CHINESE LANGUAGE 漢語
LANGUAGE of CHINA.
Old Chinese Criteria
1. guānhuà 官話 "Mandarin" is obsolete, and its traditional antonym was xiāngyǔ 鄉語 "local speech".
From Míng Dynasty times, this was a current word for the common vernacular language used by administrative staff of any kind throughout China.
DC: 明何良俊《四友齋叢說 ‧ 史十一》： " 雅宜不喜作鄉語，每發口必官話。 "
2. báihuà 白話 "plain speech, vernacular" (as opposed to wényán 文言 )
This is a modern word referring to an easily accessible written version of the Chinese language. In classical contexts or early vernacular contexts the expression always seems to refer to "empty talk" rather than the vernacular language.
3. guóyǔ 國語 "national language" (ant. wàiyǔ 外語 ) (pre-1950ies and Taiwan)
A word that continues to be in increasing common use even in Mainland China today, and which is standard in places like Malaysia or Singapore, as well as in Taiwan.
4. zhōngguóyǔ 中國語 "language of China" (ant. wàiguóyǔ 外國語 )
Current Japanese way of writing the Japanese word for the Chinese language, but the expression has a long history in China, the first attested use being in Yáng Xióng's Model Sayings of the first century BC.
5. pǔtōnghuà 普通話 "common language" (Mainland China) (ant. dìfāngyǔ 地方語, fāngyán 方言 "dialect (not in the ancient meaning)")
This is a very common modern expression which corresponds to Greek koinē, and the word is always used in counterdistinction to (often mutually incomprehensible) dialects. The word has a rather political flair.
6. Hànyǔ 漢語 "language of the Hàn people" (should include all dialects, but is often used otherwise)
This is the most current word for the Chinese language as opposed to other 族語 "national languages". The word is very current in the Buddhist Tripitaka, but it is also attested elsewhere 庾信《奉和法筵應詔》： " 佛影胡人記，經文漢語翻。 ". The term is also attested in 世說新語.
7. Zhōngguóhuà 中國話 "Chinese speech" (includes all dialects)
This word is always used in counterdistinction to foreign languages. It has become current in international contexts in nineteenth century novels.
8. Zhōngwén 中文 "Chinese (typically written) language" (ant. wàiwén 外文, often icludes speech: 會說中文 )
This word is already attested in the medieval 搜神記, where it refers to the written language. In Modern Standard Chinese this is a very common way of referring to Chinese as opposed to foreign languages, and as a subject in school curricula.
9. Huáyǔ 華語 "Chinese talk" (used mainly in Singapore, Hong Kong etc.)
This word has a long history in Buddhist texts, and it is also already attested in 劉知幾《史通 ‧ 言語》： "... 必諱彼夷音，變成華語.
10. Hànyīn 漢音 "Han-Chinese sounds" refers to the Chinese language in a poetic style. Sanskrit is currently referred to as 梵音.
HD sub verbo 漢文： 2. 漢語；漢字。南朝梁僧祐《梵漢譯經音義同异記》： " 或善梵義而不了漢音，或明漢文而不曉梵意。 "
HD: 2. 指漢語。南朝宋朱廣之《咨顧道士＜夷夏論＞》： " 想茲漢音，流入彼國。 "
11. Hàn yán 漢言 "Hàn language, language of the Hàn Dynasty> Chinese" (ant. 胡言 or 胡語 ) is a historico-ethnographic term.
This remained a very common way of referring to the Chinese language long after the Hàn Dynasty, as is clear from the Buddhist Tripitaka. (424 occurrences in CBETA.)
漢言覺也。 is "the enlightened" in Hàn language"
將以覺悟群生也。 He will bring enlightenment to the sentient beings.
