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HUM-Fagkomiteen for humaniora

The Emergence of Buddhist Colloquial Chinese Studies in the Formation of the Pre-modern Vernacular in China

Awarded: NOK 3.2 mill.

The project is part of the international Thesaurus Linguae Sericae (TLS) project, a large bilingual database on Chinese language and culture. . The Medieval period is a crucial period in the development of the Chinese language and many of the functions wo rds and modal markers current in Modern Chinese originated in Late Middle Chinese. The surfacing of colloquial elements in texts of that period and the emergence of a large corpus of vernacular texts is - among other factors - closely connected to the i mpact of Buddhism on the Chinese language (through monumental translation projects from Indian and Central Asian languages, the introduction of new conceptual schemes and changes of institutional, religious, philosophical, and social paradigms, based on B uddhist thought). These changes which took gradually place from the period of ca. 200 A.D. reached their peak between the 8th and 11th centuries. The objective of the applicant's work is to retrieve aspects of these changes concerning language and concept ual schemes. In the framework of TLS this will be concretely done in the following way: -The analysis of syntactic and semantic features of lexical items in a number of key texts (see project description). -Based on this data, features typical for Buddhis t (Hybrid) Chinese and Colloquial Chinese will be singled out and compared. -The grouping of lexical items in existing/new synonym groups. -The mapping of new polysyllabic words (their frequencies, morphology). -The repertoire of specialist Buddhist termi nology and the transition of terms/phrases into lexical items of the colloquial language. -Changes concerning rhetorical devices in Buddhist texts as compared to pre-Buddhist texts (this is also related to the appearance of new genres). -The mapping of ch anges concerning function words (in the framework of historical grammar). The design of TLS is ideally suited for this multi-angle and interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of texts.

Funding scheme:

HUM-Fagkomiteen for humaniora