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Qian Xuantong

Qian Xuantong
Qian Xuantong
Traditional Chinese 錢玄同
Simplified Chinese 钱玄同
Hanyu Pinyin Qián Xuántóng
Wade–Giles Ch’ien Hsüan-t’ung
Birth name: Qian Xia
Traditional Chinese 錢夏
Simplified Chinese 钱夏
Hanyu Pinyin Qián Xià
Wade–Giles Ch'ien Hsia
Courtesey name: Deqian
Traditional Chinese 德潛
Simplified Chinese 德潜
Hanyu Pinyin Déqián
Wade–Giles Te-ch'ien

Qian Xuantong (1887—January 17, 1939) was a Chinese linguist, and along with Gu Jiegang, one of the leaders of the Doubting Antiquity School.


Born in Huzhou, Zhejiang, Qian was named Qian Xia at birth and was given the courtesy name Deqian (德潜). Qian trained in traditional Chinese philology. After receiving his university education in Japan, Qian held a number of teaching positions in mainland China. He was a student of Zhang Binglin; some of Zhang's works were copied and printed in Qian's remarkable seal script handwriting. As a philologist, Qian was the first to reconstruct the vowel system of Old Chinese in IPA.

A close friend of Lu Xun, Qian was a key figure in the May Fourth Movement. Despite his close relationship with the Chinese classics, he promoted the abolition of classical Chinese. He was also a strong supporter of Esperanto, at one time even proposed the substitution of Chinese by it.[1] He and Liu Bannong did their best to promote vernacular Chinese, attacking such classical Chinese stylists as Lin Shu. His skepticism of the Chinese heritage was such that he at one time wanted to change his surname to Yigu (疑古 "suspecting things ancient"). He also did much important work with regards to the standardization of Simplified Chinese characters, Mandarin, and the design of pinyin.

His son Qian Sanqiang was a nuclear physicist who contributed to development of nuclear weapons in China.


  • He Jiuying 何九盈 (1995). Zhongguo xiandai yuyanxue shi (中囯现代语言学史 "A history of modern Chinese linguistics"). Guangzhou: Guangdong jiaoyu chubanshe.
  • Wu Rui 吳銳 (1996). Qian Xuantong pingzhuan (钱玄同评传 "A Biography of Qian Xuantong"). Nanchang: Baihuazhou wenyi chubanshe.
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External links

  • Works by or about Qian Xuantong in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
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