Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1877-7031
  • E-ISSN: 1877-8798
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



In the eyes of early modern European scholars, Chinese was commonly regarded as a “lacking” language: lacking its own grammatical tradition or “grammatics”; lacking the complex morphology of the classical European languages; even lacking its own “parts of speech” or word classes. In the late 19th century Ma Jianzhong created a grammatics for Chinese by adapting the categories of Latin grammar - and with a good understanding of the similarities and differences between the two languages - but the Chinese grammarians who followed him have struggled with the question of what might be common to all languages and what might be distinctive to Chinese. Ma saw a Chinese grammatics as a way to fill a gap in the country's literacy education, and this applied focus has been shared by most Chinese grammarians since, something which has tended to put restrictions on their description and theorising. A historical perspective is thus absolutely essential for understanding the practical and ideological problems Chinese grammatics continues to face, and can also throw light on the general challenge of extending “European grammar” to non-European languages.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bai, Liming
    2012 “Creating ‘‘Real Learning’’ for China’s Survival: Liang Qichao and the Ma Brothers, 1896–1898.” Twentieth-Century China, 37. 2, May 2012: 101–120.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Chao, Yuen Ren
    1976 “Rhythm and Structure in Chinese Word Conceptions.” inAspects of Chinese Socio-linguistics: Essays by Yuen Ren Chao. ed. by Anwar S. Dil , 275–292. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Chen, Baoya
    201520 shiji Zhongguo yuyanxue fangfalun yanjiu [A study of linguistic methodology in 20th century China] Beijing: The Commercial Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Chen, Wangdao
    (ed.) 1939 / 1987Zhongguo wenfa gexin luncong [Collection of papers on Grammar Reform]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Dixon, R. M. W.
    2010–12Basic Linguistic Theory, Vols1–3. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Elman, Benjamin A.
    1984From Philosophy to Philology: Intellectual and Social Aspects of Change in Late Imperial China. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. doi:  10.2307/j.ctt1tg5kdt
    https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1tg5kdt [Google Scholar]
  7. Gao, Mingkai
    1953 “Guanyu Hanyu de cilei fenbie [On distinguishing word classes in Chinese]”. Zhongguo Yuwen10: 13–16.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Gao, Yihong
    (ed.) 1997Collected Essays of Shen Xiaolong on Chinese Cultural Linguistics. Changchun: Northeast Normal University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Halliday, M. A. K.
    1996 On grammar and grammatics. inFunctional Descriptions: Theory in Practice, ed. by Ruqaiya Hasan , Carmel Cloran & David G. Butt , 1–38. Amsterdam: Benjamins. doi:  10.1075/cilt.121.03hal
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.121.03hal [Google Scholar]
  10. Haspelmath, Martin
    2009 “Framework-free Grammatical Theory.” inThe Oxford handbook of grammatical analysis, ed. by Bernd Heine & Heiko Narrog , 341–365. Oxford: Oxford University Press..
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Li, Charles N. , and Sandra A. Thompson
    1978 “Grammatical Relations in Languages without Grammatical Signals.” inProceedings of the XIIth International Congress of Linguists, ed. by W. Dressler : 687–691.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Liu, Lydia H.
