The 300 Tang poems ought to be read in middle Chinese, i.e. the language of that time, and not Mandarin.
It is no different from the English language and indeed all the world’s languages, with their respective predecessors in the early and middle ages.
The point I want to make pretty much ends here and I hope that it is a unique perspective for anyone seeking to learn any country’s language, literature and history.
Mandarin is a new language
There are 7000 years of recorded Chinese history informs us that the various Chinese languages spoken in China these millennia have themselves evolved, and the official language is currently the Mandarin language.
Everytime I am reminded of the beautiful and vast history of China’s, I just wish I have a USB port at the base of my skull where I can simply download every language known to mankind, not just of the Chinese’s, orally and aurally, from the past to the present.
In reference to the spelling based Thai language:
- chair is เก้าอี้ (kgaow ee)
- table is โต๊ะ (toh)
- cupboard is ตู้ (tuu)
These three words are similarly pronounced in the Southern Chinese languages of Teochew and Hokkien and are unmistakably spelt out in the Thai language.
If one traces backwards as far as possible to the formulation of the Thai spelling system, the corresponding Chinese dynasty of that era would have used the predecessor of the Teochew and Hokkien languages as the official and hence national and diplomatic language.
Furthermore, if one visits museums with exhibits of ancient Chinese documents, those documents would hardly make any sense when read in Mandarin and may start to sound correct when read in other known Chinese languages.
For another, Cantonese, and Taiyu in Taiwan have their own systems of writing as well.
Therefore, the 300 Tang poems will be most beautiful when read in their original spoken middle Chinese form.