Nanyue - Language

Language

Other than Old Chinese which was used by Chinese immigrants and government officials, most Nanyue citizens likely spoke Ancient Yue, an extinct language whose descendants are believed to be the Zhuang and Tai languages. Old Chinese in the region was likely much influenced by Yue speech (and vice versa), and many loanwords in Chinese languages have been identified by modern scholars.

There is no known evidence of a writing system among the Yue peoples of the Lingnan region in pre-Qin times, and the Chinese conquest of the region is believed to have introduced writing to the area. Old Chinese seems to have been the language of government, likely because Zhao Tuo and most government officials were Chinese immigrants and not Yue. Archaeological finds at the Tomb of the Nanyue King in Guangzhou, the Nanyue Palace Ruins, and the Luobowan tombs have provided nearly all that is known of Nanyue writing. These sites contained a wide variety of artifacts with writings in several different media. Items from King Zhao Mo's tomb have seal script characters on them, while those from the Palace and Luobowan tend to have clerical script characters.

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