An insatiable appetite for ancient and modern tongues

Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Sinitic. Many scholars think that all forms of Chinese constitute an independent sub-family of Sino-Tibetan coordinate with Tibeto-Burman, the other sub-family of this family. Not everybody accepts this relationship, though, and others consider that all varieties of Chinese integrate, on their own, a separate family.

Overview. Chinese is the largest language in the world, spoken by close to twenty percent of the planet's population. It has the longest uninterrupted record of any living language having been written for about 3,200 years (the extinct ancient Egyptian has an even longer record).

    It is tonal and in ancient times was almost exclusively monosyllabic though now it has also disyllabic and trisyllabic words. It is a prototypical isolating language in which morphemes (meaningful morphological units that cannot be further divided) are essentially invariable and clearly separable from other morphemes, each encoding one single word or grammatical property.

Distribution. The vast majority of Chinese speakers reside in China (including Hong Kong and Macau) and Taiwan. Chinese migrants have spread to all continents. There are many in South-East Asia, especially in Malaysia and Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines. Some have migrated to South Korea and Japan. Others live in North America (USA and Canada) and, in smaller numbers, in South America (Peru, Brazil, Argentina). Australia is the main hub for Chinese speakers in the Pacific region, South Africa for the African continent.

Speakers. Including all dialects, the number of native Chinese speakers totals around 1.3 billion. They live in the following countries (speakers in millions):














South Africa














Varieties. Chinese dialects share a large number of words of common origin but they differ in their sound systems. Chinese has seven major dialect groups (see map): Mandarin (70 % of all Chinese speakers) spoken across northern and southwestern China, Wu (8.5 %) based in Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu provinces as well as in the city of Shanghai, Yue or Cantonese (5.5 %) dominant in Guangdong province and neighboring regions, Min (4.5 %) prevalent in Fujian province, Hainan Island and Taiwan, Kejia or Hakka (4 %) in northeast Guangdong, Gan (2.5 %) in Jiangxi province, and Xiang (5 %) in Hunan province.

    Mandarin consist of several dialects whose classification is not settled. However, they can be broadly grouped into Northern, Northwestern, and Southwestern varieties. The standard language is a form of Mandarin whose phonology is based on the dialect of Beijing but including vocabulary from other Mandarin dialects.

Status. Mandarin or Modern Standard Chinese, officially called Putonghua, was adopted as the national language of China, the language of instruction at all levels of education and of the mass media. It is also the official language of Taiwan and Singapore, and it is one of the six official languages of the UN.


1200-771 BCE. Proto-Chinese. The earliest records of the language are oracle-bone and bronze-vessel inscriptions. Close to 4,000 characters have been identified in them but only a little more than fifty percent have been deciphered.

771 BCE-220 CE. Old (Archaic) Chinese begins with the Zhou dynasty and the appearance of the first literature of which the earliest is the Book of Songs. Dictionaries of the Han dynasty help to understand the phonology at this stage by their description of characters.

220-960 CE. Middle (Ancient) Chinese begins with the fall of the Han dynasty followed by civil wars and the unification of the country under the Sui and Tang. One of the most illuminating sources for Middle Chinese are rhyme dictionaries, like the Qièyùn, used in the imperial examination system which provide information about the sound, meaning and formation of the characters.

960-1900CE. Early Modern Chinese. Two rhyme books (Zhōngyuán Yīnyùn and Hóngw zhèngyùn) are essential for reconstructing the phonology of this period. Italian missionaries left the first transliterations of Chinese into the Latin alphabet.

1900-present. Modern Chinese. The Beijing dialect was chosen as the national language and the characters and pronunciation were standardized. In 1956 a standard transliteration system into the Latin alphabet called Pinyin was adopted.

Oldest Documents. Date from the second half of the second millennium BCE in the form of inscriptions carved on:

a) turtle shells and oxen shoulder blades, for divination purposes, found at the ruins of Anyang (Henan province), the Shang dynasty capital, and later at other sites as well.

b) inscriptions, short and long, in Shang and Western Zhou bronze vessels.


Syllable structure: Chinese syllable structure is constrained. Every syllable has a nuclear vowel, which may occur with another vowel to form a diphthong (in Mandarin triphthongs are also possible). The vocalic nucleus may be preceded and/or followed by a consonant. Consonant clusters are not allowed and only a restricted set of consonants are permitted in syllable-final position. In Mandarin the only final consonants allowed are the nasals n and ŋ. In Cantonese, besides these, m, p, t, and k are found in final position.