12. Wényán 文言 "literary Chinese" (ant. báihuà 白話 "plain vernacular") today refers to a modernised version of traditional classical Chinese, as used for example in letters. But in the Buddhist Tripitaka, for example, the phrase regularly refers to ornate Chinese, ornate formulations. Neither traditionally nor in modern times is 文言 used in counterdistinction to foreign languages: the contrast is with other varieties of Chinese.
DC: 4. 別於白話的古漢語書面語。蔡元培《在國語傳習所的演說》： " 文言上還有例句，如 ' 爾無我詐，我無爾虞 ' 等。 "
13. wényánwén 文言文 "literary Chinese writing" (ant. báihuàwén 白話文 ) refers to classical Chinese as it continues to be used in the introductions to books and in formal letter-writing.
This is a twentieth century word, as far as I can see.
14. báihuà-wén 白話文 "plain talk writing" (ant. wényánwén 文言文 ) is a term with a strong stylistic nuance.
This is a twentieth century word.
15. tōngyòngyǔ 通用語 "general use language".
This is a twentieth century neologism designed to replace 普通話. The term has never achieved broad use.
16. dàzhòngyǔ 大眾語 "mass language" is obsolete today.
This is a politicised ideological concept stressing the universal use and popularity of the Chinese language as advocated by language politicians. It is a twentieth century political neologism.
17. guówén 國文 "state writing" refers in a formal way to written Chinese.
This is a twentieth century term mainly used in connection with educational politics.
HD: 許地山《東野先生》： “ 這不是國文教科書底一課麼？ ”
18. Hàn wén 漢文 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Hàn (typically written) language"
HD: 2. 漢語；漢字。南朝梁僧祐《梵漢譯經音義同异記》： " 或善梵義而不了漢音，或明漢文而不曉梵意。 "
19. Zhōngguó wénzì 中國文字 "the Chinese (written) language"
20. Huá yán 華言 is an obsolete traditional term for Chinese that comes over 1200 times in Taisho Tripitaka.
21. dōngtǔ Huáxiàyán 東土華夏言 "Chinese language in the eastern regions" is an ad hoc periphrastic expression which one might insist was never lexicalised, but it is perhaps worth recording just as well, if only in order to
22. Hàn'ér yányǔ 漢兒言語 "Hàn language" is a term that is current in Korean textbooks of colloquial Chinese, like the famous 老乞大 : “ 你是高麗人，卻怎麼漢兒言語說的好。 ” See also the article in 太田辰夫《漢語史通考 · 關於漢兒言語》
23. Jìn wén 晉文 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Jìn (typically written) language" is fairly rare, but clear examples are easily found:
24. Jìn yán 晉言 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Language of the Jìn" is common indeed, but many examples can be read technically as "in Jìn this translates as". Not however in this example:
斯經似安世高譯。為晉言也。 (punctuation probably wrong!)
25. Jìn yǔ 晉語 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Speech of the Jìn"
26. Jìn yīn 晉音 "Jìn Dynasty speech"
27. Qín yán 秦言 "Qín language> Chinese" is the standard way of providing Chinese translations for Sanskrit words in the Buddhist Tripitaka. (No less than 1132 examples in CBETA, but mostly formulaic, as in the following examples.)
答曰。摩訶秦言大。 "maha is "big"in Chinese"
28. Qín yǔ 秦語 "Speech of the Qín > Chinese"
In the Buddhist Tripitaka, this is a very formal term for Chinese, not very common. (Only 22 occurrences in CBETA)
梵本十五千七十二首盧 ( 四十八萬二千五百四言 ) 。
胡本十五千七十二首盧 ( 四十八萬二千三百四言 ) 秦語十九萬五千二百五十言
29. Táng wén 唐文 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Táng (typically written) language"
This is the standard way of referring to the written Chinese language in Buddhist texts of the Táng dynasty.
