Open Journal of Modern Linguistics
Vol.05 No.04(2015), Article ID:58769,7 pages

Words Characteristics of Tang’ Epitaph

Tongxuan Jiang

College of Arts, China West Normal University, Nanchong, China


Copyright © 2015 by author and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).

Received 17 July 2015; accepted 10 August 2015; published 13 August 2015


The total number of words that we have collected in the text of Tang Dynasty epitaphs is four million or so. Tang’s epitaphs contain abundant cultural vocabularies, among which some are rooted from the former dynasties and some are formed in Tang Dynasty, while others are produced previously and then transferred or evolved in Tang Dynasty. This paper aims at researching Tang’ epitaph expressions, hoping to summarizing their characteristics.


Tang Dynasty, Epitaph, Cultural Words, Characteristics

1. Introduction

In terms of identity, the masters of unearthed Tang Dynasty epitaphs include emperors, concubines, kings, princes, princesses, court and local officials, hermits, maids as well as general civilians and monks. In terms of age there are people from newborns to the hundred-year-old. As for the forms and contents of text, some of the inscriptions are detailed and meticulous including various complex relationships of the unearthed Tang Dynasty epitaphs’ masters are recorded, while others are slightly abridged, and some even simply inscribe the name, death time and burial place of the master. For instance, “Born in Chongguang (the alias of Li Yu, the last emperor of Southern Tang Dynasty) yuannian (the first year of imperial throne), namely the first, March in the year of the dragon, and died in the tenth, September of year of mice. Inscribed by Daogao Yan” (Zhou & Zhao, 2012) .

Generally speaking, most of inscriptions are exhaustive and boast hundreds of words. The total number of words that we have collected in the text of Tang Dynasty epitaphs is four million or so. These material contain abundant cultural vocabularies, among which some are rooted from the former dynasties and some are formed in Tang Dynasty, while others are produced previously and then transferred or evolved in Tang Dynasty. Some of such vocabularies are still used while others, as the development of society, the change of social nature and the transition of language, disappear. Some of the left words have been incorporated in dictionaries by researchers, but the largest parts of them are not collected and only a few learners have referred to them.

2. Main Characteristic of Tang’s Epitaph Words

Jialu Xu considers: “vocabulary especially notional vocabulary shoulders the major responsibility of culture. And what we usually say that vocabulary is the most sensitive to social life also shows that a lot of culture is condensed into words” (Xu, 2005) . From the point of linguistics, the characteristic of Tang’s epitaph mainly display in the following aspects:

2.1. Richness and Systematicness

2.1.1. The Richness of Words

There is numerous and various Tang’s epitaph words, including name, age, education, official, benevolent, funeral, death, marriage, military, moral integrity, disease as well as religion, architecture, utensils, etc., and each class of them is worth in-depth study.

2.1.2. The Systematicness of Words

Whether Chinese is systematic or not has ever been hotly discussed but the agreed answer had not reached. After long discussion, linguistics basically admitted Chinese vocabulary is systematic, yet they have not got a satisfying and scientific conclusion on what does the system look like and how to reflect it. However, as for cultural expressions, every category is indeed a system, thus all the lexicons that react such class is undoubtedly systematic. Two or more lexical units, if the individual sense can respectively reflect all different parts of certain thing, then they restrict each other in the range of meaning, or more accurately, the meaning scope of each lexical units is defined by the meaning of other related words, and they are mutually conditional. In this way, some words and phrases, with the restricting and antagonistic relationship between each other in sense, naturally constitute a structure of polymerization, forming a structural organization.