Vowels (7): [y] is lower than [i] and rounded. The back vowels are also rounded.



Consonants (22):  Stops and affricates are all voiceless, each having contrasting aspirated and unaspirated varieties. Most fricatives are also voiceless.


Tones: All Chinese dialects have tones but their number varies: Mandarin has 4, Wu 7, Yue 9, Min 7, Kejia 6, Gan 7, Xiang 6. Mandarin has four basic tones as well as a short and weak neutral tone: high, rising, falling, falling-rising. When syllables are connected in natural speech tonal changes occur which are called tone sandhi.

Writing System

Chinese writing is logographic. Each character corresponds to a syllable which is a lexical unit.  Having existed for nearly four thousand years the Chinese writing system has evolved with time into these forms:

1) Oracle-bone script (Shang Dynasty).

2) Bronze script (inscriptions in bronze vessels, Late Shang Dynasty).

3) Seal script (Qin Dynasty).

4) Standard script (Han Dynasty).

5) Simplified Standard script (adopted in 1965).


China has developed an official transliteration system into the Latin alphabet called pinyin in which:

*the voiceless non-aspirated stops p, t, k are written as b, d, and g, respectively.

*the voiceless aspirated stops pʰ, tʰ, kʰ are written as p, t, and k, respectively.

*the alveolar non-aspirated affricate ts is written z.

*the alveolar aspirated affricate tsʰ is written c.

*the retroflex non-aspirated affricate tʂ is written zh.

*the retroflex aspirated affricate tʂʰ is written ch.

*the palatal non-aspirated affricate tç is written j.

*the palatal aspirated affricate tçʰ is written q.

*the retroflex voiceless fricative ʂ is written sh.

*the retroflex voiceless fricative ʐ is written r.

*the palatal fricative ç is written x.

*the velar fricative x is written h.

*a is written a  

*ə and ɛ are written e

*o is written o

*i is written i or yi

*u is written u or wu

*y is written ü or yu

High tone is indicated with a macron (like in ), rising tone by an acute accent (like in shí), falling tone by a grave accent (like in èr), falling-rising tone by an inverted circumflex accent (like in w).


Chinese is an isolating language. Words are not inflected for number, case, gender, tense or mood. The main lexical categories are nouns, pronouns, determiners, classifiers, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, and sentence-final particles. Numeral classifiers are required when enumerating nouns. Inflectional suffixes are employed to make plurals and mark verbal aspect. Other suffixes are available to express possession and location. New words can be formed by compounding, affixing and reduplication.

  1. pronouns: Personal pronouns are w(1st sg), n (2nd sg), tā (3rd sg), wmén (1st pl), nmén (2nd pl), tāmén (3rd pl). There is one proximal demonstrative pronoun (zhè) and one distal (); both can be pluralized with -xiē. Thus, zhè (‘this’), zhèxiē (‘these’), (‘that’), nàxiē (‘those’).

  1. prepositions: zài (‘in, at’), b (‘than’), cóng (‘from’), (‘for’), duì (‘towards’), gēn (‘with someone’), yòng (‘with something’), (‘apart from’). There are many others.

  1. possession: is indicated by the particle de placed between the possessor and the possessed noun e.g:

  1. bàba de lǐngdài             Father’s tie.

  2. father of tie

  1. potentiality: the ability to do something is expressed by placing the clitic de (homophonous with the possessive and relative markers but written with a different character) between a verb and a complement of result.

  1. relative marker: the homophonous clitic de is the relative marker, which is placed before the head noun.  Another de functions as an adverbial marker.

  1. sentence-final particles: ma, ne, ba, a/ya, placed at the end of the sentence have different functions:

  1. ma is a question marker:

  1. nǐ    chī    ma

  2. you eat     ?

  3. Do you eat?

  1. ne is used to express expectation, surprise or response to a claim.

  1. ba when seeking approval of the hearer:

  1. wǒmén zǒu  ba

  2. we       walk

  3. Shall we go?

  1. a/ya is used to soften an order:

  1. nǐ  lái     ya

  2. you come

  3. Please, come!

  1. locative particles: mark the direction or location of an action: shàng (up), xià (down), l (amid), wài (outside), nèi (inside).

