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Gurevich I.S. Historical Grammar Of the Chinese Language. The Language Of the Prose In Baihua Of the Song-Yuan Period (Pinghua) [Историческая грамматика китайского языка: язык прозы на байхуа периода Сун-Юань (пинхуа)]. St Petersburg: Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie, 2008. 224 p.


The monograph proposed is a logical and chronological extension of the previous works of the authoress who is engaged in researches in the field of the historical grammar (primarily the historical development of the grammatical structure of the Medieval vernacular Chinese) during more than four decades.

In this book the grammatical structure of the Chinese language of the Song-Yuan period is being investigated. With regard to the Song-Yuan period there is a vast bulk of the literary sources belonging to the period named. A number of such which are the writings in the fiction genre (xiaoshuo) are worked up at least to a certain extent. The same time there was another section of texts belonging to a non fiction group or maybe it would be more precisely to define the texts in question as popular prose. It was a group of the vernacular narratives dealing with extended periods of the Chinese history. These texts represent the “colloquial” variant of the history — it is the pinghua genre.

To conceive the grammatical structure of the Medieval Chinese language taken as a whole (one should keep in mind that it was the base of making the National Chinese language) all sections of primary sources including pinghua texts should be carefully examined, since from the linguistic point of view, the texts of pinghua never had been made a subject of serious studies and the peculiarities of them had not been taken into consideration in standard works on Medieval Chinese so far.

In the present paper the following pinghua texts were observed in all details. First of all Pinghua of the History of the Five Dynasties had been considered carefully. Besides the Pinghua of the History of the Five Dynasties, texts included in the collective set Five Completely Illustrated Pinghua have been examined. The texts are: Pinghua on How King Wit attacked Zhou, Pinghua on the Springs and Autumns of the Seven States, Pinghua on the Annexation of the Six States by the Troops of Qin, Pinghua on the History of the Former Han Dynasty, Pinghua on the History of the Three Kingdoms. These five texts all were printed during the period 1321—1323 in Jian'an (modern Fuji an).

Besides the pinghua texts, one more source (representing a history of the diplomatic and military relations between the Song and the Jin during the period from 1117 to 1162) which is the text of San chao bei meng hui bian — one of the very important and valuable sources for the study of the early baihua - was also considered. The method of arranging the material in the paper came from the “inner nature” of the source-material: each single text was inspected thoroughly and the obtained data were then compared.

The most appropriate presentation of the materials in this work is a number of sketches, or chapters of unequal size. The bulk of each section is devoted to certain groups of function words and grammatical constructions: substitute words (personal pronouns, demonstratives, function words related to nouns, interrogatives, reflexive pronouns, predicate substitutes, numeral substitutes, and others), verb (verbal markers, verb quantifiers, and others), adverbs, prepositions and localizers, numeral measure combinations, other syntactic constructions, and so on.

As a point of special interest two sketches of the work standing apart should be named — they are: The Development of the Perfective Construction in the Chinese Language during the Period from the Late Han to the Song-Yuan Epoch and The Process of Converting Originally “Full” Words in “Empty” or Function Words.

There is a Supplement to the work that includes two items:

1. A kind of Glossary which is a description of meanings (sometimes unusual) of certain function words most frequently occurred in the texts under consideration, that could be helpful for those who are interested in reading different texts of the time.

2. A Sketch of the Text of San chao bei men hui bian: One More Sort of the yulu Genre. Bibliography and an Index of the function words and grammatical constructions analyzed are attached.


Аннотация, Предисловие, Содержание, Summary


Chinese literature
Song-Yuan Period

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