Sociohistorical Linguistics in Southeast Asia: New Horizons for Tibeto-Burman Studies in Honor of David Bradley
 9004349839, 9789004349834

Table of contents :
Sociohistorical Linguistics in Southeast Asia: New Horizons for Tibeto-Burman Studies in honor of David Bradley
List of Maps
List of Figures
List of Tables
David Bradley: A bibliography
Tabula Gratulatoria
Part A: Sociohistorical Linguistics in Regional Perspective
1 David Bradley and Tibeto-Burman sociohistory: an introduction
1.1 The life and career of David Bradley
1.2 Contributions to the study of language
1.3 Overview of volume contents
1.4 Beyond the microlectal grammar: David Bradley’s untold legacy
2 The so-called prefixes of Tibeto-Burman, and why they are so called
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Tibeto-Burman syllable structure: prefixes and sesquisyllabicity
2.3 Morphophonemic behavior of prefixes
2.4 The continuum of meaningfulness: prefixal semantics and the grammatical exploitation of prefixes
2.5 Historical reasons for lack of meaningfulness
2.6 The compounding/prefixation cycle (PTB 153-6)
2.7 A perennial problem: distinguishing *prefix-plus-initial-consonant from root-internal *consonant clusters
2.8 Conclusions
Part B: Sociohistorical Linguistics & Language Endangerment
3 Dialect diversity and language resilience: The geolinguistics of Phuza vitality
3.1 Geolinguistic and ethnolinguistic context
3.2 Phuza ethnolinguistic endangerment
3.3 Phuza dialect resilience
3.4 Implications
4 Language endangerment and loss of traditional knowledge: The case of Prinmi
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Central Prinmi as an endangered language
4.3 Traditional knowledge embedded in Prinmi
4.4 Language attrition in Prinmi
4.5 Knowledge drain and language attrition
Part C: Sociohistorical Linguistics in China
5 Introducing Limi: A rising tone is born
5.1 Introduction
5.2 ‘Contourgenesis’
5.3 Limi speakers and their sociolinguistic setting
5.4 Methodology
5.5 Limi’s sound system
5.6 Limi’s development from Proto-Ngwi and its genetic position within Ngwi
5.7 Conclusions: a rising tone is born
6 Medial changes in Jino dialects
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Synchronic description of Jino medials
6.3 Major types of medial changes
6.4 Relative chronology
6.5 Conclusion
7 Family group classifiers in Khatso
7.1 Overview of Khatso
7.2 Family group classifiers
7.3 Conclusion
8 The morphology of numerals and classifiers in Japhug
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Numerals and classifiers in Japhug
8.3 Possible pathways of development for the numeral prefix paradigms in Gyalrongic
8.4 Conclusion
Part D: Sociohistorical Linguistics in Southeast Asia
9 The characteristics of the Karen branch of Tibeto-Burman
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Phonology
9.3 Morphosyntax
9.4 Lexicon
9.5 Multilingualism and multidialectalism
9.6 Endangerment
9.7 Conclusion
9.8 Further research
10 The sociolinguistic context of the Tangsa languages
10.1 Introduction
10.2 Individual language usage
10.3 Traditional language usage cross-varieties
10.4 Tangsa varieties used as lingua francas
10.5 Language usage in community events
10.6 Conclusion
11 On Kuki-Chin subgrouping
11.1 The history of Kuki-Chin subgrouping
11.2 The Center/Periphery model in detail
11.3 Some remaining questions
11.4 Conclusion
12 On the diachronic origins of converbs in tibeto-burman and beyond
12.1 Introduction
12.2 Preliminary exemplification
12.3 Converb clauses and nominalization
12.4 Grammaticalization and reanalysis
12.5 Causal converbs in South Asia
12.6 Clause chaining converbs and intonation: an alternative grammaticalization pathway?
12.7 Concluding comments
Toponym index
Language index
Subject index

Citation preview

Sociohistorical Linguistics in Southeast Asia

Brill’s Tibetan Studies Library Edited by Henk Blezer Alex McKay Charles Ramble

Languages of the Greater Himalayan Region Edited by George L. van Driem


The titles published in this series are listed at

Professor David Bradley speaking at the Trace Foundation Language Standardization Lecture Series, March 26, 2010, New York City Image Credit: Trace Foundation, 2010

Sociohistorical Linguistics in Southeast Asia New Horizons for Tibeto-Burman Studies in honor of David Bradley

Edited by

Picus Sizhi Ding Jamin Pelkey


Cover illustration: Terraced rice fields line a mountain slope in Southeast Asia. The Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available online at LC record available at

Typeface for the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic scripts: “Brill”. See and download: issn 1568-6183 isbn 978-90-04-34983-4 (hardback) isbn 978-90-04-35051-9 (e-book) Copyright 2017 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Brill Hes & De Graaf, Brill Nijhoff, Brill Rodopi and Hotei Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. This book is printed on acid-free paper and produced in a sustainable manner.

CONTENTS List of Maps x List of Figures xi List of Tables xii David Bradley: A bibliography xv Tabula Gratulatoria xxxiii Part A: Sociohistorical Linguistics in Regional Perspective 1 David Bradley and Tibeto-Burman sociohistory: an introduction 1 J. Pelkey and P. S. Ding 1.1 The life and career of David Bradley 1 1.2 Contributions to the study of language 3 1.3 Overview of volume contents 7 1.4 Beyond the microlectal grammar: David Bradley’s untold legacy 10 2 The so-called prefixes of Tibeto-Burman, and why they are so called 13 J. A. Matisoff 2.1 Introduction 13 2.2 Tibeto-Burman syllable structure: prefixes and sesquisyllabicity 14 2.3 Morphophonemic behavior of prefixes 15 2.4 The continuum of meaningfulness: prefixal semantics and the grammatical exploitation of prefixes 17 2.5 Historical reasons for lack of meaningfulness 21 2.6 The compounding/prefixation cycle (PTB 153-6) 24 2.7 A perennial problem: distinguishing *prefix-plus-initial-consonant from root-internal *consonant clusters 26 2.8 Conclusions 28 Part B: Sociohistorical Linguistics & Language Endangerment 3 Dialect diversity and language resilience: The geolinguistics of Phuza vitality 33 J. Pelkey 3.1 Geolinguistic and ethnolinguistic context 34 3.2 Phuza ethnolinguistic endangerment 41 3.3 Phuza dialect resilience 45 3.4 Implications 49




Language endangerment and loss of traditional knowledge: The case of Prinmi P. S. Ding 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Central Prinmi as an endangered language 4.3 Traditional knowledge embedded in Prinmi 4.4 Language attrition in Prinmi 4.5 Knowledge drain and language attrition Part C: Sociohistorical Linguistics in China 5 Introducing Limi: A rising tone is born C. Yang 5.1 Introduction 5.2 ‘Contourgenesis’ 5.3 Limi speakers and their sociolinguistic setting 5.4 Methodology 5.5 Limi’s sound system 5.6 Limi’s development from Proto-Ngwi and its genetic position within Ngwi 5.7 Conclusions: a rising tone is born 6 Medial changes in Jino dialects N. Hayashi 6.1 Introduction 6.2 Synchronic description of Jino medials 6.3 Major types of medial changes 6.4 Relative chronology 6.5 Conclusion 7 Family group classifiers in Khatso C. Donlay 7.1 Overview of Khatso 7.2 Family group classifiers 7.3 Conclusion 8 The morphology of numerals and classifiers in Japhug G. Jacques 8.1 Introduction 8.2 Numerals and classifiers in Japhug 8.3 Possible pathways of development for the numeral prefix paradigms in Gyalrongic 8.4 Conclusion

53 54 54 57 67 70 75 75 76 78 79 80 85 92 97 97 97 100 109 112 117 117 118 131 135 135 136 141 146


Part D: Sociohistorical Linguistics in Southeast Asia 9 The characteristics of the Karen branch of Tibeto-Burman K. Manson 9.1 Introduction 9.2 Phonology 9.3 Morphosyntax 9.4 Lexicon 9.5 Multilingualism and multidialectalism 9.6 Endangerment 9.7 Conclusion 9.8 Further research 10 The sociolinguistic context of the Tangsa languages S. Morey 10.1 Introduction 10.2 Individual language usage 10.3 Traditional language usage cross-varieties 10.4 Tangsa varieties used as lingua francas 10.5 Language usage in community events 10.6 Conclusion 11 On Kuki-Chin subgrouping D. A. Peterson 11.1 The history of Kuki-Chin subgrouping 11.2 The Center/Periphery model in detail 11.3 Some remaining questions 11.4 Conclusion 12 On the diachronic origins of converbs in tibeto-burman and beyond A. R. Coupe 12.1 Introduction 12.2 Preliminary exemplification 12.3 Converb clauses and nominalization 12.4 Grammaticalization and reanalysis 12.5 Causal converbs in South Asia 12.6 Clause chaining converbs and intonation: an alternative grammaticalization pathway? 12.7 Concluding comments Toponym index Language index Subject index


149 149 151 156 161 163 164 165 165 169 169 172 175 176 177 185 189 190 196 205 206 211 211 214 218 223 225 230 232 238 240 246

LIST OF MAPS Map 1-1: General distribution of Tibeto-Burman languages under study Map 3-1: Phuza general distribution and village locations Map 3-2: Phuza distribution by dialect boundary and level of threatened status Map 4-1: The Prinmi-speaking area in southwest China Map 10-1: The distribution of origin villages of Tangsa/Tangshang, mostly in Myanmar

8 36 47 55 171

LIST OF FIGURES Fig. 2-1: Fig. 2-2: Fig. 2-3: Fig. 2-4: Fig. 3-1: Fig. 3-2: Fig. 4-1: Fig. 4-2: Fig. 4-3: Fig. 4-4: Fig. 4-5: Fig. 5-1: Fig. 5-2: Fig. 5-3: Fig. 6-1: Fig. 9-1: Fig. 11-1: Fig. 11-2: Fig. 11-3: Fig. 11-4: Fig. 11-5: Fig. 11-6: Fig. 11-7: Fig. 11-8: Fig. 11-9: Fig. 12-1:

The Proto-Tibeto-Burman syllable canon Revised Proto-Tibeto-Burman syllable canon Patterns of interinfluence in the TB syllable Directionalities of diachronic changes in syllable structure Threatened status of Phuza usage by village Threatened status of Phuza usage by village and dialect A nine-unit system for counting days and nights in Prinmi A comparison of Prinmi year ordinals with day ordinals Different plant-naming practices in Prinmi and other languages Comparison of sibling terms in English, Mandarin and Prinmi A sample of pictures used as prompts for words elicitation in Prinmi Limi vowel phonemes Four contrastive tones on monosyllables, in citation form, pronounced by a female speaker Four contrastive tones on monosyllables, in the middle of a carrier phrase, pronounced by a male speaker Genealogy of Jino and other Burmic languages The subgrouping of Karen languages Konow’s subgrouping of Kuki-Chin languages Shafer’s subgrouping of Kuki-Chin languages Bradley’s subgrouping of Kuki-Chin languages Thurgood’s subgrouping of Kuki-Chin languages VanBik’s subgrouping of Kuki-Chin languages So-Hartmann’s Southern Kuki-Chin Geography-based model Center/Periphery model Proposed subgrouping of Kuki-Chin languages An ornate vase, or silhouettes of human figures?

14 14 14 25 44 45 60 62 65 66 68 82 85 85 98 152 191 192 193 193 194 195 195 195 206 224

LIST OF TABLES Table 1-1: Table 2-1: Table 3-1: Table 3-2: Table 3-3: Table 4-1: Table 4-2: Table 4-3: Table 4-4: Table 5-1: Table 5-2: Table 5-3: Table 5-4: Table 5-5: Table 5-6: Table 5-7: Table 5-8: Table 5-9: Table 5-10: Table 5-11: Table 5-12: Table 6-1: Table 6-2: Table 6-3: Table 6-4: Table 6-5: Table 6-6: Table 6-7:

Overview of Bradley’s major publications by primary research area The basic numerals in Mizo List of reported Phuza villages with reference to Maps 3-1 and 3-2 Lexical variation between Suobendi and Dabaqi Phuza dialects Village vitality status * Phuza dialect cross tabulation Measuring the degree of Central Prinmi endangerment Animal terms and their correspondence in the Prinmi calendar system Grouping of wild animals in Prinmi The list of basic words for elicitation from Prinmi children Limi consonant phonemes Examples of Limi consonantal phonemes Examples of Limi vowel phonemes Examples of Limi tones Examples of Limi tones’ historical development PLa and PLo’s divergent development of velar consonant clusters PLa and PLo’s convergent development of front vowels PLa and PLo’s divergent development of central and back vowels PLa and PLo’s divergent development of PN *o PLa and PLo’s divergent development of *a and *aŋ Tone box for Limi, Lolo, Lipo, East and Central Lalo Tone examples for Limi, Lolo, Lipo, East and Central Lalo Phonological inventory of Youle Jino Phonological inventory of Buyuan Jino Typology of medials in Burmic Distribution of medials in Burmic and Standard Thai PB *bilabial + medial > Jino dialects PB *velar + medial > Jino dialects Affrication in the Jino dialects

4 16 37 40 46 56 59 63 68 81 81 82 83 84 87 88 89 89 90 91 91 98 99 100 101 102 104 105


Table 6-8: Table 6-9: Table 6-10: Table 6-11: Table 6-12: Table 6-13: Table 6-14: Table 6-15: Table 7-1: Table 7-2: Table 7-3: Table 8-1: Table 8-2: Table 8-3: Table 8-4: Table 8-5: Table 8-6: Table 8-7: Table 8-8: Table 9-1: Table 9-2: Table 10-1: Table 10-2: Table 10-3: Table 10-4: Table 10-5: Table 10-6: Table 10-7: Table 11-1:

Medial syncope in the Jino dialects Medial epenthesis in the Jino dialects Summary of medial changes Medial changes and their application Relative chronology relating to medial changes Rule ordering of PB > PJ Rule ordering of PJ > YJ Rule ordering of PJ > BJ Comparison of Khatso kin terms and family group classifiers Basic meaning of the family group classifiers in Khatso Comparison of family group classifiers across languages Comparison of basic numerals in Japhug and Stau Numeral prefixes in Japhug Approximate numerals in Japhug Preservation of final obstruents in Tibetan loanwords in Japhug Correspondences between Japhug and Pumi Suppletion in the forms of ‘year’ in Burmo-Qiangic Regular status constructus forms in Japhug Loss of final consonants in status constructus forms in Japhug Examples of Karen tones (Eastern Kayah, Yintale and Kayan) Examples of variations among Karen languages Linguistic variety, Mungre and Lauchang (Vocabulary) Linguistic variety, Mungre and Lauchang (Past tense markers) Linguistic variety, Mungre and Lauchang (Tones) Language usage in Baptist Churches (under the TBCA) Language usage in other churches Language usage in the Phulbari House Dedication, 2011-11-03 Language usage in the Wihu festival, Kharang Kong 2009 Reflexes of *-r in Hyow, Tedim, and Hakha Lai


106 108 109 109 111 112 112 112 121 123 128 139 140 141 142 144 145 145 146 155 165 173 174 174 178 181 183 184 199

DAVID BRADLEY: A BIBLIOGRAPHY Compiled by Picus Sizhi Ding and Jamin Pelkey This bibliography includes all major publications by David Bradley, but it is not exhaustive. For instance, some book reviews written a few decades ago are not listed, as detail is unavailable. Works are arranged chronologically. For publications under the same year, the following order applies: (a) edited book/monograph, (b) journal paper/book chapter, and (c) book review/conference report.



3. 4. 5. 6.

1975 Bradley, David. 1975. Nahsi and Proto-Burmese-Lolo. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 2(1). 93–150. 1976 Bradley, David. 1976. Akha and Southern Loloish. In Mantarō J. Hashimoto (ed.), Genetic relationship, diffusion and typological similarities of East and Southeast Asian languages: Papers of the 1st Japan-U.S. joint seminar on East and Southeast Asian linguistics, 101–145. Tokyo: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. 1977 Bradley, David (ed.). 1977. Papers in Southeast Asian linguistics, vol. 5. (Pacific Linguistics Series A-49). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 1977. Proto-Loloish tones. In David Bradley (ed.), Papers in Southeast Asian linguistics, vol. 5, 1–22. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 1977. Akha and Southern Loloish. In David Bradley (ed.), Papers in Southeast Asian linguistics, vol. 5, 23–65. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 1977. Phounoi or Côông. In David Bradley (ed.), Papers in Southeast Asian linguistics, vol. 5, 67–98. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.


7. 8. 9.


11. 12. 13. 14.

15. 16.

17. 18.



1978 Bradley, David. 1978. Identity, dialect, and sound changes in MBisu and 'ugong. Working Papers in Linguistics, University of Melbourne 4. 37–46. Bradley, David. 1978. Diglossia in Burmese. Osmania University Working Papers in Linguistics 3. 1–12. Bradley, David & Edmund Leach. 1978. Correspondence: Sound symbolism in Jinghpaw (Kachin). Man 13(4). 659–662. 1979 Bradley, David. 1979. Proto-Loloish. (Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies Monograph 39). London: Curzon Press. [Published in Chinese as 彝语支源流. Translated by 乐赛月 /Yue Saiyue, 陈康/Chen Kang & 鲁丁/Lu Ding. Chengdu: Sichuan Nationalities Press, 1991] Bradley, David. 1979. Lahu dialects. (Oriental Monograph Series 23). Canberra: Faculty of Asian Studies, ANU. Bradley, David. 1979. Speech through music: The Sino-Tibetan gourd reed-organ. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 42(3). 535–540. Bradley, David. 1979. A study of Australian English vowels by phonetics/phonology students. Talanya 6. 67–75. Bradley, David & Maya Bradley. 1979. Melbourne vowels. Working Papers in Linguistics, University of Melbourne 5. 64–84. 1980 Bradley, David. 1980. Phonological convergence between languages in contact: Mon-Khmer structural borrowing in Burmese. Berkeley Linguistics Society 6. 259–267. Bradley, David. 1980. Regional differences in Australian English: phonology. Working Papers in Linguistics, University of Melbourne 6. 73–93. 1981 Bradley, David. 1981. Majority-minority linguistic interfaces in Thailand. Working Papers in Linguistics, University of Melbourne 7. 79–86. Bradley, David & Daniel Kane. 1981. Lisu orthographies. Working Papers in Linguistics, University of Melbourne 7. 23–38. 1982 Bradley, David (ed.). 1982. Tonation (Pacific Linguistics Series A-62). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.


20. 21.



24. 25.





Bradley, David. 1982. Register in Burmese. In David Bradley (ed.), Tonation, 117–132. (Pacific Linguistics Series A-62). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 1982. The linguistic position of Jino. In Chauncey Chu, W. South Coblin & Fengfu Tsao (eds.), Papers from the 14th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics, 21–42. Taipei: Student Book Co. 1983 Bradley, David. 1983. Identity: The persistence of minority groups. In John McKinnon & Wanat Bhruksasri (eds.), Highlanders of Thailand, 46–55. Oxford; Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. Bradley, David. 1983. South-East Asia. In S. Wurm & Shirō Hattori (eds.), Language atlas of the Pacific area. Part 2: Japan area, Philippines, and Formosa, mainland and insular South-East Asia, maps 35–37. (Pacific Linguistics Series C-67). Canberra: Australian Academy of the Humanities in collaboration with the Japan Academy. 1984 Bradley, David & Maya Bradley. 1984. Problems of Asian students in Australia: language, culture and education. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. Bradley, David. 1984. Review of Hale’s Research on Tibeto-Burman languages. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 1. 176–178. 1985 Bradley, David (ed.). 1985. Language policy, language planning and sociolinguistics in South-East Asia. (Papers in South-East Asian Linguistics 9; Pacific Linguistics Series A-67). Canberra, Pacific Linguistics. Thurgood, Graham, James A. Matisoff, & David Bradley (eds.). 1985. Linguistics of the Sino-Tibetan area: The state of the art: Papers presented to Paul K. Benedict for his 71st birthday. (Pacific Linguistics. Series C-87). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 1985. Traditional minorities and language education in Thailand. In David Bradley (ed.) Language policy, language planning and sociolinguistics in South-East Asia, 87–102. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.






33. 34.


Bradley, David. 1985. The Arakanese dialect of Burmese and ProtoBurmish reconstruction. In Graham Thurgood, James A. Matisoff, & David Bradley (eds.), Linguistics of the Sino-Tibetan area: The state of the art: Papers presented to Paul K. Benedict for his 71st birthday, 180–200. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 1985. Nasality in Bisu and Bisoid. In Suriya Ratanakul, David Thomas & Suwilai Premsrirat (eds.), Southeast Asian linguistic studies presented to André-G. Haudricourt, 234–263. Bangkok: Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development, Mahidol University. Bradley, Maya & David Bradley. 1985. Asian students’ comprehension of Australian English. In M. G. Clyne (ed.), Australia, meeting place of languages, 171–181. (Pacific Linguistics Series C-92). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, Maya & David Bradley. 1985. The phonetic realisation of a morpheme boundary in Australian English. In J. Clark (ed.) The cultivated Australian: Festschrift for Arthur Delbridge, 333–340. (Beiträge zur Phonetik und Linguistik 48). Hamburg: Helmut Buske. 1986 Rado, Marta, Lois Foster & David Bradley. 1986. English language needs of migrant and refugee youth. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. Bradley, David. 1986. Review of Horvath’s Variation in Australian English: The sociolects of Sydney. Australian Journal of Linguistics 6(2). 278–286. 1987



Wurm, Stephen, Benjamin T’sou, David Bradley, Li Rong/李荣, Xiong Zhenghui/熊正辉, Zhang Zhenxing/张振兴, Fu Maoji/ 傅懋勣, Wang Jun/王均 & Dao Bu/道布 (eds.). 1987/1991. Language atlas of China/中国语言地图集. (Pacific Linguistics Series C-102). Hong Kong: Longmans. [Parallel Chinese edition, Beijing: Social Sciences Press.] Bradley, David. 1987. Language planning for China’s minorities: The Yi branch. In D. C. Laycock & W. Winter (eds.), A world of language: Papers presented to Professor S. A. Wurm on his 65th birthday, 81–89. (Pacific Linguistics Series C-100). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.


37. 38.

39. 40.

41. 42.



45. 46.

47. 48.


1988 Bradley, David. 1988. Burmese phrasebook. (Lonely Planet Language Survival Kit). South Yarra, Victoria: Lonely Planet. Bradley, David. 1988. Bisu dialects. In Paul K. Eguchi et al. (eds.), Languages and history in East Asia: Festschrift to honour Prof. Tatsuo Nishida on his 60th birthday, 29–59. Kyoto: Shokado. 1989 Bradley, David (ed.). 1989. South-East Asian syntax. (Papers in South-East Asian Linguistics 11; Pacific Linguistics Series A-77). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David, Eugénie J. A. Henderson & Martine Mazaudon (eds.). 1989. Prosodic analysis and Asian linguistics: To Honour R. K. Sprigg. (Pacific Linguistics Series C-104). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David, Roland Sussex & Graham Scott (eds.). 1989. Studies in Australian English. Bundoora, Victoria: Dept. of Linguistics, La Trobe University, for the Australian Linguistic Society. Bradley, David. 1989. Nasals and nasality in Loloish. In David Bradley, Eugenie J. A. Henderson & Martine Mazaudon (eds.), Prosodic analysis and Asian linguistics: To honor R.K. Sprigg, 143–155. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 1989. Uncles and aunts: Burmese kinship and gender. In J. H. C. S. Davison (ed.), Festschrift for E. J. A. Henderson, 147–162. London: School of Oriental and African Studies. Bradley, David. 1989. The disappearance of the Ugong in Thailand. In Nancy C. Dorian (ed.) Investigating obsolescence: Studies in language contraction and death, 33–40. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bradley, David. 1989. Dying to be Thai Ugong in western Thailand. La Trobe Working Papers in Linguistics 2. Bradley, David. 1989. Regional dialects in Australian English phonology. In P. Collins & D. Blair (eds.), Australian English: The language of a new society, 260–270. St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press. 布莱徳雷/Bradley, David. 1989. 毕粟语的历史梗概 [Historical sketch of the Bisu language]. 民族语文 [Minority Languages of China] 1989(4). 35–41. Bradley, David. 1989. Review of Bell & Holmes’s (eds.) New Zealand ways of speaking English. Australian Journal of Linguistics 9(1). 191–195.