    1995Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity – China, 1900–1937. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Lu, Jianming
    1989/1993Bashi niandai Zhongguo yufa yanjiu [Chinese grammatical studies in the 1980s]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Lu, Xun
    1934 “Nalaizhuyi [Bring-here-ism]” inZhonghua Ribao1934.6.7. Reprinted inThe Complete Works of Lu Xun6, 38–40.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Lü, Shuxiang
    1979Hanyu yufa fenxi wenti [Issues in Analysing Chinese Grammar] Beijing: Commercial Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. 1986 “Hanyu jufa de linghuoxing [The flexibility of Chinese syntax]” Zhongguo Yuwen 1986.1:1–9.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Ma, Jianzhong
    1898Mashi Wentong [Mr Ma’s Compleat Grammar]1953 Beijing: Commercial Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Mair, Victor
    1997 “Ma Jianzhong and the invention of Chinese grammar.” Studies on the History of Chinese Syntax. Journal of Chinese Linguistics Monograph Series10: 5–26.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. McDonald, Edward (Ma, Aide)
    1995 “Zhongguo wenhua yuyanxue yundong he hanyu de benzhi: guoqing de xin biaoxian? [The Chinese Cultural Linguistics movement and the nature of Chinese: a new manifestation of ‘national characteristics’?]”. Beifang Luncong / Northern Forum 1995.4: 91–104.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. McDonald, Edward
    2002 “Humanistic Spirit or Scientism?”: conflicting ideologies in Chinese language reform. Histoire, Epistémologie, Langage, 24.2. Politiques linguistiques1.2: 51–74. doi:  10.3406/hel.2002.2172
    https://doi.org/10.3406/hel.2002.2172 [Google Scholar]
  21. 2005 “The Dangers of McDonaldisation: disciplinary and cultural pitfalls in the functional description of Chinese.” inTranslation and Contrastive Studies: Proceedings of 2002 International Symposium on Contrastive and Translation Studies Between Chinese and English. ed. by Pan, W. , Fu, H. , Luo, X. , Chase, M. & Walls, J. , 261–282. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. McDonald, Edward ( Ma, Aide ) & Zeng Licheng
    2002 “Yuyan de wenhua zhijiao yu qi shehui fuhao gongneng: yuyan bijiao zhong de jizhong gongneng yuanze [A Cultural View of Language compared with its social semiotic function: some functional principles in language comparison]”. InYuyanxue: Zhongguo yu shijie tongbu, ed. by Qian Jun , 419–430. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. O’Neill, Timothy
    2013 “Xu Shen’s Scholarly Agenda: A New Interpretation of the Postface of the Shuowen jiezi .” Journal of the American Oriental Society133.3 (July-September 2013): 413–440. doi:  10.7817/jameroriesoci.133.3.0413
    https://doi.org/10.7817/jameroriesoci.133.3.0413 [Google Scholar]
  24. Peyraube, Alain
    2001 “Some reflections on the sources of the Mashi Wentong .” inNew Terms for New Ideas. Western Knowledge and Lexical Change in Late Imperial China, ed. by Michael Lackner , Iwo Amelung and Joachim Kurtz , 341–356. Leiden: Koninklike Brill.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Prémare, Joseph Henri de
    1831Notitia Linguae Sinicae [An Acquaintance with the Chinese Language]. Malacca: Cura-Academia Anglo-Sinensis.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Shen, Xiaolong
    1989a “Zouchu mamu yu beiliang [Making our way out of numbness and depression]”, Shulin 1989.2, 14–17. (English translation in Gao (ed.) 1997, 347–362.)
    [Google Scholar]
  27. 1989bRenwen jinshen haishi kexuezhuyi?: 20 shiji Zhongguo yuyanxue sibianlu [Humanism or scientism?: A critique of 20th century Chinese linguistics]. Shanghai: Xuelin.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Xu, Tongqiang
    1997Yuyan lun – yuyixing yuyan de jiegou yuanli he yanjiu fangfa [On language: principles and research methods for a semantic model of language structure]. Changchun: Northeast China Normal University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. 2001Jichu yuyanxue jiaocheng [Foundations of Linguistics: A Course Book]. Beijing: Peking University Press
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Zhang, Zhigong
    (ed.) 1956Yufa he yufa jiaoxue: jieshao “Zhanni hanyu jiaoxue xitong” [Grammar and grammar pedagogy: introducing the “Provisional System for Teaching Chinese Grammar”. Beijing: People’s Educational Publishing House.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Zhu, Dexi
    1982Yufa jiangyi [Lecture Notes on Grammar] Beijing: Commercial Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. 1985Yufa dawen [Answering questions on grammar] Beijing: Commercial Press.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error