William H. Baxter

William Hubbard Baxter III (born March 3, 1949) is an American linguist specializing in the history of the Chinese language and best known for his work on the reconstruction on Old Chinese.

William H. Baxter
BornMarch 3, 1949 (age 70)
Alma materAmherst College (B.A.)
Cornell University (M.A., Ph.D.)
Known forReconstruction of Old Chinese
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Michigan
Doctoral advisorNicholas Bodman
Chinese name


Baxter earned his Ph.D. in Linguistics in 1977 at Cornell University. In 1983 he joined the University of Michigan,[1] where he is currently Professor of Linguistics and Asian Languages and Cultures.

Baxter's A Handbook of Old Chinese Phonology[2] is the standard reference for the reconstruction of Old Chinese phonology. Together with Laurent Sagart at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris he has produced an improved reconstruction of the pronunciation, vocabulary, and morphology of Old Chinese.[3] A reconstruction for nearly 5000 words has been published online.[4] In 2016, Baxter and Sagart were awarded the Leonard Bloomfield Book Award by the Linguistic Society of America for their 2014 book Old Chinese: A New Reconstruction.[5]


  • Baxter, William; Sagart, Laurent (2014). Old Chinese: A New Reconstruction. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-994537-5.
  • Sagart, Laurent, and William H. Baxter (2012). Reconstructing the *s- prefix in Old Chinese. Language and Linguistics 13: 29–59.
  • Shā Jiā’ěr 沙加尔 [Laurent Sagart] and Bái Yīpíng 白一平 [William H. Baxter] (2010). Shànggǔ Hànyǔ de N- hé m- qiánzhuì 上古汉语的 N- 和 m- 前缀. Hàn-Zàng yǔ xuébào 汉藏语学报 [Journal of Sino-Tibetan Linguistics] 4: 62–69.
  • Bái Yīpíng 白一平 [William H. Baxter] (2010). "'Yì', 'shì' 'shè' děng zì de gòunǐ hé zhōnggǔ sy- (shūmǔ = shěnsān) de láiyuán" “埶”, “勢”, “設” 等字的構擬和中古 sy-(書母 = 審三) 的來源 . Jiǎnbó 簡帛 5: 161–178.
  • Sagart, Laurent, and William H. Baxter (2009). Reconstructing Old Chinese uvulars in the Baxter–Sagart system (version 0.99). Cahiers de linguistique Asie orientale 38: 221–244.
  • Baxter, William W. (2006). "Mandarin dialect phylogeny". Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale. 35: 71–114.
  • Baxter, William W. (2006). "Eulogy: Sergej Anatol′evič Starostin, March 24, 1953 – September 30, 2005". Journal of Chinese Linguistics. 34 (1): 164–166.
  • Baxter, William H. (2002). "Where does the 'Comparative Method' come from?". In Fabrice Cavoto. The linguist’s linguist: a collection of papers in honour of Alexis Manaster Ramer. Munich: LINCOM EUROPA. pp. 33–52.
  • (2000) (with Alexis Manaster Ramer) Beyond lumping and splitting: probabilistic issues in historical linguistics. In Time depth in historical linguistics, ed. by Colin Renfrew, April McMahon & Larry Trask, 167–188. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
  • Baxter, William W. (2000). "Did Proto-Mandarin exist?". Journal of Chinese Linguistics. 28: 100–115.
  • (1999) "Reconstructing Proto-'Mandarin' retroflex initials". In Issues in Chinese dialect description and classification (Journal of Chinese Linguistics Monographs, 15), ed. by Richard VanNess Simmons, 1–35. Berkeley: Project on Linguistic Analysis.
  • (1999) Eulogy: Nicholas C. Bodman (1913–1997). Journal of Chinese Linguistics 27: 190–191.
  • (1998) Response to Oswalt and Ringe. In Nostratic: Sifting the Evidence, ed. by Joseph C. Salmons and Brian D. Joseph, 217–236. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • (1998) Situating the language of the Lao-tzu: the probable date of the Tao-te-ching. In Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching, ed. by Livia Kohn and Michael LaFargue, 231–253. Albany: State University Press of New York, 1998.
  • (1997) (with Laurent Sagart) Word formation in Old Chinese. In New approaches to Chinese word formation, ed. by Jerome Packard, 35–76. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • (1996) Review (with Alexis Manaster Ramer) of Donald A. Ringe, Jr., On calculating the factor of chance in language comparison (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1992), Diachronica 13: 371–384.
  • (1995) "'A stronger affinity … than could have been produced by accident': a probabilistic comparison of Old Chinese and Tibeto-Burman". In The Ancestry of the Chinese Language (Journal of Chinese Linguistics Monographs, 8), ed. by William S.-Y. Wang, 1–39. Berkeley: Project on Linguistic Analysis.
