Francisco Varo's Grammar of the Mandarin Language (1703)

An English translation of ‘Arte de la lengua Mandarina’

With an Introduction by Sandra Breitenbach

W. South Coblin | University of Iowa
Joseph A. Levi | University of Iowa
ISBN 9789027245816 (Eur) | EUR 120.00
ISBN 9781556196065 (USA) | USD 180.00
ISBN 9789027275486 | EUR 120.00 | USD 180.00
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Francisco Varo’s Arte de la Lengua Mandarina, completed ca. 1680, is the earliest published grammar of any spoken form of Chinese and the fullest known description of the standard language of the seventeenth century. It establishes beyond doubt that this “Language of the Mandarins” was not Pekingese or Peking-based but had instead a Jiang-Huai or Nankingese-like phonology. It also provides important information about the nature and formation of pre-modern standard forms of Chinese and will lead to revisions of currently held views on Chinese koines and their relationship with regional speech forms and the received vernacular literature. Finally, it provides a wealth ot information on stylistic speech levels, honorific usage, and social customs of the elite during the early Qing period.
The book provides a full translation of the 1703 text of the Arte, an extensive introduction to the life and work of Varo, an index of Chinese characters inserted into the translation, and an index of linguistic terms and concepts. It should be of interest to a diverse readership of Chinese historical, comparative, and descriptive linguists, students of Qing history and literature, historiographers of linguistics, and specialists in early Western religious and cultural contact with China.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“[...] l'Arte, aujourd'hui à nouveau facilement accessible grâce à ce méticuleux travail de réédition, intéresse non seulement les historiens de la linguistique chinoise, mais aussi les historiens de langue chinoise. Loin de se contenter de reprende simplement les transcriptions de Varo, les deux éditeurs aident, tout au long du texte, le lecteur à se faire une idée plus claire de la langue décrite.”
“[...] the definitive scholarly translation into English of Varo's important early Mandarin grammar.”
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2014. The History of Chinese Grammars in Chinese and Western Scholarly Traditions. Language & History 57:2  pp. 107 ff. DOI logo
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2019. Examining the Mandarin Phonetic System Through Western Materials: An Analysis of the Differences in Views of Mandarin Language and the Concept of Southern and Northern Mandarin. Bulletin of the Chinese Linguistic Society of Japan 2019:266  pp. 44 ff. DOI logo
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South Coblin, W.
耿直, Zhi Geng
2018. The concepts and methods of Western Chinese learning in the early period: A study based on Spanish missionary Francisco Varo’s Arte de la lengua Mandarina. Círculo de Lingüística Aplicada a la Comunicación 74  pp. 45 ff. DOI logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 16 april 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Main BIC Subject

CF: Linguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  99058977 | Marc record