Sinology in general use is the study of China and things related to China, but, especially in the American academic context, refers more strictly to the study of classical language and literature, and the philological approach. Its origin, says one recent survey, "may be traced to the examination which Chinese scholars made of their own civilization."
Sino- is derived from Late Latin Sinae from the Greek Sinae from the Arabic Sin which in turn may derive from Qin, that is, the Qin Dynasty. Other explanations deduce that a Biblical reference to the land of Sinim since it was otherwise unknown, must refer to China.
In the context of area studies, the European and the American usages differ. In Europe, sinology is usually known as Chinese Studies whereas in the United States Sinology is a subfield of Chinese Studies. The Australian scholar Geremie R. Barmé offers a "New Sinology," one which "emphasizes strong scholastic underpinnings in both the classical and modern Chinese language and studies, at the same time as encouraging an ecumenical attitude in relation to a rich variety of approaches and disciplines, whether they be mainly empirical or more theoretically inflected."