  • (1995) "Pre-Qièyùn distinctions in the Mǐn dialects". In Papers from the First International Symposium on Languages in Taiwan (Dì 1 jiè Táiwān yǔyán guójì yántǎo huì lùnwén xuǎnjí 第一屆臺灣 語言國際研討會論文選集) ed. by Ts’ao Feng-fu 曹逢甫 and Ts’ai Mei-hui 蔡美慧, 393–406. Taipei: Crane Publishing.
  • (1994) Guānyú Shànggǔyīn de sìge jiǎshè 關於上古音的四個假設 (Four hypotheses on Old Chinese phonology). In Zhōngguó jìngnèi yǔyán jì yǔyánxué 中國境內語言暨語言學 (Chinese languages and linguistics), vol. 2: Lìshǐ yǔyánxué 歷史語言學 (Historical linguistics), ed. by Li Jen-kuei 李壬癸, Huang Chu-ren 黃居仁, and T’ang Chih-chen 湯志真, 41–60. Taipei: Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica.
  • (1994) Reply to Pulleyblank. Journal of Chinese Linguistics 22: 139–160
  • (1994) Some phonological correspondences between Chinese and Tibeto-Burman. In Current issues in Sino-Tibetan Linguistics, ed. by Hajime Kitamura, Tatsuo Nishida, and Yasuhiko Nagano, 25–35. Osaka: The Organizing Committee, The 26th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics.
  • (1993) Review of Johanna Nichols, Linguistic diversity in space and time (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), Science 259: 1927–8 (26 March 1993).
  • (1993) Pre-Qieyun distinctions in the Min dialects. First International Symposium on Languages in Taiwan, Taipei.
  • (1992) A handbook of Old Chinese phonology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1992.
  • (1991) Zhōu and Hàn phonology in the Shījīng. In Studies in the historical phonology of Asian languages (Current issues in linguistic theory, 77), ed. by William G. Boltz and Michael C. Shapiro, 1–34. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • (1991) On the hypothesis of a genetic connection between the Sino-Tibetan languages and the Yeniseian and North-Caucasian languages’ (annotated translation of Sergei Starostin’s ‘Gipoteza o genetičeskix svjazjax sinotibetskix jazykov s enisejskimi i severno-kavkazskimi jazykami’). In Dene-Sino-Caucasian languages: materials from the First International Interdisciplinary Symposium on Language and Prehistory, Ann Arbor, 8–12 November 1988, edited by Vitaly Shevoroshkin. Bochum: Brockmeyer.
  • (1989) Review of Marie-Claude Paris, Problèmes de syntaxe et de sémantique en linguistique chinoise, Mémoires de l’Institut des Hautes Études Chinoises, vol. 20 (Paris: Collège de France, Institut des Hautes Études Chinoises, 1981). Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association 24: 111–118
  • (1987) Review of E. G. Pulleyblank, Middle Chinese: a study in historical phonology (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1984). Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 47.635–656.
  • (1986) Old Chinese *-u and *-iw in the Shi-jing. In Contributions to Sino-Tibetan studies (Cornell linguistic contributions, 5), ed. by John McCoy and Timothy Light, 258–282. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
  • (1986) Chinese and Japanese CAI at the University of Michigan. Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association 21: 19–26.
  • (1985) Tibeto-Burman cognates of Old Chinese *-ij and *-ɨj. In Linguistics of the Sino-Tibetan area: the state of the art—papers presented to Paul K. Benedict for his 71st birthday (Pacific linguistics, series C, no. 87), ed. by Graham Thurgood, James A. Matisoff, and David Bradley, 242–263. Canberra: The Australian National University.
  • (1985) Language and language policy in Singapore. Social Education 49: 116–117 (1985).
  • (1985) Review of W. South Coblin, A handbook of Eastern Han sound glosses (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1983). Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 48.170–171.
  • (1984) Formal semantics of a fragment of Chinese. Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association 19: 37–52.
  • (1983) A look at the history of Chinese color terminology. Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association 18(2): 1–25.
  • (1983) Shànggǔ Hànyǔ *sr- de fāzhǎn 上古汉语 *sr- 的发展’ (The development of Old Chinese *sr–). Yǔyán Yánjiū 语言研究 (Wǔhàn) 4: 22–26.
  • (1982) Review of Paul Fu-Mien Yang, Chinese dialectology: a selected and classified bibliography (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1981). Journal of Asian Studies 41: 158–159.
  • (1982) Some proposals on Old Chinese phonology. In Contributions in historical linguistics: issues and materials (Cornell linguistic contributions, 3), ed. by Frans van Coetsem and Linda R. Waugh, 1–33. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