Vocabulary boasts systematicness which has level nature. Vocabulary is systematic, and this system is hierarchical. Analyzing the culture loaded words in Tang Dynasty epitaphs from the level of hierarchy can be seen as a large semantic field, a subsystem on a certain level. It can be divided into several smaller subsystems according to different standards in this system. And each subsystem can be divided into different semantic fields according to the synonymous and semantic meaning. In the form of a hierarchy, the internal logic system is demonstrated. For example, “bianling, bianbin, biancuo, bianfeng, bianfu, bianguan, bianhai, bianli, bianshi, bianxi, bianxue, bianyuzhi, bianzang” and “buzhao, bubian, bubin, biancui, biancuo, bianfu, bianfu, bujizang, bujizhao, buxi, buyi, buying, buyouzhai, buzang, buze, buzhai” are two subsystems. They are conjugate and synonymous words, they compose a semantic field of buried meaning, forming a subsystem.

2.2. Complicity

The epitaph of the Tang Dynasty cultural words rich in content and forms. In terms of grammar structure, it includes words and phrases, among which word is the core. Such as “xiazhi” and “xiazhixuntong”, the former is word while the later is phrase, but they express the same meaning, namely prizing one’s political achievements. This shows the complexity of the structure of word.

2.2.1. Rich in Morphological Variation

Some words may appear in a variety of forms while addressing or expressing the same thing due to different levels of detail. For instance, the allusion “meng mu jiao zi (mother Meng educates her son)” can be employed to praise the virtues of women’s cultivating future generations. Different in selected point of view as well as means of word formation, some vocabularies are direct fragments of stories, some are separated from other words while some may be abbreviations. People might be unable to peek such types of quotations if look roughly, but when specifically analysis, they will find there are significant differences in grammatical formation between these words and others. Further, “Keqin or Mengmu (Mencius’s mother), Sanqian or Sanxi (triple migrations), Xizhai (resettlement), Zelin (choose neighbors), Jizhu (loom), Duanzhi or Duanji (weaving broken) (They all refer to Mencius’s mother migrated as many as three times in order to select a sound environment for Mencius to study and become excellent)” are common expressions of mothers’ education to their children and of praising the virtues of women.

2.2.2. Same-Rooted Words Express the Same, Similar or Related Significance

There are a large number of cognate words in epitaph. Because of one same word-building element, their structure and form have some thing in common, and their meanings are always linked, the significance of same-root cultural expressions are mostly the same, similar or related. But the forms are often different if other elements are different. For example, “Tongguan, Zongguan, Guansui, Guanri, Guanjiao, Guanchi, Tiaoguan”, “Zongjiao, Zongfa, Zongguan” and “Chuitiao, Tiaofa, Tiaonian, Tiaoling, Tiaosui, Tiaoguan, Tiaochu, Tiaoru” are groups refer to infant or childhood. Plentiful of same-rooted words and synonyms greatly enrich the storehouse and expressive function of Chinese vocabulary.

2.2.3. Productive

Due to the ambiguity of root itself has a huge expansion space, and the same root morpheme, while combines with different morpheme, is highly productive. A lot of words, though are of the same cultural roots, their significance is not the same. For example, although “Guanhun or Hunguan (Crown marriage, to conduct crown ceremony and marriage rite), Qihun (Lease marriage, referring to the parties who receive their marriage licenses through certain agreements to form a temporary or long-term family, and to live together), Minghun (Ghost marriage, looking for a spouse for the dead), Hungou (marriage or relatives by marriage), Hunhong, Hunqu (marriage)” are lexicons with “hun (marriage)” as the root and they are all related to marriage, they refer to different implications.

2.2.4. Rich in Structure Style Variation

Tang’s epitaph has diverse and flexible word formation as well as special language forms. According to the structural relationship of allusion words, some words are abbreviated or broken up from others while some are over-level words (namely cross-level words). Most of them are similar to general two-syllable words, but their structure are different if carefully analyzed. Some of these culture loaded words and expressions have entered Tongyu (a kind of language commonly used in a wide area) and can be found in various documents; others are very especial because they just can be caught in certain era, certain kind of literature style and they can meet the needs of the actual expression of the language environment at that time. For example:

[Juzhu] It is abbreviated from “riju yuezhu (The passage of time)” and means sun and moon, that is time. For instance:

Xianqing 046 Lu Jun Qi Huo Shi Mu Zhi (Epitaph of Mr Lu’s Wife) that: “In order to remember your messy forever and because I fear it will disappear as Juzhu goes by, I inscribe your reputation on your tomb” (Zhou & Zhao, 1992) .

