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Chinese Language

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The earliest examples of Chinese are divinatory inscriptions on oracle bones from around 1250 BCE in the late Shang dynasty. Old Chinese was the language of the Western Zhou period (1046–771 BCE), recorded in inscriptions on bronze artifacts, the Classic of Poetry and portions of the Book of Documents and I Ching. Scholars have attempted to reconstruct the phonology of Old Chinese by comparing later varieties of Chinese with the rhyming practice of the Classic of Poetry and the phonetic elements found in the majority of Chinese characters. Although many of the finer details remain unclear, most scholars agree that Old Chinese differs from Middle Chinese in lacking retroflex and palatal obstruents but having initial consonant clusters of some sort, and in having voiceless nasals and liquids. Most recent reconstructions also describe an atonal language with consonant clusters at the end of the syllable, developing into tone distinctions in Middle Chinese. Several derivational affixes have also been identified, but the language lacks inflection, and indicated grammatical relationships using word order and grammatical particles.

Standard Cantonese , in contrast, has six tones in open syllables and three tones in syllables ending with stops: [72]


Infoscholarship.info - 2018.