49. 50.

51. 52. 53.





58. 59.


1991 Bradley, David et al. 1991. Thai hill tribes phrasebook. (Lonely Planet Language Survival Kit). Hawthorn, Victoria: Lonely Planet. Bradley, David & R. Hooke (eds.). 1991. Asian language notes for a handbook of English pronunciation. [in Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Thai]. Bundoora: Language Centre, La Trobe University. Bradley, David. 1991. /æ/ and /a:/ in Australian English. In J. Cheshire (ed.), English around the world: Sociolinguistic perspectives, 227–234. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bradley, David. 1991. Chinese as a pluricentric language. In M. G. Clyne (ed.), Pluricentric languages, 305–324. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Bradley, David. 1991. Review of Ramson’s (ed.) The Australian national dictionary, a dictionary of Australianisms on historical principles. Australian Journal of Linguistics 11(2). 233–237. 1992 Bradley, David. 1992. Country education profiles: Myanmar, a comparative study. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service for National Organisation on Overseas Skills Recognition. Bradley, David. 1992. Tone alternations in Ugong. In Carol Compton & John Hartmann (eds.), Papers in Tai languages, linguistics and literatures in honor of William J. Gedney on his 77th birthday, 55–64. De Kalb, IL: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University. [Republished in Cathryn Donohue, Shunichi Ishihara & William Steed (eds.), Quantitative approaches to problems in linguistics: Studies in honour of Phil Rose, 55–62. Muenchen: Lincom Europa, 2012] Bradley, David. 1992. Regional distribution of /æ/ and /a:/ in Australian English. In / Tom Dutton, Malcolm Ross & Darrell Tryon (eds.), The language game: Papers in memory of Donald C. Laycock, 49–56. (Pacific Linguistics Series C-110). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 1992. Language policy for minority languages in Thailand and China. In Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Language and Linguistics, 921–928. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University. Bradley, David. 1992. Asia in the Australian school. Principal Matters 4(3). 16. Bradley, David & Maya Bradley. 1992. Strine. Standpoints 5(5). 15–20.



61. 62.

63. 64.



67. 68. 69.


Andvik, Erik & David Bradley. 1992. The 25th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. MonKhmer Studies 21. 290–292. 1993 Bradley, David. 1993. Pronouns in Burmese-Lolo. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 16(1). 157–215. Bradley, David. 1993. Democracy in Burma. Asian Studies Review (Democracy in Asia) 17(1). 21–28. 1994 Bradley, David. 1994. A dictionary of the northern dialect of Lisu (China and Southeast Asia). (Pacific Linguistics. Series C-126). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David (section ed.). 1994. East Mainland South-East Asia and southern China. In Christopher Moseley & R. E. Asher (eds.), Atlas of the world’s languages, 135–155. London: Routledge. [Published in Japanese as 世界民族言语地図/Atlas of the world’s languages. Tokyo: Toyo Shorin, 2000] Bradley, David. 1994. Building identity and the modernisation of language: minority language policy in Thailand and China. In A. Gomes (ed.), Modernity and identity: Asian illustrations, 192– 205. Bundoora: Institute of Asian Studies, La Trobe University for Asian Studies Association of Australia. Bradley, David. 1994. More ‘things’ in Burmese-Lolo. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 17(2). 133–135. 1995 Bradley, David & John Okell (eds.). 1995. Studies in Burmese languages. (Papers in Southeast Asian Linguistics 13; Pacific Linguistics Series A-83). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 1995. Reflexives in Burmese. In David Bradley & John Okell (eds.), Studies in Burmese languages, 139–172. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 1995. Grammaticalization of extent in Mran-Ni. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 18(1). 1–28.





73. 74. 75.


77. 78. 79. 80.


1996 Bradley, David. 1996. South-East Asia (continental). In Steven A. Wurm, Peter Mühlhäusler & Darrell T. Tryon (eds.), Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia and the Americas, 745–786. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. [Comprising the following 10 chapters: Burmese as a lingua franca, Kachin, Lahu, Nagamese, Nepali as a lingua franca, Bantawa Rai, Empires and lingue franche in premodern SouthEast Asia, Southwestern Dai as a lingua franca, Vietnamese, and Yunnanese Chinese.] Bradley, David. 1996. Tibetan. In Steven A. Wurm, Peter Mühlhäusler & Darrell T. Tryon (eds.), Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia and the Americas, 835–839. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Bradley, David. 1996. Yi. In Steven A. Wurm, Peter Mühlhäusler & Darrell T. Tryon (eds.), Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia and the Americas, 841–844. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Bradley, David. 1996. Himalayan Chain and South-East Asia. In Stephen Wurm (ed.), Atlas of the world's languages in danger of disappearing. Paris: UNESCO. Bradley, David. 1996. Tibeto-Burman languages of PDR Lao. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 19(1). 19–27. Bradley, David. 1996. Language policy and the typology of scripts. In Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Language and Linguistics, 1845–1856. Bangkok: Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development, Mahidol University. Bradley, David. 1996. Myanmar: history. [revision of Josef Silverstein’s article]. In The Far East and Australasia, 629-638. London: Europa Publications. [Further revision in 1997 and 1998.] 1997 Bradley, David. 1997. Burmese phrasebook. 2nd edition. (Lonely Planet Language Survival Kit). Hawthorn, Victoria: Lonely Planet. Bradley, David et al. 1997. South-East Asia phrasebook. Footscray, Victoria: Lonely Planet. Bradley, David (ed.). 1997. Tibeto-Burman languages of the Himalayas. (Papers in Southeast Asian Linguistics 14; Pacific Linguistics Series A-86). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 1997. Tibeto-Burman languages and classification. In David Bradley (ed.), Tibeto-Burman languages of the Himalayas, 1–72. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.



82. 83. 84.




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Bradley, David. 1997. The status of the 44 tone in Nosu. In Editorial Committee of the international Yi-Burmese Conference (ed.), Studies on Yi-Burmese Languages/彝缅语研究, 1–30. Chengdu: Sichuan Nationalities Press. Bradley, David. 1997. Onomastic, orthographic, dialectal, and dialectical borders: The Lisu and the Lahu. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 38(2). 107–117. Bradley, David. 1997. What did they eat? Grain crops of the Burmic groups. Mon-Khmer Studies 27(1). 161–170. Bradley, David. 1997. Democracy in Burma? Asian Studies Review (Democracy in Asia revisited) 21(2-3). 19–31. 1998 Bradley, David. 1998. Minority language policy and endangered languages in China and Southeast Asia. In Kazuto Matsumura (ed.), Studies in endangered languages: Papers from the international symposium on endangered languages, Tokyo, November 18-20, 1995, 49–83. Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo. Bradley, David. 1998. Review of Henderson & Allott’s (ed.) Bwe Karen dictionary. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 61(3). 598. 1999 Bradley, David, Paul Lewis, Nerida Jarkey & Christopher Court. 1999. Hill tribes phrasebook: Hill tribes of South-East Asia. 2nd edition. Hawthorn, Victoria: Lonely Planet. [Authoring the following sections: Introduction, Lahu, Lisu, Karen and other hill tribes] Bradley, David & Maya Bradley. 1999. Standardisation of transnational minority languages: Lisu and Lahu. Bulletin Suisse de Linguistique Appliquée 69(1). 75–93. Bradley, David, Maya Bradley & Li Yongxiang. 1999. Language maintenance for endangered languages of southwestern China. In Nicholas Ostler (ed.), Endangered languages and education: Proceedings of the Third FEL Conference, 13–20. Bath: Foundation for Endangered Languages. Bradley, David, Maya Bradley & Li Yongxiang. 1999. Language endangerment in China: The Yi of Kunming. La Trobe Papers in Linguistics 10. Bradley, David. 1999. Review of Noonan et al.’s Chantyal dictionary and texts. Anthropological Linguistics 41(3). 388–391.


92. 93.




2000 Bradley, David, Bya Beloto & David Fish. 2000. Lisu bride price song. Bundoora, Victoria: Department of Linguistics, La Trobe University. 布莱德利/Bradley, David. 2000. 彝族语言政策 (Yi language policy). In Bamo Ayi/巴莫阿依 & Huang Jianming/黃建明 (eds.), 国外学者彝学研究文集/Papers in Overseas Yi Studies, 160–167. Kunming: Yunnan Education Press. 布莱德利/Bradley, David. 2000. 彝语支民族语言调查报告(A survey on the Yi group languages). In Bamo Ayi/巴莫阿依 & Huang Jianming/黃建明 (eds.), 国外学者彝学研究文集/ Papers in Overseas Yi Studies, 181–192. Kunming: Yunnan Education Press. Bradley, David. 2000. Review of Pedersen, Rutland & May’s Burma/Myanmar. Australian Journal of Political Science 35(3). 553–554.

2001 96. Bradley, David. 2001. Counting the family: Family group classifiers in the Yi (Tibeto-Burman) languages. Anthropological Linguistics 43(1). 1–17. 97. Bradley, David. 2001. Yi. In Jane Garry & Carl Rubino (eds.), Facts about the world's languages: An encyclopedia of the world's major languages, past and present, 826–829. New York: H.W. Wilson. 98. Bradley, David. 2001. Himalayan Chain. In Stephen Wurm (ed.), Atlas of the world's languages in danger of disappearing, 34–35. 2nd edition. Paris: UNESCO. 99. Bradley, David. 2001. South-East Asia. In Stephen Wurm (ed.), Atlas of the world's languages in danger of disappearing, 37–38. 2nd edition. Paris: UNESCO. 100. Bradley, David. 2001. Language policy for the Yi. In Stevan Harrell (ed.), Perspectives on the Yi of Southwest China, 195–213. Berkeley: University of California Press. 101. Bradley, David. 2001. Changing attitudes to Australian English. In David Blair & Peter Collins (eds.), English in Australia, 271–285. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 102. Bradley, David. 2001. Attitudes to languages: The key factor in language endangerment. In O. Sakiyama (ed.), Lectures on endangered languages 2, 151–161. (Endangered Languages of the Pacific Rim Series C002). Kyoto: Nakanishi. [Published in Chinese in Sanyuesan 6. 50–54, 2003] 103. Bradley, David. 2001. Review of Wannemacher’s Aspects of Zaiwa prosody. Anthropological Linguistics 43(2). 242–246.



2002 104. Bradley, David & Maya Bradley (eds.). 2002. Language endangerment and language maintenance. London: Routledge Curzon. [Republished in paperback edition, 2013] 105. Bradley, David. 2002. Language attitudes: The key factor in language maintenance. In David Bradley & Maya Bradley (eds.), Language endangerment and language maintenance, 1–10. London: Routledge Curzon. 106. Bradley, David. 2002. The subgrouping of Tibeto-Burman. In Christopher Beckwith & Henk Blezer (eds.), Medieval TibetoBurman languages, 73–112. (International Association for Tibetan Studies Proceedings 9 and Brill Tibetan Studies Library 2). Leiden: Brill. 107. Bradley, David & Maya Bradley. 2002. Language policy and language maintenance: Yi in China. In David Bradley & Maya Bradley (eds.), Language endangerment and language maintenance, 77–97. London: Routledge Curzon. 108. Bradley, David & Maya Bradley. 2002. Conclusion: Resources for language maintenance. In David Bradley & Maya Bradley (eds.), Language endangerment and language maintenance, 348–353. London: Routledge Curzon. 2003 109. Bradley, David, Randy LaPolla, Boyd Michailovsky & Graham Thurgood (eds.). 2003. Language variation: Papers on variation and change in the Sinosphere and in the Indosphere in honour of James A. Matisoff. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. 110. Bradley, David. 2003. Introduction [James A. Matisoff's Publications]. In David Bradley, Randy LaPolla, Boyd Michailovsky & Graham Thurgood (eds.), Language variation: Papers on variation and change in the Sinosphere and in the Indosphere in honour of James A. Matisoff, 1–20. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. 111. Bradley, David. 2003. Deictic Patterns in Lisu and Southeastern Tibeto-Burman. In David Bradley, Randy LaPolla, Boyd Michailovsky & Graham Thurgood (eds.), Language variation: Papers on variation and change in the Sinosphere and in the Indosphere in honour of James A. Matisoff, 219–236. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. 112. Bradley, David. 2003. Lisu. In Randy J. LaPolla & Graham Thurgood (eds.), The Sino-Tibetan languages, 222–235. London: Routledge.



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Bradley, David. 2003. Language and culture of minority groups. In Yves Goudineau (ed.), Laos and ethnic minority cultures: Promoting heritage, 45–68. Paris: UNESCO. [Parallel French edition: Cultures minoritaires du Laos: valorisation d’un patrimoine. Paris: UNESCO] Bradley, David. 2003. Mixed sources of Australian English. Australian Journal of Linguistics 23(2). 143–150. Bradley, David. 2003. Review of Bickel & Gaenszle’s (eds.) Himalayan space: Cultural horizons and practices. Anthropological Linguistics 45(1). 120–123. Bradley, David. 2003. Review of Harrell’s (ed.) Ways of being ethnic in Southwest China. Asian Ethnicity 4(1). 156–158. 2004 Bradley, David. 2004. Regional characteristics of Australian English: phonology. In Bernd Kortmann & Edgar Schneider (eds.), A handbook of varieties of English, 645–655. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. [Republished in Kate Burridge & Bernd Kortmann (eds.), Varieties of English: The Pacific and Australasia, 111–123. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2008] 2005 Bradley, David (ed.). 2005. Language endangerment in the Sinosphere. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 173. Bradley, David (ed.). 2005. Heritage maintenance for endangered languages in Yunnan, China: A symposium /中国云南濒危语 言遗产保护研讨会. Bundoora: Department of Linguistics, La Trobe University. Bradley, David. 2005. Introduction: Language policy and language endangerment in China. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 173. 1–21. Bradley, David. 2005. Sanie and language loss in China. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 173. 159–176. Bradley, David. 2005. Issues in orthography development and reform. In David Bradley (ed.), Heritage maintenance for endangered languages in Yunnan, China: A symposium /中国云 南濒危语言遗产保护研讨会, 1–10. Bundoora: Department of Linguistics, La Trobe University. [Also published in Chinese in the same volume, 47–57] Bradley, David. 2005. Why do numerals show “irregular” correspondence patterns in Tibeto-Burman? Some Southeastern Tibeto-Burman examples. Cahiers de Linguistique - Asie Orientale 34(2). 221–238.


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Bradley, David. 2005. Reflexives in literary and spoken Burmese. In Justin Watkins (ed.), Studies in Burmese linguistics, 67–86. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Bradley, David. 2005. Some distinctive characteristics of the Burmic lexicon. In Alan Cruse, Franz Hundsnurscher, Michael Job & Peter Lutzeier (eds.), Lexikologie: Ein internationales handbuch zur natur und struktur von wörtern und wortschätzen / Lexicology: An international handbook on the nature and structure of words and vocabularies, 1070–1071. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Bradley, David. 2005. Review of Walker’s Merit and the millennium: Routine and crisis in the ritual lives of the Lahu people. The International Journal of Asian Studies 2(1). 174–176. Bradley, David. 2005. Review of Fernandes & Baxter’s Maquista chapado, vocabulário e expressões do crioulo português de Macau. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 173. 187–189. Bradley, David. 2005. Review of Gaca & Majewicz’s (eds.) Through the gate of Yunnan borderland (Ethnic minorities of southern China) and Majewicz’s (ed.) Linguistic and Oriental Studies from Poznań, vol. 3. Asian Ethnicity 6(3). 266–268. 2006 Bradley, David, with Edward Hope, James Fish & Maya Bradley. 2006. Southern Lisu dictionary. (STEDT Monograph Series 4). Berkeley: Sino-Tibetan Etymological Dictionary and Thesaurus Project, Center for Southeast Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Bradley, David. 2006. Endangered languages of China and SouthEast Asia. In Denis Cunningham, D.E. Ingram & Kenneth Sumbuk (eds.), Language diversity in the Pacific: Endangerment and survival, 112–120. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Bradley, David. 2006. Lisu orthographies and email. In Anju Saxena & Lars Borin (eds.), Lesser-known languages of South Asia: status and policies, case studies and applications of information technology, 125–135. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Bradley, David. 2006. Mainland Southeast Asia. In Ulrich Ammon, Norbert Dittmar & Klaus Mattheier (eds.), Sociolinguistics: An international handbook of the science of language and society / Soziolinguistik: Ein internationales Handbuch zur Wissenschaft von Sprache und Gesellschaft, 2007–2013. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Bradley, David. 2006. China: Language situation. In Keith Brown et al. (eds.), The encyclopedia of language and linguistics, 319–323. 2nd edition. Amsterdam: Elsevier.




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Bradley, David. 2006. Review of Grenoble & Whaley’s Saving languages: An introduction to language revitalization. Anthropological Linguistics 48(4). 396–398. 2007 Bradley, David. 2007. Changing attitudes and maintaining endangered languages. In Xu Xianming (许鲜明) (ed.), 群记 忆与传承——中国云南濒危语言遗产保护研究(二)/ Records and transmissions of ethnic groups: Second symposium on heritage maintenance for endangered languages in Yunnan, China, 1–19. Yuxi: Yuxi Normal University. Bradley, David. 2007. East and South East Asia. In R. E. Asher & Christopher Moseley (eds.), Atlas of the world’s languages, 159– 208. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. Bradley, David. 2007. East and Southeast Asia. In Christopher Moseley (ed.), Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages, 379–422. London: Routledge. Bradley, David. 2007. Language endangerment in China and Mainland Southeast Asia. In Matthias Brenzinger (ed.), Language diversity endangered, 278–302. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Bradley, David. 2007. Language policy and language rights. In Osahito, Osamu Sakiyama & Michael Krauss (eds.), The vanishing languages of the Pacific Rim, 77–90. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bradley, David. 2007. Languages of mainland South-East Asia. In Osahito Miyaoka, Osamu Sakiyama & Michael Krauss (eds.), The vanishing languages of the Pacific Rim, 301–336. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bradley, David. 2007. Birth-order terms in Lisu: Inheritance and contact. Anthropological Linguistics 49(1). 54–69. Bradley, David. 2007. What elicitation misses: Dominant languages, dominant semantics. Language Documentation and Description 4. 136–144. Bradley, David. 2007. Review of Burling’s The language of the Modhupur Mandi (Garo), vol. 1: Grammar and Jacquesson’s Le Deuri: Langue Tibéto-Birmane d’Assam. Anthropological Linguistics 49(3-4). 440–445. Bradley, David. 2007. Review of Tsunoda’s Language endangerment and language revitalization. Gengo Kenkyu 131. 151–154. Bradley, David. 2007. Report on the 12th Himalayan Languages Symposium and on the 27th Annual Conference of the Linguistic Society of Nepal: Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal, 26–28 November 2006. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 30(1), 213–216.



147. 148. 149.

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Bradley, David. 2007. Report on the 2nd Workshop on Heritage Maintenance for Endangered Languages in Yunnan, China, Yuxi Normal Institute, Yuxi, Yunnan, China, 3-5 December 2006. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 30(1), 217–218. 2008 Bradley, David et al. 2008. Hill tribes: Lonely Planet phrasebook. 3rd edition. Footscray, Victoria: Lonely Planet. Bradley, David, Byabe Loto & David Ngwaza. 2008. Lisu New Year song. Chiang Mai, Thailand: Actsco Publishing. Bradley, David. 2008. East and Southeast Asian languages. In Peter Austin (ed.), One thousand languages: Living, endangered, and lost, 154–173. Berkeley: University of California Press. [The book has been translated into Dutch, German, Icelandic, Spanish, Italian, Rumanian, Estonian, and Japanese.] Bradley, David. 2008. Review of Plaisier’s A grammar of Lepcha. The Journal of Asian Studies 67(2). 717–719. Bradley, David. 2008. Review of Brassett, Brassett & Lu’s The Tujia language. Anthropological Linguistics 50(2). 211–215. Bradley, David. 2008. Review of Simpson’s (ed.) Language and national identity in Asia. Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale 37(1). 121–124. Bradley, David. 2008. Report on the 41st International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 31(2). 183–184. 2009 Bradley, David. 2009. Language policy for China's minorities: orthography development for the Yi. Written Language and Literacy 12(2): 170–187. 2010 Bradley, David (section editor). 2010. South-East Asia, Southern China and Taiwan (China). In Christopher Moseley (ed.), Atlas of the world's languages in danger, 64–73. Paris: UNESCO. [Parallel French edition: Atlas des langues en danger dans le monde; Parallel Spanish edition: Atlas de las lenguas del mundo en peligro. Paris: UNESCO] Bradley, David. 2010. Introduction (for the special issue: The sociolinguistics of language endangerment). Anthropological Linguistics 52(2). 119–122. Bradley, David. 2010. Language endangerment and resilience linguistics: Case studies of Gong and Lisu. Anthropological Linguistics 52(2). 123–140.




Bradley, David. 2010. Evidence and certainty in Lisu. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 33(2). 63–84. 159. Bradley, David. 2010. Resilience in language endangerment. Revue Roumaine de Linguistique 55(2). 143–160. 160. Bradley, David. 2010. Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. In Martin J. Ball (ed.), The Routledge handbook of sociolinguistics around the world, 98–107. London: Routledge. 161. Bradley, David. 2010. 意識をいかに変え、危機言語をいかに 維持するか/Maintaining the endangered languages of China. In パトリックハインリッヒ (Patrick Heinrich) & 松尾慎 (Shin Matsuo) (eds.), 東アジアにおける言語復興: 中国、 台湾、沖縄を焦点に [Language revitalization in East Asia: With a focus on China, Taiwan, and Okinawa], 31–49. Tokyo: Sangensha. 162. Bradley, David. 2010. 危機言語の復元力/ Resilience thinking and language endangerment. In 原聖 (Kyoishi Hara) (ed.), 言 語 的 多 様 性 と い 視 座 [Linguistic diversity as shared viewpoints], 58–83. Tokyo: Sangensha. 2011 Bai, Bibo (白碧波) & David Bradley (eds.). 2011. 母语的消失与存 留:第三届中国云南濒危语言遗产保护国际学术研讨会论 文集/Extinction and retention of mother tongues in China. Beijing: Nationalities Press. 164. Bradley, David. 2011. Resilience thinking and language endangerment. In Bai Bibo (白碧波) & David Bradley (eds.), Extinction and retention of mother tongues in China/母语的消 失与存留, 23–47. Beijing: Nationalities Publishing. [Also published in Chinese in the same volume: 1–22] 165. Bradley, David. 2011. A survey of language endangerment. In Peter Austin & Julia Sallabank (eds.), The Cambridge handbook of endangered languages, 66–77. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Republished in paperback edition, 2015] 166. Bradley, David. 2011. Problems in orthography development for the Yi in China. In Joshua A. Fishman & Ofelia García (eds.), Handbook of language and ethnic identity vol. 2, 180–191. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 167. Bradley, David. 2011. Resilience linguistics, orthography and the Gong. Language and Education 25(4). 349–360. [Republished in Lida Cope (ed.), ‘Applied linguists needed’: Cross-disciplinary teamwork in endangered language contexts, 83–94. London: Routledge, 2012] 168. Bradley, David. 2011. Proto-Tibeto-Burman grain crops. Rice 4(3-4), 134–141. 163.




