Old Chinese as an Inflectional Language: With Evidence from the Personal Pronoun System

Wenchao Li


This paper reviews the nature of Old Chinese (OC) by exploring the morpho-syntactic feature of the personal pronoun system. It carried out a statistic analysis of the frequency of 吾, 我,予,余,朕,印,台; 爾,汝;彼, 其, 之 being used as person pronouns. The findings reveal that 吾 never appears in an accusative position; 予 never appears in a genitive position; An order of preference as regards case function of 我 runs from nominaitve, to accusative, genitive, down to dative. 其 conveys an accusative or a genitive, but never denotes a nominative. 之 denotes a generic third person or non-person and often marries up with 吾. This might suffice to draw the conclusion that OC was probably an inflectional language in the pre-Qin period.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v8i3.9634

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