Shi.Beifeng.Baizhou (Poetry, Bei wind, Bai Boat) records that: “riju yuezhu, hu die er wei (there is sun for day and moon for night, why should the light and dark alternate).” Kongshu says: “Ju and zhu are modal particles”. That is, “ju” is a syllables particle without real sense, but has been extracted to represent sun and moon, time. Bei Wei Yuanning Fei Lu Shunhua Mu Zhi Ming (Epitaph of Northern Wei’s Yuanning Princess, Lu Shunhua) says: “juzhu diesheng, linggu xianghe (day and night exchange, winning congratulations from hills and valleys)”. It shows that, having gotten the real meaning, its original identity fundamentally changes, namely, a syllable particle have being turned into a noun that has real significance and is rich in meaning expression.

[Zebai] Zebai abbreviates from “zebai sinan (Must be able to have more sons)”. Later, because “zebai” has been used for praising having many child, and thus praise women for their broad-mind, no jealousy and good at tolerating, which reflects the ancient people’s tolerance of polygamy and the era characteristics of being pride of many children. Such as:

Zhang Ju Mu Zhi (Epitaph of Zhang Ju): “Born to guard the local earth, signing that the old premises have been ruined. Looked around, everything is sad; touching hearts, all the beloved are making people haggard” (Zhou & Zhao, 2012) .

Zebai comes from Shi.Daya.Siqi, it says that “Dasi, concubine of king Zhouwen, is virtuous, thus she must have lots of children.” Mao Chuan inscribes that since Dasi has so many child, all concubines can do it.

2.3. Rich Words Meaning and Vivid Expression

2.3.1. Rich Words Meaning

The process of the historical origin of epitaph terms to its formation and development constantly gives inscription words new content, ideas and expression characteristics. Their meaning is constantly added, improved and expanded, and thus is constantly enriched and developed. The richness of epitaph word meaning embodied in that it is a compomer, which is reflected in the implication of cultural righteousness. Cultural significance all has implicity. In all kinds of words, the names of people, places, objects, and the words that refer characters imply the most abundant cultural righteousness. Such as:

The superficial meaning of Qionggui (Joan rose) is a kind of beautiful stone next to jade, which appears in language with its dominant appearance. But in Wanglang Mu Zhi (Epitaph of Wanglang): “Short life is easy to fade away, and it is grief to suddenly die from cold, frost and dew, or summer and winter; the passage of time just like a dream that makes people feel sorrow about death.” In this context, Qionggui is no longer a kind of beautiful stone next to jade, because stone does not cause “juzhen” nor “xin” (evil, or a sign of evil). It turns out that people originally given the significance of death or signs of death to Qionggui, but during the course of usage, human beings also pinned it with regretting emotions of death, which is performed in a implied, invisible way.

2.3.2. Vivid Expression

The literary significance of culture words is generated from the language’s cultural environment. Vocabulary has independent forms and meaning reference in its language structure. It is a historical story that is presented with varied types and associating function, which deeply rooted in the context of national culture. Therefore, context is the condition of cultural semantics as well as the standard to identify the literary meaning and its way of expression. That is, a word will have different meanings in different contexts.

China is a country with a rich culture. It has a unique character and language system to fully carry culture. The epitaph expression in Tang Dynasty nurtures the special traditional culture that develops Chinese, throughoutly permeating the cultural spirit and psychology of Chinese. At the same time, the cultural creation activities of human produces language and promotes the continuous development and innovation of language, reflecting the mutual permeability and two-way interaction between language and culture, and thus becomes an integral part of Chinese traditional culture. This therefore enables literary words to massively produce, accumulate, develop and vary. What’s more, the awareness to the cultural meaning of such words will directly affect people’s perception to the overall appearance of words.