See also


  1. ^ Curriculum Vitae, William H. Baxter.
  2. ^ Baxter, William H. (1992), A Handbook of Old Chinese Phonology, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-012324-1.
  3. ^ Baxter, William; Sagart, Laurent (2014). Old Chinese: A New Reconstruction. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-994537-5.
  4. ^ Baxter, William H.; Sagart, Lauent. "The Baxter–Sagart reconstruction of Old Chinese (version 1.1, 20 September 2014)". Retrieved 2015-02-04.
  5. ^ "Leonard Bloomfield Book Award Previous Holders". Retrieved 8 March 2017.

External links


The Di or Beidi (Northern Di) were various ethnic groups who lived north of the Chinese (Huaxia) realms during the Zhou dynasty. Although initially described as nomadic, they seem to have practiced a mixed pastoral, agricultural, and hunting economy and were distinguished from the nomads of the Eurasian steppe (Hu) who lived to their north. Chinese historical accounts describe the Di inhabiting the upper Ordos Loop (mostly in northern Shaanxi) and gradually migrating eastward to northern Shanxi and Hebei, where they eventually created their own states like Zhongshan and Dai. Other groups of Di seem to have lived interspersed between the Chinese states before their eventual conquest or assimilation.

Consonant cluster

In linguistics, a consonant cluster, consonant sequence or consonant compound is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel. In English, for example, the groups /spl/ and /ts/ are consonant clusters in the word splits.

Some linguists argue that the term can be properly applied only to those consonant clusters that occur within one syllable. Others claim that the concept is more useful when it includes consonant sequences across syllable boundaries. According to the former definition, the longest consonant clusters in the word extra would be /ks/ and /tr/, whereas the latter allows /kstr/.

Donghu people

Donghu (simplified Chinese: 东胡; traditional Chinese: 東胡; pinyin: Dōnghú; Wade–Giles: Tung-hu; IPA: [tʊ́ŋ.xǔ]; literally: "Eastern foreigners" or "Eastern barbarians") was a tribal confederation of nomadic people that was first recorded from the 7th century BCE and was destroyed by the Xiongnu in 150 BCE. They lived in northern Hebei, southeastern Inner Mongolia and the western part of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang along the Yan Mountains and Greater Khingan Range.The Dōnghú later divided into the Wuhuan in Yan Mountains and Xianbei in Greater Khingan Range, the latter of which are the origin of the Khitan and Mongols.

Laurent Sagart

Laurent Sagart (French: [sagaʁ]; born 1951) is a senior researcher at the Centre de recherches linguistiques sur l'Asie orientale (CRLAO – UMR 8563) unit of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).


In written language, a logogram or logograph is a written character that represents a word or phrase. Chinese characters (including Japanese kanji) are logograms; some Egyptian hieroglyphs and some graphemes in cuneiform script are also logograms. The use of logograms in writing is called logography, and a writing system that is based on logograms is called a logographic system.

In alphabets and syllabaries, individual written characters represent sounds only, rather than entire concepts. These characters are called phonograms in linguistics. Unlike logograms, phonograms do not have word or phrase meanings singularly until the phonograms are combined with additional phonograms thus creating words and phrases that have meaning. Writing language in this way, is called phonetic writing as well as orthographical writing.

Middle Chinese finals

In Middle Chinese, the phonological system of medieval rime dictionaries and rime tables, the final is the rest of the syllable after the initial consonant.

