CHIN 342 A: The Chinese Language

Autumn 2023
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm / CLK 219
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
CHIN 442 A
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

📣 You can find all course materials through the Modules section.

Welcome to CHIN 342/442, "The Chinese Language", an Introduction to Chinese Linguistics

This course is a wide-ranging introduction to Chinese as an object of linguistic analysis. Topics include the structure of Modern Standard Chinese, features of the Chinese “dialects”, characteristics of ancient Chinese, the history and development of the writing system, and the relationship of Chinese language to Chinese culture. As a foundation for exploring these topics, students will be introduced to basic linguistic theory and terminology. Students must have completed, or be concurrently enrolled in, second-year Chinese, or have equivalent knowledge of Mandarin (Pǔtōnghuà or Guóyǔ). This is not a language skills course: you will not be tested on your language ability. No prior knowledge of linguistics is required or expected.


Mon, Wed 1:30–3:20 in Clark Hall room 219 (Chinese 442 students also meet F 1:30-2:20 in the same room)


Zev Handel |

Office hours:  

Mondays 3:30–4:30pm, Wednesdays 10-11am


Chinese 342/442 Course Packet (purchase in person at Professional Copy N Print, 4200 University Way (206.634.2689) or order a copy on-line for $16.99 plus tax = $ 18.71). You will need your own copy of the course packet in class every day.
A number of other readings are available in pdf format here on Canvas, most excerpted from
            • Chinese by Jerry Norman. 1988. Cambridge University Press.
            • The Languages of China by S. Robert Ramsey. 1987. Princeton University Press.
(Both books are on reserve at the Tateuchi East Asian Library (TEAL), Gowen Hall third floor.)


Grades will be based on the following requirements. See grading scale on the course website.
• Reading Responses              5%
• Homework                             35%
• Midterm                                 20%
• Project and presentation       20%
• Final examination                  20%


Assigned reading must be completed before class. All readings are accessible through the Readings Module. For some readings you will be required to submit reading responses on Canvas before class. It is your responsibility to finish the online reading responses and submit them on time. 


Several homework exercises will be assigned during the quarter to help you learn the course material. Each homework exercise will be available from Canvas approximately one week before the due date, and should be submitted in class as paper assignment at the beginning of class on the due date.


This is a group project. Your group will carry out a fieldwork assignment on a non-Mandarin Chinese dialect by recording and analyzing the speech of a native speaker. You will present some of your findings in class, and submit a recording and a written report.


One-hour midterm exam, two-hour final exam. You are responsible for the contents of all lectures and assigned readings. There will be no make-up exams (unless by prior arrangement).

Late Policy:   

Assignments that are up to one class meeting late will lose 10% credit, and up to two meetings late 20% credit. Late assignments will not be accepted after two class meetings without special approval from the instructor. If you know you will miss class, talk to the instructor in advance.


Phones should be on vibrate/silent mode during class to avoid disruption. Please do not use phones (texting, apps, web, etc.) during class, as it is a distraction to others.

Important: You cannot survive this course without a solid familiarity with pīnyīn. If you do not know pīnyīn, please speak to me. The course packet contains an appendix on pīnyīn spelling rules. There is also information on the course web site (under “Modules > Resources”) that will help you learn and/or review pīnyīn.

Additional Information for all UW students and courses

Religious Accommodations

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (

Access and Accommodations

Your experience in this class is important to me. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please activate your accommodations via myDRS so we can discuss how they will be implemented in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), contact DRS directly to set up an Access Plan. DRS facilitates the interactive process that establishes reasonable accommodations. Contact DRS at

Student Conduct

The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at

Campus Safety

Call SafeCampus at 206-685-7233 anytime – no matter where you work or study – to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns for yourself or others. SafeCampus’s team of caring professionals will provide individualized support, while discussing short- and long-term solutions and connecting you with additional resources when requested.


For a printable version of this syllabus and the full schedule, please click the links below:

Chinese 342 syllabusChinese 342 schedule

Students enrolled in Chinese 442 must complete additional requirements. Please see the supplemental syllabus containing the required course work for Chinese 442, as well as the Chinese 442 page

Chinese 442 syllabus & schedule (supplementary to 342 syllabus and schedule)

Catalog Description:
Nature and structure of the Chinese language, covering structural characteristics, genetic and typological affiliation, standard Mandarin and Chinese dialects, Chinese writing system, history of the Chinese language, and cultural aspects. Prerequisite: either CHIN 103, CHIN 113, CHIN 134, or CHIN 138.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
June 23, 2024 - 11:05 pm