Epitaph cultural words renders directly, although only single words, due to the specific words always accompanied by a vivid story, it represents an image type in the depth and expands, under the role of associative thinking, people’s mental awareness, thus displays the vividness of words. The features of cultural lexicons are obvious especially words from myths, legends and fables. For instance:

The rational meaning of Zhuma (hobbyhorse) is a tribute to benevolent officials. When people know this word at the time they observe the benevolent rule of officials, they will imagine a picture wherein groups of children enjoy their time with bamboo as horse and welcome prefects. This vividly reflects the benevolent officials bring merits to people and people repay them with solemn spiritual rewards. In this case, although only one word emerges, it makes us think about the scene that officials and the public are getting along well with each other, the society is harmony and people are peaceful. In this way, the touching sight naturally generates, arises along with the words, completely demonstrating the vividness of language. Cases in epitaph are like the following:

Wang Tian Ji Qi Yong Shi Zhi Mu (Tomb of Wang Tian and His Wife): “Gentlemen obtain the righteousness of heaven and earth, commit the essence of sun and moon. Therefore, they can distinguish males and females of sheep even when they are still naive children, and underestimate the prestige of tigers as they can play riding a bamboo horse” (Zhou & Zhao, 1992) .

2.4. Elegant and Dignified Style

Elegance is an important and indispensable characteristic of lexicology. Words can be divided into popularity and elegance, each of which has its own features and expression functions. Epitaph, since it is a sort of memorial, narrative style, and has the characteristics of praise and publicity, its classical Chinese composition is very thick. Therefore, its rather vital style is elegance and dignity, which usually embodied by vocabulary. The classic and stateliness of cultural words specifically incarnate in the concentration and temper of allusions, as well as the flexible and proper application of ancient expressions. It is the scattered and causal style accompanied by condensed and pairing vocabularies that build the style characteristics of the elegance and dignity.

However, dignified and elegant epitaph words are likely to cause difficulties in understanding, but it is through these words that require thinking even researching in order to know them that we can see the expression stereo of high integration after imagination and logical thinking. This enhances the expressive ability and thickness of language. As a result, the connotation of epitaph culture words is implied inside, and form is not the entirely practical significance the word intents to convey, so one must penetrate the superficial layer so as to accurately and thoroughly understand it.

For example, “chuoxiang”.

Zhengguan 163 Zhao Qi Qu Mu Zhi: “Neighbors stop thrashing in order to mourn the dead, and feel sad for respecting the virtues of him or her; they stop singing and cry for the clear character of the dead” (Zhou & Zhao, 1992) .

“Xiang” is the pestle shout sang when ancient people shell rice and it is used to coordinate the actions. Seen from word meaning, “chuoxiang” means stopping singing pestle as shaking rice, but when combined with the context and trace its etymology, we will easily find that it is a common quote coming from Li Ji. Qu Li Shang (Book of Rites. Music Rites): “When neighbors have funeral, people will not sing during shelling for expressing their grief.” Xuan Zhu notes that: “It enhances lamentable sadness and ‘xiang’ means the sound of shelling sticks”. Later people usually apply it to indicate no pestle and express respect and mourning for the dead.

In all the above cases, “chuoxiang” makes pairs with “tingge (stop singing)”, “tingsuo (stop spindling)” and “juexian (stop playing the piano)”, but all of these words are originating from ancient historical allusions, thus making the style of the whole sentences show elegant and dignified characteristics.

2.5. Polysemous

Looked from the polymerization relation and emerging context of epitaph culture words, the combination between words should not only conform to grammatical rules but also the sememe of semantic combination be compatible with each other. Such a combination is not a simple sense superposition, but with distinctive characteristics and rich semantic meaning. Different contexts and different combinations of relationship may refer to different meaning. Therefore, inscription terms are highly scalable and creative, showing the semantic feature expression of polysemy expression.

