino-Japanese vocabulary makes up a large portion of the Japanese lexicon, and much classical Chinese literature is accessible to Japanese readers in some semblance of the original. The corresponding system in Korean is gugyeol (口訣/구결).

Kanbun Kundoku can be classified as some sort of creole language, as it is the mixture between native Japanese and classical literary Chinese.

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden (simplified Chinese: 兰苏园; traditional Chinese: 蘭蘇園; pinyin: Lán Sū Yuán; Jyutping: Laan4 Sou1 Jyun4), formerly the Portland Classical Chinese Garden and titled the Garden of Awakening Orchids, is a walled Chinese garden enclosing a full city block, roughly 40,000 square feet (4,000 m2) in the Chinatown area of the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, United States. The garden is influenced by many of the famous classical gardens in Suzhou.

List of poems in Chinese or by Chinese poets

This is a list of Chinese poems in the broad sense of referring to those poems which have been written in Chinese, translated from Chinese, authored by a Chinese poet, or which have a Chinese geographic origin. Chinese poems are poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language. The various versions of Chinese include Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese and other historical and vernacular types. In other words, Chinese poetry refers to poetry written or spoken in the Chinese language. The various versions of Chinese poetry, as known historically and to the general knowledge of the modern world, include two primary types, Classical Chinese poetry and modern Chinese poetry.

Nihon Shoki

The Nihon Shoki (日本書紀), sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history. The book is also called the Nihongi (日本紀, "Japanese Chronicles"). It is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki, the oldest, and has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most complete extant historical record of ancient Japan. The Nihon Shoki was finished in 720 under the editorial supervision of Prince Toneri and with the assistance of Ō no Yasumaro dedicated to Empress Genshō.The Nihon Shoki begins with the Japanese creation myth, explaining the origin of the world and the first seven generations of divine beings (starting with Kuninotokotachi), and goes on with a number of myths as does the Kojiki, but continues its account through to events of the 8th century. It is believed to record accurately the latter reigns of Emperor Tenji, Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jitō. The Nihon Shoki focuses on the merits of the virtuous rulers as well as the errors of the bad rulers. It describes episodes from mythological eras and diplomatic contacts with other countries. The Nihon Shoki was written in classical Chinese, as was common for official documents at that time. The Kojiki, on the other hand, is written in a combination of Chinese and phonetic transcription of Japanese (primarily for names and songs). The Nihon Shoki also contains numerous transliteration notes telling the reader how words were pronounced in Japanese. Collectively, the stories in this book and the Kojiki are referred to as the Kiki stories.The tale of Urashima Tarō is developed from the brief mention in Nihon Shoki (Emperor Yūryaku Year 22) that a certain child of Urashima visited Horaisan and saw wonders. The later tale has plainly incorporated elements from the famous anecdote of "Luck of the Sea and Luck of the Mountains" (Hoderi and Hoori) found in Nihon Shoki. The later developed Urashima tale contains the Rip Van Winkle motif, so some may consider it an early example of fictional time travel.

Qing poetry

Qing poetry refers to the poetry of or typical of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Classical Chinese poetry continued to be the major poetic form of the Qing dynasty, during which the debates, trends and widespread literacy of the Ming period began to flourish once again after a transitional period during which the Qing dynasty had established its dominance. Also, popular versions of Classical Chinese poetry were transmitted through Qing dynasty anthologies, such as the collections of Tang poetry known as the Quantangshi and the Three Hundred Tang Poems. The poetry of the Qing Dynasty has an ongoing and growing body of scholarly literature associated with its study. Both the poetry of the Ming dynasty and the poetry of the Qing dynasty are studied for poetry associated with Chinese opera, the developmental trends of Classical Chinese poetry and the transition to the more vernacular type of Modern Chinese poetry, as well as poetry by women in Chinese culture.

Qu (poetry)

The Qu form of poetry is a type of Classical Chinese poetry form, consisting of words written in one of a number of certain, set tone patterns, based upon the tunes of various songs. Thus Qu poems are lyrics with lines of varying longer and shorter lengths, set according to the certain and specific, fixed patterns of rhyme and tone of conventional musical pieces upon which they are based and after which these matched variations in lyrics (or individual Qu poems) generally take their name. The fixed-tone type of verse such as the Qu and the ci together with the shi and fu forms of poetry comprise the three main forms of Classical Chinese poetry.

School of Names

The Logicians or School of Names (Chinese: 名家; pinyin: Míngjiā) was a school of Chinese philosophy that grew out of Mohism during the Warring States period in 479–221 BCE. It is also sometimes called the School of Forms and Names (Chinese: 形名家; pinyin: Xíngmíngjiā; Wade–Giles: Hsing2-ming2-chia1). Deng Xi has been named its founder.

