Survey of Chinese Historical Syntax Part II: Middle Chinese



This is the second article in a two-part introduction to Chinese historical syntax. The previous article introduces aspects of pre-medieval grammar which differ markedly from modern Chinese varieties, specifically fronting of object NPs to preverbal position, the asymmetry between subject and object relative clause formation, and the encoding of argument structure alternations like active and passive. Each of these characteristics is related to morphological distinctions on nouns, verbs, or pronouns which are either overtly represented in the logographic writing system in Archaic Chinese or have been reconstructed for (Pre-)Archaic Chinese. In this second article, I discuss changes which took place in Middle Chinese and correlate these innovations with the loss of the (Pre-)Archaic Chinese morphology. The main goal of these articles is to highlight a common denominator, i.e. the morphology, which enables a systemic view of pre-medieval Chinese and the changes which have resulted in the striking differences observed in Middle Chinese and beyond.