30. Táng yán 唐言 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Language of the Táng".
1523 occurrences in CBETA. Occasionally, one wonders whether this does refer to Táng time Chinese whereas Hànyīn 漢音 does not:
31. Táng yǔ 唐語 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Speech of the Táng"
A fairly rare way of referring to the Chinese language in Táng Buddhist texts. (Only 18 occurrences in CBETA)
32. Táng yīn 唐音 "Táng speech" is a regular expression for Táng Dynasty Chinese in the Buddhist Tripitaka.
33. Tánghuà 唐話 "Táng talk" is a current Cantonese term for Chinese, and the famous intellectual 許地山 writes: 他說的雖是唐話，但是語格和腔調全是不對的。 But in this phrase, I am instructed by my teacher and friend Jiǎng Shàoyú, Táng refers not to the dynasty but to 唐山.
34. Dà Táng yǔ 大唐語 "Speech of the Great Táng Dynasty" is rarely attested, but the word does exist:
若僧雖是新羅人。却會大唐語。 Monk Ruò was a person from Xīnluó, but he spoke the language of the Great Táng Dynasty.
35. Hàn 漢 is an abbreviation for Hànyǔ 漢語 currently used in Buddhist translation theory, but the word is not in itself a term for the Chinese language outside such technical contexts.
翻梵為漢 Translate the Sanskrit into Chinese.
翻譯之家自有規准。 The specialists in translation have their own standards.
若名梵漢共有。 If a term exists both in Sanskrit and in Chinese
則敵對而翻。 than they just match the terms up in translation.
36. Táng 唐 "language of the Táng Dynsasty.
梵唐對譯阿彌陀經一卷 ( 仁 )
This is the same as 梵唐語：
37. Jìn 晉 "the language of the Jìn Dynasty.
The term is rarely used to refer directly to the language, unlike the common Táng 唐. But examples do exist:
38. nèidìhuà 內地話 refers to the language spoken on the Mainland, and the word is mostly used on Taiwan. This term represents an outsider's view on the Chinese language. (2.9 million hits in Google! This important word was brought to my attention by Jens Østergaard Petersen.)
39. shénzhōu yǔ 神州語 "the language of our divine land" is quaint, nationalistically sentimental, and a rare way of referring to the Chinese language.
40. zúyǔ 族語 "the national language (of the Chinese) is a borderline case because the term refers to national languages in general, and only by extension to Chinese in particular.
42. Hàn dì zhī yán 漢地之言 "language of the Ha4n territory" is a marginal periphrastic expression which one should probably not regard as a lexicalised item. One could study such periphrastic expressions separately from the lexicalised vocabulary.
[43. jīngpiànzi 京片子 "Chinese as spoken in Peking" is a borderline case because it does refer to Peking speech, but not insofar as it is the standard for the whole of China. Colloquial examples of this sort could be multiplied...]
Modern Chinese Criteria
1. guānhuà 官話 "Mandarin" obsolete. except as the designation of a dialect area)
2. báihuà 白話 "plain speech, vernacular" (as opposed to wényán 文言 )
3. guóyǔ 國語 "national language" (pre-1950ies and Taiwan)
4. pǔtōnghuà 普通話 "common language" (Mainland China)
5. Hànyǔ 漢語 "language of the Han people" (should include all dialects, but is often used otherwise)
6. Zhōngguóhuà 中國話 "Chinese speech" (includes all dialects)
7. Zhōngwén 中文 "Chinese (typically written) language" (often icludes speech: 會說中文 )
8. Huáyǔ 華語 "Chinese talk" (used mainly in Singapore, Hong Kong etc.)
9. báihuà-wén 白話文 "vernacular writing"
10. (xiàndài) Hànyǔ ( 現代 ) 漢語 "modern Chinese"
11. tōngyòngyǔ 通用語 "general use language".
12. dàzhòngyǔ 大眾語 "mass language" is obsolete today.
13. guówén 國文 refers in a formal way to written Chinese.
14. huáyán 華言 is an obsolete traditional term for Chinese that comes over 1200 times in Taisho Tripitaka.
