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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Zev Handel
CHIN 542
Seattle Campus

Chinese Historical Phonology

Introduction to Chinese historical phonology; emphasis on the Middle Chinese period. Prerequisite: CHIN 442 or permission of instructor.

Class description

This course is a basic introduction at the graduate level to methods and materials in Chinese historical phonology. Topics covered include the periodization of the Chinese language; the source materials for reconstructing earlier stages of the language (with a focus on the Middle Chinese period); traditional Chinese phonological categories and terminology; fanqie spellings; major reconstruction systems; the use of scholarly materials to determine reconstructions in these systems. Students will develop an understanding of how the Chinese language has changed over time, of how ancient pronunciations can be recovered, and of the unresolved and controversial issues that remain in the field.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Course meetings will discuss and elaborate on assigned readings and regular exercises. In addition, we will carry out "hands-on" activities in class using the source materials for phonological reconstruction.

Recommended preparation

The ability to read academic texts in Chinese is required. It is assumed that students have taken Chinese 342, Chinese 442, Asian 401, or the equivalent, and are familiar with basic articulatory phonetics concepts and terminology, including the International Phonetic Alphabet. The preferred prerequisite is Chinese 442. (Asian 401 is not a prerequisite per se, despite what the course catalog says.)

Class assignments and grading

Homework assignments are designed to familiarize students with the use of source materials in the reconstruction of earlier stages of Chinese, and to train students to confidently look up or assemble reconstructions in a variety of current systems.

Grades will be assigned based on performance in classroom discussions, on assigned exercises, one or more quizzes, and a final exam. An short annotated translation exercise will be assigned as a final paper.


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: 03/25/2009