2.5.1. Same Word Boasts Different Significance

Fresh words from terms that derived from the same cultural phenomenon, the same historical figures and stories as well as the same type of myth and legend because of the multi-faceted, multi-melt and complex nature of the stories, often emphasize, extend, expand even accept and reject differently. This results in that same form of words enjoys a different meaning. By contrast, vocabularies that from the different cultural phenomenon, different historical figures and stories as well as different myths and legends can share the same forms when being summarized and condensed because of certain similarity or relevance between them. However, such forms are different from homographs. Such as:

“Ermao (two fair)” has two meanings in epitaphs. For example:

1) The gray-haired elderly; people who at their age of gray-haired. “Mao (fair)” refers to hair, generally the fair of old man. For instance:

Tianbao 093 Yuan Dexiu Mu Zhi: “In a day that high mountains surrounded by fair air and wind hangs in the sky, there appear three sixty-year-old gray-haired officials” (Zhou & Zhao, 1992) .

2) Over Thirty Years Old

Yuan He 022 Zheng Shaofang Mu Zhi: “Although he is over 30 years old, he is still a general pedestrian; his hair turns in gray but he still doesn’t take off his initial clothing (to become government officials)” (Zhou & Zhao, 2012) .

The morphology of “ermao” is the same, but its etymology is different. Because accidentally absorbed when taking the image, its meaning becomes different. The reference of the elderly comes from Zuozhuan. Xi Gong Er Shi Er Nian (Chun Qiu Zuo Shi Zhuan): “Gentleman doesn’t hurt anyone severely nor capture the old man”. Du Yu notes: “Ermao means one’s hair becomes gray so he or she has two colors of hair.” Li Ji. Tan Gong Xia (Rites): “Ancient intruders and crusaders… don’t capture the old man”. Zheng Xuan notes: “Ermao means gray hair”.

The sense of more than 30 years old sources in Pan Yue’s Qiu Xing Fu Xu (The Preface of the Fu about Autumn Joy) (Fu is a kind of ancient Chinese style of rhyme and is similar to the later prose poems.): “Yu Chunqiu starts to grow gray hair as he is 32 years old”. Bei Zhou. Yu Xin: “Ai Jiangnan Fu Xu (The Preface of the Lament Fu for Jiangnan): “Yu Xin meets with chaos when he is only thirty”. Ni Fan notes: “Inversely counted from Xie Teng Ji Xu Qi (It describes that Yu Xin is sixty-seven years old), Zishan (Yu Xin’s alias) is thirty-six when he come front with troubled times. “Song・Li Zong-e” Xian Gong Tan Lu (Xian Gong means his father and Tan Lu is conversation): “When Li Zong-e’s father died Zong-e is at his thirties.”

The epitaph “thirty-six years old” is in pair with “over thirty years old”. So, it is visible that this meaning of this epitaph is from Pan Yue’s Qiu Xing Fu Xu.

The originally literal sense of “ermao” is white hair in black, but due to different etymology, namely the historical background of cultural words, its meaning is different.

2.5.2. Different Expression Ways of the Same Meaning

Many cultural words comes from a story, because the story itself has abundant contents, providing various details to condense allusions. Words forms picked from different details and then been processed may have different significance. But because they are from the same source and processing materials, coupled with the culture word form is not uniform, so one can use different expressions to represent the same meaning. This phenomenon is also related to the driving force that someone intent to avoid repetition so as to make language colorful and those who use the language have creative thinking.

Lexicon shapes used for praising mothers’ education to their children are so many. For instance: sanqian (three times of migrations)

Wansui tongtian 013 Murong Jun Qi Li Shi Mu Zhi (Epitaph of Murong Jun’s Wife): “(Murong Jun) feel grief for seven days about his mother’s death; he is rather sad at losing his mother’s words as the elegiac car goes away forever” (Zhou & Zhao, 1992) .