15. Xià wén 夏文 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Xià (typically written) language"
16. Xià yān 夏言 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Language of the Xià"
17. Hàn wén 漢文 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Hàn (typically written) language"
18. Hàn yán 漢言 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Language of the Hàn"
19. Huá yán 華言 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Language of the Chinese"
20. Jìn wén 晉文 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "(Typically written) language of the Jìn"
21. Jìn yán 晉言 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Language of the Jìn"
23. Jìn yǔ 晉語 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Speech of the Jìn"
24. Táng wén 唐文 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "(Typically written) language of the Táng"
25. Táng yán 唐言 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Language of the Táng"
26. Táng yǔ 唐語 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Speech of the Táng"
27. Zhū Xià Hàn yǔ 諸夏漢語 (obsolete, current in Buddhist texts) "Hàn speech of the various Xià people"
Old Chinese Contrasts
Schopenhauer found this inscription in a flea market in Bordeaux: autant des langues on sçait, autant de fois on est homme. Nachgelassene Schriften vol. 3, p. 51
Attributions by syntactic funtion
Attributions by text
- 賢愚經 : 6
- 六祖壇經 : 2
晉言 jìn yán OC: tsins ŋan MC: tsin ŋi̯ɐn 6 Attributions
- NPabtextthe language of the Jìn, Chinese
- NPadVin Chinese:
唐言 táng yán OC: ɡ-laaŋ ŋan MC: dɑŋ ŋi̯ɐn 2 Attributions
- NPabactTang language> Chinese
唐 táng OC: ɡ-laaŋ MC: dɑŋ 0 Attributions
- nabsociallanguage of the Táng> Chinese
晉 jìn OC: tsins MC: tsin 0 Attributions
- nabsocial(language of) the Jìn (dynasty)
漢 hàn OC: qhlaans MC: hɑn 0 Attributions
- nabsociallanguage of the Hàn> Chinese
中文 zhōng wén OC: krluŋ mɯn MC: ʈuŋ mi̯un 0 Attributions
- NPabact"Chinese (typically written) language" (often icludes speech: 會說中文 )This word is already attested in 搜神記, where it refers to the written language. In Modern Standard Chinese this is a very common way of referring to Chinese as opposed to foreign languages, and as a subject in school curricula.
唐文 táng wén OC: ɡ-laaŋ mɯn MC: dɑŋ mi̯un 0 Attributions
- NPabactTáng writing> (written) Chinese
唐話 táng huà OC: ɡ-laaŋ ɡroods MC: dɑŋ ɦɣɛi 0 Attributions
- NPabactTáng talk> Mandarin Chinese
唐語 táng yǔ OC: ɡ-laaŋ ŋaʔ MC: dɑŋ ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactTáng speech
唐音 táng yīn OC: ɡ-laaŋ qrɯm MC: dɑŋ ʔim 0 Attributions
- NPabactTáng sound> Chinese
國文 guó wén OC: kʷɯɯɡ mɯn MC: kək mi̯un 0 Attributions
- NPabactnational written language
國語 guó yǔ OC: kʷɯɯɡ ŋaʔ MC: kək ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactnational language> Chinese
夏文 xià wén OC: ɡraaʔ mɯn MC: ɦɣɛ mi̯un 0 Attributions
- NPabactChinese written language
夏言 xià yán OC: ɡraaʔ ŋan MC: ɦɣɛ ŋi̯ɐn 0 Attributions
官話 guān huà OC: koon ɡroods MC: kʷɑn ɦɣɛi 0 Attributions
