Literary and colloquial readings of Chinese characters
Differing literary and colloquial readings (
For a given
Literary readings are usually used in formal settings because past prestigious varieties were usually used in formal
Because of this, the frequency of literary readings in a Chinese language reflects its history and status. For example, before the promotion of
In some Chinese languages, there may be many instances of foreign readings replacing native readings, forming many sets of literary and colloquial readings. A newer literary reading may replace an older literary reading, and the older literary reading may become disused or become a new colloquial reading.
Sometimes literary and colloquial readings of the same character have different meanings.
Behavior in Chinese languages
Unlike most varieties of Chinese, literary readings in the national language are usually more conservative than colloquial readings. This is because they reflect readings from before Beijing was the capital, e.g. from the
Examples of literary readings adopted into the Beijing dialect:
Examples of colloquial readings adopted into the Beijing dialect:
In the northern
Not all Wu dialects behave the same way. Some have more instances of discrepancies between literary and colloquial readings than others. For example, the character
Some pairs of literary and colloquial readings are interchangeable in all cases, such as in the words
The following are examples of variations between literary and colloquial readings of Chinese characters in
Retrieved from : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_and_colloquial_readings_of_Chinese_characters