DIACHRONICAL RESEARCH OF THE CHINESE NUMERALS: THE PROBLEM OF PERIODIZATION

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Abstract. The purpose of the study is to choose a Chinese language historical periodization serving as the foundation for a diachronical research of the Chinese numerals. In addition, the problem of translation of historical stages from Chinese into English is tackled. As a result the author makes use of the terms introduced by A. Peyraube. Methodologically this research is conducted relying on O. Ju. Voronina and A. M. Koshel’’s theory of classification of the Chinese language periodization based on models. Each model of the language is divided into levels, which number depends on certain language processes. Apart from this, each model is characterized by divisibility according to the number of periods in the Chinese language evolution. Among more than fourteen types of periodization there are three that are most widespread. The first one is a four-level and four-part periodization and was introduced by prof. Wang Li. It includes the following stages: the Archaic period (上古期) (up to the third century AD); the Middle period (中古期) (fourth–twelfth AD); the Modern period (近代期) (thirteenth–nineteenth AD); the Contemporary period (现代期) (the beginning of the twentieth century – onwards). The second division of the Chinese language history belongs to S.E. Yakhontov: Pre-Classical (up to the fifth century BC), Classical (the fifth century BC – the second century AD), Late Old Chinese (third–sixth AD); Middle Chinese (sixth– twelfth/fourteenth AD); Contemporary Chinese (from the fourteenth century onwards). The third periodization is A. Maspero’s one-level three-part historical division of Chinese: Old Chinese (up to the third century AD), Middle Chinese (fourth– twelfth AD) and Modern (twelfth–nineteenth/twentieth AD). Those studies that are carried out within periods of time stretching longer than each separate one mentioned above and those including several historical stages (from pre-Qin up to Qing dynasties), can be considered as Classical Chinese literature studies. Prof. Wang Li’s historical division of the Chinese language is viewed as the most suitable for the diachronic research of Chinese numerals. The Chinese numerals, when regarded within the framework of this periodization, should be researched in three separate focus areas: (i) cardinal numerals, (ii) ordinal numerals, and (iii) fraction numerals, multiple numerals, approximate numerals.
Keywords: the Chinese language, periodization, Chinese numerals.

Liudmila L. Bankova

Linguistics University of Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
e-mail: lwittsa@yandex.ru
ORCID id: 0000-0001-6021-0331

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