What did they speak back in the 3 kingdoms era?

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What did they speak back in the 3 kingdoms era?

Unread postby Terranigma Freak » Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:13 pm

In my mind, I just assumed mandarin goes far back until I read that old mandarin developed around mid-900AD. This got me wondering, with all the dialects that we speak in China these days, how did people communicate back then? The more I think about it, the more it boggles my mind how people spoke to one another back in the day. Obviously they did, and they can. Translators are a thing, but the more I think about it, the wilder it gets.
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Re: What did they speak back in the 3 kingdoms era?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Feb 02, 2020 11:53 am

They had the same written language as far as I'm aware and they did seem to be able to understanding it each from Yi to the central plains.
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Re: What did they speak back in the 3 kingdoms era?

Unread postby Terranigma Freak » Sun Feb 02, 2020 3:50 pm

Oh I'm sure they had the same written language, I'm just curious about the dialect used during that time. Though I'm probably asking something that has no answer.
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Re: What did they speak back in the 3 kingdoms era?

Unread postby waywardauthor » Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:10 pm

Regional dialects were almost certainly very heavy, and you may have considerable difficulty getting people to understand the spoken word across regions. This is a safe assumption to make given the interplay of languages in other parts of the world. Even with a shared script and initial starting point with the same spoken language, Latin fragmented into pieces, and those pieces into smaller ones. What we think of as French, Italian, and Spanish are not really languages, but are larger composites. French is Parisian, Italian is Florentine, and Spanish is Castilian. A lot of China's expansion was a intermixing with local peripheral cultures, and its almost certain in my view that if you grabbed someone from Jiaozhi and someone from Lelang, they wouldn't be able to communicate at all except through writing. That's something of a cheat as I'm bringing up Vietnamese and Koreans, but that's something of the point. Vietnam and Korea exist as "almost China" with regards to that empire's imperial expansion. Most of rural, marshy, and mountainous Southern China during this period had more in common with Vietnam than they would an ordinary farmer on the central plains. There's even some considerable debate that the three Jins, Qin, and Chu are not really Chinese from inception, but became Chinese during the Zhou period.

Putting that aside, if you are wondering what the Chinese language sounded like back then, there are some people that would say it is similar to Cantonese. Mandarin is what happened to Chinese after it was put through almost two thousand years of on again, off again, northern "barbarian" conquest. This video might be helpful:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME8wzyR6pO8
Alone I lean under the wispy shade of an aged tree,
Scornfully I raise to parted lips a cup of warm wine,
Longingly I cast an empty vessel aside those exposed roots,
And leave behind forgotten memories and forsaken dreams.
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Re: What did they speak back in the 3 kingdoms era?

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Mon Feb 03, 2020 8:29 am

That was actually a really interesting video. Thanks for linking that.
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Re: What did they speak back in the 3 kingdoms era?

Unread postby Terranigma Freak » Wed Feb 05, 2020 4:48 am

That video was definitely very fascinating. As someone who speaks Cantonese, I didn't know Cantonese was older than Mandarin.
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