This analysis is derived from the traditional Chinese fanqie system of indicating pronunciation with a pair of characters indicating the sounds of the initial and final parts of the syllable respectively, though in both cases several characters were used for each sound.

Reconstruction of the pronunciation of finals is much more difficult than for initials due to the combination of multiple phonemes into a single class, and there is no agreement as to their values.

Because of this lack of consensus, understanding of the reconstruction of finals requires delving into the details of rime tables and rime dictionaries.


The Man, commonly called the Nanman or Southern Man (Chinese: 南蠻), were the ancient indigenous peoples who lived in inland South and Southwest China, mainly the Yangtze River valley. They are believed by scholars to be related to the Sanmiao in ancient Chinese texts. The Nanman included multiple ethnic groups, probably related to the predecessors of the modern Zhuang, Tai, Miao (Hmong) peoples, and non-Chinese Sino-Tibetan groups such as the Bai people. There was never a single polity that united these people, although the major state of Chu ruled over much of the Yangtze region during the Zhou dynasty and was heavily influenced by the Man culture.


In traditional Chinese culture, qi or ch'i (Chinese: 气; pinyin: qì qì) is believed to be a vital force forming part of any living entity. Qi translates as "air" and figuratively as "material energy", "life force", or "energy flow". Qi is the central underlying principle in Chinese traditional medicine and in Chinese martial arts. The practice of cultivating and balancing qi is called qigong.

Believers of qi describe it as a vital energy, the flow of which must be balanced for health. Qi is a pseudoscientific, unverified concept, which has never been directly observed, and is unrelated to the concept of energy used in science (vital energy is itself an abandoned scientific notion).

Qiang (historical people)

Qiang (Chinese: 羌; pinyin: Qiāng; Wade–Giles: Ch'iang) was a name given to various groups of people at different periods in ancient China. During the sixteen kingdoms era, they were known as one of the Five Barbarians. The Qiang people are generally thought to have been of Tibeto-Burman origin, though there are other theories.

As one of the oldest nations in western China, according to a legend, part of the Qiang people’s ancestry came from the famous Yan Emperor. Some 5,000 years ago, the Yan Emperor and his tribe were defeated by the Yellow Emperor. Most of his people were integrated with that of the Yellow Emperor and formed into a new nationality named Huaxia, who inhabited the Central Plain along the Yellow River. The rest moved west or south and became the ancestors of Tibetan, Yi and Qiang ethnic groups.The Tangut people of Tang, Sung and Yuan dynasties may be of Qiang descent.

Reconstructions of Old Chinese

Although Old Chinese is known from written records beginning around 1200 BC, the logographic script provides much more indirect and partial information about the pronunciation of the language than alphabetic systems used elsewhere.

Several authors have produced reconstructions of Old Chinese phonology, beginning with the Swedish sinologist Bernard Karlgren in the 1940s and continuing to the present day.

The method introduced by Karlgren is unique, comparing categories implied by ancient rhyming practice and the structure of Chinese characters with descriptions in medieval rhyme dictionaries, though more recent approaches have also incorporated other kinds of evidence.

Although the various notations appear to be very different, they correspond with each other on most points.

By the 1970s, it was generally agreed that Old Chinese had fewer points of articulation than Middle Chinese, a set of voiceless sonorants, and labiovelar and labio-laryngeal initials.

Since the 1990s, most authors have agreed on a six-vowel system and a re-organized system of liquids.

Earlier systems proposed voiced final stops to account for contacts between stop-final syllables and other tones, but many investigators now believe that Old Chinese lacked tonal distinctions, with Middle Chinese tones derived from consonant clusters at the end of the syllable.

Shen (Chinese religion)

Shen (神) is the Chinese word for "god", "deity", "spirit" or theos. This single Chinese term expresses a range of similar, yet differing, meanings. The first meaning may refer to spirits or gods that are intimately involved in the affairs of the world. Spirits generate entities like rivers, mountains, thunder and stars. A second meaning of shen refers to the human spirit or psyche; it is the basic power or agency within humans that accounts for life, and in order to further life to its fullest potential the spirit must be grown and cultivated. A third understanding of shen describes an entity as spiritual in the sense of inspiring awe or wonder because it combines categories usually kept separate, or it cannot be comprehended through normal concepts.

