28748 - Chinese Language and Literature I (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will have achieved a basic level the Chinese Language; they shall also have aquired some basic notions of the Chinese literary tradition, and will be able to repeat what they have learned both in writing and orally; moreover, they shall know how to link each notion to the bibliographic sources chosen by the teacher.     

Course contents

Classes will begin regularly on the first week of the school term (September 18, 2022)

The first lessons will be dedicated to an introduction to Chinese language theory:

Linguistic typology - the origin of writing - the six categories of Chinese characters - diatopic and diachronic variables in spoken and written language - the pinyin system of transcription - two Tang poems.

For this part students are invited to study the materials provided by the teacher on Virtuale. Also, please refer to the text in the program: Abbiati, Guida alla lingua cinese, and Lavagnino, Pozzi, Cultura cinese. This is all part of the programme.

Starting from the second week, the language section will begin.

At the end of the course students will be able to reach a language level comparable to HSK2.

Writing: Students will be able to use the pinyin transcription system. They will be able to recognize about 400 Chinese characters in the simplified variant used in the People's Republic of China, and will be able to write about 300 characters. They will be able to identify the main radicals and search for a new character in the paper dictionary. They will know the six principles of character formation according to Xu Shen's Shuo wen jie zi. They will be able to read short descriptive and narrative texts.

Speaking: Recognition and production of the four tones. The tone change of 不, 一, and tonal sandhi. Students will be able to sustain a dialogue in which to introduce themselves, their family, and a friend. They will be able to make an appointment, (propose/reject an invitation, talk about their habits, their tastes, orient themselves in the surrounding environment, talk about their health)

Linguistic elements: personal pronouns - numbers - calendar - time indicators - countries, nationalities, languages and capitals - living - family  - hours - food and drink - money and currency
Language functions: Greetings - introducing yourself and others - inviting someone to do something - making a phone call - expressing agreement / disagreement - some forms of courtesy - asking permission to do something - expressing probability and approximation - apologizing - asking for information - describing a place or a family person - talking about some cultural differences between China and Italy.
- Personal pronouns (我 你 他 她 它); the pluralizer (们); - The SVO phrase and the expansion on the left (STAVO): the affirmative, negative, and the three question-phrase patterns;
- Adjective phrase and the use of 很
- 的 constructions;
- Question substitutes and "WH" questions;
- Verbs 是, 有, 在 and their use in the affirmative and negative form. - Numerals (particularities of 两/二. Use of 几 and 多少
- Classifiers;
- Actions in a row
- Some prepositions/verb: 在; 给; 对; 跟;
- Pivot sentences and the use of 让 , 请, 叫
- Reduplication of verb and the use of 一下/一会儿

-Time (时间/时候): year, month, day; the hours (几点?)

- Daily actions
- Modal verbs: 能, 会, 想, 要
- Compound verbal forms (Word / Object);
- Some subordinate markers 为什么-因为; 但是, 可是; 所以

- Introduction to the use of modal and aspectual use of 了

The program also includes some elements of history of Chinese language and writing, which will be dealt with in the first lessons and with the bibliography provided.



All books are available at the department/University library or online.

1. Language:

Language manual:

Wu Zhongwei Cinese contemporaneo 1, Beijing, Sinolingua. (Text and Exercise Books). Lessons 1-6. Also in English.

As these texts are difficult to find, the teacher will organise a hand-out of the manual one week after the beginning of classes.

Abbiati, La grammatica del cinese moderno. (Not compulsory. Consultation is recommended as an in-depth analysis of what has been discussed in class.)

Dictionary for learning:
Xu, Ardizzoni 2013. Dizionario cinese-italiano per lo studio della lingua cinese, Bononia Univeristy Press, Bologna (Not compulsory. Recommended consultation as reinforcement)

Paper dictionary
: Choice between:
Zhao, X. Dizionario di cinese, Zanichelli, Bologna (also electronic version)
Casacchia G., Bai Y. Dizionario cinese-italiano, Libreria Editrice Cafoscarina, Venezia

2. Compulsory texts for all (First and Second Cycle Degree Students)
Abbiati, 2015, Guida alla lingua cinese, Carocci. (integrale)
Lavagnino, Pozzi 2013. Cultura cinese, Carocci, Roma. (integrale)


First Cycle (L) students should also choose one of the following books and write a reading report (3 to 5 pages). Language: Italian or English