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Bradley, David. 2011. Review of Harrison, Rood & Dwyer’s Lessons from documented endangered languages. Language 87(2). 402– 406. 2012 Bradley, David. 2012. Standards, writing and speaking in Tibetan and other Tibeto-Burman languages. In Kunsang Gya, Andrea Snavely & Tsering Shakya (eds.), Minority languages in today’s global society, vol. II, 21-51 [in English 21-36; in Tibetan 37-51]. New York: Trace Foundation. Bradley, David. 2012. Science of language policy and planning. In Carol Chapelle (ed.), The encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Bradley, David. 2012. The characteristics of the Burmic family of Tibeto-Burman. Language and Linguistics 13(1). 171–192. Bradley, David. 2012. Review of Turin’s A grammar of the Thangmi language. Anthropological Linguistics 54(3). 302–305. 2013 Bradley, David. 2013. Review of Foong, Hårsta-Grunow & Wrona’s Nominalization in Asian languages. Anthropological Linguistics 55(1). 92–98. 2015 Bradley, David. 2015. Lisu. In Nicola Grandi & Lívia Körtvélyessy (eds.), Edinburgh handbook of evaluative morphology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Bradley, David. 2015. Language reclamation strategies: Some TibetoBurman examples. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 38(2). [in press] 2016 Bradley, David. 2016. The lexicography of minority languages in Southeast Asia. In Patrick Hanks & Gilles-Maurice de Schryver (eds.), International handbook of modern lexis and lexicography. Berlin: Springer. Bradley, David. 2016. Languages and language families in China. In Rint Sybesma et al. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Chinese language and linguistics. Leiden: Brill. Bradley, David. 2016. Tibeto-Burman languages of China. In Rint Sybesma et al. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Chinese language and linguistics. Leiden: Brill.


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Bradley, David. 2016. Vitality of minority languages. In Rint Sybesma et al. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Chinese language and linguistics. Leiden: Brill. Bradley, David. 2016. Lìsù language. In Rint Sybesma et al. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Chinese language and linguistics. Leiden: Brill. Bradley, David. Review of Li Jiang’s A grammar of Guìqióng: A language of Sichuan. Anthropological Linguistics 57(4). 456–459. 2017 Bradley, David & Maya Bradley. 2017. Endangered languages. (Key Topics in Linguistic Anthropology). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [under contract] Bradley, David. 2017. Lisu. In Graham Thurgood & Randy LaPolla (eds.), The Sino-Tibetan Languages, 2nd edition. London: Routledge. [in press] Bradley, David. 2017. Language death. In F. M. Moghaddam (ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of political behavior. Los Angeles: Sage. [in press] 2018 Bradley, David. 2017. A grammar of Lisu. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. [under contract]

TABULA GRATULATORIA You are a first-rate scholar and a true mentor. I hope this is a new beginning for you. — Gregory D. S. Anderson, Living Tongues Institute In Australia some 20+ years ago I remember David Bradley as the department’s most authoritative linguist and my most supportive colleague and best friend. — Robert S. Bauer, University of Hong Kong We hardly ever met in Leiberspace, but the bindings of your ‘ProtoLoloish’ came loose already when I was a a student in the eighties, so you have been somehow with me for the last three decades. Congratulations on a long and productive scholarly life and 健康万岁 for the private one! — Wolfgang Behr, University of Zurich Your research in Southwest China greatly smoothed the path for me in the area. — Katia Chirkova, CNRS-CRLAO It was a joy to be mentored by you! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and investing so much in your students!. — Henriëtte Daudey, SIL International You’re an inspiration to us all. — Scott DeLancey, University of Oregon Thank you for encouraging me to continue my exploration of language and its crucial role in who we are as individuals and communities. — Catherine Easton, Charles Sturt University It has been a great pleasure getting to know you over the years through professional and social interactions at linguistics conferences around the world. I have learned a great deal from you, and am deeply grateful for your wide-ranging scholarly contributions and your many services to our field and profession. — Zev Handel, University of Washington



It’s been an honor and a pleasure to be your colleague in things Yi. ꋬꂻꈨꅪ. — Stevan Harrell, University of Washington Congratulations! — Martin Haspelmath, MPI-SHH & Leipzig University 倾尽丹心育桃李,奉献韶华铸师魂。 祝大卫老师 “退而不休”,继续引领藏缅语的研究。 Taking the whole heart in training young scholars, and spending the entire life for being a great teacher. I wish you a retirement without interrupting your research and advancement in Tibeto-Burman Linguistics. — HUANG Chenglong, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences You are a respected teacher. Your works on Sino-Tibetan languages have been inspiring generations of young scholars. 您是一位可敬的师者。您有关汉藏语的研究成果一直激励着年轻 人继续前进。 — HUANG Yang, Southwest Jiaotong University You have been my best mentor and encourager of all time!! Thank you for shaping me academically and for being there all the way! — Edrinnie Kayambazinthu, University of Malawi Congratulations to a long-time colleague and friend, and one of the bestread all-round scholars I have ever met! — Randy J. LaPolla, Nanyang Technological University It is a great privilege to have you as an inspiring colleague and a nice friend. — You-Jing Lin, Peking University Congratulations, David! — Martine Mazaudon, CNRS-LACITO Congratulations, David, and all the best! — Boyd Michailovsky, CNRS-LACITO Thank you for your linguafledglingphilia: your support of newcomers and patience with beginners, encouraging more people to join the field and exchange with one another! — Alexis Michaud, CNRS-LACITO



With the Bradley book Language Endangerment and Language Maintenance, your Keynote to FEL’s third conference in Maynooth, and your recent warm hospitality when I visited Victoria, I cannot imagine the early course of the language endangerment concern without you - or Maya. All this, and a dozen of South-east Asian languages too! With very best wishes at this moment in time. — Nicholas Ostler, Foundation of Endangered Languages It has been an honour to know you – you are a true inspiration. — Gerald Roche, University of Melbourne It is a privilege to know and interact with you. — Anju Saxena, Uppsala University Many thanks for opening my ears to the delights of sounds, and my eyes to ways of representing them, and for many years of delightful collegiality. — Jane Simpson, Australian National University Ajarn David is my great teacher and a good friend. I would like to thank you and wish you healthy and happy after retirement. Please keep in touch.

ขอบคุณอาจารย์เดวิดมากค่ะสําหรับมิตรภาพทีดีตลอดมา ขอให้อาจารย์มีสุขภาพแข็งแรงและมี ความสุ ขหลังเกษียณนะคะ

— Sophana Srichampa, Mahidol University You are my teacher and inspiration.


— Sujinat Jitwiriyanont, Chulalongkorn University Our field is lucky to have you as a constant source of eminent contributions, keen insights, and warm collegial support. — Jackson T.-S. Sun, Academia Sinica Congratulations, but I hope to continue interacting with you both as a friend and as a scholar. — Graham Thurgood, California State University, Chico I hope retirement brings you the chance to do whatever it is that you always wanted to do but didn’t get to. — Yvonne Treis, CNRS-LLACAN You are a great scholar. 您是一位伟大的学者。 — Alexander Vovin, EHESS/CRLAO


DAVID BRADLEY AND TIBETO-BURMAN SOCIOHISTORY: AN INTRODUCTION* Jamin Pelkey and Picus Sizhi Ding Working at the forefront of Tibeto-Burman linguistics, Professor David Bradley’s exceptional expertise lies in his ability to blend comparative diachronic research with distinctions drawn from the sociology, anthropology, geography and descriptive-typology of language to open up new insights into hundreds of linguistic varieties and language relationships throughout the Southeast Asian macroregion. It is with great pleasure that we present this collection of original papers to celebrate his achievements and contributions, both to the science of language and to scholarship on Tibeto-Burman languages, over the past 40 years. In addition to positions of distinction held within his own university over the years, Professor Bradley is UNESCO team leader for research on language endangerment in East and Southeast Asia, Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, and current President of the Comité International Permanent des Linguistes (CIPL). In what follows, we provide a brief background sketch of David’s life and work, highlighting his academic achievements and relating the contents of the chapters that follow to his research themes. 1.1 The life and career of David Bradley More than a leading international linguist, David Bradley is a consummate polyglot: a scholar whose detailed knowledge of human language is steeped in an extensive facility with actual world languages, large and small. In spite of living predominantly in English-speaking countries on three continents (the United States, England and Australia), David’s extensive international contacts and long-standing Asian fieldwork commitments have led him to develop professional fluencey in * We are grateful to Jim Matisoff for providing information about David’s early life during his college days at Columbia University.



French, Italian, German, Mandarin, Thai and other languages. Even more remarkable is the fluencey he has achieved in Tibeto-Burman languages of lesser diffusion over the course of the last half century: Burmese, Lahu and Lisu in particular. Though his facility with world languages has continued to expand, Bradley’s identification as a sociohistorical linguist, by contrast, and his chosen specialization in the Burmic branch of Tibeto-Burman, were both minted during the earliest stages of his career. 1.1.1 Background, education and position Born September 7, 1947 in New York City, David was first introduced to the field of Tibeto-Burman Linguistics as an undergraduate student of James Matisoff at Columbia University. Matisoff’s influence led to David’s early fascination with Lahu—an interest which would soon expand to encompass all languages of the Burmic branch. Matisoff’s mentorship also facilitated Bradley’s analytic grounding in Historical and Comparative Linguistics. A strong complementary feature of David’s approach to research and analysis is his grounding in the sociology of language. This too can be traced to his early days at Columbia, where he additionally studied under the great sociolinguist William Labov. Thus, by the time he had graduated with an A.B. in Linguistics in 1969, David Bradley was already in lock step with his destiny: opening up the Sociohistorical Linguistics of TibetoBurman languages. His next steps toward Tibeto-Burman scholarship took him to the University of London, where he studied Burmese under the celebrated phonologist R. K. Sprigg. Here he was further introduced to the languages of Southeast Asia under the tutelage of pioneering field linguist Eugénie Henderson. During this period Bradley pursued his doctoral research on Lahu dialects spoken in Thailand. This work, coupled with his monumental reconstruction of Proto-Loloish (or Proto-Ngwi in the current terminology), was rewarded with a Ph.D. in Phonetics and Linguistics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1975. The same year, David moved to Australia, where he began his life-long career as an academic linguist by teaching at the Australian National University and the University of Melbourne. In 1982 he was hired by La Trobe University, where he and his wife, Dr. Maya Bradley, went on to fortify the undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in Linguistics in addition to establishing the La Trobe Modern Asian Languages program. Nearly 35 years later, in March 2016, David’s service at La Trobe culminated in his distinguished retirement as Professor and Chair of Linguistics.



1.1.2 Collaboration, mentorship and fieldwork David’s ongoing collaboration, mentorship and fieldwork activities have resulted in an international web of students and colleagues who continue to benefit from his knowledge and expertise. He has accepted visiting and honorary professorship appointments in France, England, China and the United States and has served on 18 editorial boards. He is a sought after reviewer of manuscripts by many additional academic journals and presses and is currently co-editor of the international journal Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. In addition to serving as examiner of more than 60 dissertations and theses since 1982, David has served as principal supervisor to 24 honours students and 47 PhD students. His current PhD students are from China, the United States, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Israel and Greece. He has delivered 33 invited keynote/plenary addresses at a wide variety of international gatherings and has presented nearly 200 conference papers around the world. Of all the society meetings and academic congresses he frequents, no scholarly collective has profited more from his involvement than the annual International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics (ICSTLL); and, of course, the benefit has been reciprocal. In 1982, following ICSTLL 15 in Beijing, David’s own fieldwork branched out from Southeast Asia proper into Southwest China, particularly Yunnan. Since then he has continued to engage in fieldwork regularly on both sides of the border in the Southeast Asia Sprachbund. As a result, his published corpus is infused with an understanding of linguistic structure that is rooted in time, place, society and culture. 1.2 Contributions to the study of language David Bradley is a prolific scholar and has published extensively in a broad range of subfields of Linguistics. Out of some 35 book publications and more than 100 published articles and chapters, many have been translated into other languages, including Chinese, Japanese, French, and Spanish. A list of David’s major contributions to the academic literature is available in the front matter of this volume. Excluding book editions, these publications can be classified into one or two of the eight research areas summarized in Table 1-1.



Table 1-1: Overview of Bradley’s major publications by primary research area

Focal research area A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H.

Historical-comparative Linguistics Sociolinguistics Descriptive & Anthropological Linguistics Geolinguistics Lexicography & Applied Linguistics Language endangerment Language planning and language policy General Southeast Asian Studies

Authored publications 19 28 35 11 17 35 19 18

Of all the focal areas in this table, the two most problematic to isolate are items A and B, particularly because these two categories tend to infuse all aspects of David’s scholarship. As noted above, this tendency was already apparent in his early training, from undergraduate education to doctoral dissertation. This observation is also a key motivating factor behind the title and organization of the present volume and must, more importantly, be borne in mind when approaching David’s oeuvre—the topic to which we now turn. 1.2.1 Historical-comparative contributions First published in 1979, Proto-Loloish (Bradley–10)1 went on to play an important role in solidifying foundations for the reconstruction of Burmic languages (Thurgood 1981; Wheatley 1982), and for the advancement of comparative studies between Tibeto-Burman and Sinitic languages in general (Denlinger 1981-1983). In recognition of the significance of this monograph, a massive 506-page Chinese translation appeared in 1991 that enabled scholars in mainland China to have direct access to the reconstructed proto-forms of Loloish (now ‘Ngwi’, in Bradley’s updated terminology) 2 languages and to the splendid glossary of 866 items 1 Specific citations of Bradley’s publications found in this chapter are marked by the number assigned to the chronological list of items listed in the front matter of this volume. 2 This shift in terminology is proposed in “Sanie and language loss in China” (Bradley–121) and “The characteristics of the Burmic family of Tibeto-Burman” (Bradley–172) as a timely replacement for earlier titles that are now unnecessarily ambiguous (Yi) or derogatory (Lolo), based on a carefully reconstructed protoautonym for the group: *C-ŋwi1 < etymon #401B ‘silver’; thus, simultaneously providing an explanatory motivation for understanding why speakers of the



submitted in the book. Proto-Loloish bespeaks one of Bradley’s core research interests—Historical-comparative Linguistics. Among his many other works in this area the following represent a cross-section of highlights that span his career: “Nahsi and Proto-Burmese-Lolo” (Bradley–1), “Pronouns in Burmese-Lolo” (Bradley–61) and “The subgrouping of Tibeto-Burman” (Bradley–106). 1.2.2 Sociolinguistic contributions Lahu Dialects (Bradley–11) was published in 1979 along with Proto-Loloish. These two books represent not only the twin offspring of David’s doctoral dissertation but also what would become the stereoscopic prototype of his career. This sociolinguistic monograph explicates, in great detail, features of Lahu dialects collected during original on-site fieldwork visits in Thailand, making a substantial contribution to the social dialectology of Tibeto-Burman languages. Bradley’s interest in sociolinguistics extends beyond Tibeto-Burman to other languages, such as English, resulting in works such as “/æ/ and /a:/ in Australian English” (Bradley–51) and “Regional characteristics of Australian English: Phonology” (Bradley–117). Other major sociolinguistic contributions are typified in survey articles such as “China: Language situation” (Bradley–133), “Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam” (Bradley–160), and many more. 1.2.3 Contributions to Descriptive and Anthropological Linguistics The nature of conducting fieldwork on minority languages is essentially intertwined with Descriptive and Anthropological Linguistics. David’s decades-long field-based research bears fruit in such publications as “Tibeto-Burman languages of PDR Lao” (Bradley–74), “What did they eat? Grain crops of the Burmic groups” (Bradley–83), “Counting the family: Family group classifiers in the Yi (Tibeto-Burman) languages” (Bradley– 96), “Reflexives in literary and spoken Burmese” (Bradley–124), “Birthorder terms in Lisu: Inheritance and contact” (Bradley–141) and A Grammar of Lisu (Bradley–186) among many others. Notably, many such treatments involve historical-comparative and socio-cultural treatments of languages from a wide variety of Burmic sub-branches.

proto-language merged ‘silver’ with ‘white’ distinctive Ngwi innovation.

(etymon #507: *plu¹), a highly



1.2.4 Geolinguistics contributions David is distinguished among other leading Tibeto-Burmanists for his massive contributions to geolinguistic scholarship, ongoing since the 1980s. He is primary editor for sections on mainland China and/or continental Southeast Asia, particularly regarding the distribution of minority languages, in the following atlases: Language Atlas of China/中 国语言地图集 (Bradley–35), Atlas of the World’s Languages (Bradley– 64), Atlas of Languages of Intercultural Communication in the Pacific, Asia and the Americas (Bradley–70) as well as Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger (Bradley–155). Most of these are also published in other languages: Bradley–64 in Japanese and Bradley–155 in French as well as Spanish. 1.2.5 Contributions to Lexicography and Applied Linguistics Many field linguists compile a dictionary for the target language of their study, but David has produced two: A Dictionary of the Northern Dialect of Lisu (Bradley–63) and Southern Lisu Dictionary (Bradley et al.–129). Moreover, he is the (co-)author of several phrasebooks, including Burmese phrasebook (Bradley–37; 77) and Hill tribes phrasebook: Hill tribes of SouthEast Asia (Bradley et al.–87; 147), etc. These helpful resources, targeted as much at the non-linguist as the expert, can be broadly regarded as contributions to Applied Linguistics in minority languages. David also engages in mainstream Applied Linguistics, as can be seen from his participation in the following books: Problems of Asian Students in Australia: Language, Culture and Education (Bradley et al.–24) and English Language Needs of Migrant and Refugee Youth (Bradley et al.–33), among many other papers. 1.2.6 Contributions to language endangerment research Due to processes of modernization that have intensified in recent decades, minority languages in the Southeast Asia macroregion have faced escalating threat from more powerful national language communities. It is fitting that this issue has received much of David’s attention, becoming one of his major research themes, and leading to his international recognition as an authority on the subject. Among his many exemplary treatments in this vein are Language Endangerment and Language Maintenance (Bradley & Bradley–104, critically welcomed to the literature on language endangerment by Grenoble & Whaley 2005), Language Endangerment in the Sinosphere (Bradley–118), “Language endangerment in China and Mainland Southeast Asia” (Bradley–138), “Language endangerment and resilience linguistics: Case studies of Gong and Lisu” (Bradley–157), and “A survey of language endangerment”



(Bradley–165). These research works have provided much needed information and forged new ways of approaching the present situation of escalating language endangerment, not only in Southeast Asia and China, but around the world. 1.2.7 Contributions to language planning and language policy Closely associated with sociolinguistics and the study of language endangerment are language planning and language policy issues. David has written numerous papers in this domain as well, including “Language policy for the Yi” (Bradley–100), “Issues in orthography development and reform” (Bradley–122), “Language policy and language rights” (Bradley– 139) and ‘Science of language policy and planning” (Bradley–171), etc. Complex issues of orthography and literacy development for minority languages is often the focal point of Bradley’s investigation, as can be noted in papers such as “Standards, writing and speaking in Tibetan and other Tibeto-Burman languages” (Bradley–170). 1.2.8 Contributions to general studies of Southeast Asia Since the very beginning of his fieldwork in Southeast Asia in the early 1970s, David has studied minority language varieties and cultural variation in tandem. Thus, his research on Tibeto-Burman languages also embraces extra-linguistic aspects of Southeast Asian Studies, as can be noted in works such as “Identity: The persistence of minority groups” (Bradley–22), Country Education Profiles: Myanmar, a comparative study (Bradley–54) and “Democracy in Burma?” (Bradley–84). 1.3 Overview of volume contents This Festscrhift contains papers from eleven Tibeto-Burmanists based in eight countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. The specific Tibeto-Burman languages and sub-branches under consideration in these contributions are also distributed across multiple countries in the region (see Map 1-1), including Bangladesh, China (Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces), northeast India, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and Thailand. Most of these regions correspond with sites of David’s own field research, and each contributing author is in some way a beneficiary of David’s work. Some chapters are written by former students, others by junior colleagues, and one by David’s own lifelong mentor: Prof. James Matisoff (see Chapter 2).



Locations of languages studied in this volume are numbered to 1 and ◇ 2 . The former indicates correspond with chapter ordering, save ◇ the location of Northern Lisu, Bradley’s own most extensively researched Tibeto-Burman language, while the latter shows the location of Lahu in Thailand, where both Matisoff and Bradley started their life long research in Tibeto-Burman linguistics. Language subgroupings are as follows: Ngwi: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7; Qiangic: 4; Rgyalrongic: 8; Karenic: 9; Konyak: 10; Kuki-Chin: 11; and Indo-Burmic: 12. Map 1-1: General distribution of Tibeto-Burman languages under study

In order to both celebrate and extend the implications of David’s work in the areas reviewed above, this volume provides a collection of select, original research essays. Following Bradley’s approach, each chapter is written with the assumption that adequate analysis and description of language systems or language change must incorporate diachronic, social and geographic aspects of language variation.