A starting point for an understanding of shen is the meeting place of Heaven and Earth, which is mankind. Heaven is the origin of the spiritual aspect of humanity and provides ongoing spiritual influences, while Earth is the origin of the physical aspect of humankind. The ongoing harmonious interaction of Heaven and Earth in man is essential to maintaining life. In Chinese religious tradition, balancing yin and yang is important to provide organization of life and prevent harm to body and spirit.

Tai languages

The Tai or Zhuang–Tai languages (Thai: ภาษาไท or ภาษาไต, transliteration: p̣hās̛̄āthay or p̣hās̛̄ātay) are a branch of the Kra–Dai language family. The Tai languages include the most widely spoken of the Tai–Kadai languages, including standard Thai or Siamese, the national language of Thailand; Lao or Laotian, the national language of Laos; Myanmar's Shan language; and Zhuang, a major language in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.

Tai peoples

Tai peoples refers to the population of descendants of speakers of a common Tai language, including sub-populations that no longer speak a Tai language. There is a total of about 93 million people of Tai ancestry worldwide, with largest ethnic groups being Thais, Isan, Shan, Lao, Ahom and Northern Thai peoples.

The Tai are scattered throughout South Asia and Southeast Asia. Tai peoples are both culturally and genetically very similar and therefore primarily identified through their language.

Thai people

Thai people or Thais (Thai: ชาวไทย), also known as Siamese (Thai: ชาวสยาม), are a nation and Tai ethnic group native to Central Thailand (Siamese proper). Part of the larger Tai ethno-linguistic group native to Southeast Asia as well as southern China and Northeast India, Thais speak the Central Thai language, which is classified as part of the Tai–Kadai family of languages. The majority of Thais are followers of Theravada Buddhism.

As a result of government policy during the 1930s and 1940s encouraging the assimilation of all the various ethno-linguistic groups in the country into the dominant Thai language and culture, the term Thai people has come to refer to the population of Thailand in general. This includes other subgroups of the Tai ethno-linguistic group, such as the northern Thai people (Lanna) and the Isan-Lao people, as well as non-Tai groups, the largest of which is that of the ethnic Chinese.


Tiān (天) is one of the oldest Chinese terms for heaven and a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophy, and religion. During the Shang dynasty (17–11th centuries BCE), the Chinese referred to their supreme god as Shàngdì (上帝, "Lord on High") or Dì (帝,"Lord"). During the following Zhou dynasty, Tiān became synonymous with this figure. Heaven worship was, before the 20th century, an orthodox state religion of China.

In Taoism and Confucianism, Tiān (the celestial aspect of the cosmos, often translated as "Heaven") is mentioned in relationship to its complementary aspect of Dì (地, often translated as "Earth"). These two aspects of Daoist cosmology are representative of the dualistic nature of Taoism. They are thought to maintain the two poles of the Three Realms (三界) of reality, with the middle realm occupied by Humanity (人, Rén), and the lower world occupied by demons (魔, Mó) as false gods or idols and ghosts (鬼, Guǐ) as disembodied souls, spirits of the deceased of faint shadowy semblance to only reveal an image not clearly substantial.


Tibet ( (listen); Tibetan: བོད་, Lhasa dialect IPA: /pʰøː˨˧˩/; Chinese: 西藏; pinyin: Xīzàng) is a historical region covering much of the Tibetan Plateau in Inner Asia. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa, Tamang, Qiang, Sherpa, and Lhoba peoples and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han Chinese and Hui people. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 5,000 metres (16,000 ft). The highest elevation in Tibet is Mount Everest, Earth's highest mountain, rising 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level.

