Sounds of the Times
There are occasional hints in Warring States texts about the exact phonetic quality of Chinese words. Some of these hints are inherent in the literary form of a rhyming text. Others reside in scribal errors in which one sound is substituted for another, or one word is changed into another. The conventional script isn't very informative phonetically, but at such places, the sounds of the language can become briefly visible.
As a service to the larger subject, we here collect several examples, with our own tentative interpretations. We invite viewers to contribute other examples, or to offer further comment on any of these. Rhyming examples are arranged by the date of the text in which they occur, transcription errors are arranged by the date when the error was probably made.
For phonetic transcription, we use here a rough but Internet-proof convention which will eventually be explained on a separate page. It uses the same basic phonetic assignments as the Common Alphabetic romanization for contemporary Chinese, with bb- (etc) transcribing voiced b- (etc).
Warring States or Earlier
- san1 ~ jin1 (Shr 20)
Han and Latter Han
- gung1 ~ jin1 (Shr 35, as copied in c175)
13 June 2002 / Contact The Project / Exit to Results Page