The book is divided into four parts, all of which feature sociohistorically-oriented linguistic analyses of Tibeto-Burman languages. In Part A James Matisoff (Chapter 2) deals with general issues concerning prefixes in the development of Tibeto-Burman languages. This chapter provides a detailed treatment of historical morphology for the ProtoTibeto-Burman language. Part B is focused on the Sociohistorical Linguistics of language endangerment among Tibeto-Burman languages. Part C is focused on sociohistorical analyses of Tibeto-Burman languages in southwest China, and Part D returns to Tibeto-Burman languages of Southeast Asia proper for further sociohistorical analyses. Each chapter in the volume provides fresh hypotheses, some in multiple domains. Three chapters (3, 5 and 7) report on newly identified languages of China. Collectively the chapters contribute to the literature on language identification, language documentation, typological analysis, historical and comparative classification, linguistic theory, and language endangerment research, offering new insights and findings that support, challenge and advance the existing literature. 1.3.1 Sociohistorical Linguistics and Language Endangerment Chapters 3-4 (Part B) explore topics related to language endangerment among Tibeto-Burman languages, each with broader implications that contribute to the extant literature on endangerment and vitality phenomena in innovative ways. In Chapter 3 Jamin Pelkey submits indices of linguistic vitality among Phuza speakers of Yunnan, China. Pelkey examines geolinguistic and sociolinguistic evidence that together suggest the novel possibility that dialect diversity might correlate with increased language resilience when a given community of speakers is threatened with language loss. Picus Ding rounds out this section in Chapter 4 by providing vivid examples of ways in which unique perspectives and rare folk-knowledge are lost when Prinmi speakers become increasingly fluent in Mandarin during the process of language shift in Yunnan. The chapter also demonstrates ways in which various damaging effects of language endangerment may be present in a language community long before its language comes to be identified as severely endangered. 1.3.2 Sociohistorical Linguistics in China Chapters 5-8 (Part C) treat a diverse cross-section of Ngwi languages and one Rgyalrongic language spoken in southwest China (in Yunnan Province and Sichuan Province, respectively). Three of the four chapters



qualify as the first English publication dedicated to the language variety under consideration (a fact that is also true of Chapter 3 in Part B). In Chapter 5 Cathryn Yang draws attention to ‘contourgenesis’, a tonal innovation occurring in Limi and many other Ngwi languages. She does so through composite acoustic analyses supplemented by rich qualitative and diachronic diagnoses, ultimately proposing a key expansion for standard models of tonogenesis. Chapter 6, by Norihiko Hayashi, focuses attention on the development of medial consonants in Jino and related languages by undertaking a detailed reconstruction of the chronology of these features, drawing on evidence from a wide range of sources. Chris Donlay continues by expanding the descriptive typology of ‘family group classifiers’ (FGC) to Khatso in Chapter 7. FGC are among David Bradley’s many original discoveries (Bradley–95) and show promise for clarifying the development of Ngwi-internal subgrouping, a theme which Donlay develops. In Chapter 8 Guillaume Jacques focuses on a problem in Japhug, ultimately providing an explanation for a surprising empirical finding that arises in the analysis of the Japhug numeral system, by appealing to historical explanation and areal contextualization. 1.3.3 Sociohistorical Linguistics in Southeast Asia The chapters in Part D treat a wide variety of languages and dialects spoken in Southeast Asia, varieties descending from three distinct subbranches of Tibeto-Burman. In Chapter 9 Ken Manson provides a state-ofthe-art overview of defining features that mark the languages of the Karenic branch, following useful practices established by David Bradley in sources such as “The characteristics of the Burmic family of TibetoBurman” (Bradley–172). In the next chapter Stephen Morey provides detailed ethnohistorical accounts of language use and diglossia in a variety of domains among the Tangsa languages, spoken primarily in northeast India. In Chapter 11 David Peterson makes landmark advances in the historical sub-grouping of the Kuki-Chin languages, spoken in northwest Myanmar, northeast India and Bangladesh. Finally, Chapter 12 rounds out the volume with Alec Coupe providing a comprehensive state-of-the art summary of the historical development of converb systems that should provide a touchstone for further inquiry in this domain, whether in Tibeto-Burman or beyond. 1.4 Beyond the microlectal grammar: David Bradley’s untold legacy As noted above, David Bradley has made his mark on many sub-fields of Linguistics far removed from Tibeto-Burman; but, of all research themes discussed in this chapter, one has thus far remained merely implicit:



namely, David’s quiet insistence on discovering variant forms from multiple varieties of a given language prior to committing to the description of some grammatical feature. For exemplary case studies of this concern in his detailed analyses of Lisu grammar, see e.g., Bradley– 110, Bradley–141, Bradley–158. David’s approach to grammatical description, in short, seeks to steer clear of a problem Charles-James Bailey (1982) refers to as ‘minilectal maximuddles’, a problem induced by the all-too-common neglect of historical dialect variation in the production of descriptive reference grammars. This neglect often stems from convenience samples collected from a handful of speakers in a single location and then recorded as representative data for posterity. These interesting snapshots are important in their own right, but as explanations of linguistic reality they leave much to be desired and may often be in marked conflict with the actual language situation they purport to describe. This is true for reasons explained by Leonard Bloomfield: The history of the forms can be told only in connection with that of the area as a whole, since every feature has been changed or spared only in so far as some wave of change has reached or failed to reach the speakers of the local dialect. (1933: 323)

“The grammar of the whole area”, Bloomfield (1933: 323) goes on to say, “represents, again, a large undertaking”—an undertaking, moreover, that is extremely rare and may well be expected to span the length of a career. For this reason, among many others, we may all look forward to the publication of David’s lifework and legacy: A Grammar of Lisu. References Bailey, Charles-James N. 1982. Minilectal maximuddles. Cahiers Linguistiques d'Ottawa 10. 1–8. Bloomfield, Leonard. 1933. Language. New York: Henry Holt & Company. Denlinger, Paul. 1981-1983. Review of Bradley’s Proto-Loloish. Monumenta Serica 35. 618–624. Grenoble, Lenore & Lindsay Whaley. 2005. Review of Bradley & Bradley’s Language endangerment and language maintenance and Janse & Tol’s Language death and language maintenance. Language 81(4). 965–974. Thurgood, Graham. 1981. Review of Bradley’s Proto-Loloish. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 44(3). 622–623. Wheatley, Julian K. 1982. Review of Bradley’s Proto-Loloish. Journal of Asian Studies 41. 411–412.


THE SO-CALLED PREFIXES OF TIBETO-BURMAN, AND WHY THEY ARE SO CALLED* James A. Matisoff 2.1 Introduction Prefixes play a vital and complex role in the history of the Tibeto-Burman (TB) languages.1 They figure prominently in the reconstructions of the Sino-Tibetan Etymological Dictionary and Thesaurus (STEDT).2 However, a number of doubts and misconceptions seem to have arisen in this area over the years, and now seems like a good time to deal with them. Indeed, ‘a decent respect to the opinions of mankind’, to use Thomas Jefferson’s apt phrase, requires me to spell out the various synchronic and diachronic issues that revolve around this fascinating topic. These issues may be summarized as follows:  Many of the so-called prefixes set up at the PTB or subgroup level do not have any clear meaning, so how can I call them ‘prefixes’?  Many STEDT etyma are reconstructed with two or more different prefixes in ‘pan-allofamic formulas’ (PAF’s), with no indication of their relative antiquity.3  Native speakers of particular languages usually do not recognize that a particular phoneme in a synchronic word is a prefix, even though STEDT claims that it does descend from a prefix at an earlier stage.  Is there a principled way to distinguish a sequence of *prefix-plusroot-initial from a true *consonant cluster within the root itself? * It is a pleasure to dedicate this paper to David Bradley, with whom I have had a delightful academic and personal relationship since his student days at Columbia in the late 1960’s. Previous versions of this paper were presented at ICSTLL’s #47 (Kunming, 2014) and #48 (Santa Barbara, 2015). 1 See the discussion in HPTB (Matisoff 2003), 87-156. 2 These are already available electronically, and a printed version (2 folio volumes totaling around 1500 pages) will also be produced in limited quantities, as demand requires. 3 The concept of ‘word family’ – i.e., a group of different lexical items that can all be traced back to the same etymon – was already introduced into SinoTibetan linguistics in Karlgren (1933). In my usage, an allofam is a particular member of a word family, as considered either within a single language or crosslinguistically. See Matisoff (1978a).



2.2 Tibeto-Burman syllable structure: prefixes and sesquisyllabicity The first systematic treatment of the forms and functions of TB prefixes was Wolfenden (1929). Benedict (1972) takes up where Wolfenden left off, positing an array of seven PTB prefixes, of which three (*s-, *m- and *a-)4 are highly important, with relatively well-defined semantic content, and four are much less so (*b-, *g-, *d-, *r-). HPTB (p. 12) gives a PTB syllable canon that provides for a maximum sequence of two prefixes with a given root: [T]









Figure 2-1: The Proto-Tibeto-Burman syllable canon

This was slightly revised in Matisoff (2015: 378) to allow for the possibility of a sequence of two glides before the vowel (especially *-yw-), as well as post-vocalic glides *-y- or *-w- before the final consonant, thus: [T]

(P2) (P1)






(w/y) (Cf)


Figure 2-2: Revised Proto-Tibeto-Burman syllable canon

As is generally true of languages where the morphemes are basically monosyllabic, the various parts of the syllable are intimately interconnected. Some of these patterns of interinfluence may be schematically diagrammed as follows: [T]

P₂ ↔ P₁ ↔ C i ↔ G₁ ↔ G₂ → V ː w/y Cf ↔ s Figure 2-3: Patterns of interinfluence in the TB syllable [revised from HPTB: 13] 4 This *a- prefix is better interpreted as *ʔ- or *ʔə-.



Note that this proto-syllable canon allows for the possibility of two prefixes before the same root, a situation which exists in a number of individual TB languages, e.g. Written Tibetan (WT) brgyad ‘eight’, Written Burmese (WB) krwat ‘leech’, Tangkhul Naga khəməlek ‘lick’, Mizo pəsəriʔ ‘seven’. In such cases, it is to be assumed that the prefix closer to the root (P1) is more ancient than the more distant one (P2).5 Note also that syllables with a single prefix are often really sesquisyllabic, with an unstressed vowel (usually schwa) intervening between the prefix and the root-initial, so that the word is ‘a syllable and a half’ in length. When two prefixes occur before the same root, the word is necessarily sesquisyllabic, or even ‘doubly sesquisyllabic’, as in the Tangkhul and Mizo examples just cited. 2.3 Morphophonemic behavior of prefixes 2.3.1 Syntagmatic effects Diachronically speaking, a prefix might interact with the following rootinitial in a bewildering variety of ways. Besides affecting the voicing or aspiration of the root-initial, the prefixes could palatalize it, drive it out entirely (‘prefix preemption’), fuse with it into a single segment, or drop altogether. We can illustrate these outcomes by envisioning the possible fates of a hypothetical PTB etymon *g-ya:6 Prefix preservation The presumably original prefix remains roughly the same, perhaps buffered from the initial by a schwa: *g-ya > gəya, kəya. Prefix loss or prefix absence A daughter language reflects the simple root-initial. Either it never used a prefix with this particular word in the first place, or else it has lost it without trace: *g-ya > ya. Prefix-induced palatalization As demonstrated long ago (Benedict 1943), Lepcha has developed a ‘secondary palatal infix’ which appears after the root-initial as the reflex of the causative prefix *s-.7 To take a non-hypothetical example: Lepcha nak ‘be straight’ / nyak (< *s-nak) ‘straighten’. 5 We return to the issue of relative chronology below, Section 2.5. 6 The morphophonemic possibilities are especially rich when the root-initial

was ‘weak’ (i.e. a non-obstruent), as in this partly hypothetical case, which is quite similar to an actual etymon *g-ya ⪤ *g-ra ‘right (side)’ (STC #98, HPTB 1345). 7 See below, Section 2.4.



Prefix preemption The prefix drives out the original non-obstruental root-initial entirely, and itself becomes the only consonantal onset of the syllable: *g-ya > ga. Prefix fusion The prefix unites with the initial consonant to form a single consonantal segment that incorporates phonetic features of both, typically a fricative or affricate: *g-ya > dža, ɕa, ʑa. 2.3.2 Paradigmatic effects Prefix substitution Many TB languages have a ‘favorite prefix’ which they have freely introduced into roots in place of earlier ones. Our etymon *g-ya might easily become pəya, təya, məya, etc., in one or another daughter language. Prefixal substitutions are especially characteristic of TB numerals. Jingpho has created a ‘prefix run’8 in the numerals ‘3’, ‘4’, and ‘5’, by substituting its mə- prefix for the presumably more ancient prefixes still to be found in Written Tibetan (WT): WT Jingpho ‘three’ gsum məsūm ‘four’ bźi məlī ‘five’ lŋa məŋā Mizo has generalized the prefix pə- to all its numerals from 1 to 9, but this actually represents four different morphophonemic processes: Table 2-1: The basic numerals in Mizo ‘2’ ‘3’ ‘4’ ‘5’

PTB *g-nis *g-sum *b-ləy *l/b-ŋa

WT gnyis gsum bźi lŋa

Mizo pəhniʔ pəthum pəli pəŋa

‘6’ ‘7’ ‘8’ ‘9’

PTB *d-ruk *s-nis *b-r-gyat *d/s-kəw

WT drug [bdun] brgyad dgu

Mizo pəruk pəsəriʔ pəriat pəkua

(a) retention of a primary labial prefix: FOUR, FIVE, EIGHT (b) replacement of an older prefix by pə-: THREE, SIX, NINE (c) reprefixation/addition of pə- to an older prefix, creating a doubly sesquisyllabic form: SEVEN (d) replacement of the primary prefix g- by s- (*s-n > hn-), then reprefixation by pə-: TWO

8 For the concept of ‘prefix run’, see Matisoff (1995).



Reprefixation This phenomenon, whereby a new prefix is superadded to a preexisting one without replacing it, is illustrated by WT brgyad ‘eight’ and Mizo pəsəriʔ ‘seven’ in the above table, and by many other attested forms, thus justifying setting up two prefixal slots in the canon given in Figures 2-1 and 2-2 above. A few other examples: Tangkhul Naga has added a prefix k(h)ə- to its verb roots, while leaving any older prefixes intact: PTB *m-lyak ‘lick’ > TN khəməlek; PTB *g-yak ‘ashamed’ > TN kəkhəyak. The second syllable of Mishing situm ‘bear’ already shows preemption of the original root-initial *w- by an ancient dental prefix (PTB *d-wam; cf. also WT dom and STC #461). To this the younger TB sibilant animal prefix, demonstrably from PTB *sya ‘animal’ (below, Section 2.5) has been superadded: *sya-d-wam > *sVdom > si-tum. The PTB root for ‘otter’ is set up as *s-ram, on the basis of forms like Jingpho šəram, Mishing siram, Mikir serim. Two reflexes of this root, Mizo sahram and Lepcha səryom, demonstrate the cyclical nature of TB prefixation (see below, Section 2.5). After the primary *s- prefix had fused with the root-initial r-, yielding a voiceless liquid in Mizo (hr-) and a palatalized ry- in Lepcha, the animal prefix sa- (< *sya ‘animal’) was reprefixed to the syllable. In this case, both the primary and secondary prefixes seem to be etymologically identical, both representing a reduction of the root for ‘animal’, but at different time-depths. 2.4 The continuum of meaningfulness: prefixal semantics and the grammatical exploitation of prefixes Some scholars have objected to the term ‘prefix’ in cases where the preinitial element does not have a clearcut meaning.9 While we might be tempted to call some of these semantically vague entities ‘prefixal formatives’, or simply ‘formatives’, there seems little point in making a sharp distinction between ‘meaningful’ and ‘meaningless’ pre-initial elements. Even the most ancient prefixes with the clearest meanings often occur in words where it is hard to see what semantic increment they provide. On the other hand, those prefixes which have the most transparent meanings in a given daughter language are likely to be of relatively recent origin. The point is that TB prefixes are constantly subject to replacement or change. What is semantically murky today might once have been quite clear. Contrariwise, prefixational patterns that were vague or sporadic in the past have often been regularized by 9 Our word prefix derives from the past participle prē ctum of Latin prēfīgere

‘to attach to the front’, and is totally neutral with respect to semantics.



analogy to the point where they are now highly productive and grammaticalized. To put it in a nutshell, in my usage the concept of ‘prefix’ in TibetoBurman is primarily phonological or phonotactic, and not necessarily phonosemantic. On the semantically transparent end of the spectrum we find highly grammaticalized systems like the directional prefixes of Qiangic languages (see Huang 1991), or the prefixes indicating subject or object agreement on verbs in Chin languages (see, e.g. So-Hartmann 2008: 232-246). 2.4.1 The role of prefixes in causative morphology: obvious vs. indirect evidence The most interesting morphological alternation involving prefixes is also arguably the most ancient, namely the opposition between inner directed or stative verbs, signaled by the nasal prefix *m-, versus transitive or outerdirected or causative verbs, marked by the sibilant prefix *s-.

Written Tibetan

Prefixal s- appears overtly in the causative members of many TB verbpairs, while the intransitive members of the pairs are marked either by zero, or by prefixal m- or ḥ-:10 mnam-pa ‘have an odor’ snam-pa ‘sniff something’ ḥbar-ba ‘catch fire’ sbar-ba ‘light; kindle’ riŋ-ba ‘be long’ sriŋ-ba ‘lengthen’


The sibilant prefix is highly productive as a causative marker in Jingpho, although it has been palatalized to šə- (varying with džə- before an aspirated or sibilant root-initial): lòt ‘be loose, free; escape’ šəlòt ‘set free’ phrīŋ ‘be full’ džəphrīŋ ‘fill something’ sù ‘be awake’ džəsù ‘awaken someone’

10 The controversial WT letter ‘ḥ’, known as a-chung, is often assumed to

stand for prenasalization (see, e.g. Hill 2005). My own view (Matisoff 1975) is that it was used for an element with both a glottal and a nasal component, something like [ʔə̃ -]. I am now exploring the possibility that this preconsonantal occurrence of a-chung actually represents a reduction of a fully syllabic prefix *ʔaŋ- (see HPTB: 522).



Written Burmese

Burmese has well over 50 verb-pairs where the intransitive member has a plain initial, and the causative/transitive form has an aspirate (Okell 1969: 205-208): prat ‘be cut in two’ phrat ‘cut something in two’ nûi ‘be awake’ hnûi ‘awaken someone’ lwat ‘be free, loose’ hlwat ‘set free’ That the aspiration in the causative forms derives ultimately from PTB *sis proven by a verb-pair where the intransitive member begins with a vowel, thus making it possible for the original *s- prefix to survive as such: ʔip ‘sleep’ sip ‘put to sleep’


Hayu (previously known as Vayu), a highly endangered language spoken in a few villages southeast of Kathmandu, displays several patterns of manner alternations in these pairs, with the conditioning not clear (Michailovsky 1988: 106-110): (a) voiced vs. voiceless unaspirated dam ‘be filled’ dᴜk ‘fall’

tam ‘fill something’ tᴜk ‘drop something’

(b) voiced vs. voiceless aspirated bek ‘enter’ bok ‘be born’

phek ‘cause to enter’ phok ‘give birth to’

(c) voiceless unaspirated vs. aspirated tun ‘drink’

thun ‘give to drink’


The vast majority of Lahu causatives are formed analytically, via the auxiliary verb cɨ (which as a main verb means ‘send on an errand’), e.g. qay cɨ ‘cause to go’, yù cɨ ‘cause to take’. As is typical in Loloish languages, about a dozen Lahu verb-pairs survive where the causative members are morphophonemically related to the simplicia, differing from them in tone, and usually in manner of articulation as well. (1) Lahu morphological causatives sorted by initial manner (a) voiced obstruent simplex vs. voiceless unaspirated causative: dɔ̀ ‘drink’ tɔ ‘give to drink’ jɔ̀ ‘study’ cɔ ‘train someone’ dɛ̀ ‘come to rest’ tɛ ‘set something down’ dû ‘dig’ tū ‘bury someone’



As demonstrated in Matisoff (1972), the Lahu voiced series of obstruents descends unambiguously from Proto-Lolo-Burmese *prenasalized initials. The simplicia in this category thus reflect the PTB stative prefix *m-. (b) voiceless unaspirated simplex and voiceless unaspirated causative: cā ‘feed’ câ ‘eat’ tòʔ ‘burn (v.i.)’ tú ‘set on fire’ Here the initial of the simplex was voiceable (d and j occur in the language), but evidently the nasal prefix was never applied to these roots. Prefixes are unpredictable entities after all! (c) voiced fricative simplex vs. voiceless fricative causative: vàʔ ‘hide oneself’ fà ‘hide something’ və̀ʔ ‘wear’ f ́ ‘dress someone’ These simplicia descend from PLB *w-, and the causatives from *ʔw-. (d) sonorant initials mɔ̀ ‘see’ nɔ̂ ‘be awake’ lɛ̀ʔ ‘lick’ y ʔ̀ ‘sleep’

mɔ ‘show’ nɔ̄ ‘awaken someone’ lɛ́ ‘feed an animal’ í ‘put to sleep’

Here the initials of the simplicia are necessarily voiced, so any effect of a nasal prefix would be impossible to trace. (The *nasal prefix left no tonal effects in Lahu.) (2) Lahu morphological causatives sorted by tone These morphological causatives fall into three tonal classes, as determined by the initial consonant. All three classes unambiguously reflect the Proto-Loloish causative prefix *ʔ-. (a) Where the simplex has low-falling tone / /̀ , and the causative has midtone (unmarked): dɔ̀ ‘drink’ tɔ ‘give to drink’ jɔ̀ ‘study’ cɔ ‘train someone’ dɛ̀ ‘come to rest’ tɛ ‘set something down’ mɔ̀ ‘see’ mɔ ‘show’ These verbs descend from PLB Tone *1.11

11 For a detailed treatment of the relationships between Lahu initial

consonants and tones, see Burling (1968) and Matisoff (1970, 1972).



(b) Where the simplex has high-falling tone / /̂ , and the causative has low level tone /-/: dû ‘dig’ tū ‘bury someone’ cā ‘feed’ câ ‘eat’ nɔ̂ ‘be awake’ nɔ̄ ‘awaken someone’ These verbs descend from PLB Tone *2. (c) Where the simplex has low-stopped tone / ʔ̀ /, and the causative has high-rising tone: tòʔ ‘burn (v.i.)’ tú ‘set on fire’ vàʔ ‘hide oneself’ fá ‘hide something’ və̀ʔ ‘wear’ f ́ ‘dress someone’ lɛ̀ʔ ‘lick’ lɛ́ ‘feed an animal’ y ʔ̀ ‘sleep’ í ‘put to sleep’ These verbs descend from PLB *LOW-stopped tone. 2.5 Historical reasons for lack of meaningfulness 2.5.1 ‘Prefixization’: reduction of the first syllables of compounds One important reason for the semantic elusiveness of TB prefixes is the fact that many of them derive from the phonological reduction of initial syllables in compounds (HPTB 154). Compounding has been a pervasive morphological process for at least the past two millennia in the SinoTibetan family, as part of the languages’ response to the ever-present danger of homophony among their monosyllabic morphemes. Once a dissyllabic compound has been created, however, it is subject to weakening of the first syllable, since iambic stress patterns seem to have been the rule in compound formation throughout the history of the family, at least on the Tibeto-Burman side. Examples of such weakening may be multiplied at will. Sometimes it is found only in individual lexical items: Prinmi/Pumi (Dayang, Qiangic group): ɸpǐ ‘belly’ > ɸpə-tʃóu ‘navel’ tʃ ́ ‘water’ > tʃə-ɸpá ‘boiled water’ Jingpho: PTB *sin-kri ‘gall/bile’ > səgrì ~ šəgrì (cf. Jg. sìn ‘internal organ’, məsìn ‘liver’) PTB *lak-ra ‘right hand’ > Jg. ləkhrá ‘right side’



Burmese: WB phiʼ-nap ‘sandal’ > Mod. Bs. phənáʔ PTB za-mak ‘son-in-law’ (*za ‘child/son’) > WB səmak > Mod. Bs. θəméʔ PLB *bəw²-rwak ‘ant’ (*bəw² ‘insect’) > WB pərwak > Mod. Bs. pəywéʔ (cf. Lahu pú-ɣɔ̂ ʔ)12 Sometimes, however, a whole class of words is affected. The PTB etymon *bəy ‘give’ has developed into a causative prefix in many TB languages of NE India, undergoing vocalic reduction in the process (HPTB: 132-133). This has become extremely productive in Chokri, a language closely related to Angami Naga, where the prefix pə- occurs with scores of verbs, both action verbs and adjectives (p.c. 1973, Vikuosa Nienu): Simplex tū ‘be burning’ kra̱ ‘weep’ ze̱ ‘sleep’ lɛ̀ ‘warm’ vī ‘good’ mū ‘sweet’

Causative pətū ‘set on fire’ pəkra̱ ‘make someone weep’ pəze̱ ‘put to sleep’ pəlɛ̌ ‘warm something up’ pəvī ‘make good’ pəmū ‘sweeten’

In a number of TB languages the widespread PTB etymon *sya ‘animal/flesh’ has undergone prefixization in words for animals and bodyparts (HPTB 102): This element appears as fully syllabic sa- in dozens of Mizo animal names, e.g. sa-khi ‘barking deer’, sa-vom ‘bear’, sa-va ‘bird’, sa-hŋa ‘fish’, sa-kei ‘tiger’. In Jingpho and Nung the element has become unstressed to sə- or šə-, e.g. Jg. səgû ‘sheep’, səwōi ‘pangolin’, šəkrép ‘bedbug’; Nung səwi ‘bear’, sərɔ ‘ant’, səri ‘barking deer’. In Mishing the prefix is vocalized with -i-: si-tum ‘bear’, si-be ‘monkey’ In Chokri Naga, PTB *sya has become thi²¹ as a stand-alone morpheme, but in animal names it is usually (but not always) reduced to tə- or thə-: thəɣɔ⁴⁴ ‘frog’, thi³ʑɛ⁴⁴ ~ təʑɛ⁴⁴ ‘barking deer’, təɣɑ⁴⁴ ‘bear’, təɕi⁴⁴ ~ ti³ɕi⁴⁴ ‘dog’, təki⁴⁴ ‘monkey’, thəvɔ²¹ ‘pig’. In Written Tibetan orthography the sibilant element is written right before the root initial, e.g. sbrul ‘snake’, sbal-pa ‘frog’, sdig-pa ‘scorpion’, sreg-pa ‘pheasant’, srin-bu ‘insect’, stag ‘tiger’, spre ‘monkey’, though it

12 See also Written Tibetan grog-ma, with a velar prefix (< *g-rwak) of unknown origin, possibly related to the *k- attested in several Written Burmese animal names (Section 2.6, below).



was probably pronounced with an epenthetic schwa before certain stop initials. There seems no reason not to call this reductional process ‘prefixization’.13 It should be observed parenthetically that all in all Tibeto-Burmanists are relatively fortunate in being able to trace the etymology of some prefixes. In Mon-Khmer, which is the stronghold of sesquisyllabicity in Southeast Asia, it is virtually impossible to assign any meaning to the unstressed onsets of their myriads of sesquisyllables. 2.5.2 Diachronic layers of prefixes (HPTB 125-6) The Southern Loloish language Mpi, as its name implies, has many words with a prefix that is realized as a syllabic nasal homorganic with the rootinitial. Comparative evidence reveals that these words belong to three different diachronic stages, ranging from the very ancient to the very recent. (a) The oldest stratum contains those Mpi words which have extra-LoloBurmese cognates which unambiguously point to PTB *m-: ‘door’

PTB *m-ka

Mpi ŋ⁴ko⁴

‘dove’ ‘kidney’ ‘pillow’

*m-krəw *m-glun *m-kum

ŋ²khi² ŋ⁴kjo⁵ ŋ²kwiŋ²

Other S.Khami əmkha, Jingpho məkhà ‘be open (as a door)’ Khami məkhru, Angami mekru, Lahu gû Jingpho ǹ-khyūn Nung məkhim, Luquan ŋk’v̩ , Lahu ú-gɛ̂

There is no evidence to assign any of these prefixes to a compound constituent at an earlier stage. Note the voiced Lahu initials in DOVE and PILLOW, the expected reflexes of PLB *prenasalized initials. (b) Of more recent origin are prefixized words which were originally dissyllabic compounds where the first constituent began with a nasal: Mpi ‘ear’ ‘face’ ‘smoke’ ‘sunlight’

m²pha² m⁴phjoŋ² ŋ²khwi² ~ mi²khwi² ñ⁴tɕho⁶

Related Lahu compounds nā-pɔ mɛ̂ʔ-phû mû-qhɔ̂ mû-cha

PTB 1st syllable *r-na ‘ear’ *s-myak ‘eye’ *məw ‘sky’ *məw ‘sky’

Note the still unprefixized doublet in Mpi ‘smoke’. 13 For the rather different ‘cluster-busting’ type of prefixization, see §2.7.