Furthermore, “Keqin or Mengmu (Mencius’s mother), Sanxi (triple migrations), Xizhai (resettlement), Zelin (choose neighbors), Jizhu (loom), Duanzhi or Duanji (weaving broken) (They all refer to Mencius’s mother migrated as many as three times in order to select a sound environment for Mencius to study and become excellent)” are all from Lie Nv Zhuan. Zhou Meng Ke Qin; they have the same meaning and are all used for expressing mothers’ civilization to their children and praising the virtues of women.

2.6. Deep Nationality

Language is the crystallization of a nation’s cultural thoughts. A nation’s culture is mainly carried on by language characters, so does the development and progress of certain society. In order to scientifically and accurately grasp the implied semantic meaning during understanding great number of Tang’s inscription words, one must know certain national culture background and habits of thinking, social cultural psychology and customs, ethics morals and so on. These words all have the characteristics of implication, vividness and elegance, contain profound cultural connotation, and reflect a wide range of social content.

The ancient way of life, ideas, etiquette and education system, mode of thinking, aesthetic characteristics, psychological foundation and so on are likely to be poured into lexicons and then manifest in literal expressions. That is to say, these cultural words have more or less, either explicitly or implicitly cultural significance in addition to its own language meaning. Comparing with other culture loaded words, our current analysis and research to epitaph is far from enough. Therefore, it is necessary for us to conduct in-depth, systematic and comprehensive study.

For example, the phrase “bamao (pull thatch grass)” is a frequent caller in epitaphs of Tang Dynasty.

Xianheng 105 Huang Su Mu Zhi: “Those who ignore the glory of being a post officer by recommendations eventually develop the integrity that would rather to die than to eat food given by enemy” (Zhou & Zhao, 1992) .

Wang Bi notes: “Mao, the thatch grass, is a kind of plant that if the grass is pulled, it’s root will be implicated. Ru, the appearance of traction.” Following generations hence employ “bamao” to indicate promote one person and then the related people will be jointly progressed. This function roots from the unique literature of Book of Changes, and is closely linked with China’s electoral system that select officials by recommendation. This word will not be if without, although such a concept may exist, the etymology or no electoral system in the feudal era. So, the word has a distinctive brand of the times and deep ethnic cultural identity.

The cultural meaning of word meaning is generated in certain historical and cultural background. Thus cultural meaning all has settings, leaving which there will no cultural significance. Therefore, lexical cultural meaning enjoys the characteristics of backgrounds and nationality. Epitaph terms are rooted in the historical context of Chinese nation, and ties closely with the nation’s survival, development.

Due to the cultural righteousness come from certain ethnic culture, so the nationality of cultural meaning is very obvious. Differences of national cultures, the same objective things in different cultures can contain different value, cause different associations, and have different connotations. The culture meanings of epitaph in Tang Dynasty are all marked with the ideas of the Chinese nation, religious awareness and etiquette customs.

2.7. Distinct Characteristic of Times and Historical Inheritance

Most of epitaph words have a long history of the source and obvious inheritance characteristics of the previous generations. But at the same time of inheritance, they also change or innovate. This kind of words generate, reconstruct, develop and vary during the process of historical development, so they have profound historical accumulation.

“There is something behind the language which can’t exist without culture. The so-called culture is the sum of habits and beliefs left by society and it can determine our social organization” (Sapir, 2010) . Sapir considers in narrating the relationships among language, society and culture. He adds that: “In the broad sense, as a social phenomenon, culture is the whole life style, as well as the sum of the material and spiritual wealth created by certain people. Culture is a kind of historical phenomenon, and different nations have different cultures. In addition, different nation has different culture and different culture has both commons and personality. Language is the carrier of culture, and the use of language can not continue without people who serve as members of society and culture as well as the language users” (Huang, 2003) .

Culture, as the social and historical phenomenon, is manifested through language. Culture words have very long history, the words are fairly stable and profuse after accumulation, offering important material for studying human history and culture. The histories of language and culture are coordinate with each other. Language is a part and carrier of culture. Accurate understanding of words asks deep culture excavation; and scientific research of the words helps reveal historical culture.