  1. noun classifiers: classifiers are required when nouns are modified by a number and/or a determiner (quantifier or demonstrative). They are attached as suffixes to the numeral, quantifier or demonstrative. There is one general classifier (ge) that can occur with most nouns, but normally specific classifiers are used with certain groups of nouns which are (loosely) conceptually related.

  2. zhèi-ge dìfang

  3. this-CL place

  4. wǔ-ge rén

  5. five-CL people

  6. yí-zuò shān

  7. one-CL mountain

  8. sì-zhī qiú

  9. four-CL ball

  1. zhī is a classifier for round-shape things

  1. inflection-like processes: inflectional affixes include plural markers for human nouns and aspect markers for verbs (perfective, imperfective and experiential). The universal plural marker is -men. Aspect markers are the suffixes -le which indicates that the action has been completed, -guo which indicates the action has occurred at least once, and -zhe which indicates that the action is ongoing.

  1. wǒ ('I') + mén (plural marker) = wǒ-mén ('we')

  2. péngyǒu ('friend') + mén (plural marker) = péngyǒu-mén ('friends')

  1. tā chī-le fàn

  2. he eat-PM-rice       PM : perfective marker

  3. He ate rice

  1. wǒ chi-guo fàm

  2. I   eat-EM rice       EM: experiential marker

  3. I ate rice, at least once

  1. tā chuān-zhe pí-xié

  2. he wears-IM leather-shoe       IM: imperfective marker

  3. He is wearing leather shoes

  1. genitive and locative suffixes: the genitive suffix -de attached to a personal pronoun converts it into a possessive one. Locative suffixes may be added to nouns to specify location; they are often used in conjunction with prepositions.

  1. word formation: is achieved by three processes:

  2. a)Compounding. In Old Chinese the majority of words were monosyllabic but this has changed in Modern Chinese where there are many disyllabic, and some trisyllabic, words formed by compounding. Compounds may be nominal, verbal or mixed:

  1. nominal compounds: huŏ-shān = fire-mountain ('volcano'), shŭi-píngzi = water-bottle ('water bottle') , fù-mŭ = father-mother ('parents'), yăn-jìng = eye-glass ('glasses')

  1. verbal compoundsbāng-zhù = help-assist ('help'), jiè-yòng = borrow-use ('to borrow'), jiě-jué = untie-resolve ('to solve')

  1. mixed compounds (verb-noun): xíng-lĭ = perform-salutation ('salute)', yí-xīn = doubt-heart ('to suspect'), wàng-yuăn-jìng = look-far-glass ('telescope')

  1. b)Derivational affixing. Derivational affixes are bound morphemes (prefixes and suffixes) which, attached to free words and to roots, form new nouns and verbs. One prefix is kě which allows to derive adjectives from verbs, another is which added to cardinal numerals converts them in ordinal. A derivational suffix is xué used to signal a subject of study or a branch of knowledge (equivalent to -ology in English); another is jiā which is employed for professions (equivalent to English -ist).

  1. c)Reduplication. A morpheme is repeated and joined to the original morpheme. Adjectives, verbs and classifiers can be reduplicated. Reduplication of adjectives may intensify their meaning or may serve to create an adverb. Reduplication of verbs have the opposite effect attenuating the action ('doing a little bit'). Classifiers can be reduplicated to give emphasis. For example:

  1. Intensifying the meaning of adjectives: hóng ('red'), hóng-hong (intense red)

  2. Creating an adverb: kuài ('quick'), kuaì-kuai ('quickly')

  3. Verb attenuation: shuō ('speak'), shuō-shuo (to speak a little)

  4. Verbs can also be reduplicated using the verb kàn ('to see') or yi ('one') after the reduplicated verb or in the middle: zǒu ('to walk'), zǒu-zou-kàn (walk a little bit), zǒu-yi-zǒu (walk a little bit).


   As Chinese has no inflections, the order of the components of the sentence is essential to understand its meaning. Normally, the performer (agent) of the action or the experiencer of some psychological state is placed before the verb, and the patient, who suffers the effect of the action or the goal of the action, after it. Thus, the usual order is Subject-Verb-Object.