(c) Finally, and most numerous, are recent nasal-initial loanwords from Tai: Mpi Siamese 14 ‘clock’ ŋ²ka⁴ naalikaa ‘eggplant’ ŋ²khɤ⁶ ~ ma²khɤ⁶ məkhy̌ a mənaaw ‘lime’ n⁴na⁵ ‘scorpion’ m²puŋʔ⁶ məlɛɛŋpɔ̀ ɔŋ ~ mɛɛŋpɔ̀ ɔŋ ‘teak’ n⁴sa⁶ májsàk ‘well (water)’ m⁴po⁵ náambɔ̀ ɔ Note the still unprefixized doublet in Mpi ‘eggplant’. In ‘well’ it is hard to say whether it is the initial n- or the final –m of náam which survives as the Mpi prefix. These examples amply demonstrate that prefixization is an ongoing process in TB. 2.6 The compounding-prefixation cycle (HPTB 153-6) In a way the mirror-image of prefixization is a rarer process we could call syllabization or dimidiation, whereby a formerly non-syllabic prefix becomes strengthened into a full syllable.15 This replacement by, or alternation with ‘preformatives’, or fully syllabic forms, is especially characteristic of Jingpho. The Jingpho velar prefixes kə- and gə- vary with kum-, gin-, or gum-; similarly the Jingpho nasal prefixes n̩ - and məalternate in many words with niŋ-, nam-, or num-. We thus have doublets like məgá ~ nùm-gá ‘side’; ǹ-mà ~ nùm-mà ~ nı̀ŋ-mà ‘a sore’; ǹ-phrà (ŋ) ~ nùm-phrà (ŋ) ‘ferocious’; məríʔ ~ nùm-ríʔ ‘dew’. There is a certain chicken-and-egg problem when confronted with such pairs of variants. Are the Jingpho prefixes reductions of former full syllables (via prefixization), or are the full syllables secondary dimidiations of former prefixes? The second interpretation seems preferable in view of cases like HORSE. This etymon was originally reconstructed with an initial intrinsic cluster as *mraŋ, largely on the basis of WB mrâŋ (STC #145), but this was later modified by Benedict to a prefixal reconstruction, *m-raŋ ⪤ *s-raŋ, both to accommodate forms beginning with r- (Kanauri raŋ, Hakha raŋ) as well as some Himalayish forms reflecting the sibilant ‘animal prefix’ (Bunan śraŋs, Manchad hraŋ, 14 Note that the Siamese words for EGGPLANT and LIME are sesquisyllabic, with the presyllable having a clear origin in this case: Proto-Tai *hmaak ‘fruit’. See Li Fang Kuei (1977). 15 The term dimidiation is due to Peter Boodberg, who used it to refer to the graphic rendering of an initial consonant cluster in Old Chinese by two separate characters, each of which was pronounced with one member of the cluster as initial. See Yang (1985).



Chepang səra ŋ; see above §2.5.1). The Jingpho cognate gùm-rà (ŋ) is fully dissyllabic,16 and Benedict was tempted to explain it by invoking a double prefixation, *k-m-ra ŋ, relating it to the verbal root *m-ra ŋ ‘high’ (Kanauri ra ŋ, WB mra ŋʼ), i.e. ‘the high/noble [beast]’ (STC, n.139). I think it more plausible that Jingpho added the syllabic prefix gùm- to the root simply for ‘phonological bulk’, as in many other words (e.g. gùm-phrò ‘silver’ < PTB *plu). The following schematic diagrams (reproduced from HPTB 155-6) are an attempt to summarize graphically the diachronic interrelationships of the types of syllable structure attested in Tibeto-Burman: complex monosyllable sesquisyllable

simple monosyllable

dissyllable Figure 2-4: Directionalities of diachronic changes in syllable structure

A concrete example will help to clarify these relationships: complex monosyllable *smya k sesquisyllable I. *səmya k

simple monosyllable mɛ̂ʔ

II. *məši

dissyllable I. *sya -mya k II. *mya k-sey > mɛ̂ʔ-šı ̄ 16 The variant with final nasal in the 2nd syllable is characteristic of the Hkauri




We can imagine an original PTB/PST morpheme for ‘eye’ of the shape mya k (this is in fact the actual Written Burmese form), that became elaborated at an early date into the dissyllabic compound *sya -ma k, where the 1st element meant ‘flesh; meat; game animal; body-part’. This compound could then be reduced to a sesquisyllable (*səmya k), or even to a complex monosyllable (*smya k). By processes of phonological attrition this complex syllable simplified, e.g. to mɛ̂ʔ (the actual Lahu form, where the high-stopped tone reflects a Proto-Loloish *s- prefix before the nasal.17 Repeating the cycle, this simple monosyllable was later reinforced by another morpheme meaning ‘fruit; round object’ (PTB *sey), to yield new binomes like the actual Lahu form mɛ̂ʔ-šı̄. One might guess that in the future this compound might be reduced in some language or other to a monosyllable again, perhaps via a sesquisyllabic form like *məšı̄. 2.7 A perennial problem: distinguishing *prefix-plus-initial-consonant from root-internal *consonant clusters When the root-initial was a resonant (liquid or semivowel), it is sometimes difficult to distinguish, either by internal reconstruction or comparatively, between an intrinsic cluster (i.e. a sequence of initial consonant plus glide) vs. a sequence of prefix plus root-initial. The first element in such sequences, even if originally part of the root, is susceptible of being reinterpreted as a prefix, and then dropped or substituted for by another segment. Conversely, even if the first element was originally a prefix, it may later be reinterpreted as part of an intrinsic cluster. Among the cases where ‘the distinction cannot be drawn with any assurance’ 18 are items like ‘arrow’ (*b-la or *bla ), ‘horn’ (*g-ruŋ or *gruŋ), and ‘monkey’ (*m-ruk or *mruk). Under favorable circumstances, however, it is possible to make the distinction neatly: PLB ‘weave’ *ra k ‘crossbow’ *kra k ‘chicken’ *k-ra k

WB ra k --kra k

Lahu ɣà ʔ khâ ʔ ɣâ ʔ

Lisu yɛ³¹ ‘loom’ tʃhɛ³⁵ a ⁵⁵ɣa ⁵⁵

The word for ‘weave’ has the simple resonantal initial *r-, which regularly becomes Lahu ɣ-, and the syllable is naturally in the Loloish *LOWstopped class, realized in Lahu by the low-stopped tone / ʔ̀ / because of the *voiced initial. The root for ‘crossbow’ begins with a true cluster of *velar-plus-r, regularly yielding the Lahu front-velar kh- and a Lisu palatal 17 See Matisoff (1972: 24, 58-61). 18 See STC, n. 314, p. 112; HPTB 144-7.



a fricate, and belongs to the Loloish HIGH-stopped class (realized in Lahu by the high-stopped tone / ʔ̂ /) because of the voicelessness of the velar.19 The etymon for ‘chicken’ is distinct from the other two. Here the k- in the WB form is clearly prefixal (see below), and the Lahu initial ɣ- still reflects the true root-initial *r-. However, the tone of this word is HIGH-stopped in Lahu, because of the former presence of the voiceless prefix. The Written Burmese form just mentioned is in fact one of a set of five interesting etyma for animal names where WB has an initial velar that is lacking in the other Lolo-Burmese languages (HPTB 146): ‘cat/wildcat’ ‘chicken’ ‘leech’ ‘rat’ ‘tiger’

PLB *k-roŋ¹ *k-ra kH *k-r-wa tL *k-r-wa kH *k-la ²

WB kra uŋ ‘ca t’ kra k krwa t krwa k klâ > kyâ 22

Lahu ɣɔ̀ ‘wildcat’20 ɣâ ʔ vèʔ21 fâ ʔ lâ

In two of the three cases of stopped syllables in this set (CHICKEN and RAT, but not LEECH) the voiceless velar prefix left a tonal effect in Loloish, causing the syllable to be shifted into the HIGH-stopped tone. One of the clearest examples of the metanalysis of an original *cluster into a sequence of prefix-plus-root initial is provided by the basic etymon for DOG, reconstructed as PTB *kwəy. Most TB languages treat the initial consonant sequence as a cluster, preserving both elements, e.g. WT khyi, Chepang kwi, Digaro nkwi, Jingpho gwì, WB khwê. However, the Chin languages have treated the velar element as a prefix, and dropped it, yielding forms like Mizo and Lai ui (< *wəy < *k-wəy).23 Karenic has gone a step further, dropping the velar as if it were a prefix, and then substituting a different, dental prefix for it, e.g. Pwo and Sgaw thwì (< *t-wəy < *k-wəy < *kwəy). 24 This sort of metanalysis is actually another sort of prefixization, rather different from the phenomenon discussed above (Section 2.5.1), where it was an unstressed compound constituent which got reduced to a prefix.

19 Burmese lacks a reflex of this root. 20 Cf. Jingpho šəro(ŋ) ‘tiger’. 21 In this case the velar prefix evidently did not survive into Loloish, which

reflects simple *wat (hence the Lahu voiced initial and low-stopped tone). 22 The form with -l- is found in Inscriptional Burmese, with the -y- being a later development. 23 VanBik (2009) reconstructs Proto-Kuki-Chin *ʔuy (#476). 24 Lahu has gone a different route, fusing the velar-plus-w combination into a labiovelar unit phoneme, yielding ph .̂ See Matisoff (1986).



The case of DOG illustrates what we might call the ‘cluster-busting’ type,25 where it is the first member of a morpheme-internal cluster that is reinterpreted as a prefix and then dropped or replaced. 2.8 Conclusions Determining that part of a syllable is a prefix is not something one can necessarily do on the basis of a single language. For example, certain scholars have objected to the prefixal analysis of the first consonant of WT sbrul ‘snake’ on the grounds that no speakers of a modern Tibetan dialect consider it to be such.26 But surely the prefixal status of a TB segment requires comparative data from a number of languages, preferably across several subgroups of the vast TB family. Modern English speakers are often quite unaware that an initial element in a word is actually prefixal in origin (e.g. the a- in dozens of words like asea, around, abed, afire, ahead, awry, amiss).27 Even if they suspect that is the case, the native speaker is usually quite incapable of assigning a definite meaning to it (e.g. the be- in words like bewitch, bedizen, before, bedazzle, berate, behold, bemoan). The ‘pan-allofamic formulas’ in STEDT’s etymological database are attempts to display all attested variants of an etymon at once, including the prefixes that have been attached to them in one language or another. Such formulas do not necessarily make any claims about the relative antiquity of the individual variants. When such chronology is recoverable, the point is discussed in detail. Some linguists are uncomfortable with the notion of proto-variation altogether, and would rather stuff their proto-forms beyond recognition than admit that proto-languages should be treated as real languages, and not as quasi-mathematical formulas. Real languages are rife with variation at all time-depths, some of it more or less rule-governed, but in many cases sporadic and unpredictable. This can either be welcomed or deplored, depending on one’s temperament, or what I have called ‘ProtoSprachgefühl’. 25 I first heard the delightful term ‘cluster-buster’ from Alan Dench, at the 16th

Spring Workshop on Theory and Method in Linguistic Reconstruction, Ann Arbor, April, 2016. 26 This root is actually reconstructed with a double prefix, *s-b-rul. Some daughter languages preserve only the labial prefix, which certainly appears to be the older one (e.g. Thulung blo, Thebor brul, Tangkhul phərɯ, Mikir phurul, Ao Naga per, Trung bɯ, Shixing bɑ³³ro⁵⁵, Puron marun, WB mrwe, etc., while others preserve only the bare root, e.g. Mizo ruul, Palaychi (Karenic) rù, Tujia wo, Lahu v ,̀ etc. 27 It derives ultimately from the prepositions on and/or at.



Abbreviations Bs. Burmese Cf final consonant Ci initial consonant G glide (-w-, -y-, -r-, -l-) HPTB Matisoff 2003 ICSTLL International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics Jg. Jingpho Mod. Modern PAF pan-allofamic formula (in STEDT etymologies) PLB Proto-Lolo-Burmese PST Proto-Sino-Tibetan PTB Proto-Tibeto-Burman ST Sino-Tibetan STC Benedict 1972 STEDT Sino-Tibetan Etymological Dictionary and Thesaurus (Berkeley) T tone TB Tibeto-Burman TN Tangkhul Naga WB Written Burmese WT Written Tibetan References Benedict, Paul K. 1943. Secondary infixation in Lepcha. Studies in Linguistics I, No. 19. Benedict, Paul K. 1972. Sino-Tibetan: a conspectus. Contributing editor, James A. Matisoff. New York: Cambridge University Press. (STC) Burling, Robbins. 1967/1968. Proto-Lolo-Burmese. Indiana Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics #43. The Hague: Mouton and Co. Huang Bufan 黃布凡. 1991. 羌语支 [The Qiangic Branch]. In Ma Xueliang 马学良 (ed.), 汉藏语概论 [A general introduction to SinoTibetan languages], 208-369. Beijing: Peking University Press. Hill, Nathan W. 2002. Once more on the letter a-chung. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 28(2). 107-37. Karlgren, Bernhard. 1933. Word families in Chinese. BMFEA 5. 5-120. Li Fang-Kuei. 1977. A handbook of comparative Tai. Honolulu: University Press of Hawai’i. Luce, G.H. 1980. Phases of pre-Pagán Burma: Languages and history. 2 vols. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.



Matisoff, James A. 1970. Glottal dissimilation and the Lahu high-rising tone: a tonogenetic case-study. Journal of the American Oriental Society 90(1). 13-44. Matisoff, James A. 1972. The Loloish tonal split revisit(ed.) Research Monograph #7. Berkeley: University of California Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies. Matisoff, James A. 1973. Tonogenesis in Southeast Asia. In Larry M. Hyman, (ed.), Consonant types and tone, 71-96. Los Angeles: University of California. Matisoff, James A. 1975. Rhinoglottophilia: the mysterious connection between nasality and glottality. In C.A. Ferguson, L.M. Hyman, and J.J. Ohala, (eds.), Nasálfest: Papers from a Symposium on Nasals and Nasalization, 265-87. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Language Universals Project. Matisoff, James A. 1978a. Variational semantics in Tibeto-Burman: the ‘organic’ approach to linguistic comparison. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues. Matisoff, James A. 1978b. Mpi and Lolo-Burmese microlinguistics. Monumenta Serindica 4. 1-36. Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages of Asia and Africa. Matisoff, James A. 1986. Labiovelar unit phonemes in Lolo-Burmese? A case to chew over: Lahu bɛ̂ ‘chew’ < PLB *N-gwya². Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 9(1). 83-88. Matisoff, James A. 1995/1997. Sino-Tibetan numerals and the play of prefixes. Bulletin of the National Museum of Ethnology (Osaka) 20(1). 105-252. Republished as Sino-Tibetan numeral systems: prefixes, protoforms, and problems. Canberra; Australian National University. Matisoff, James A. 2000. An extrusional approach to *p-/w- variation in Sino-Tibetan. Language and Linguistics 1(2). 135-86. Matisoff, James A. 2003. Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: System and philosophy of Sino-Tibetan reconstruction. Berkeley: University of California Press. Matisoff, James A. 2014. Tibeto-Burman prefixal dynamics: correcting some misconceptions. Paper presented at ICSTLL #47, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming. Matisoff, James A. 2015. On the demise of the Proto-Tibeto-Burman mid vowels. Bulletin of the National Museum of Ethnology (Osaka) 39(3). 37595. Matisoff, James A. 2016. Sino-Tibetan etymological dictionary and thesaurus. Berkeley: University of California. Michailovsky, Boyd. 1988. La langue Hayu. Paris: Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Okell, John. 1969. A reference grammar of colloquial Burmese. 2 vols. London: Oxford University Press.



So-Hartmann, Helga. 2008. A descriptive grammar of Daai Chin. STEDT Monograph #7. Berkeley: University of California. VanBik, Kenneth. 2009. Proto-Kuki-Chin: a reconstructed ancestor of the Kuki-Chin languages. STEDT Monograph #8. Berkeley: University of California. Wolfenden, Stuart. 1929. Outlines of Tibeto-Burman linguistic morphology: with special reference to the prefixes, infixes, and suffixes of Classical Tibetan, and the languages of the Kachin, Bodo, Nâgâ, Kuki-Chin, and Burma groups. Prize Publication #12. London: Royal Asiatic Society. Yang, Paul Fu-mian. 1985. Initial consonant clusters KL- in modern dialects and Proto-Chinese. In G. Thurgood, J.A. Matisoff, and D. Bradley, (eds.) Linguistics of the Sino-Tibetan Area: the state of the art, 168-79. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.


DIALECT DIVERSITY AND LANGUAGE RESILIENCE: THE GEOLINGUISTICS OF PHUZA VITALITY * Jamin Pelkey The importance of linguistic diversity continues to be affirmed in the face of global language loss (Austin & Sallabank 2011: 6–11; Grondona & Thomason 2015: 73–107), but the potential importance of languageinternal diversity receives less attention. While it is true that speakers of indigenous languages are themselves ultimately responsible for the maintenance or disappearance of their speech varieties (Bradley & Bradley 2002: 96), linguists and others are capable of encouraging indigenous communities toward maintenance of language use. In light of these circumstances, David Bradley’s recent inquiry (2010, 2011a) into the nature of language resilience provides a useful pivot in the contemporary discussion of language endangerment, moving the dialogue from a retrogressive determinism to a focus on preservation potential. Applied to linguistics, resilience inquiry asks, in short, what attributes of a language community enable its speakers to withstand the pressures of subtractive bilingualism in situations of intensive contact with second-language prestige varieties. With this question in mind, the current study presents evidence from Phuza (Tibeto-Burman > Burmic > Ngwi1 > Southeastern > Riverine Phula) that suggests dialect diversity can play a crucial role in language resilience. Since all languages are polylectal, when a language is lost so are its dialects. This state of affairs is true ipso-facto. But since all dialects involve identity distinctions, along with the attitude and value-based differences these necessarily entail, the dialect boundaries of a living language may * Fieldwork underlying the data analyzed in this paper was made possible in cooperation with the Honghe Nationalities Research Institute, Yuxi Normal University and La Trobe University. Funding was provided by a La Trobe University Postgraduate Research Scholarship, an Australia International Postgraduate Research Scholarship, and a La Trobe University Faculty Research Grant. 1 See Bradley (2012, 2005) to appreciate the carefully considered analyses of historic/genetic nomenclature that underlie the selection of ‘Burmic’ and ‘Ngwi’ to replace alternates—’Burmese-Lolo’ and ‘Loloish’ in particular.



serve as a kind of virtual firewall against the rapid loss of language use among a given linguistic population. These dynamics are vividly illustrated in the dialect geography and sociohistory of Phuza language use. Phuza speakers inhabit 28 villages in two counties of southeastern Yunnan Province, China. The language community is undergoing dramatic attrition in half of its villages, leading to a net usage dropoff rate of 25% within the past few generations. Nevertheless, Phuza language use remains strong elsewhere, even in some villages directly adjacent to those now shifting exclusively to Chinese. This study provides an overview of Phuza language vitality with a focus on the geolinguistics and sociohistory of the speaker population. In particular, speaker distribution, language contact, dialect diversity and domains of language use are explored. Several geolinguistic anomalies that arise from this analysis can only be explained with reference to language-internal sociolinguistic diversity. The essay begins with a typological and historical introduction to Phuza structure, including various linguistic, geographic, demographic and sociolinguistic features that define the language, based on original fieldwork and analysis. A typology of threatened statuses focused on domains of language use is presented as a diagnostic metric. The study then discusses a series of geolinguistic maps and charts that illustrate overlapping dynamics of dialect diversity, contact and endangerment implicit in the speaker population. Two primary dialects are identified, along with their sub-dialects; and language vitality is shown to directly correspond with dialect boundaries based on statistical probability and qualitative evidence alike. These results suggest that encouraging language communities to value dialect diversity may function as a mode of resilience linguistics. Conversely, efforts to encourage standardization among indigenous language communities may have the unintended consequence of introducing a less resilient linguistic community over time. 3.1 Geolinguistic and ethnolinguistic context Phuza is an indigenous language first identified and defined in Pelkey (2011). One of many hidden ethnolinguistic groups in Southwest China, the language descends from the Ngwi-branch of Burmic and is officially classified under the Yi Nationality, along with scores of other Ngwi languages (see Bradley 2007, 2011b: 70–71). Phuza is spoken by approximately 6,000 people, out of an ethnic population of some 8,000, who inhabit 28 villages along the southern half of the Gejiu-Mengzi county border. Most of these villages are situated in the western half of Lengquan Township, Mengzi, but some are also located in southeastern