The time quality of culture words concretely displays certain background gives birth to specific cultural meanings. For instance:

“Marriage” means woman getting married or men marrying at present. But in ancient times, the above process will be accompanied by a series of elaborate rituals, resulting in a huge relationship semantic field. Their meaning is different, but semantically related, reflecting the specific historical background of wedding ceremonies, rituals, with distinct characteristics of the times. The following phrases about marriage are widely used in Tang’s epitaph. Such as:


Yongchun 003 Wei Jun Qi Wang Wan Mu Zhi (Epitaph of Wang Wan, Wei Jun’s Wife): “She gets married at only fifteen years old. And a variety of goods are available that need many cars to carry them when she marries” (Zhou & Zhao, 2012) .


Yonghui 051 Liu Yi Ji Qi Ma Shi Mu Zhi (Epitaph of Liu Yi and His Wife): “If families inherit the office of doctor, then they will inherit glory and officials thorough generations; engage in military, be solemn mighty; learn diction, be prosperous throughout the era” (Zhou & Zhao, 1992) .

Besides, the following words, although with the development of the times, changes of social patterns and customs habits, vast majority of them are no longer used, in that particular era, as common words, they witnessed the basic features of their times. They are: biaomei (means vatica mangachapo ripes and falls, it later be used to imply ladies are old enough to get married), dianqin, dianyan (the groom goes to bride’s home to escort her), fengzhao (the auspices of divining spouse), guanhun or hunguan, guian or guining (married women return home to see their parents), xingzi, hejin (new couple drink together in the bridal chamber), hefeng (empress accompany with monarch), hegui, hehui, heming, hungou, hunqu, jieli, jiefa, jieou, jieshui, jieyin, jinli (marriage), heqin [(of some feudal dynasties) attempt to cement relations with rulers of minority nationalities in the border areas by marrying daughters of the Han imperial family to them], hefang, xujia or xuhun (permitting marriage), huiguan, hunhong, jigui, jipei, jishi (wife owned after the original spouse’s death), jiaou (fine couples), jianghun, jiangyin, jieai (deep love), jinxi, juanqimei (used to describe couples who love and respect each other), kangli (couples), kepei (a kind of superstition, which considers that husband or wife is restraint to the other or couple that restraint to each other), laipin, laishi, laixiang, laiyi (the coming of beloved one), laizuo, ligui, lipi, lipin, lishi, liyue (etiquette and music), lianyin or qinjin , yingou (two families form relatives through marriage), minghun, mingfeng, muyin, nacai or weiqin (man sent a matchmaker to the bride’s to propose formally), peiou or zuoli (spouse), pin (concubine), qimei, qihun, qinse (harmonious marital relations), rumu (originally refer to young children love their parents, but later extended to admiration and respect to one’s teachers or elders), shangzhu (in feudal society, men married Princess called “shangzhu”), shi (woman’s getting married), shipei, shipin, shoupin, wenming (ask name, man sent matchmaker to ask the woman’s name and her date of birth), wenqin, xuyin, xuanyin, youxing, yufei, shuchu, gaoyan, and so on.

3. Conclusion

The above characteristics manifest that Tang’s epitaph words bear the unique traditional culture which develops Chinese nation as well as permeate the cultural spirit and psychology of Chinese. At the same time, language reflects a nation’s social, historical, cultural, and thinking characteristics. Man’s cultural creation activities generate, continually progress and innovate language, embodying the mutual penetration and two-way interaction between language and culture, and hence become an inalienable part of Chinese traditional culture. As the building material of language, vocabulary is the inevitable product of a nation’s understanding of the world. Therefore, culture words are able to be massively produced, accumulated, developed and varied. And understanding the cultural meaning of this kind of words can directly affect people’s views on the overall appearance of words.


The paper is supported by “the Start up Funds for Doctors” of China West Normal University (No: 14E010).

Cite this paper

TongxuanJiang, (2015) Words Characteristics of Tang’ Epitaph. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics,05,340-347. doi: 10.4236/ojml.2015.54030


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