Understanding the Chinese Language provides a vibrant and comprehensive introduction to contemporary Chinese linguistics. Combining an accessible style with an in-depth treatment of the topics at hand, it uses clear, full descriptions and vivid, modern examples to systematically take students through the phonology, vocabulary, grammar, discourse structures and pragmatics of modern Chinese. No prior knowledge of Chinese or linguistics is required.

Features include:

  • Six detailed chapters covering the core linguistic aspects of the modern Chinese language, such as words, content units, sentences, speech acts, sentence-final particles and neologisms
  • User-friendly comparisons and contrasts between English and Chinese throughout the text, helping to clearly explain important complexities and nuances of the Chinese language
  • Clear, accessible explanations and insightful analysis of topics and linguistic devices, supported by many helpful examples, diagrams and tables 
  • Vivid and relevant examples drawn from real-life contemporary sources such as internet news reports, social networks like Sino Weibo, online forums and TV reality shows, offering fascinating perspectives on modern Chinese media, culture and society
  • Pioneering coverage of Chinese new words and the social phenomena they reveal
  • Additional exercises and four supplementary chapters covering Chinese syllables, idioms, discourse and culture available for free download at https://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415634885/ ;

Written by a highly experienced instructor, researcher and linguist, Understanding the Chinese Language will be essential reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students taking courses in Chinese linguistics. It will also be of interest to anyone interested in learning more about Chinese language and culture.

chapter |12 pages


chapter 1|17 pages

Chinese sounds

chapter 2|59 pages

Chinese words

chapter 3|80 pages

Chinese sentences

chapter 4|35 pages

Speech acts

chapter 5|115 pages

Sentence-final particles

chapter 6|61 pages

Chinese neologisms on the web