Classical Chinese

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Classical Chinese
Literary Chinese
古文 or 文言
Region mainland China; Taiwan; Japan; Korea and Vietnam
Era ca. 700 BC – 200 AD; continued as a literary language until the 20th century
Language family
Writing system Chinese
Language codes
ISO 639-3 lzh
Classical Chinese
Chinese name
Chinese 古文
Literal meaning "ancient written language"
Literary Chinese
Chinese 文言
Literal meaning "literary language"
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Hán văn

Classical Chinese or literary Chinese is a traditional form of written Chinese. It is based on the grammar and vocabulary of ancient Chinese, so it is different from any modern spoken form of Chinese. Classical Chinese was once used for almost all formal letters before and during the beginning of the 20th century in China, and during various different periods in Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Among Chinese speakers, Classical Chinese has been largely replaced by written vernacular Chinese, or báihuà ("plain speech"). Written vernacular Chinese is a writing style similar to modern spoken Mandarin Chinese. At the same time, non-Chinese speakers have largely given classical Chinese up, and use their local languages or dialects instead.