Kafang Township of Gejiu (see Map 3-1). In this section, I provide an introduction to the social and physical geography of the group along with an overview of Phuza-internal diversity and a summary of research methods used in data collection and analysis. 3.1.1 Research methods The data analyzed in this paper were primarily collected during April 2006 in Bujibai, a Phuza village under the administration of Lengquan Township in southern Mengzi County (蒙自市冷泉镇补鸡白村, see Map 3-1, village 15, for specific location). Data collection instruments included a 1,200-item customized Ngwi wordlist, two ethnolinguistic questionnaires, semi-structured ethnographic interviews, village-marked maps for geographic annotation, recorded text comprehension testing and oral text collection. Recordings of speech data were made in audio and video formats for purposes of analysis and documentation. Research questions and data analysis included structural-typological, historicalcomparative, dialectological, geolinguistic, sociolinguistic and ethnological layers of inquiry (outlined further in Pelkey 2011, 2014). The data are archived on hard disk with the Yunnan Language Commission in Kunming, China. Although many villagers participated in general aspects of data collection, primary data were gathered from three main participants in Bujibai, two of whom were native to the village and one of whom had married-in to the village from Niududa of Gejiu County (see Map 3-1, village 21). This provided a helpful source of information and a point of comparison for much of the Phuza dialectology discussion below. Since the Bujibai fieldwork constitutes a small phase of a much larger research project, data collected from other regional villages provide supplementary insights for triangulation. Of particular relevance are data gathered from Malutang (Laochang Township, Gejiu County), Nuoguzhai (Kafang Township, Gejiu County), Gamadi and Xiepo (both in Shuitian Township, Mengzi County).2 3.1.2 Social and physical geography Phuza is reportedly spoken in 22 villages of Lengquan Township, Mengzi County3 and 6 villages of Kafang Township, Gejiu County. Specific village 2 Chinese place names for these locations are as follows, respectively: 个旧市 老厂镇马鹿唐村、卡方镇糯谷寨村;蒙自市水田乡嘎马底村、斜坡村. 3 A cluster of three additional villages in central Lengquan Township of Mengzi County immediately to the east of Zhúmùkǒng 竹木孔 (Map 3-1, village 11) may also contain elderly Phuza speakers; but sources conflict on this point. The three villages in question are 小新寨、对门、马嘎冲.



locations are illustrated in Map 3-1, with reference numbers linked to the list of village names in Table 3-1. The ‘Status’ column in Table 3-11 references a graded vitality scale that is further introduced and explained in Section 3.2 below. None of these villages are reported mixed with other ethnic hnic groups, a point corroborated both by locals and geographic gazetteers (GJDZ 1984, MZDZ 1987). The

Map 3-1:: Phuza general distribution and village locations



Table 3-1: List of reported Phuza villages with reference to Maps 3-1 and 3-2 Map 3-1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Village Name 浑塘子 Húntángzǐ 花红园 Huāhóngyuán 矣普白 Yǐpǔbái 哨上 Shàoshàng 老洼寨 Lǎowāzhài 黑山 Hēishān 石洞 Shídòng 大箐 Dàqìng 哨怒 Shàonù 嘎鸡租 Gájīzū 竹木孔 Zhúmùkǒng 吊坡 Diàopō 努初白 Nǔchūbái 所本底 Suǒběndǐ 补鸡白 Bǔjībái 罗迷上寨 Luómíshàngzhài 查那卡 Chánàkǎ 树木白 Shùmùbái 清水河 Qīngshuǐhé 龙古克 Lónggǔkè 牛都打 Niúdūdǎ 打靶期 Dǎbǎqī 迭马 Diémǎ 木瓜冲 Mùguāchōng 咪底其 Mīdǐqí 六马 Liùmǎ 菲都古 Fēidūgǔ 西努白 Xīnǔbái


Mengzi (蒙自市)

Gejiu (个旧市)

Mengzi (蒙自市)


Status L5 L5 L5 L5 L5 L5 L5 L5 L4 Suobendi L5 L5 L3 L4 L4 L3 L3 L1 L1 L1 L1 L1 L1 L1 Dabaqi L1 L1 L1 L1 L1

only known partial exception is 罗迷 Luómí (Map 3-1, village 16), where the village is divided into upper and lower partitions, Lower Luomi being solely inhabited by speakers of a Miao language (Hmong-Mien), and Upper Luomi being solely inhabited by Phuza speakers, hence the distinction in Table 3-1, #16. Regarding ethnic identity, Phuza speakers interviewed affiliate both with the autonym /pʰɯ⁵⁵za³¹/ and with the areal historical ethnonym



‘Phula’ (and/or Chinese exonym ‘Phuzu’). Speakers of nearby Muji language varieties claim members of the Phuza group as their own. Although Phuza speakers and historical-comparative analyses alike conclusively disagree with this folk classification, Muji speakers argue that their Phuza neighbors simply speak an unintelligible variety of Muji. Naturally, Phuza speakers’ own identity and the linguistic facts themselves have priority in such cases; but the Muji folk affinity is worth noting. Not only are the two in close contact but Phuza ethnic garments traditionally worn by female members of the group are also virtually identical to the Muji style, especially in terms of decorative head-dresses and embroidered apron patterns. Striking surface similarities such as these often contribute to the neglect of diversity (see Pelkey 2011: 427– 428). Linguistically speaking, the autonym /pʰɯ⁵⁵za³¹/ patterns more closely with other Riverine languages and with the macro-ethnonym Phula. These ethnic terms are constructed via nominal stacking (Pelkey 2011: 100; see also Hellwig 2011: 1, Aikhenvald 2000: 95, 239), a lexicalization strategy that relies on the compounding of nominalizer morphemes. For Phuza, the original lexical source of the first morpheme is ‘father’ and the lexical source of the second is ‘son’. Based on village-level reports, there appear to be around 6,000 remaining speakers of Phuza, as mentioned above, with an estimated 3,000 living in Gejiu County and another 3,000 in Mengzi. In Gejiu the speaker population and ethnic population coincide, but in Mengzi clues from various sources indicate that there are some 2,000 more nonspeakers, who have lost the use of Phuza but remain traditionally affiliated with the ethnic population. This adds up to a total ethnic population of 8,000 (Pelkey 2011: 402) and a net usage drop-off rate of 25%, a point to which I return below, in Section 3.2. 3.1.3 Typology and diachrony Like other Ngwi languages, Phuza is verb final and analytic in terms of syntax and increasingly concatenative or ‘agglutinating’ morphologically, with a wide range of derivational strategies but little inflection. Due to its isolative Ngwi heritage, most Phuza morphemes are still analytic and monosyllabic, but nominals are rarely monomorphemic. The language is tonal and features a syllable structure that is rich in initial contrasts but comparatively basic in terms of vowel nuclei, with no consonant codas. Phuza phonology features 44 contrastive syllable onsets (including two glides), eight vowel contrasts (including two diphthongs), and four contrastive lexical tones (see Pelkey 2011: 247–254 for further detail). Syllable onset phonemes occur in eight places of articulation including



labial, alveolar, alveolar affricate, alveolopalatal, alveolar-lateral, retroflex, velar and labio-velar series. The Phuza retention of alveolar-lateral phonemes in five manners of articulation (tɬ, tɬʰ, dɮ, ɬ, l) constitutes the best preserved specimen of this series in all of Riverine Phula. Since this is a distinctive Southeastern Ngwi innovation, its presence in Phuza provides important evidence for subgrouping the Riverine Phula languages with their Southeastern Ngwi sister varieties (see Pelkey 2011: 352–393). Riverine Phula is one of three sister branches of Southeastern Ngwi4 and includes six or more (grand)daughter languages: Phola, Phala, Alugu, Phupha, Phupa and Phuza.5 The common ancestor language featured a comprehensive merger of Proto-Ngwi *checked-tone classes and a merger of *tone classes 2 and 3 to mid-level /33/ in most environments, with the notable exception of *glottal-prefixed *nasal *onsets reflexes, which conditioned splits to high-level tones. A lexical merger of ‘cloud’ and ‘fog’ to /nɨ⁵⁵xɯ²¹/ or cognate forms also appears to have been a protoinnovation of Riverine Phula. Riverine languages split into Upriver and Downriver varieties along the Honghe (or ‘Yuanjiang’) river valley, Phuza being a daughter language of the latter. Within the Downriver meso-clade, Phuza patterns most closely with Phupa, a language spoken in 13 villages to the southeast of the Phuza distribution in adjacent regions of Mengzi, Yuanyang and the Gejiu County panhandle. 3.1.4 Dialect diversity Based on patterns discovered through Phuza perceptual dialectology, structural linguistic analysis and ethnographic interviews, there appear to be two principle Phuza dialects. One is spoken exclusively in Lengquan Township of Mengzi County, mostly in villages clustered around the Suobendi community seat6 (see Map 3-1, village 14). The other is spoken primarily in villages clustered around the Dabaqi community seat (see Map 3-1, village 22) of Kafang Township in Gejiu County, but also in three adjacent villages across the Mengzi border (see Map 3-1, villages 26, 27, 28). For purposes of clarity, the first dialect is identified herein as

4 Southeastern Ngwi also includes the Highland Phula languages (the Muji

and Phowa varieties), the Sani-Azha languages (Sani, Axi, Azhe and Azha) and the Nisu languages (Pelkey 2011: 247–254). 5 See Pelkey (2014) for a condensed overview of evidence for language definitions and genetic subgrouping criteria. More detailed accounts of both are available in Pelkey (2011). 6 a.k.a. 村委会



‘Suobendi’ and the second is identified as ‘Dabaqi’, adopting the respective title for affiliated central village sites as a name for each variety. Thus, the Suobendi dialect of Phuza is spoken in 19 villages and the Dabaqi dialect is spoken in nine (six in Gejiu and three in Mengzi). The Dabaqi dialect is further claimed to feature two sub-dialects, and the dialect boundary of this minor division is reported to coincide with the county line itself. Compare Maps 1 and 2 for a visualization of the dialect boundary relative to village locations and the county line. Speakers of the two primary dialects maintain close contact through marriage networks and market days. The former is illustrated by the research participant mentioned above in Section 3.1.1, the latter is exemplified in a regular market day reportedly held in the Dabaqi community seat itself each Wednesday. Brides who marry-in to Suobendispeaking villages from Dabaqi-speaking villages report no substantial communication barrier and require no time to adjust or ‘learn’ the new dialect of the host village. Minor structural differences between the two are primarily allotonic and allophonic (Pelkey 2011: 144), but lexical variation sometimes shows more marked differences, as the isoglosses in Table 3-2 illustrate. Table 3-2: Lexical variation between Suobendi and Dabaqi Phuza dialects Gloss 茅草 ‘thatch’ 龙树 ‘ritual tree’ 年轻 ‘young’ 男人 ‘man’

Suobendi Dialect si⁵⁵dɮɯ⁵⁵wʌ³³ vɯ³¹di³¹ nɯ¹³ za¹³dja³³

Dabaqi Dialect si⁵⁵tɬɛ⁵⁵wʌ³³ si⁵⁵ʨʰwʌ⁵⁵wʌ³³ ɬɛ⁵⁵ vɯ¹³ʦɛ³³pʰa³³

Process morpheme reanalysis lexical replacement semantic shift lexical merger

As discussed above, the Suobendi dialect data in Table 3-2 are produced by speakers from Bujibai (Map 3-1, village 15), and the Dabaqi dialect data is produced by a speaker who married-in to Bujibai but is originally from Niududa (Map 3-1, village 21). In the first instance of variation, the second syllable/morpheme in question is a likely case of reanalysis, though in neither instance is the lexical source clear. In fact, with the curious exception of Ani Phowa /sɿ⁵⁵tɬo³³ma³³/, no cognate constructions are found elsewhere in any of the Phula languages. But since Ani Phowa speakers descend from a distinct sub-branch of Phula, traditionally construct thatched-roof homes, and live in northern Mengzi County, this is likely to be a branch-internal loan, partially calqued (on the first morpheme) and partially reanalyzed (in the second two morphemes) since the point of introduction, making it a prime candidate for variation in differing regional and social usage contexts during the lexicalization process.



In the second instance of variation, neither dialect uses a construction that is cognate with a term in any other Riverine language for this cultural institution. The Suobendi term, however, appears to be a calque from a nearby Muji language. Many Muji varieties use similar constructions (e.g., /vɯ²¹ti²¹ma²¹/) to signify the ‘ritual tree (literally, dragon tree)’. Since the ritual frame or idealized cognitive model that the term evokes is highly charged culturally, it is naturally susceptible to euphemism, pejoration and taboo dynamics. Because of this, it is possible that speakers of the two dialects simply sought differing strategies for lexical replacement when use of the original term became untenable. The third example in Table 3-2 is a common instance of semantic shift via drift that is happening in parallel across Ngwi languages (Pelkey 2013: 157–159): i.e., a semantic shift of Proto-Ngwi *ʔ-lakL ‘youngster/youth’7 reflexes from nominal to stative—from ‘youth’ to ‘young’. In Phuza, Suobendi affiliated speakers retain a *nay²/¹ ‘young’ reflex, while Dabaqi affiliated speakers replace the original term with a semantically shifted *ʔlakL reflex. The final Table 3-2 example represents another instance of semantic shift that is common in the Sinosphere (though the category conflation usually applies to ‘woman’-‘wife’ lexical mergers). Once again the more innovative Phuza variety is Dabaqi, but the shift in question results in a lexical (if not semantic) merger of ‘man’ and ‘husband’, replacing the original term for ‘man’ in the process. Suobendi speakers, on the other hand, insist that the two terms should be kept distinct. As it happens, retention of this distinction in the language is currently under threat of disappearing, as are all major modes of Phuza-internal diversity, and even—or so it would seem—the language itself. 3.2 Phuza ethnolinguistic endangerment The status of Phuza ethnolinguistic endangerment was first outlined in Pelkey (2011: 198–199), where I noted that out of 28 Phuza speaking villages, 13 are in advanced stages of shift to Chinese, three are in early stages of shift and 12 are vital. In order to operationalize these claims (thus making them falsifiable), a typology of endangerment is needed, one that is customized to, and relevant for, the actual sociolinguistic and cultural situation being researched. Operational criteria for defining that typology are introduced in this section along with specific notes and statistics that function as indices of ethnolinguistic endangerment. First 7 See Bradley (1979: 308) etymon 159, Matisoff (1972: 67) etymon 177 for the reconstructed protoform.



consider the status of cultural preservation in the primary data collection site. 3.2.1 Phuza ethnic vitality in Bujibai Ethnographic interview data and on-site observations gathered in Bujibai provide a snapshot of ethnic vitality that may also offer clues to broader patterns in the surrounding region. The relative preservation of traditional cultural institutions such as sacred tree veneration, ethnic music, dance, embroidery, folktale transmission and the production of traditional clothing provide concrete indices of vitality and/or shift. Traditional music and dance are moderately maintained in the village. Most young men in the village are said to still be skilled in playing the xianzi ( 弦 子 ), a traditional three-stringed banjo found in many indigenous communities of Yunnan. Some also able to play tree leaves (often from lime trees or those with a similar texture) in the traditional style. Other traditional musical forms such as flute playing and antiphonal singing are no longer practiced by younger generation villagers. Most female youth are reported to still be capable of dancing the traditional Sanbuxian (三步弦)—a dance that is said to have been invented by Phula groups in the area. Traditional clothing and embroidery practices are only lightly maintained. Female youth in the village are reported to no longer learn ethnic embroidery skills, but most female villagers retain a set of traditional ethnic clothing. The headdress consists of a pewter sequin skull cap worn beneath a brightly colored head towel rimmed above the forehead with yarn sprigs. The remainder of the outfit consists of a brightly embroidered apron stitched on black cloth. As mentioned above, this outfit is virtually identical to those worn by Muji-speaking groups around them in Gejiu and Mengzi counties. Traditional ethnic festivals and related institutions are not well maintained in the village. Although Bujibai villagers interviewed recall, as a matter of village history, that sacred tree (龙树) veneration once took place during the second or third Lunar month, neither this festival nor any other distinctively ethnic festivals were being maintained in the village by 2006. Locals report that one traditional shaman is still active in the region, however. As for traditional folk tales, although younger speakers are said to be unaware of their heritage in this regard, some middle aged and elderly speakers are still able to tell such stories. 3.2.2 Phuza linguistic vitality Phuza language use dynamics are similarly mixed, with some important surprises. As for their home village, Bujibai locals report that in village



meetings and when making announcements over the village loudspeaker a mixture of Phula and Chinese are typically used, depending on the nature of the meeting or announcement. Bujibai locals estimate, however, that only one in ten parents use Chinese exclusively to communicate with their children in the home domain. Although this means, of course, that nine out of ten parents in the village still speak Phuza daily with their children, and even though the handful of village children who have Chinese as a mother tongue still learn to speak Phuza through playing with their village friends, this domain-based usage index constitutes a sign of language shift in its early stages. The same situation is said to describe two neighboring Phuza villages: Luomi and Diaopo (Map 3-1, villages 16 and 12, respectively). Further to the north of Bujibai, parents in 13 Phuza villages are said to have shifted exclusively to Chinese in the home domain (Map 3-1, villages 1–11, 13–14). Phuza usage in these villages is reported to be restricted to middle-aged and/or elderly speakers only (see below for further clarification). In the 12 remaining Phuza villages, all situated to the west of Bujibai (see Map 3-1, villages 17–28), not only are parents and children reported to converse exclusively in Phuza, but children in these villages are said to be unable to speak Chinese until they begin learning the language in primary school. Taken together, these indices suggest a graded typology of endangerment and vitality that can be used to classify the population at the village level. 3.2.3 Phuza typology of threatened status Building on work by Fishman (1991, cf. Lewis & Simons 2010), the operational criteria listed in (1), provide a graded typological assessment tool for operationalizing levels of Phuza language endangerment. The metric is tailored to the specific sociolinguistic and cultural realities of many marginalized indigenous language communities of Southwest China, most of which have no working orthography, and hence no formal education in the indigenous language (adapted from Pelkey 2011: 179–180): (1) Typology of Threatened Status for Phuza Villages Level 1. Least Threatened: Children speak Phuza daily with parents and are unable to function in Chinese by grade 1. Level 2. Minimally Threatened: Children speak Phuza daily with parents, but are still able to function in Chinese by grade 1. Level 3. Moderately Threatened: Some parents are primarily speaking Chinese with their children in the home domain, but these children still learn to speak Phuza by playing with other village children. Level 4. Substantially Threatened: Few to no children are able to speak Phuza, due to widespread loss of Phuza usage in home



domain; but young-to-middle-aged aged adults native to the village are still able to speak Phuza. Level 5. Severely Threatened:: Phuza is not spoken in the home domain, and only older generation speakers of Phuza remain. Level 6. Moribund:: No remaining Phuza speakers are native to the village, but outside Phuza speakers are introduced through intermarriage with speakers of Phuza from other villages. Although though no Phuza villages are reported to qualify for Levels 2 and 6, these levels are implicit in the Phuza situation and are found to be relevant for classifying village-level level populations of Phula speakers in adjacent situations, as I demonstrate elsewhere (Pelkey Pelkey 2011). Applying this typology to all 28 villages, we find that more than half of the village-level level population is shifting to Chinese, with 11% in an early stage of shift (Level 3), 11% in an intermediate stage of shift (Level 4), and 36% in an advanced stage of shift to Chinese (Level 5). Although no villages are yet reported to qualify as ‘moribund moribund’ (Level 6), in terms of Phuza usage, the applicability of this classification within the next decade or so appears to be an inevitability for a growing ing number of villages. villages These usage statistics are illustrated in Figure 3-1 (cross--reference with Table 3-1 and Map 3-1 for village names and locations).

Figure 3-1: Threatened status of Phuza usage by village

In lieu of a more thorough survey, these statistics would seem to be the best representation of the overall status of Phuza vitality that our present understanding of the situation allows.. Yet even given the limitations of our current state of knowledge on Phuza vitality, I wish to argue that



presenting the statistics in this way is misleading. The T Figure 3-1 representation is masking something important, important a hidden reality simultaneously more encouraging and more discouraging scouraging than this graph suggests. Furthermore, this overlooked reality has potentially gamechanging implications. 3.3 Phuza dialect resilience What the statistics hide when plotted homogeneously, homogeneous in the form of the Figure 3-1 graph, brings us back to the title of this chapter: “Dialect diversity and language resilience”.. If, considering the information presented above, we reconfigure the Figure 3-11 graph to represent each principle dialect of Phuza separately, for comparison, omparison, the situation looks much different, as we find in Figure 3-2.

Figure 3-2:: Threatened status of Phuza usage by village and dialect

The differing results illustrated in Figure 3-22 deliver simultaneously a wakeup call and a pleasant surprise. The wakeup call comes from a shift in perspective that makes explicit something the Table 3-1 representation hides: namely, that the Phuza dialect with thee largest speaker population is severely threatened (Level 5) in more than half of its villages and moderately-to-substantially substantially threatened in over 30% more (Levels 3–4). 3 Only three out of 19 villages are home to vital usage dynamics, meaning 84% of the villages lages in which Suobendi Phuza is spoken are marked by non-vital practices. The pleasant surprise, in turn, comes from visualizing the contrast between the status of Dabaqi vitality relative to Suobendi. Not only is



Dabaqi far more vital, but 75% of the villages in which Phuza language use is most resilient are villages in which Dabaqi Phuza is spoken. This figure seems striking, but could the correlation be a mere coincidence? What are the probabilities that these data might exist without being related? In descriptive statistics, when the variables in question are manageable, such problems qualify for Chi-Square analysis. If the two key variables, ‘Phuza Dialects’ and ‘Status of Village Vitality’ are crosstabulated, allowing two status values for each variable such that Vitality Levels 3–6 are considered ‘Not Vital’ and Vitality Levels 1 and 2 are considered ‘Vital’, relative to the two known primary Phuza Dialects, Suobendi and Dabaqi, the data may then be arranged into a contingency table such as the Table 3-3 crosstab, treating Vitality Status as the dependent variable. Table 3-3: Village vitality status *Phuza dialect cross tabulation

Phuza Dialect Village Vitality Status Total

Vital Not Vital


Suobendi 3 16

Dabaqi 9 0

12 16




Processing this configuration using Chi-Square analysis8 results in an extremely low probability (p=0.000026) that the status of vitality across Phuza villages could be a variable unrelated to Phuza speakers’ dialect affiliation. Naturally, this does not ‘prove’ the relationship in question; it simply provides strong supporting evidence for the legitimacy of the relation, and thereby the central thesis of this paper. In short, dialect diversity in Phuza appears to be a mainstay of language resilience. But there are many other variables at work in a situation like this. It is also important to consider further sources of evidence. Other variables might be identified that provide grounds for reinterpreting the way we have framed the relationships above for instance. Consider geographic separation and relative distance to the city, for instance. Could the GejiuMengzi county line and/or dramatic features of geophysical topography be a more plausible explanation for the vitality of certain villages over others, regardless of dialect affiliation? Such divides often contribute 8 To borrow a description from Lynch (2013: 111), “Computing the chi-square statistic involves finding the discrepancies between observed and expected counts by cell, squaring them, dividing them by the expected count, and summing these transformed discrepancies across all cells.”



substantially to the divergence of linguistic varieties. Perhaps relative distance from and/or ease of communication with the large (and prestigious) population of Han Chinese living north of the Phuza distribution in the Mengzi County seat could be cited as a more plausible dependent variable as well. Insight into these possibilities can be gained from more carefully considering the geolinguistics of Phuza vitality; and arguably the best way to do this is cartographically. The Map 3-2 schematic provides a more topological representation of the dynamics of Phuza vitality by coding levels of threatened status and dialect boundaries onto the Phuza distribution Polygon introduced in Map 3-1. Village locations are preserved as white dots. Note three further details from the Map 3-1 representation before proceeding: 1) the Mengzi County seat is only 12km (20km by road) away from the northernmost village in the Phuza distribution; 2) the Mengzi-Gejiu county line intersects the Dabaqi dialect distribution such that villages 26–28 are under the administration of Mengzi county; 3) the topological features surrounding villages 20–28 are no more dramatic than those that surround the average village elsewhere in the Phuza distribution.

