This new interpretation of the early history of Chinese argues that Old Chinese was typologically a 'mixed' language. It shows that, though its dominant word order was subject-verb-object, this coexisted with subject-object-verb. Professor Xu describes the typological changes that have taken place since the Han period and shows how Chinese evolved into a more analytic language, supporting her exposition with abundant examples from recently discovered texts. She focusses on syntactic issues, but pays close attention to closely related changes in phonology and the writing system.

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