• Total units 24 Units
  • Areas of interest Asian Languages, Asian Studies, Language Studies
  • Specialisation code LCHN-SPEC
Literary Chinese language and culture Specialisation

Literary Chinese is a written language that matured long before the Qin dynasty (221-206 B.C.), when China first became an empire. It continued to be used by China's governing and elite cultures for nearly three millennia. A command of Literary Chinese is therefore indispensable for the study of any aspect of Chinese literature, thought, history, politics, or society before the twentieth century. 

The idioms, syntax, style, and allusions of Literary Chinese continue to pervade the modern language. Its enduring influence results from the fact that the great legacies of Chinese culture, right down to the present day, have been largely preserved in this medium. Contemporary Chinese political and social discourse, and education, places increasing emphasis on knowledge of pre-modern Chinese culture and on familiarity with texts written in Literary Chinese. So without a grounding in Literary Chinese, it is impossible to gain a full understanding of the language or content of newspaper articles, literary works, and scholarly prose written in contemporary Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the People's Republic of China. Texts written in Literary Chinese have also shaped the linguistic and cultural traditions of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

The Literary Chinese specialisation offers a way into these rich worlds, past and present, through their primary sources. It begins with an introduction to the main sentence patterns and grammatical features of texts from the pre-Qin (before 221 BC) and Han (206 BC to 220 AD) periods. It expands its focus to texts from different periods of the imperial era. It culminates with close study of the registers of language specific to a range of different types of text. Throughout, the focus is on philological translation. The specialisation therefore introduces students to the Sinological reference tools and the contextual knowledge necessary for a full appreciation of the texts under study.

A student may not take a course if that course is a prerequisite for another course which they have already passed, or a course that is a lower level than a course they have already passed.

Students with prior knowledge of the language will be required to take a proficiency assessment.

Learning Outcomes

  1.  Hypothesiseon, analyse, and appraise vocabulary used in different types of LiteraryChinese text, with the use of general and specialist dictionaries.
  2.  Identifyand analyse the grammar and sentence structures evident in Literary Chinesetexts from pre-imperial and imperial times; and consider their contributions tostylistic and other effects.
  3. Analyselinguistic registers used in texts written in complex forms of Literary Chineseand reproduce them in appropriate registers of English.

Other Information

Students with previous “language experience or exposure” are required to take a language proficiency assessment to ensure enrolment at the most appropriate level. 

Relevant past experience includes:

-     Previous study of the language (both formal and informal, for example but not limited to, at school, or, home, or through online activities, etc.)

-     Being exposed to the language in childhood via a family member or friend

-     Travel or living in a country where the language is spoken

-     The language being spoken in your home (even if you do not speak it yourself)

Students who are not sure if they need to take a proficiency assessment should seek advice from the course or language convenor. 

Students who intentionally misrepresent their language proficiency level may be investigated under the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 as having failed to comply with assessment directions and having sought unfair advantage. This may results in a penalty such as reduced grades or failure of the course.

Students are not permitted to enrol in a language course below one that they have already successfully completed, except with permission of the language and/or course convenor.

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This specialisation requires the completion of 24 units, which must consist of:

A minimum of 18 units from completion of courses from the following list:

CHIN6530 Literary Chinese 1

CHIN6531 Literary Chinese 2

CHIN6015 Advanced Literary Chinese

A maximum of 6 units may come from completion of courses from the following list:

LANG6001 Translation across Languages: The Translation of Literary Texts

LANG6002 Translation across Languages: Specialised Materials

LANG8016 Translation Project

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