Map 3-2: Phuza distribution by dialect boundary and level of threatened status



With these points in mind, we find that the resilience of the Dabaqi dialect cannot be reduced to its relative distance from the Mengzi County seat, nor to the segregation of its host villages from other villages by administrative or topological barriers. Dabaqi speakers are located on both sides of the county border in mountainous terrain that is substantially similar to surrounding villages situated to the southeast. Furthermore, three Phuza villages (once again, 26–28) are closer to the Mengzi county seat than five of their non-vital counterparts. The three Dabaqi Phuza speaking villages are home to such vital usage dynamics, in fact, that elderly villagers are even said to be unable to understand basic Chinese. This is an index of a generational bedrock for strongly positive language attitudes. For Phuza speakers of the Soubendi, dialect, however, the potential factors cited above do indeed appear to play a prominent role. For Suobendi Phuza speakers, as Maps 3-1 and 3-2 illustrate, the closer one lives to Mengzi, the more likely one’s fellow villagers are to be shifting (or to have shifted already) to Chinese. Also, as it happens, especially for Suobendi Phuza speakers living in villages 15–19 (see Map 3-1), the further south one’s village is situated, the more dramatic the topography. This is a feature of physical geography that naturally corresponds with increased difficulty in transportation and (traditionally, at least) communication. For these villages in general, this factor may have contributed to the preservation of Phuza language use. Whatever the full set of factors and variables may be, the contrast is clear. Dabaqi Phuza speakers have managed to persist against forces to which Suobendi Phuza speakers have predominately surrendered. The contrast implies that the latter set of speakers have largely given in to the cultural pressures of subtractive bilingualism, shifting to the local prestige variety 9 of Southwestern Mandarin, partially under the influence of commercial proximity, ease of access and administrative facility. As Map 3-2 also implies, for Suobendi Phuza speakers this is happening in a wave-like pattern relative to geography and the passage of generational time. Against the odds (and against the grain), Dabaqi speakers have remained resilient. Resilience is defined as the “the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic function and structure” (Walker and 9 Although in the case of Phuza, Southwest Mandarin is the predominant

local prestige variety, this is not always the case across all Phula languages. In at least two other Phula languages elsewhere, for instance, language shift is occurring in the direction of local Nisu varieties instead (Nisu being a more distantly related Southeastern Ngwi language).



Salt 2006: xiii, cited in Bradley 2010: 126). As Bradley (2010, 2011a) demonstrates, resilience phenomena and resilience thinking apply equally well to linguistic and sociolinguistic realities as they do to the natural world. The key resilience insights are that an “external disturbance to an ecological or social system can lead to breakdown and instability, which can be resolved by reorganization, and that we can facilitate reorganization through appropriate action.” (Bradley 2011a: 355). Applied to language vitality and endangerment, Bradley argues that resilience linguistic approaches to language endangerment afford several perspectival clarifications: The aim should not be to maintain the current linguistic situation, nor to return to some earlier situation, but rather for communities to make informed decisions whether their languages should persist, in what form and to what degree. As linguists, we can help to document languages for the future, including for the group's descendants; as sociolinguists, we may also try to understand the processes which can help languages to remain resilient and to avoid crossing the threshold to the chaos of the release phase, or to reach a reorganization phase without disappearing. (Bradley 2010: 138)

The analysis above provides one such sociolinguistic contribution to our understanding of language resilience, suggesting that the preservation and encouragement of dialect diversity may serve as a buffer against the pressures of subtractive bilingualism. 3.4 Implications Although language planning and language standardization are now widely admitted to be complex affairs, linguists still assume that both are desirable for the long-term facilitation of language vitality (see e.g., Romaine 2002, Sallabank 2012, Mitchell 2015: 199). Perhaps the most disconcerting (and overlooked) corollary of this fact is the high cost that target languages pay in dialect attrition. In the words of Grondona & Thomason (2015: 6): “one of the primary effects of standardization [is that] all dialects other than the newly standard one are likely to suffer.” While Grondona & Thomason go on to discuss the point as being unfortunate from the perspective of diversity-loss (2015: 7), the present study suggests that it may also prove to be unfortunate from the perspective of resilience loss. Though they are few and far between, previous studies do well to draw attention to the neglected topic of endangered dialects (Wolfram 1997, Tulloch 2006). To my knowledge, however, there has been no suggestion in the literature to date that dialect maintenance may itself contribute substantially to language vitality. If the thesis of the present study proves



to hold true elsewhere in the world, i.e. if similar patterns of dialect resilience are found in other languages, this insight could have important implications for rethinking some of the basic assumptions of language planning. Bradley (2011a: 356) identifies five core resilience factors: identity, vitality, setting, domains and policy. The findings presented above may well provide grounds for expanding this model to include a sixth core factor: diversity. Abbreviation L1–5 Levels of Threatened Status: see (1) References Aikhenvald, Alexandra. 2000. Classifiers: A typology of noun categorization devices. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bradley, David. 1979. Proto-Loloish. (Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies Monograph 39.) London: Curzon Press. Bradley, David. 2005. Sanie and language loss in China. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 173. 159–176. Bradley, David. 2007. East and South East Asia. In R. E. Asher & Christopher Moseley (eds.), Atlas of the world's languages, 2nd edn., 159–208. London: Routledge. Bradley, David. 2010. Language endangerment and resilience linguistics: Case studies of the Gong and Lisu. Anthropological Linguistics 52(2). 123–140. Bradley, David. 2011a. Resilience linguistics, orthography and the Gong. Language and Education 25(4). 349–360. Bradley, David. 2011b. A survey of language endangerment. The Cambridge handbook of endangered languages, 66–77. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bradley, David. 2012. The characteristics of the Burmic family of TibetoBurman. Language and Linguistics 13(1). 171–192. Bradley, David & Maya Bradley. 2002. Language policy and language maintenance: Yi in China. In David Bradley & Maya Bradley (eds.), Language endangerment and language maintenance, 77–97. London: Routledge Curzon. GJDZ, Editorial Committee (eds.). 1984. 个旧市地名志 [Geographic place name gazetteer of Gejiu County]. Gejiu: People’s Government. Grondona, Veronica & Sarah G. Thomason. 2015. Endangered languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hellwig, Birgit. 2011. A grammar of Goemai. Berlin: Mouton.



Lewis, M. Paul & Gary F. Simons. 2010. Assessing endangerment: Expanding Fishman's GIDS. Revue Roumaine de Linguistique 55(2). 103– 120. Lynch, Scott M. 2013. Statistical approaches for nominal data: Chi-square tests. Using statistics in social research: A concise approach, 107–115. Berlin: Springer. Matisoff, James A. 1972. The Loloish tonal split revisited. Berkeley: University of California Press. Mitchell, Rebecca. 2015. Challenges facing language revitalisation in Central Africa. In Mari C. Jones (ed.), Policy and planning for endangered languages, 188–204. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. MZDZ, Editorial Committee (eds.). 1987. 蒙自县地名志 [Geographic place name gazetteer of Mengzi County]. Mengzi: People’s Government. Pelkey, Jamin. 2011. Dialectology as dialectic: Interpreting Phula variation. Berlin: Mouton. Pelkey, Jamin. 2013. Analogy, automation and diagrammatic causation: The evolution of Tibeto-Burman *lak. Studies in Language 37(1). 144– 195. Pelkey, Jamin. 2014. Diagnostic dialectology: Interpreting Ngwi variation in China’s Red River valley. In Alena Barysevich, Alexandra d’Arcy & David Heap (eds.), Proceedings of Methods XIV: Papers from the Fourteenth International Conference on Methods in Dialectology, 2011 (Bamberg Studies in English Linguistics 57), 236–248. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. Romaine, Suzanne. 2002. The impact of language policy on endangered languages. International Journal of Multicultural Studies 4(2). 1–28. Sallabank, Julia. 2012. From language documentation to language planning: Not necessarily a direct route. In Frank Seifart, Geoffrey Haig, Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, Dagmar Jung, Anna Margetts & Paul Trisbeek (eds.), Potentials of language documentation: Methods, analyses, and utilization, 118–125. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Tulloch, Shelley. 2006. Preserving dialects of an endangered language. Current Issues in Language Planning 7(2–3). 269–286. Walker, Brian & David Salt. 2006. Resilience thinking: Sustaining ecosystems and people in a changing world. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. Wolfram, Walt. 1997. Issues in dialect obsolescence: An introduction. American Speech 72(1). 3–11.


LANGUAGE ENDANGERMENT AND LOSS OF TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE: THE CASE OF PRINMI* Picus Sizhi Ding When I first undertook research on minority languages in the mid-1990s, I concentrated my study on a detailed description of Prinmi grammar. At that time the degree of language endangerment marking this minority language was not as acute as it has come to be over the past decades, but language shift from Prinmi to Southwestern Mandarin in villages located near major roads, or to Nuosu (the locally dominant Tibeto-Burman language of the Yi Nationality) in small villages encroached on by Nuosu speakers, had been reported. On my subsequent field visits over the past two decades, I observed young children abandoning the use of Prinmi, a decision made typically by their college-educated parents. It is true that in some such cases the couples speak different dialects of Prinmi, and some of these are quite dissimilar. However, any potential dialectal difference ceases to be a barrier when a speaker from another region needs to talk to his/her parents-in-law whose fluency in Mandarin is paltry. It is under Prof. David Bradley’s encouragement that I started to look at the language crisis faced by the Prinmi community in 2005 when I participated in the First Symposium on Heritage Maintenance for Endangered Languages/中国云南濒危语言遗产保护研讨会, held in Yuxi, Yunnan. Another decade has passed since then. To report the status quo of Central Prinmi, I present in this chapter the loss of traditional knowledge in Prinmi as a consequence of language endangerment. * This is an expanded version of a paper presented at the 18th Foundation for Endangered Languages Conference. I thank the audience for their comments. I am grateful to all Prinmi speakers from the three major dialect groups who have helped me to understand their languages over the past two decades. In particular, Bonfbon Lujinv, who is recognized as one of the best speakers of Prinmi in Xīnyíngpán by virtue of his great knowledge of the Prinmi language and culture. Children from Xīnyíngpán and Lābó who provided me their linguistic data in 2014 also deserve special thanks. Finally, I thank the anonymous reviewer for helpful suggestions made on an earlier draft of this paper. Part of the research reported in this paper is supported by a grant (Ref. 17401814) from the General Research Fund, Research Grant Council of Hong Kong.



4.1 Introduction Prinmi is a Tibeto-Burman language of the Qiangic branch spoken in southwest China across northwest Yunnan Province and southwest Sichuan Province. Over this vast mountainous area a great number of Prinmi varieties exist, forming a dialect continuum. P. Ding (2014) proposes a tripartite grouping of these into Western Prinmi (spoken in Lanping/兰坪, close to Yunnan’s western border with Myanmar/Burma), Northern Prinmi (spoken primarily in Muli/木里 and Yanyuan/盐源, Sichuan) and Central Prinmi (spoken roughly in the region between the former two groups); see Map 4-1 below. The three groups constitute a continuum of language varieties comparable to that embracing Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, alongside their many ‘dialects’. The variety of Prinmi presented in this chapter belongs to Central Prinmi, which has the smallest number of speakers among the three major dialect groups. With regard to the official scheme of minority nationalities endorsed by the Chinese government, Prinmi speakers in Yunnan identify themselves as Pumi/普米, while those in Sichuan have been known as Zang/藏, or Tibetans, since their initial classification in the 1950s (for details, see Harrell 2001: 193-215). There is no controversy on the loss of traditional knowledge following the disappearance of a minority language. Situated at the bottom level in the hierarchy of ethnic minorities in China in terms of population and power, Prinmi speakers are definitely susceptible to loss of their traditional knowledge which has been accumulated and developed over the course of many centuries. This chapter is organized as follows: first of all, the issue of language endangerment faced by Central Prinmi is discussed. Then vocabulary regarding chronology, time ordinals, fauna and flora, as well as sibling terms are each studied in some detail. Finally, language attrition of Prinmi apparent in the speech of some children and its effect on the loss of traditional knowledge are examined. 4.2 Central Prinmi as an endangered language According to the 2010 Population Census of China (the latest nationwide census), the total population of the Pumi Nationality was 42,861 and that of the Zang Nationality in Muli County in Sichuan 42,572. The number of native speakers of Prinmi is considerably smaller than the ethnic population figures, as language shift away from Prinmi is an ongoing process which has been underway for decades in Yunnan. Furthermore, a portion of the Zang Nationality in Muli speaks as their mother tongue a local variety of Khams Tibetan or one of the other three Tibeto-Burman



languages closely related to Qiangic: Shixing, Namuzi and Lizu.1 Some of these Zang locals also speak Prinmi as a second language. An educated estimate for speakers of Central Prinmi is under 5,000, widely scattered in such villages as Xinyingpan/新营盘, Jinmian/金棉 and Xichuan/ 西 川 (all in southwestern Ninglang/ 宁 蒗 County), Songping/松坪 (Yongsheng/永胜 County), as well as Renhe/仁和 and other villages further west in Yulong/玉龙 County. Map 4-1 provides approximate locations of these counties as well as others where Prinmi is spoken. Natives of these villages are not in frequent contact with one another due to geographic hindrances imposed by mountains and rivers. Xinyingpan is the largest of these villages, and it is also the main fieldwork site of my research.

Tibet Sichuan Province Muli County

Yunnan Province Yanyuan

Myanmar (Burma)

Yulong County

25 km

Lanping County

County Ninglang County Xīnyíngpán Yongsheng County (Source Baidu Map)

Map 4-1: The Prinmi-speaking area in southwest China

The following criteria are often used to measure language endangerment: (a) number of speakers, (b) age of speakers, (c) transmission of the language to children, and (d) functions of the language in the community/society (Tsunoda 2005: 9; see also Bradley 2011 for a general survey). Results of applying these criteria to Central Prinmi are summarized in Table 4-1. Prima facie the results look positive, 1 See Chirkova (2012) for general sociolinguistic settings and debatable issues

about Qiangic languages in Muli.



with a sign of trouble surfacing only in regards to the language’s function in society. However, if the actual situation in each instance is scrutinized more carefully, as the table shows, the seemingly healthy and stable picture of Central Prinmi quickly falls apart. Table 4-1: Measuring the degree of Central Prinmi endangerment Criteria

Basic situation


Number of speakers

5,000 (more than 6 villages combined)

Villages are widely dispersed and surrounded by speakers of other languages

Age of speakers

All ages in most villages

Competence declines across generations

Transmission to children

In most villages

Language attrition is found in children’s speech (see §4.4)

Function in society

No official status

Lack of written tradition

In this section, the number of speakers as a paramount criterion for determining language endangerment is critically reviewed. Just as the surviving number of a species is cited as the indicator of the degree of endangerment of the species, speaker numbers are often considered a crucial factor in language endangerment. Despite the numerous similarities that hold between biolinguistic diversity and endangerment, it is rather simplistic to gauge language threat based on the absolute number of speakers without making reference to the total population of the immediate region where the language is found. A language does not become endangered simply because its speaker population is small. For instance, Sumbuk (2006) provides a list of more than 20 languages of Papua New Guinea, each with fewer than 100 speakers, but these languages are not endangered; on the contrary, the speaker populations in question have remained small but stable for centuries. Language endangerment is the negative consequence of a smaller language which can no longer maintain its balance in competing for speakers and functions with other languages (see Nettle & Romaine 2000: 30). The defeated language is not necessarily small in size. For instance, Hokkien (or Southern Min) has been the native language for a large number of Chinese in the history of Singapore, but it is now marginalized and endangered under a dual threat from English and Mandarin as a result of Singapore’s language policy (P. Ding 2016: 39-50). Therefore, it is essential to place a language in a wider social context in order to effectively evaluate its sociolinguistic status.



One simple solution is to calculate the Indicative Language Size (ILS) of a language with the following formula, taking into account the impact of extensive language contact, if applicable, in society: ILS =

Number of speakers of a language Total population of society

x 100%

In a monolingual society or a highly-isolated language community which has little contact with speakers of other languages, the ILS will stand at 100%. The ILS can be calculated at various levels such as the village, the county and the province. Approximately half of Central Prinmi speakers (i.e. 2,500) reside in Ninglang County (where the population as of 2010 was 258,869), so the ILS of Central Prinmi in Ninglang is 0.966%. The ILS of Prinmi in Yunnan is about 0.075%, based on the conservative estimate that fewer than 80% of Pumi speak the language (42,861 x 0.8 ÷ 45,966,000). In both cases the ILS is less than 1%. Beyond its small ILS value, the efficiency of cross-generational transmission of Central Prinmi is another issue. Despite parental efforts, language shift from Central Prinmi to Mandarin may still take place in migrating families who leave their home village for a better life in the county seat of Ninglang and, more recently, to relocate to (sub)urban areas of Lijiang/丽江. In this case school-aged children are often the ones who abandon the use of Prinmi voluntarily, as a result of their natural adaption to new surroundings, a phenomenon frequently observed in modern human migration (see P. Ding 2016). Of course, some children may maintain their heritage language. However, their use of Prinmi shows varying degrees of language attrition. Surprisingly, this kind of language attrition is also discovered in the speech of some young school-aged children living in Prinmi-speaking villages (see §4.4 below). All these ongoing social changes indicate that Central Prinmi is unmistakably in a state of endangerment. A similar trend also holds true for Prinmi as a whole in Yunnan. 4.3 Traditional knowledge embedded in Prinmi Ancestors of the Pumi were nomadic people. They gradually adopted a sedentary lifestyle after they had settled in Yunnan (Yan & Wong 1988). According to traditional folklore, the Pumi originated in the north, probably somewhere between Qinghai and Gansu provinces in modern China. This section looks at some aspects of Prinmi vocabulary as a window to the knowledge of their traditional culture. Although a few of the Prinmi lexical items to be discussed below appear in a comprehensive wordlist compiled in Lu (1983; 2001), none of them received any treatment there other than translation into Chinese.



4.3.1 The use of duodecimal animals in chronology Having traveled extensively in Ninglang, my main consultant Lujinv is extremely knowledgeable in Prinmi culture. 2 During one fieldwork session in 1995, he commented that an elderly man in Cuufxxii (or Cuìyì in Mandarin) village knew Prinmi names of many stars, but he had passed away. It is unclear whether someone in a remote village might still be able to remember a few names for stars in Prinmi, or whether such naming and related astrological knowledge has been lost forever. A set of duodecimal animals is still in use in Xinyingpan to designate a cycle of twelve years. This chronological system is generally believed to have originated in Chinese culture and has been diffused throughout the Sinosphere, reaching Tibet in the west, Japan in the east, as well as Vietnam and Thailand in the south (see Ferlus 2013). In the traditional usage, this system can also be applied to a cycle of twelve days. Geographically, Pumi settlements are distributed between Hàn China to the east and Tibet to the northwest (see Map 4-1 above). However, the duodecimal chronological system was borrowed into Prinmi culture indirectly via contact with Tibetans. This indirect channel of borrowing is transparent when the animal terms that appear in the calendar are compared with their correspondence in Written Tibetan. The Prinmi expression for Year of the Horse is tjɑH wuH.3 The literal meaning of the second word is ‘harvest’, which has been interpreted as ‘year’ in the calendar expression and in the compound wuL ʃiR ‘New Year’ (cf. a parallel semantic extension of Chinese nian (年) from crop ripeness to harvest and finally to year). However, it does not signify a unit of 12 months, which takes the free form as /kjuH/ [kɨoH] ‘year’. Table 4-2 reveals that the Prinmi animal terms used in everyday life are quite different from those found in the chronological system; on the other hand, most of the calendar animal terms are cognate with those in Tibetan. The Tibetan script presented in Table 4-2 is accompanied by transliteration. The consonantal prefixes inscribed in Written Tibetan have generally become silent in Prinmi (as well as in modern Central Tibetan and Khams Tibetan). A consonant cluster consisting of a stop and a glide in Written Tibetan is realized as an affricate in modern Tibetan and Prinmi, whereas consonant clusters such as Proto-Tibeto-Burman *pr 2 Proper names in Prinmi are written in a pinyin-based unofficial Prinmi orthography (see P. Ding 2005). 3 Prinmi has a melody-tone system, which differs from the syllable-tone system of Mandarin and the word-tone system of Tibetan (P. Ding 2006; 2014). A convenient way to notate the melody-tone is to mark the tone value of each syllable as H(igh), L(ow), R(ising) or F(all) at the end of the syllable. Prinmi examples are rendered in IPA.



have given rise to rhoticized stops in Prinmi (and to affricates in modern Tibetan). Given these regular sound changes, it is easy to see sound correspondences between Written Tibetan and Prinmi calendar terms, except for ‘hare’, which may not involve a cognate. Table 4-2: Animal terms and their correspondence in the Prinmi calendar system Meaning

Ordinary term in Prinmi

Prinmi calendar term



tʃʰiLbeH wuH

‘bovine’ ‘tiger’


kwɜ ɣo




bɹəF/bɹoF L

bɑ lɜj ɡɥɛ̃








bɹəLtajH wuL H







tɑ /tjɑ wu L


ʐɨ wu L


ɡɥɛ tsi





pɹiH wuH R


ɹ L

b ə dɑ wu




ʐɨ b i wu


byi (‘rodent’) g-lang

L ɹ H

l̥ju tsɨ



to wu




lõ wu


‘hare’ ‘snake’


Calendar term in † Written Tibetan


s-prel H

dʒɥɛ̃ wu



tʃʰi wu






pʰɜ wu

In the Romanization of Tibetan script digraphs such as kh and ph indicate aspirated stops, and ḥ represents a voiced velar fricative in the phonology of Old Tibetan (according to Hill 2009)

Minor amendments occur in the Prinmi calendar terms. With the deletion of consonantal prefixes and syllable finals in Written Tibetan, the morphemes for ‘dragon’ and ‘snake’ fell into homophony in Prinmi. To distinguish the two, a second syllable is added: the Dragon is rendered as bɹəLtajH, qualified by the Prinmi word tajH ‘big’, and the Snake as bɹəLdɑH. The qualifier found in the latter is archaic, and it probably means ‘tiny’. Although the ordinary word for ‘dog’ in Prinmi is almost identical to that in the duodecimal set, this is on account of the fact that the same palatalization process has taken place in Prinmi (e.g. the archaic form kʰɨR ‘dog’, which survives in such Prinmi compounds as kʰɨLdjeR ‘old dog’ and kʰɨLpɹʰĩH ‘white dog’). The use of a separate set of animal terms for the duodecimal chronology is extraordinary. This practice has not been observed in other



Tibeto-Burman languages in Ninglang, and has not been reported in other languages in the Sinosphere either. However, this set of loanwords is disappearing in the speech of some fluent Prinmi speakers (including middle-aged ones), who simply employ the ordinary animal terms to refer to a specific year in the duodecimal system. 4.3.2 A nine-unit system for counting time As in many indigenous languages (Harrison 2007: 88-89), the concept of week does not exist in Prinmi. Instead many Tibeto-Burman languages adopt time ordinals to count a period of days without using any numerals. Although these time ordinals are not cognate, they are widespread in various branches, including Ngwi and Qiangic languages spoken in China as well as Kiranti languages spoken in Nepal (see Michailovsky 2003 ; Bradley 2013). In these Tibeto-Burman languages time ordinals are employed to count days and years, but rarely months (Bradley 2007). Prinmi has three sets of time ordinals for counting days, years and nights, based on a nine-unit system. Starting from the present unit, the system counts as far as four units forward and backward. Time ordinals typically appear in compounds. The sets of Prinmi day ordinals and night ordinals are presented along an axis in Figure 4-1 to demonstrate the symmetry of the system. ɹ̥əHlaLn̥ iL ɹ̥əLɡiHn̥ iH ɹ̥əHniL ʒjɑHniL pɨHniL sjɛ̃L(boH) kʰuLsjɛ̃R kʰuLdiH kʰuHl̥ɑL

-4 ‘four days ago’

-3 ‘three days ago’

-2 ‘two days ago’




‘yester- ‘today’ day’



