In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

336 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 Edwin G. Pulleyblank. Outline ofClassical Chinese Grammar. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1995. xiv, 192 pp. Hardcover $65.00, isbn 0-7748-0505-6. Paperback $35.95, isbn 0-7748-0541-2 In his preface to Outline ofClassical Chinese Grammar, Edwin G. Pulleyblank admits to a "primarily pedagogical aim" (p. xiv). The end result ofpreparations he made for teaching the language at the University of British Columbia, this book also profits considerably from Pulleyblank's four decades of research into classical Chinese syntax. In light of his stated purpose for writing the book, this review will analyze the Grammar as a textbook rather than as an advanced linguistic study of classical Chinese. In preparing this review, I corresponded with former students of Edwin Pulleyblank as well as other professors who used his notes in their classes at UBC. From their comments it appears that the work was appropriate for all levels of instruction . In Pulleyblank's graduate seminar on Old Chinese grammar, where the students were already somewhat proficient in classical Chinese, the notes were discussed point by point while the class was asked to dispute the analyses and offer individual interpretations of syntactical rules. During the first semester of a year-long intermediate classical Chinese course, the students discussed each of the grammatical points outlined in the notes while writing their own sentences illustrating patterns. When mis task was complete, students progressed to actual texts and dien regularly referred back to the Grammar when examples of principles discussed in it were encountered. In beginning classes, the notes were distributed to students for use as a reference as they prepared translations of assigned passages at home. For Pulleyblank the course began with, and often did not progress beyond, careful reading of the first several pages of the Mengzi while the professor walked the students through the intricacies of the grammar. Although early versions of the notes contained no index, the published Grammar boasts an index of function words that will facilitate use by the beginner. In a course where the students are encountering classical Chinese for the first time, the class will obviously require a substantial introduction to the basic principles of the language before they can progress to classical texts. Chapters 1 and 2 of the Grammar presumably were written to accomplish this goal. The Introduction begins with a very brief outline of the historical evolution ofwhat the author calls "Classical Chinese." Here he identifies a "central dialect" used in texts likeĀ© 1997 by University the Zuozhuan, as well as regional dialects such as that of the state of Lu (used in ofHawai'i Pressme LunyU ancJ Mengzi). Then follows a short discussion of sound reconstruction Features 337 that does little more than refer the reader to Pulleyblank's previous work, the Lexicon ofReconstructed Pronunciation in Early Middle Chinese, Late Middle Chinese and Early Mandarin (1991). The book under review fortunately departs from the practice of other grammar texts, which employ ancient reconstructions of the pronunciation of Chinese characters. Realizing that this places an "unnecessary burden on the learner," Pulleyblank uses pinyin romanization and putonghua pronunciations throughout. Ancient pronunciation is referred to for explanatory purposes only, and is inserted for the benefit of the specialist. It will make little sense to the beginning student. Part 3 on symbols provides the bare minimum of information on the written graphs of Chinese. Part 4 imparts useful information regarding a handful ofexceptions to the general correspondence ofsyllable and word in classical Chinese. Finally, a brief introduction to the current understanding of morphology completes chapter 1. Chapter 2, "Some Basic Principles of Classical Chinese Syntax," since it maintains die brevity of chapter 1 while completing the general overview ofclassical Chinese, is merely a continuation of the introduction. In just over three pages it treats three characteristics of classical syntax: word classes, the bipartite structure of the sentence, and word order. While these introductory materials are excruciatingly brief from the standpoint of the specialist, they are surprisingly informative from the standpoint ofthe beginning student. They provide an adequate overview of the topic without being pedantic. However, the information is simply too concise for...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 336-342
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.