The Tibetan Empire emerged in the 7th century, but with the fall of the empire the region soon divided into a variety of territories. The bulk of western and central Tibet (Ü-Tsang) was often at least nominally unified under a series of Tibetan governments in Lhasa, Shigatse, or nearby locations; these governments were at various times under Mongol and Chinese overlordship. Thus Tibet remained a suzerainty of the Mongol and later Chinese rulers in Nanjing and Beijing, with reasonable autonomy given to the Tibetan leaders. The eastern regions of Kham and Amdo often maintained a more decentralized indigenous political structure, being divided among a number of small principalities and tribal groups, while also often falling more directly under Chinese rule after the Battle of Chamdo; most of this area was eventually incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai. The current borders of Tibet were generally established in the 18th century.Following the Xinhai Revolution against the Qing dynasty in 1912, Qing soldiers were disarmed and escorted out of Tibet Area (Ü-Tsang). The region subsequently declared its independence in 1913 without recognition by the subsequent Chinese Republican government. Later, Lhasa took control of the western part of Xikang, China. The region maintained its autonomy until 1951 when, following the Battle of Chamdo, Tibet became incorporated into the People's Republic of China, and the previous Tibetan government was abolished in 1959 after a failed uprising. Today, China governs western and central Tibet as the Tibet Autonomous Region while the eastern areas are now mostly ethnic autonomous prefectures within Sichuan, Qinghai and other neighbouring provinces. There are tensions regarding Tibet's political status and dissident groups that are active in exile.

Tibetan activists in Tibet have reportedly been arrested or tortured.The economy of Tibet is dominated by subsistence agriculture, though tourism has become a growing industry in recent decades. The dominant religion in Tibet is Tibetan Buddhism; in addition there is Bön, which is similar to Tibetan Buddhism, and there are also Tibetan Muslims and Christian minorities. Tibetan Buddhism is a primary influence on the art, music, and festivals of the region. Tibetan architecture reflects Chinese and Indian influences. Staple foods in Tibet are roasted barley, yak meat, and butter tea.

William Baxter

William Baxter may refer to:

William Baxter (scholar) (1650–1723), Welsh scholar

William Baxter (Nova Scotia politician) (1760–1832), physician and politician in Nova Scotia

William Baxter (botanist) (died c. 1836), English botanist who collected in Australia

William Baxter (Oxford Botanic Garden curator) (1787–1871), Scots botanist, author of British Phaenogamous Botany

William Edward Baxter (1825–1890), British politician and traveller

William Giles Baxter (1856–1888), English cartoonist

William Duncan Baxter (1868–1960), mayor of Cape Town, South Africa, 1907–1908

William Baxter (Scottish politician) (1911–1979), British Labour Party politician, MP 1959–1974

William Baxter (law professor) (1929–1998), law professor at Stanford University and Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice

William H. Baxter (born 1949), linguist specializing in the history of the Chinese language

William Robert Baxter (born 1960), British hospitality entrepreneur

Will Baxter, a fictional character in Eureka Seven anime series


Xirong (Chinese: 西戎; pinyin: Xīróng; Wade–Giles: Hsi-jung; literally: 'Western warlike people') or Rong were various people who lived primarily in and around the extremities of ancient China known as early as the Shang dynasty (1765–1122 BCE). They were typically to the west (in modern Gansu, etc.) of the later Zhou state from the Zhou Dynasty (1046–221 BCE) onwards. They were mentioned in some ancient Chinese texts as perhaps related to the people of the Chinese civilization.

Yin and yang

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang ( and ; Chinese: 陰陽 yīnyáng, lit. "dark-bright", "negative-positive") is a concept of dualism in ancient Chinese philosophy, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. In Chinese cosmology, the universe creates itself out of a primary chaos of material energy, organized into the cycles of Yin and Yang and formed into objects and lives. Yin is the receptive and Yang the active principle, seen in all forms of change and difference such as the annual cycle (winter and summer), the landscape (north-facing shade and south-facing brightness), sexual coupling (female and male), the formation of both men and women as characters, and sociopolitical history (disorder and order).There are various dynamics in Chinese cosmology. In the cosmology pertaining to Yin and Yang, the material energy, which this universe has created itself out of, is also referred to as qi. It is believed that the organization of qi in this cosmology of Yin and Yang has formed many things. Included among these forms are humans. Many natural dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang. This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhang, taijiquan (t'ai chi), and qigong (Chi Kung), as well as appearing in the pages of the I Ching.

The notion of a duality can be found in many areas, such as Communities of Practice. The term "dualistic-monism" or dialectical monism has been coined in an attempt to express this fruitful paradox of simultaneous unity and duality. Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. According to this philosophy, everything has both yin and yang aspects (for instance, shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang (i.e. taijitu symbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.

In Taoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other dichotomous moral judgments, are perceptual, not real; so, the duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole. In the ethics of Confucianism on the other hand, most notably in the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu (c. 2nd century BC), a moral dimension is attached to the idea of yin and yang.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinBái Yīpíng

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