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Liu Bannong

Liu Bannong (Chinese: 刘半农)(1891 - 1934) was a Chinese linguist and poet. A native of Jiangsu, he was an important contributor to the influential magazine La Jeunesse during the May Fourth Movement.


He began writing poetry in vernacular Chinese in 1917, and was credited with having coined the Chinese feminine pronoun ta (), which only exists in writing and which he made use of in his poems. The usage was popularised by the song Jiao Wo Ruhe Bu Xiang Ta (教我如何不想她 "Tell me how to stop thinking of her"), a "pop hit" in the 1930s in China. 

In 1920, he left China to study linguistics abroad, first in London, then in Paris. He gained his PhD at the University of Paris, with research done on Chinese tones. During his time in Paris, he compiled Dunhuang Duosuo (敦煌掇琐"Miscellaneous works found in the Dunhuang Caves"), a pioneering work about the Dunhuang manuscripts.

He returned to China in 1925, and began teaching in colleges. He collaborated with Li Jiarui to compile Songyuan Yilai Suzi Pu (宋元以来俗字谱 "The vernacular characters used from the Song and Yuan dynasties onwards"). Published in 1930, it was a key work in the standardisation of simplified Chinese characters.

He died of acute illness after a linguistic field-trip, at the age of 44. Lu Xun wrote a short memoir about Liu (情流半农君) after his death. He is the elder brother of the musicologist Liu Tianhua.