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Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar [Paperback]

Edwin G. Pulleyblank
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1, 1996 0774805412 978-0774805414 4th Printing
Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar is a comprehensive introduction to the syntactical analysis of classical Chinese. Focusing on the language of the high classical period, which ranges from the time of Confucius to the unification of the empire by Qin in 221, the book pays particular attention to the Mencius, the Lunyu, and, to a lesser extent, the Zuozhuan texts.

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Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar + An Introduction to Literary Chinese: Revised Edition (Harvard East Asian Monographs) + A New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese (Harvard East Asian Monographs)
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Editorial Reviews


By any measure the most important book-length work on Classical Chinese grammar to have appeared in a Western language since Gabelentz's comprehensive grammar of more than a century ago ... a very sophisticated and scholarly treatment of Classical Chinese grammar, it is all the same entirely appropriate for even a beginning-level class. William G. Boltz, Journal of Asian Studies A most welcome and practical book. . . . I have been waiting for a book like this for years. The text is beautifully clear. And not only does it make work for people like me just that much more reasonable, it also reduces the man hours it usually takes merely to set out the sounds of even a short poem. I for one am grateful. - Professor Wayne Schlepp, Deptartment of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto Finally there is a comprehensive grammar of Wenyan in English. Here in one volume one has handy the major grammar references needed to approach Classical Chinese texts. This useful book is the first comprehensive treatment of the grammar of the ancient form of Chinese used by the great philosophers like Confucius and Mencius.... useful to all students of Classical Chinese language and philosophy. - Wordtrade

Book Description

A classic in the field, this comprehensive analysis of classical Chinese includes a historical overview, principles of word order and sentence structure, and analyses of sentence types and complex sentences.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: UBC Press; 4th Printing edition (January 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0774805412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0774805414
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful, but sometimes hard to understand. March 17, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First off, the more I use this book the more I like it. Despite a few "flaws" it is a book full of useful and subtle knowledge on Classical Chinese grammar and anyone serious about Classical Chinese would do well to own a copy. Despite a few short comings (discussed below) it is the most complete Classical Chinese grammar book available in English. Its emphasis is on the high classical period from Confucius (551 - 479 BCE) to the founding of the Qin dynasty (221 BCE).

This book assumes the reader already knows some Classical Chinese and has a very good grasp of grammatical and linguistic terminology. Examples: 1)...this is done by inserting a resumptive pronoun shi2... 2) Both the subject and a postverbal element may be topicalized in a locative phrase with yu4 nominalized by zhi1. 3) Other modal notions are expressed by adverbial or adnominal particles.

(Those new to Classical Chinese should consider: Classical Chinese : A Basic Reader in Three Volumes, ISBN: 0691118310, which compliments Michael Fuller's: An Introduction to Literary Chinese, ISBN: 0674017269, as these two books have some readings in common. In appendix A of Fuller's book there is a very nice grammar summary and it discusses some of Pulleyblank's perspectives. The grammar summary in Fuller's book is much simplier than in Pulleyblank's, but is a bit more abstract in its approach compared to what is covered in the above three volume reader. Also, Fuller's appendix D contains a very useful glossary of the most important function words. Ideally one would eventually want all these books. Note, Fuller's book doesn't give the pinyin for the actual text being analyzed, he only supplies the pinyin in his vocabulary lists, which for some reason are not always complete.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and much-needed April 13, 2000
By A Customer
In the _Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar_, Pulleyblank provides a much-needed, well, "outline" of the grammar of the Chinese classics. My favorite aspect of this book is its extensive examples, which help the reader of classic texts bridge the gap between the orderly world of grammar books and the always-disorderly world of actual texts.
Of course, one can always wish for more, e.g., I might hope for more on the usages of the various "prepositional" particles. Nevertheless, this is by far the best book of this sort I have seen (in a number of years of working with classical Chinese), and a vital aid to the student of classical Chinese.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a comprehensive grammar of Wenyan. May 14, 1996
By A Customer
I have been studying the Classical Chinese language for one year now and have been suffering through several inadequate grammar references. This wonderful book is the first comprehensive treatment of the grammar of the ancient form of Chinese used by the great philosophers like Confucius and Mencius. It uses modern grammar terminology and examples from the Classics to systematize this very complex language. Bravo.. Mr. Pulleyblank. You have strided through a field in which many have feared to tred!

Anthony Barbieri-Low
Harvard University
Regional Studies:East Asia Program
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