1. Ban Zhao (a cura di Indraccolo, L.), Precetti per le donne e altri trattati cinesi di comportamento femminile. Einaudi, 2011.
Feng Menglong, Quattordici storie per istruire il mondo. Una raccolta della dinastia Ming
3. Pu Songling, I racconti fantastici di Liao

4. Masi (a cura di) Chuanqi. Storie fantastiche Tang

5. Li Po, Tu Fu, Po Chu-i (a cura di Costantini ed) Coppe di giada

General Reference

Masi, E., Cento trame della letteratura cinese, Rizzoli, 1991

The students can discuss with the teacher on the use of texts in languages other than Italian

Second Cycle (LM) students:

General reference:

- Masi, E., Cento trame della letteratura cinese, Rizzoli, 1991

- Gernet, J, 1978: Il mondo cinese. Dalle prime civiltà alla Repubblica Popolare, To, Einaudi

 A book of your choice from

- Cheng, A., 2000, Storia del pensiero cinese – Dalle origini allo “Studio del mistero” (VOl. 1) To, Einaudi
- History of Chinese Literature (any)

Extensive reading of one of the following books:
Il Tao Te Ch'ing, Adelphi, 1994 e Zhuangzi, Adelphi, 1987

Feste e canzoni dell'antica Cina, 1990

Confucio, Dialoghi – Testo cinese a fronte, 2006

Ban Zhao (Indraccolo, Lisa (ed.), Precetti per le donne e altri trattati cinesi di comportamento femminile. Einaudi, 2011.

Li Po, Tu Fu, Po Chu-i (a cura di V. Costantini) Coppe di giada

Masi (a cura di) Chuanqi. Storie fantastiche Tang

Students are asked to write a 10-page paper on the book of their choice, adding historical and cultural considerations. They are invited to carry on an individual research

Non-attending students
Course attendance is strongly recommended.

Those who for real compelling reasons are unable to attend on a regular basis can report to the teacher at the beginning of the term and arrange with her for supplementary materials and online self-study paths; within office hours, they shall conduct periodic reviews of the course.

Teaching methods

Lessons, meetings, exams will be held in the classroom, not online.

The ppt files and any audio or video used in class will be made available to students on Virtuale at the end of each lesson.
Students shall upload their homework and practice on the Virtuale platform when requested by the teacher.
Each lesson in class involves about 3 hours of individual or group study.

Assessment methods

At the end of the course students will have to take an online written exam lasting 90 minutes, without a dictionary.

There will be six written and six oral examination sessions (December 2022, January, May, June, September 2023 and January 2024).

Students who fail to pass their exam by the January 2024 session, will have to attend the 2023-2024 course and take the relevant examination thereof.

The written test will focus on the linguistic-communicative part and the history of the language (pinyin and character dictation, grammar, vocabulary, text reading - in Chinese characters)
References: Contemporary Chinese; Guida alla Lingua cinese plus explanations in class and supplementary materials provided by the teacher (50 % of the total mark).
Passing the exam allows you to take the oral test.
The oral test will consist of a linguistic and historical-literary assessment of the scheduled texts. (30%)

For the historical-literary part, students will have to present a 3/5- page reading report (see program) (20%)

The Second Cycle Degree students are required to write a 10-page report (see above)

The paper, written and finalized in .doc, docx, .rtf or .pdf formats, shall contain:

- notes
- bibliography and sitography
- glossary of at least 10 Chinese-Italian keywords (names, cities, book titles, historical periods)


Students who attend at least 75% of classes are considered to be attending.

Students who for personal reasons will not be able to attend class, will be able to access class materials via the Virtuale portal. The final test, both written and oral, will be equal to that of attending students.

GRADES OF ASSESSMENT: students who demonstrate to have perfectly assimilated both the contents explained in class and the part of the program meant for individual study will be evaluated as very good or excellent ;

The ability to pronounce the four tones correctly and to read the language texts in the manual fluently is an important criterion for distinguishing good examination outcome from barely passing one.

A passing grade will be given to those who have  aquired the basics of the programme and have only sporadic uncertainties with regard to details. Oral or written tests will not be awarded passing grades when there are substantial, linguistic, or theoretical gaps.

Teaching tools

- Language manual (textbook and workbook).
- Ppt and videos for presentation of teaching units and exercises to reinforce language aquisition, for independent study.
- Additional teaching materials used in class available on the Virtuale platform at the end of each lesson.

The teacher will indicate in class additional web sites and videos to reinforce language learning, which the students will be required to carry out independently.

These are also available in the "Useful Content" section of the teacher's website.

Office hours

See the website of Sabrina Ardizzoni