Many an apt example: Chao’s Grammar in the 21st century

Jeroen Wiedenhof

  Date & time 

  22 June 2013, 3:00-4:00pm  


  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


A grammar of spoken Chinese by Y.R. Chao (1968) has been read, quoted and enjoyed by generations of linguists and students of Mandarin. It presents a wealth of materials with painstaking attention to detail, weaving rigorous analyses and insightful conclusions into a stimulating and engaging narrative. The work is unparallelled in scope and in depth among grammars of Mandarin. Its publication, in short, constituted a milestone in the history of Chinese linguistics.

Almost half a century later, it is worth considering what the relevance of the work for present and future generations of linguists can be. I will consider this question from a number of angles.

I will discuss a number of these developments, perspectives and comparisons in detail.


Yuen Ren Chao [赵元任 Zhào Yuánrèn, 1892-1982], A grammar of spoken Chinese, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.

last modified: 1 June 2013