    Often the topic of the sentence is stated at its beginning. The copula is generally omitted. Noun modifiers usually precede the noun and adverbs follow the noun but precede the verb. The order of constituents in a noun phrase is:

  1. demonstrative-numeral-classifier-adjective-noun

  2. nà        yī         pī        hēi         mǎ

  3. that    one       CL      black     horse

The verbal phrase may be formed by a verb only or by a verb plus a noun phrase. When the verb is transitive, up to two noun phrases are possible expressing the direct (patient) and indirect objects (recipient):

  1. subject-verb-indirect object-direct  object

  2. wǒ gěi-le lǎo-zhāng  sān   běn   shū

  3. I   gave  old-Zhang  three CL  book 

  1. I gave old Zhang three books

Note: běn is a classifier for books

Serial verb constructions are common; in them the relation between verbs is unspecified and must be inferred from the context of the discourse.

Questions which have an expected yes or no answer may be indicated by rising intonation or by adding the particles ma or ne at the end of a sentence. Alternatively, by combining negative and affirmative versions of the same proposition: 'you buy-not buy book?'. More specific questions are posed with the aid of question words, like shéi (who?), shénme (what?), nli (where?) and duōsho (how many?).

Negation may be expressed by one of three negative words: , bié, méi. The first one is the most widely used, the second is employed in negative commands, the third one to negate a completed action.


The arrival of Buddhism from India prompted borrowings from Sanskrit, and the vicinity to Japan loans from native Japanese words. Mongolian dominance left its mark in a number of terms to which borrowings from other Altaic languages were added. Later, European terms entered the language directly or through the intermediation of Japanese. More recently, the influence of English has left its mark in the scientific, technical and international fields.

Basic Vocabulary

one: yī

two: èr

three: sān

four: sì

five: wǔ

six: liù

seven: qī

eight: bā

nine: jiǔ

ten: shí

hundred: bǎi

father: bà

mother: mǔ

elder brother: gē

younger brother: dì

older sister: jiě

younger sister: mèi

son: ér zi

daughter: nǚ ér

head: tóu

eye: jīng

hand/palm: bā zhǎng

foot: jyǎo/zú

heart: xīn

tongue: shé

Key Literary Works (all early dates are approximative, tone markings are omitted)

900-600 BCE  Shijing (Book of Songs). Anonymous

  1. The first Chinese poetic collection, containing 305 poems of varying length. They include many folksongs as well as songs sung by the nobles, ritual hymns, and ballads based on historical events occurred during the Zhou dynasty. Chosen by Confucius as a text for moral instruction, it constitutes one of the five Confucian classics.

600-300 BCE  Daodejing (Classic of the Way of Power). Laozi?

  1. A classic of philosophical literature, written in a concise language, attributed doubtfully to Laozi, the reputed founder of Daoism who was supposed to be a contemporary of Confucius. It is an elusive and mystical text inspired by the Dao, a metaphysical principle which cannot be explained but apprehended intuitively. The follower of the Dao resorts to no action, cultivating the way of virtue and self-effacement.

  1. 470 BCE    Lunyu (Conversations). Confucius

  2. Confucius philosophy expressed in a collection of his sayings compiled by his pupils after his death. Benevolence, wisdom, courage are some of the moral attributes which have to be pursued to reach the perfection of moral character. A man also has duties such as filial duty, duty to his lord, to his friends and, in general, to other human beings. The pursuit of morality must be done for its own sake, without self-interest. It has been translated into English as 'The Analects of Confucius'.

  1. 400 BCE    Mozi. Mozi (Motzu)

  2. The founder of Mohism thought that one should look for the welfare of the people in a spirit of impartial concern with no distinction between the self and the other. He preached undifferentiated love, an ascetic discipline and reverence for a personal god. His work is the first example of the well-developed essay, coined in simple and forceful style.

  1. 300 BCE    Mengzi. Mengzi (Mencius)

  2. Mengzi, known as Mencius in the West, developed the basic ideas of orthodox Confucianism and adapted them to the new times. In this collection of his sayings, recorded by his disciples, he affirms that human nature is basically good and underscores the duties of the ruler towards his subjects.

  1. 300 BCE    Zhuangzi. Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu)

  2. A thought-provoking Daoist text composed by didactic narratives, poetry and short prose essays of which the first seven chapters are from Zhuangzi himself while the remainder twenty-six are from his followers. The ideal man is unattached, escaping from social pressure to gain individual freedom. Zhuangzi stresses the relativity of all experience, there is no good or evil because life is part of the omnipresent Dao. Its different stages are like the seasons of nature.

