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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Zev Handel
CHIN 342
Seattle Campus

The Chinese Language

Nature and structure of the Chinese language, covering structural characteristics, genetic and typological affiliation, standard Mandarin and Chinese dialects, Chinese writing system, history of the Chinese language, and cultural aspects. Prerequisite: either CHIN 103, CHIN 113, or CHIN 134; recommended: either CHIN 201, CHIN 211, or CHIN 234.

Class description

Students will acquire a general understanding of Chinese as a linguistic entity. Topics include, but are not limited to: linguistic features of modern Mandarin; history of the Chinese language; the Chinese dialects; the Chinese writing system. The course assumes no prior knowledge of linguistics.

Student learning goals

Understand basic linguistic concepts and terms.

Understand the basic linguistic structure of Standard Mandarin.

Know the major Chinese dialect groups and the linguistic features that distinguish them.

Understand some of the major changes that have occurred in Chinese over time.

Understand the structure of the writing system and its relationship to spoken languages.

Be able to carry out a basic analysis of the linguistic features of an unfamiliar Chinese dialect.

General method of instruction

Topics are introduced through lectures and instruction. Assignments are designed to familiarize students with the material through application to problem solving. The course is conducted in English.

Recommended preparation

Note that the official prerequisite listed above is out of date. The prerequisite is CHIN 103 or CHIN 113 or CHIN 134, with concurrent enrollment recommended in any second-year Chinese class; or permission of instructor. If you have sufficient Chinese language background but are unable to register for the course, please contact the instructor for an add code.

Students will need to know the Hanyu pinyin romanization system. Students who know Mandarin but are not familiar with pinyin should be able to learn it in a few hours. Knowledge of basic linguistic concepts in phonology, morphology, and syntax is helpful but not necessary.

Class assignments and grading

In addition to weekly reading assignments and six homework assignments, students are expected to complete a linguistic fieldwork project on a non-Mandarin Chinese dialect. All assignments are in English.

Grades are assigned based on the performance of assignments (homework, reading responses, project) and on a midterm and final exam.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Zev Handel
Date: 01/04/2010