Academic year
2021/2022 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LM007N (AF:353466 AR:186951)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
Go to Moodle page
This course falls within the characterizing teachings of the "Japan" curriculum of the graduate course in "Language and Civilization of Asia and Mediterranean Africa". Its formative objectives fall within the area of language skills learning, including also the more specific goals of the cultural and humanities areas.
The course aims at the comprehension of the basic structures of premodern Japanese language, in particular at the comprehension of sinitic texts (kanbun) by the various reading methods known as gloss-reading (kundoku).This will contribute to a widening and a deepening of the knowledge about Japanese language in general, but also of the written production of premodern Japan, with a focus on literary and historical sources. The students will understand the changes occurred in the Japanese language after its encounter with the Chinese language, and how kanji and kanbun continued to function as a fundamental element in the formation of Japanese thought and culture well into the 20th century.
Knowledge and understanding:
- to know and understand the basic grammar of classical japanese (bungo) used in kanbun kundoku
- to know and understand the basic structures of kanbun kundoku (kukei)
- to know useful tools for conducting bibliographic research
- to know and understand the changes occurred in the Japanese language after its encounter with the Chinese language
- to deepen the knowledge of Japanese historical texts written in Chinese, which occupy a relevant place within the classical literary corpus

Applying knowledge and understanding:
- proficiently use sino-japanese dictionaries (kanwa jiten)
- to analyze and understand Japanese historical texts written in Chinese by using concepts and tools the students will acquire through the course
- to use bibliographic references in different languages (Japanese included)
- to engage in innovative and interdisciplinary research

Making judgments:
- to produce critical judgments on the textual and socio-literary phenomena covered in the course
- to subject various types of sources (such as academic and creative texts) to critical scrutiny

- to express one's opinion in an effective way
- to re-elaborate and express in an effective way other people's opinion

Lifelong learning skills:
- to know how to plan and conduct bibliographic research
- to know how to integrate the study of different materials (notes, powerpoints, manuals, creative texts, academic papers)
- to be able to read and re-elaborate in a synthetic way texts written in different languages
Advanced knowledge of Japanese modern language and good knowledge of classical Japanese grammar.
This course aims at providing students with the basic knowledge of kanbun, its grammar rules, conversion techniques (kundoku), linguistic features, and literary aura. By the end of the course, students are expected to demonstrate skills of reading basic kanbun texts composed both in China and Japan.
Until the Meiji period, classical Chinese was the language of choice in official and literary communication. Yet, at the same time, the Japanese also developed a special reading method to mentally punctuate, analyze, and translate classical Chinese (kanbun) into classical Japanese (wabun). Therefore, knowledge of kanbun and kanbun kundoku reading constitutes an essential asset for all students in the field of Japanese Studies, particularly for those interested in pre- and early-modern Japan.
The Japanese use of Sinitic (or classical Chinese) led to the formation of an additional idiom that, while still looking like classical Chinese, incorporated elements of Japanese syntax, style, and lexicon. This popular—and somehow second-class—idiom of “Japanese kanbun” showed a great variety of "hybrid" styles that often lacked a systematic grammar. As a result, Japanese kanbun is often difficult to read and therefore hardly taught outside of Japan. This course is designed to fill in the gap by offering an overview of such lesser-known aspects and introducing the students to a wide range of textual typologies.
A Sino-Japanese dictionary is mandatory for attending the course and the final test. Please choose one of the following:
全訳 漢辞海(三省堂)
角川 新字源(角川)
The digital version for smartphone or tablet is strongly reccomended.
Detailed information about which dictionary to buy will be given during the first lesson.

Other materials will be uploaded on the Moodle.
The exam will consist of the following parts:
- including short quizzes,
- true or false,
- grammar analysis,
- words reordering
- comprehension of short texts.

The contents of the exam will corespond to texts and phrases presented in class, as well as simple phrases never seen before.
If you are unable to attend the course, please contact the teacher in advance.
Interactive lectures (both in presence and online) on Japanese literary and historical texts written in Chinese.
Non-attending students are kindly asked to contact the instructor by email in advance.
Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 30/01/2022