After defining Old Chinese, this short introductory chapter characterizes the approach used in the book, contrasting it with more traditional approaches whose limitations are described: first, the work of Qing-dynasty philologists who laid the foundations of the discipline; then the work of Bernhard Karlgren. The book’s approach is defined in terms of the new evidence that it brings to bear on the reconstruction of Old Chinese: evidence from paleography, from Chinese dialects, and from recent advances in the reconstruction of other East Asian languages; and also in methodological terms, in particular the authors’ preference for hypothetico-deductive methodology, and their view that reconstruction is never complete as long as new data become available. The chapter closes with an explanation of conventions used, and a plan of the book.
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