The major aim of the book is to trace the current structuring of the Chinese
language(s) on the ground of Chinese linguistics. The research presented is
based on the newest and most renowned sources, namely "The Great
Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects", and the "Language Atlas of China".
The author discusses the role "The Great Dictionary" plays in analyzing the
spectrum of linguistic differentiation in China and gives a detailed account of
the kind of information the dictionary provides. As background, she sketches
the development and current state of Chinese dialectology and dialect
research. One of the author's aims is to show respect for the grand
achievement the "Dictionary" undoubtedly is, but also to emphasize a critical
distance to some of the views presented in it.
Apart from being an analysis of this particular "Dictionary", the book presents
data about the state of modern Chinese dialectology. It provides information
about different classifications of the dialects and explains on what basis the
classifications are made. Looking at Chinese dialectology from a Western
point of view, the author aims to understand and present the Chinese
The book fills an important gap in the field of Western sinology. So far,
despite lively discussions concerning the status of the varieties of Chinese
and their taxonomy, full-scale studies on Chinese dialects have been almost
non-existent in the Western World.