Issues in Chinese Dialect Description and Classification.

Edited by Richard VanNess Simmons

The volume is a collection of papers exploring various issues regarding the description and classification of Chinese dialects. A number of the papers in this collection were originally presented as part of the Panel on Chinese Dialect Comparison and Classification at the 206th Annual Meeting of the American Oriental Society (AOS) on March 17-20, 1996 in Philadelphia. The panel was designed to address issues of Chinese dialect classification--as issues of criteria, methodology, and proposed groupings, and to promote fresh contributions to knowledge of the nature and relationships of Chinese dialects through comparative studies. Dialect description is the foundation of dialect study and comes before comparison, which in turn develops the basis for dialect classification. This basic footwork of dialectology, the steps of description, comparison, and classification, ultimately allows us to piece together the history of dialects and their relationships. The March 1996 panel at AOS intended to facilitate new efforts, and promote innovative approaches in these three basic activities of dialectology; and this collection of eight essays conceived out of that panel contains thought-provoking, path-breaking studies that strive toward those goals.