300-100 BCE  Chuci (Elegies of Chu). Qu Yuan & others

  1. Translated into English as "The Songs of the South", it is an anthology of poems of the kingdom of Chu rooted in Shamanism, half of them by Qu Yuan, China’s first known poet. Some are invocations by shamans but others are personal and confessional. Among the latter, the autobiographical 'Encountering Trouble' by Qu Yuan in which the poet complains of rejection by the king and embarks on a shamanistic flight in a failed attempt to find a divine mate.

  1. 100 BCE    Shiji (Historical records). Sima Qian

  2. A monumental and masterful historical work retracing the history of China from its beginnings to the author's time. It follows a five-part plan. The “basic annals”give a general chronological outline centered on the events of the court, the chronological tables provide an overview of the history of several independent feudal kingdoms, a series of monographs treats matters of government, “the hereditary houses” contains detailed accounts of each state, the "biographies" take several famous individuals as exemplars of various types of conduct. Besides his great historical value, Shiji is remarkable for its literary qualities.

  1. 1st c. CE    Hanshu (Han Documents). Ban Gu (Pan Ku)

  2. Translated into English as the 'History of the Former Han', this massive work became the prototype for the official histories of successive dynasties. Intended to be a comprehensive record of the Han empire, from its beginning in 206 BCE to the usurpation of Wang Mang in 9 CE, it is a thorough and objective account written in a sober prose.

  1. 3rd c.    Poems. Cao Zhi (Ts'ao Chih)

  2. A new lyric mood emerged at the end of  the later Han dynasty and the best representative of this jian’an style was Cao Zhi whose poems frequently adopted the five-character line. He is the precursor of a more sophisticated way of expression that strongly influenced many later poets. As his life turned sour his poems abandoned an initial optimistic tone to become bitter.

  1. 4th c.    Poems. Tao Yuan-ming

  2. Tao was a reclusive poet who lived a quiet life of seclusion in his farm. His poetry is largely autobiographical and devoid of ornament. He has a deep feeling for nature and compares himself and his emotions with its changes, the passing of the seasons, the wild geese coming home in summer... One of his most famous compositions, 'Peach Blossom Spring', is not a poem but a prose depiction of an utopian land where, cut off from the outside world, farmers dwell in harmony.

  1. 720-760    Poems. Wang Wei

  2. Wang Wei was a civil servant with little ambition. Whenever he could he retired to his estate on the Wang River to enjoy nature and peace. He was a convinced Buddhist but he also enjoyed sensual pleasures and this tension between the contemplative and the worldly informs much of his poetry. He was also a renowned painter and in his descriptions of landscapes he resorts to an impressionistic visual imagery.

  1. 725-762    Poems. Li Bai (Li Po)

  2. Li Bai wrote poems about his travels and sightseeing, about friendship and loneliness, about the pleasure of drinking wine, about the passage of time... He disliked Confucian values and had a romantic and unconventional personality.

  1. 735-770    Poems. Du Fu (Tu Fu)

  2. Du Fu introduced radical innovations of theme, structure and language in Chinese poetry. He wrote about public and private matters, but in his public poems private life is also present and social concerns are not absent in his private ones. He wrote against war and injustice with a realism never heard before and showed deep compassion for the underprivileged. His diction is compressed and saturated with images couched in a highly refined and rich language.

  1. 800-846    Poems. Bai Juyi (Po Chü-yi)

  2. Bai Juyi was deeply concerned with social problems. His poems describe and denounce the corruption of government officials, militarism and abuse of power suffered by the common people. Composed in elegant simple verse, many of his poems are partly or totally narrative.

  1. 1060-1100    Poems. Su Dongpo (Su Tung-p'o)

  2. As a provincial administrator during the Song dynasty he moved around the country and that is why many of his poems are about journeys and landscapes. He also wrote about his brother and an elegy on his deceased wife. While in exile he composed a heroic poem ('Song of the River') and poems about poor people's miseries like 'Lament of a Peasant Woman' and 'Snow on New Year’s Day'.

  1. 1300    Xixiangji (Romance of the Western Chamber). Wang Shifu

  2. Composed during the Yuan dynasty that saw the flowering of the drama, the main theme of this play, based on a popular Tang prose romance, is the love between a girl, daughter of a former Prime Minister, and a young scholar. Two or three times longer than the average Yuan play, the narrative part is written in prose and the lyrical one in verse.

early 15th c.   Shuihu zhuan (The Water Margin). Lo Guanzhong (Lo Kuan-chung)

  1. An early novel set in the final years of the Song Dynasty telling about one hundred men who, escaping from harsh feudal officials, band together on a mountain surrounded by a marsh. There, they become leaders of an outlaw army that defeats every attempt to destroy them. 'The Water Margin' apparently endorses a counterculture based on secret brotherhood morality and defiance of the existent sociopolitical order. Translated into English as "Outlaws of the Marsh".

  1. 16th c.    Xiyouji (Journey to the West). Wu Chengen

  2. This is a comic novel loosely based on the voyage of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang who went to India searching for sacred texts in the 7th century. Here, the monk is accompanied by a Monkey endowed with magical powers, the gluttonous and slow-witted Pigsy and the fish-spirit Sandy. One of the main themes of the story is the struggles of the monk to control the impulsive and irascible Monkey.

  1. 1617    Jingpingmei (The Plum in the Golden Vase). Anonymous

  2. A naturalistic and domestic novel, the first of its kind, whose name is based on those of the three main female characters. Ximen Qing is a merchant, corrupt and lustful, who has several wives and concubines. Pan Jinlian, a lesser concubine, is determined to become the mistress of the household by trying to gain sexual domination over the master. She engages in competition with the other women and risks to destroy the entire family. The novel contains many erotic passages that not always contribute to its structure.

  1. 1750    Rulinwaishih (Unofficial History of the Literati). Wu Jingzi (Wu Ching-tzu)

  2. Translated into English as 'The Scholars', this novel depicts and satirizes the pedantry and hypocrisy of Confucian scholars. The author criticizes the civil service examination system because it promoted those who were over-ambitious and sought an official position, wealth and fame.

  1. 1760    Hongloungmen (Dream of the Red Chamber). Cao Xueqin

  2. Considered as the greatest Chinese novel, its subject is the glory and decadence of an upper-class extended family in the early Qing dynasty. It combines depictions of everyday life told with realistic detail, with delicate poetry and dream imagery. Translated into English as the "The Story of the Stone".

  1. 1776    Liaozhai zhiyi (Strange Stories from the Make-Do Studio). Pu Songling

  2. A celebrated collection of supernatural short stories, populated by ghosts and animal spirits who have human feelings, in which the author combines the marvelous with psychological depth.

  1. 1809    Fu-sheng liu-chi (Six Chapters of a Floating Life). Shen Fu

  2. Shen Fu belonged to the private secretary class that didn't have a great chance of success in the society of his time. He also tried to become a painter and a businessman and failed. In these memoirs, not arranged chronologically but according to his own experiences, he gives us a rare insight into everyday life, about topics like courtesans, concubines and arranged marriages and, exceptionally in Chinese literature, provides a portraiture of romantic love exemplified in his tender relationship with his wife.

  1. 1918-26    Short Stories. Lu Xun (Lu Hsün)

  2. With 'Diary of a Madman' published in 1918, Lu Xun wrote the first Western-style short story in Chinese, whose title and diary format he borrowed from Nikolai Gogol. A social critic and reformist, he employs in it humor and irony to condemn traditional Confucian culture. In the next few years he continued to write stories and one of the most influential of them is 'The True Story of Ah Q', published in 1921, in which he satirized the flaws in the “national character” embodied in the protagonist.

  1. 1933    Ziye (Midnight). Mao Dun

  2. A realist novel protagonized by a clever and enterprising tycoon who is brought down by a combination of economic and social forces in the financial chaos of Shangai after the depression era.

  1. 1936    Luotuo Xiangzi (Camel Xiangzi). Lao She

  2. Translated into English as 'Rickshaw Boy', this proletarian novel traces the struggle of a peasant orphan boy to become an independent rickshaw puller in 1920s Beijing, affected by deep social and political transformations. After an initial success, he suffers several reversals of fortune until he abandons his dream and becomes a vagrant and a police informer.

  1. © 2013 Alejandro Gutman and Beatriz Avanzati

Further Reading

  1. -Chinese: A Linguistic Introduction. Chaofen Sun. Cambridge University Press (2006).

  2. -Chinese. J. Norman. Cambridge University Press (1988).

  3. -A Grammar of Spoken Chinese. Y-R. Chao. University of California Press (1968).

  4. -Grammaire du Chinois. V. Alleton. Presses Universitaires de France (1973).

  5. -'Chinese'. C. N. Li & S. A. Thompson. In The World's Major Languages, 703-723. B. Comrie (ed). Routledge (2009).

  6. -About Chinese. R. Newnham. Penguin (1971).

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