文言 wén yán OC: mɯn ŋan MC: mi̯un ŋi̯ɐn 0 Attributions
- NPabactliterary Chinese
晉文 jìn wén OC: tsins mɯn MC: tsin mi̯un 0 Attributions
- NPabactJìn writing> (written) Chinese
晉語 jìn yǔ OC: tsins ŋaʔ MC: tsin ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactJìn speech> Chinese
晉音 jìn yīn OC: tsins qrɯm MC: tsin ʔim 0 Attributions
- NPabactsounds of Jìn> Chinese
漢文 hàn wén OC: qhlaans mɯn MC: hɑn mi̯un 0 Attributions
- NPabactHàn writing> (written) Chinese
漢言 hàn yán OC: qhlaans ŋan MC: hɑn ŋi̯ɐn 0 Attributions
- NPabactChinese language
漢語 hàn yǔ OC: qhlaans ŋaʔ MC: hɑn ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactHan speech> Chinese (current in Buddhist texts)
漢音 hàn yīn OC: qhlaans qrɯm MC: hɑn ʔim 0 Attributions
- NPabactChinese sound>Chinese language
白話 bái huà OC: braaɡ ɡroods MC: bɣɛk ɦɣɛi 0 Attributions
- NPabactplain vernacular Chinese
秦言 qín yán OC: dzin ŋan MC: dzin ŋi̯ɐn 0 Attributions
- NPabtextThe Chinese language
秦語 qín yǔ OC: dzin ŋaʔ MC: dzin ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactQín speech> Chinese
華言 huá yán OC: ɢʷraal ŋan MC: ɦɣɛ ŋi̯ɐn 0 Attributions
- NPabactChinese language
華語 huá yǔ OC: ɢʷraal ŋaʔ MC: ɦɣɛ ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabact"Chinese talk" (used mainly in Singapore, Hong Kong etc.)This word has a long history in Buddhist texts, and it is also aready attested in 劉知幾《史通 ‧ 言語》： "... 必諱彼夷音，變成華語.
鄉語 xiāng yǔ OC: qhaŋ ŋaʔ MC: hi̯ɐŋ ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactChinese language as spoken locally in some place
中國話 zhōng guó huà OC: krluŋ kʷɯɯɡ ɡroods MC: ʈuŋ kək ɦɣɛi 0 Attributions
- NPabactChina talk> Chinese
中國語 zhōng guó yǔ OC: krluŋ kʷɯɯɡ ŋaʔ MC: ʈuŋ kək ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactChinese language
內地話 nèi dì huà OC: nuubs lils ɡroods MC: nuo̝i di ɦɣɛi 0 Attributions
- NPabactInland speech> mainland Chinese
大唐語 dà táng yǔ OC: daads ɡ-laaŋ ŋaʔ MC: dɑi dɑŋ ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactspeech of the Great Táng> Chinese
大眾語 dà zhòng yǔ OC: daads tjuŋs ŋaʔ MC: dɑi tɕuŋ ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactmass language> Chinese as spoken by everyone, Standard Chinese
文言文 wén yán wén OC: mɯn ŋan mɯn MC: mi̯un ŋi̯ɐn mi̯un 0 Attributions
- NPabactliterary Chinese
普通話 pǔ tōng huà OC: phaaʔ kh-looŋ ɡroods MC: phuo̝ thuŋ ɦɣɛi 0 Attributions
- NPabactcommon use (Chinese) language
白話文 bái huà wén OC: braaɡ ɡroods mɯn MC: bɣɛk ɦɣɛi mi̯un 0 Attributions
- NPabactplain vernacular written Chinese
神州語 shén zhōu yǔ OC: ɢljin kju ŋaʔ MC: ʑin tɕɨu ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactlanguage of the spirit region:China> Chinese language
通用語 tōng yòng yǔ OC: kh-looŋ k-loŋs ŋaʔ MC: thuŋ ji̯oŋ ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactcommon use language: Standard Chinese
漢兒言語 hàn ér yán yǔ OC: qhlaans ŋje ŋan ŋaʔ MC: hɑn ȵiɛ ŋi̯ɐn ŋi̯ɤ 0 Attributions
- NPabactHan speech> colloquial Chinese
Existing SW for
Here are Syntactic Words already defined in the database: