Chinese Dialects: Grammar

Authored by: Anne O. Yue

The Sino-Tibetan Languages

Print publication date:  December  2002
Online publication date:  May  2006

Print ISBN: 9780700711291
eBook ISBN: 9780203221051
Adobe ISBN: 9781135797188


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The classification of the Modern Chinese dialects is not without controversy. We shall follow the scheme of Yuan (1983) which embraces seven major groups – Northern, Wu, Xiang, Gan, Hakka, Yue, and Min – as well as the broader designation of Norman (1988) which groups them into three super groups of Northern, Southern (Hakka, Yue, Min), and Central (Wu, Xiang, Gan). It will become apparent that major differences in syntax are found between the Northern and the Southern groups, with the Central group as a transitional type that shares features with both the Northern and the Southern dialects. On the other hand, some subgroups of the Northern dialect such as Southeastern Mandarin or Jianghuai, Southwestern Mandarin (including Hubei), Huizhou, Shanxi (including the Jin group), Shandong, are sometimes found to share characteristics with the Southern dialects. The differences between the North and the South, moreover, can often be understood in the light of contact with neighbouring languages. The outline of grammar presented in this chapter is limited in breadth and depth, since information on the dialects in this capacity is still limited, not to say detailed grammars of each major dialect group or of individual dialects.

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