The main sources

A note about the main source texts for Chinese historical reconstruction.

Zhongyuan Yinyun 中原音韻

A dictionary of Early Mandarin from around AD 1200. The first dictionary of the newly official Northern Chinese standard: represents a period when Beijing was still Peking and Tianjin was Tientsin. Important for the light it sheds on the northern tonal system.

Yunjing 韻鏡

A rhyme table from ca AD 1167 but representing the language of around AD 800. It gives the pronunciation of each possible syllable of Late Middle Chinese and a single character having that pronunciation. The columns represent the initial consonants of each syllable and the rows represent the ending, tone and other information.

Guangyun 廣韻

A dictionary of Early Middle Chinese from around AD 1077 but closely based on the earlier Qieyun of AD 601. The sections list all characters having a given pronunciation and the sections are grouped by ending and tone. Gives the pronunciation of each character in terms of two others (the fanqie.

Shijing 詩經

The Book of Odes: he oldest collection of Chinese poetry, written at various dates between 1000 BC and 500 BC, the Old Chinese period. Important because the lines of the odes rhyme with each other.

Grammata Serica Recensa

A modern dictionary by Bernhard Karlgren of characters grouped by their phonetic elements. Analysis of these phonetic series combined with the rhymes of Shijing is the foundation for the reconstruction of Old Chinese. Only gives sketchy information about the intial sounds of Old Chinese syllables.