School of Naturalists

The School of Naturalists or the School of Yin-yang (陰陽家/阴阳家; Yīnyángjiā; Yin-yang-chia; "School of Yin-Yang") was a Warring States era philosophy that synthesized the concepts of yin-yang and the Five Elements.

Shi (poetry)

Shi and shih are romanizations of the character 詩 or 诗, the Chinese word for all poetry generally and across all languages.

In Western analysis of the styles of Chinese poetry, shi is also used as a term of art for a specific poetic tradition, modeled after the Old Chinese works collected in the Confucian Classic of Poetry. This anthology included both aristocratic poems (the "Hymns" and "Eulogies") and more rustic works believed to have derived from Huaxia folk songs (the "Odes"). They are composed in ancient Chinese, mostly in four-character lines. In such analysis, "shi" poetry is contrasted with other forms such as the Chu-derived "ci" and the Han-era "fu". This use is not common within Chinese literature, however, which instead classifies these poems into other categories such as "classical Chinese poetry", "Field and Garden" poetry, and "curtailed" poetry.

Topic marker

A topic marker is a grammatical particle used to mark the topic of a sentence. It is found in Japanese, Korean, Ryukyuan, Imonda, and, to a limited extent, Classical Chinese. It often overlaps with the subject of a sentence, causing confusion for learners, as most other languages lack it. It differs from a subject in that it puts more emphasis on the item and can be used with words in other roles as well.

Traditional Chinese medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a style of traditional medicine based on more than 2,500 years of Chinese medical practice that includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage (tui na), exercise (qigong), and dietary therapy, but recently also influenced by modern Western medicine. TCM is widely used in Sinosphere where it has a long history, and recently it has begun "gaining global recognition". One of the basic tenets of TCM is that "the body's vital energy (ch'i or qi) circulates through channels, called meridians, that have branches connected to bodily organs and functions." Concepts of the body and of disease used in TCM reflect its ancient origins and its emphasis on dynamic processes over material structure, similar to European humoral theory.Scientific investigation has not found evidence for traditional Chinese concepts such as qi, meridians, and acupuncture points. The TCM theory and practice are not based upon scientific knowledge, and there is disagreement between TCM practitioners on what diagnosis and treatments should be used for any given patient. The effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine remains poorly researched and supported. There are concerns over a number of potentially toxic plants, animal parts, and mineral Chinese medicinals. There are also concerns over illegal trade and transport of endangered species including rhinoceroses and tigers, and the welfare of specially farmed animals including bears. A review of cost-effectiveness research for TCM found that studies had low levels of evidence, but so far have not shown beneficial outcomes. Pharmaceutical research has explored the potential for creating new drugs from traditional remedies, with few successful results. A Nature editorial described TCM as "fraught with pseudoscience", and said that the most obvious reason it has not delivered many cures is that the majority of its treatments have no logical mechanism of action. Proponents suggest that research has so far missed key features of the art of TCM, such as unknown interactions between various ingredients and complex interactive biological systems.The doctrines of Chinese medicine are rooted in books such as the Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon and the Treatise on Cold Damage, as well as in cosmological notions such as yin–yang and the five phases. Starting in the 1950s, these precepts were standardized in the People's Republic of China, including attempts to integrate them with modern notions of anatomy and pathology. In the 1950s, the Chinese government promoted a systematized form of TCM.TCM describes health as the harmonious interaction of these entities and the outside world, and disease as a disharmony in interaction. TCM diagnosis aims to trace symptoms to patterns of an underlying disharmony, by measuring the pulse, inspecting the tongue, skin, and eyes, and looking at the eating and sleeping habits of the person as well as many other things.

Written vernacular Chinese

Written vernacular Chinese (Chinese: 白话文; pinyin: báihuàwén; literally: 'White Speech Writings'), also known as Baihua, is the forms of written Chinese based on the varieties of Chinese spoken throughout China, in contrast to Classical Chinese, the written standard used during imperial China up to the early twentieth century. A written vernacular based on Mandarin Chinese was used in novels in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and later refined by intellectuals associated with the May Fourth Movement. Since the early 1920s, this modern vernacular form has been the standard style of writing for speakers of all varieties of Chinese throughout mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore as the written form of Modern Standard Chinese. This is commonly called Standard Written Chinese or Modern Written Chinese to avoid ambiguity with spoken vernaculars, with the written vernaculars of earlier eras, and with other written vernaculars such as written Cantonese or written Hokkien.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu Pinyinwényán wén
Gwoyeu Romatzyhwenyan wen
Wade–Gileswen2-yen2 wen2
Romanizationven yiẽ ven
Romanizationmun4-ngien4 mun4
Yue: Cantonese
Yale Romanizationmàhn-yìhn màhn
Jyutpingman4-jin4 man4
Southern Min
Hokkien POJbûn-giân bûn
Old Chinese
Baxter–Sagart (2014)*mən ŋan mən
Set phrase
Input method

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