‘two days hence’



‘three days hence’

‘four days hence’

ɹ̥əHlaLm̥ iL ɹ̥əLɡiHm̥ iH ɹ̥əHmiL pɨHʃiL ʒjɑLmiH sjɛ̃LmiH kʰuLsjɛ̃Lm̥ iH kʰuLdiHm̥ iH kʰuHl̥ɑLm̥ iL



‘four nights ago’

‘three nights ago’





‘two ‘last ‘tonight’ ‘tomornights night’ row ago’ night’



‘two nights hence’

‘three nights hence’

+4 ‘four nights hence’

Figure 4-1: A nine-unit system for counting days and nights in Prinmi

The nine time ordinals in each set can be divided into two groups: ‘future’ and ‘non-future’. Within the set of day ordinals, the word n̥ iF ‘day’ (or its variant) is absent in the former, but present in the latter. The voicing variation on the initial of n̥ iF ‘day’ is not phonologically conditioned. Bradley (2007: 138-139) points out that fossilized Chepang



temporal nouns have been preserved in time ordinal compounds. In light of this insight, the voiced nasal in the Prinmi ordinals for today, yesterday and the day before yesterday may actually reflect an archaic form of Proto-Tibeto-Burman *ni ‘day’, while the innovated form with a voiceless nasal occurs in the others. By itself sjɛ̃R ‘tomorrow’ is in homophony with sjɛ̃R ‘firewood’. To distinguish the two, this ordinal is often followed by the frame-setting marker bo. The bound morpheme miR ‘night’ or its variant m̥ iR is found throughout the set of night ordinals, except for pɨHʃiL ‘last night’. The ordinary nasal occurs in words closer to the center of the axis, whereas the voiceless one is employed in words near the edges. Considering the strong tendency in languages to lexicalize the closest times, namely today, yesterday and tomorrow, a semantic division can be made between these three core temporal terms and the other six extended ones for Prinmi day ordinals. Within the extended set, two initial morphemes associated with a particular time, respectively, can be identified: ɹ̥ə for the past and kʰu for the future. Such a designation is also applicable to the extended time expressions in the set of night ordinals. Outside the context of time ordinals, these two morphemes are not found to have temporal meanings.4 Similarly, the meaning of the morpheme immediately following ɹ̥ə or kʰu is also unknown, with the exception of sjɛ̃R in kʰuLsjɛ̃R, which should be related to sjɛ̃R ‘tomorrow’. Prinmi has a parallel set of year ordinals for counting a nine-year span, centered around this year. Figure 4-2 reveals that the year ordinals are essentially identical with the day ordinals, which concurs with what Michailovsky (2003) and Bradley (2013) have reported for other Tibeto-Burman languages. However, Prinmi stands out from the others in that the time ordinal morphemes do not undergo any sound change or replacement in the two sets of compounds headed by day and year respectively—their phonological form, including the tonal category, remains all but intact. This is apparent when comparing the day and year ordinals inside the concrete box at the upper part of the figure. The core temporal terms for last year and next year, both utilizing the morpheme ʒjɑ, suggest an ancient conceptualization of time which only separates ‘present’ from ‘non-present’. The ‘non-present’ meaning of ʒjɑ is later distinguished by tones: a high tone for the past and a low tone for the future. In addition to the year ordinals, ʒjɑ is also found in expressions of a shorter time, where it refers to yesterday in ʒjɑHniL (literally, ‘the past day that is closest to the present’) and tonight in ʒjɑLmiH (literally, ‘the future 4 The morpheme ɹəR ‘front’ is often used in Prinmi to express the temporal sense of before or in the past. It might be related to ɹ̥ə in backward counting in the time ordinals after a change in voicing.



‘four days ago’

ɹ̥əHlaLn̥ iL -4 H

‘four years ago’

ɹ̥ə ɡi n̥ i -3

ɹ̥əLɡiHpɨH ‘three years ago’

‘two days ago’




ʒjɑ ni H



‘three days ago’ ‘yesterday’


-2 L




pɨ ni

‘tomorrow’ ‘two days hence’

sjɛ̃L(boH) +1 kʰuLsjɛ̃R +2

‘three days hence’ kʰuLdiH ‘four days hence’



kʰuH l̥ɑL +4


ʒjɑ pɨ H

pɨ pɨ


‘two years ago’ L

‘last year’ ‘this year’

ʒjɑLkʰjɑwH ‘next year’ sjɛ̃HkʰjɑwL ‘two years hence’ kʰuLsjɛ̃LkʰjɑwH ‘three years hence’ kʰuLdiHkʰjɑwH ‘four years hence’

Figure 4-2: A comparison of Prinmi year ordinals with day ordinals

night that is closest to the present’). The conceptualization of time in terms of ‘present’ and ‘non-present’ is also evinced in the counting of years in two Eastern Kiranti languages of Nepal, Yamphu and Belhare, e.g. sim+ma ‘two years hence’ versus sim+baniŋ ‘two years ago’ in Yamphu (for details, see Michailovsky 2003). Harrison (2007: 89) notes that Sie, an Austronesian language, also employs a similar conceptualization of ‘non-present’ in counting days. As in day ordinals, Prinmi year ordinals can be divided into ‘future’ and ‘non-future’. The two subgroups utilize two different bound morphemes to express year in the compounds: kʰjɑw for the former and pɨ for the latter. Within the ‘non-future’ category, the meanings of the ordinals are consistent whether counting days or years, as is illustrated inside the concrete box in Figure 4-2 above. However, this consistency has disappeared in the ‘future’ group between the two sets. In year-counting a new term ʒjɑLkʰjɑwH ‘next year’ is inserted, and this has caused a shift in the sequential meaning of the forward-counting morphemes. In lieu of this year, next year now serves as the reference point in the counting; and thus sjɛ̃HkʰjɑwL (with a change of tone) expresses ‘next to next year’, i.e. ‘two years hence’. This inconsistency observed within the year-counting paradigm reveals that the Prinmi ordinals signify a relative position in the counting system rather than an absolute ordinal meaning for time. Judging from data publically accessible (including unpublished sources), this feature of Prinmi time ordinals appears to be unique among Tibeto-Burman languages and should prove to be rare worldwide.



4.3.3 Grouping of wild animals In Prinmi culture all animals that are not domesticated are regarded as wild animals. According to my main consultant, wild animals can be classified into one of the following five major groups: (A) paLtʃjɛ̃H ‘the pawed group’, (B) kʴʰʉHtʃjɛ̃H ‘the horned group’, (C) ɡwɜjLtʃjɛ̃H ‘the tusked group’, (D) dõLtʃjɛ̃H ‘the winged group’, and (E) kwɑLtʃjɛ̃H ‘the hoofed group’. Each of these groups is provided with a brief description and some examples in Table 4-3. This classification is obviously based on physical attributes of wild animals. Although some group terms are readily translatable into English, e.g. the avian species for Group D and the ungulate species for Group E. The classification as a whole is probably unique to Prinmi. A peculiarity of the Prinmi grouping is the different categorization based on the presence/absence of horns or antlers for male ungulates. This horn-based criterion is prioritized over the hoof-based one. Therefore a deer is regarded to belong to kʴʰʉHtʃjɛ̃H ‘the horned group’ even though it shares the characteristic of kwɑLtʃjɛ̃H ‘the hoofed group’. Table 4-3: Grouping of wild animals in Prinmi Group L


A. pa tʃjɛ̃

Basic description


the pawed group, mammals with soft feet:

l̥juLtsɨR ‘hare’, ɡɥɛF ‘fox’, poH ‘dhole’, sɥiF ‘leopard’, kʰɜLtõH ‘lynx’;

B. kʴʰʉHtʃjɛ̃H the horned group, mammals with a pair of horns/antlers, especially for the male:

pjɛ̃LkwɜH ‘feral cattle’, tsɜH ‘red deer’, tjɜF ‘blue sheep’;

C. ɡwɜjLtʃjɛ̃H the tusked group, mammals with elongated front teeth, especially for the male:

lõHbuLtʃʰiL ‘elephant’, tʃʰɥaLneH ‘wild boar’, lʉF ‘musk deer’;

D. dõLtʃjɛ̃H

kʴʰəLlɥɛR ‘turtle dove’, kʰjõR ‘owl’, nɥɛ̃R ‘Temminck's tragopan’;

the winged group, animals with a pair of wings:

E. kwɑLtʃjɛ̃H the hoofed group, mammals with hard feet:

dziF ‘camel’, bɹõR ‘rhinoceros’, bɹeLdaHɡɥɛ̃H ‘zebra’.

Naturally, this scheme of groupings is also applicable to novel mammals such as zebras and walruses, which are alien to Prinmi culture but can be seen on television. Admittedly folk taxonomies and classification are often irreconcilable with modern scientific models. Many animals such as snakes, frogs, and fishes cannot be classified in the Prinmi grouping, for instance. Nonetheless, folk classifications and



groupings of wild animals such as these provide a different perspective on humankind’s categorization of wild animals. 4.3.4 Naming of plants The forest represents an important resource to mountain dwellers. Many plants are known in traditional Prinmi culture by specific names; this facilitates transmission of the knowledge about a particular plant along with its name. For instance, the Yunnan pine (Pinus yunnanensis) is termed tʃʰjɛ̃HbõL in Prinmi and the Chinese white pine (Pinus armandii) kʴiLɹiR. To Prinmi speakers the two are distinct, but to an average Chinese or English speaker, they are simply pine trees. Since the Yunnan pine is found pervasively in the region, tʃʰjɛ̃HbõL is often used for translating pine expediently in elicitation of Prinmi wordlists; but this Prinmi word definitely does not bear the generic meaning for denoting the genus of pine trees. Lacking both a general Prinmi term for pine and any knowledge of a Chinese name for kʴiLɹiR, the consultant was unable to help me identify this tree during my first field trip in the mid-1990s. On a subsequent trip he enlightened me by pointing out a small broken branch of the tree. Puzzled, upon seeing needles on the twig, I asked whether kʴiLɹiR was a kind of pine tree like tʃʰjɛ̃HbõL. The consultant patiently explained the differences between the two. Seeds of kʴiLɹiR, but not tʃʰjɛ̃HbõL, could be harvested as pine nuts and sold for a good price at the market. Furthermore, kʴiLɹiR (with five needles) has more needles in a fascicle than tʃʰjɛ̃HbõL (three needles); see Figure 4-3. Such knowledge seems to have been stored in Prinmi-speakers’ lexicon together with the distinct names given to these two species of pine trees. How Prinmi speakers lexicalize these trees stands in stark contrast to English (or Chinese) speakers. As illustrated in Figure 4-3, careful attention is paid to details of individual species in Prinmi plant-naming, while such details are largely overlooked in cultures that name the trees at a higher level, drawing on more elaborate expressions only when it is necessary to distinguish the two. To this day, there are still many plant names in Prinmi that have remained mysterious to me, as no sample of them is available. These include lɑ̥ Lsjɛ̃H (a kind of tree found at both high and low altitudes), tɜHsʉL (a kind of plant with white flowers and edible fruit), biHsʉH (a kind of plant with edible fruit) and so forth.



tʃʰjɛ̃HbõL Yunnan pine Pinus yunnanensis 云南松/Yúnnan sōng

pine Pinus 松树/sōngshù kʴiLɹiR Chinese white pine Pinus armandii 华山松/Huashan sōng

Figure 4-3: Different plant-naming practices in Prinmi and other languages

4.3.5 Sibling terms While English has only two words for sibling, Japanese and Chinese languages (Mandarin, Cantonese, and Southern Min, etc.) have as many as four. The increase in number for sibling terminology in these languages is due to the semantic consideration of age difference in addition to gender of the referent. On top of these two semantic variables, a number of Tibeto-Burman languages such as Prinmi, Qiang, Na, Namuzi, Nuosu, Burmese, Tibetan, and Thangmi etc. include a third variable (see Turin 2004): gender contrast between the ego and the referent. That is, a Prinmi sibling term consists of three pieces of essential information: (i) whether the referent is male or female, (ii) whether the referent is elder or younger than the ego, and (iii) whether the referent and the ego share an identical gender or not. These features are symbolized in Figure 4-4 in a box notation adopted from Nerlove & Romney (1967) as follows: (i) ♂= male, ♀= female, divided by a solid line inside the box; (ii) ▲ = elder, ▼ = younger, divided by a dotted line; and (iii) ║ = same gender as the ego, X = different gender from the ego, divided by a double line.





▲ ▼







▲ ▼


n̥ ɥɛ̃H

pɜjR kɥɛ̃R X

║ Prinmi

Figure 4-4: Comparison of sibling terms in English, Mandarin and Prinmi

Since the third semantic factor is context-dependent, Prinmi sibling terms cannot be freely translated into languages such as English and Chinese. The compound pɜjLkɥɛ̃H, for example, can mean either brothers or sisters (i.e. siblings of the same sex) depending on whether the ego is male or female. Conversely, accurate translation of sibling terms into Prinmi requires the gender of the ego to be accessible to the translator. This seemingly complicated system of sibling terminology is not unique to Prinmi; the same four-word pattern occurs also in some unrelated Polynesian languages, such as Maori and Hawaiian (see Epling et al. 1973). Although the semantic feature on contrastive gender is found in many Tibeto-Burman languages, the number of sibling terms and distributional patterns based on these three variables vary significantly. By Nerlove & Romney’s (1967) calculation, logical combinations of any of these three variables can give rise to as many as 4,140 possible types of sibling terminology. Under this enormous number of possibilities, Prinmi alone, as a Tibeto-Burman language, shares its paradigm of sibling terminology with some Polynesian languages spoken thousands of miles away. This suggests that these widely separated cultures should share in common important features in their perceptions on sibling relationship and cross-sex behavior within the family structure. From the viewpoint of the ego, the Prinmi paradigm of sibling terminology reflects the cultural values of respecting order difference according to age as well as recognizing dissimilar roles between the two genders. However, this set of sibling terms has undergone simplification in the speech of many natives of Xinyingpan across all generations. The



cross-sex pair muR and n̥ ɥɛ̃H is seldom used and kɥɛ̃R is generalized for younger siblings regardless of the sex of the ego and the referent. Moreover, Mandarin loanword gēge is often employed to refer to a male sibling older than the ego. In other words, the original paradigm has started to collapse. 4.4 Language attrition in Prinmi In Yulong County many speakers of Central Prinmi are shifting their native tongue to Na (the locally dominant language of the Nàxi/纳西) and Yunnan Mandarin. Language shift from Prinmi to Nuosu and Yunnan Mandarin in Ninglang County occurs on a smaller scale. Toddlers still acquire Prinmi as their first language in Xinyingpan village, for example; however, linguistic data collected in 2014 and 2015 from young children of Xinyingpan show clear signs of language attrition in the vocabulary and phonology of Prinmi.5 Thirteen children, eight boys and five girls, at the age of six (1 child), eight (2 children), nine (4), ten (2), twelve (2) and fourteen (2), were invited to partake in an elicitation exercise involving basic Prinmi words. Seven clusters of pictures were shown in turn on a computer as prompts for 97 words, which include numerals, body-part terms, animals (primarily domestic ones), verbs, adjectives, household items/concepts and nature terms. The complete wordlist in the order of elicitation is provided in Table 4-4, with a sampling of corresponding pictures displayed in Figure 4-5. None of these young speakers were able to produce all the target words in Prinmi (although the older children were able to do so in Mandarin). Numerals larger than five were substituted with Mandarin terms by most of the participants, with occasional confusion between meanings of two adjacent Prinmi numerals such as five and six. Many children did not know how to say finger in Prinmi; mouth is sometimes confused with the word for tongue. Color terms such as red, yellow and green turned out to be another difficult area for most children. The Mandarin word for milk was typically given to a picture showing a bottle of milk with some in glasses (see Figure 4-5). This is probably because milk packed in such a modern fashion was introduced to them via television through the mainstream Chinese culture and language, as dairy products have scarcely been consumed in recent decades in the village which used to provide large green pastures to cattle. Similarly, flower, grass, star, moon and sun were only known by their Mandarin terms in the speech of most children. 5 These data have not been archived and are currently unavailable for public




Table 4-4: The list of basic words for elicitation from Prinmi children6 Numeral one two three four fives six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen twenty

Body-part hand finger eye nose mouth ear hair tongue tooth foot heart


Animal dog bird goat sheep cattle pig horse mouse pig cat butterfly chicken feather meat bone tail


Verb to drink to eat to sleep to sit to beat to wash to laugh to cry to write to fly to be ill to urinate

Adjective red yellow green black white small big long short tall/high short/low cold hot wet dry


Household tea milk alcohol egg raw rice honey chopsticks house father mother daughter son shoe book name ax drum

Nature water fire smoke sun moon star night day rain tree flower grass

Household item

Figure 4-5: A sample of pictures used as prompts for lexical elicitation in Prinmi 6 Out of space constraint, the table provides only the meaning of the words.

Their form in Prinmi can be found in a bilingual glossary in P. Ding (2014).



In addition to wholesale replacement of a Prinmi word, interference from Mandarin is also discernible. Some children were able to recall the word bɨHtʃjɛ̃H ‘sunray’ after their confident response with the Mandarin word for sun was rejected. Interestingly, this Prinmi compound has rendered the correct word bɨH ‘sun’ from monosyllabic to disyllabic, cf. Mandarin tàiyang ‘sun’. Nettle & Romaine (2000: 54) note that sun is one of the words most resistant to English replacement among younger speakers of Dyirbal, but this is not the case with Prinmi children.7 The elicited lexical data from Prinmi children revealed another unexpected confusion between goat and sheep. Since goats were more commonly found than sheep in Xinyingpan in the 1990s, these two animals were presented in this order in the elicitation session (as shown in Table 4-4 and Figure 4-5 above). However, in recent years most households have avoided raising livestock in degrees of variety comparable to the past. Consequently, even village children turn out to be unfamiliar with farm animals such as goats and sheep. A few children applied the word ʐõH ‘sheep’ for both of these domestic animals. There are two probable explanations for this. One is that these children had forgotten the Prinmi word tsʰɨF ‘goat’ and only remembered ʐõH ‘sheep’; therefore, they exploited ʐõH ‘sheep’ to include goat, i.e. an instance of over-generalization. Another possibility is that these children have in their underdeveloped Prinmi vocabulary a sole term for both of these animals, regarding ʐõH ‘sheep’ as equivalent to yang in Mandarin, which, as a general term, does not distinguish goats from sheep. This is analogous to using the word pine to refer to two species of pine trees in Chinese, as discussed above. The schooling effect can account for the loss of larger numerals: children are taught how to count exclusively in Mandarin in kindergarten and primary school. Likewise, celestial objects, flowers and grasses are all among simple items illustrated in picture books used in the classroom. Throughout the semester Prinmi children learn these terms in Mandarin and write them in Chinese characters. In contrast, children’s daily exposure to such vocabulary in Prinmi is relatively infrequent when they spend most of the day in kindergarten or school. Furthermore, Chinese loanwords enter their speech freely, and sometimes parents have to utter a word in Mandarin if a child fails to understand a Prinmi expression. Monolingual education in Chinese, reinforced by exclusive use of 7 Coincidently, in many Chinese varieties, e.g. Beijing Mandarin, the original

word for ‘sun’ rìtoú, written as 日头 (where the first character represents a drawing of the sun with a cloud), has been replaced with tàiyáng 太阳/太陽 in standard Chinese. The new term is most likely a loan from modern Japanese (cf. kanji 太陽) through back-formation of 太陽系‘the solar system’, although the ultimate source of adaption of this new term in Japanese lies in Classical Chinese.



Mandarin in media and broadcast, is undoubtedly responsible for the language attrition experienced by these young speakers of Prinmi. The majority of these children are within the normal age range of acquiring their mother tongue; an adequate acquisition of Prinmi would occur naturally if they grew up in a monolingual environment or one in which Prinmi were spoken predominantly. Unfortunately, the ever-increasing interference from Mandarin in their developing language system at this stage has impeded their mastery of Prinmi. According to H. Ding’s (2016) recent study, this kind of language attrition affecting full competence of one’s native language is also discernible in Nuosu, one of the largest Tibeto-Burman languages of China, among young speakers in Liangshan/凉山, Sichuan, despite the fact that bilingual education in Nuosu and Chinese has been introduced in Liangshan since the 1980s (see Bradley 2001 for a detailed discussion of language policy for the Yi Nationality, which comprises ethnic minorities who speak Nuosu and a number of other closely related Ngwi languages). 4.5 Knowledge drain and language attrition Once in 1997 on a field trip to Xinyingpan, my main consultant remarked regrettably that the younger generation spoke an attrited form of Prinmi. Almost two decades later, after taking the opportunity to collect some linguistic data from local Prinmi children, the data confirm that language attrition is well underway in Xinyingpan. This is true despite the fact that Prinmi is still transmitted to young children in the home domain in the village. In cases such that a speaker has shifted his/her mother tongue to another language, s/he cannot be expected to preserve the knowledge embedded in that language. However, the loss of traditional knowledge can occur well ahead of language shift. Once, when visiting a remote village in northern Ninglang during August 2014, I met a 10-year old bilingual boy who could not tell me his age in the traditional way, i.e. using the duodecimal animal terms, even though he knew the Chinese zodiac. At my request, he cited the system in Prinmi, providing the ordinary names of the animals instead of their special calendar terms (see §4.3.1). Obviously, he simply translated the animal terms from Chinese into Prinmi. This is reminiscent of Nettle & Romaine’s (2000: 54-55) discussion of simplified vocabulary used by younger speakers of Dyirbal, or more aptly, transfer of dominant semantics from the dominant language (see Bradley 2007). A person who has become a passive speaker or semi-speaker of Prinmi is unlikely to be aware of subtle differences which distinguish the Chinese white pine from the Yunnan pine, as s/he lacks the specific terms and



relevant knowledge associated with them. Likewise, this now fluent speaker of Mandarin will adopt Chinese ways of thinking and simply refer to sheep and goats as ʐõH, unless s/he is asked to differentiate between them and s/he happens to remember the distinct Prinmi terms. What is happening is that under language attrition, knowledge embedded in the language about traditional knowledge and culture has unwittingly fallen into the processes of gradual drainage which starts long before the arrival of language moribundity or critical endangerment. Like many minority languages of the world, Prinmi has no history of a writing system. The spoken language therefore represents the sole medium for storing knowledge of traditional Prinmi culture. As such, when language attrition happens, it affects not only linguistic forms and constructions, but also meaning and knowledge embedded in the language. Contrary to popular belief, it may be too late to salvage traditional knowledge from a dying language, as the entire repertoire of folk knowledge is unlikely to be preserved in the memory of a final remnant of speakers. The complete loss of traditional knowledge of a people coincides with the disappearance of their (unwritten) native language, but traditional knowledge is drained as soon as language attrition occurs. In other words, the traditional knowledge maintained in a minority language is even more vulnerable than the language itself. Revitalization may be able to re-introduce a new variety of an extinct or moribund language to a community such as ‘Neo-Hawaiian’ (reported in NeSmith 2002), but it is next-to-impossible to fully retrieve and restore cultural knowledge that has been disrupted. In the Hawaiian tradition, art is perceived as ‘an expression of skill and deftness of action and thought that ranges from the most pedestrian act to more grandiose act’, as ‘an aspect of the person rather than the product’ (NeSmith 2002: 2-3). Such understanding of art, however, is not shared with those who learn to speak Hawaiian as a second language later in life. Instead these Neo-Hawaiian speakers view art in a way echoing the mainstream appreciation of art in American society. This illustrates that success in language revitalization does not necessarily entail reclamation of traditional knowledge in a lost culture. This is ascribed to the fact that the nature of human culture is dynamic; and cultural change, unlike historical sound change, is not rule-governed. Even without abrupt disruption, Prinmi culture is constantly susceptible to assimilation by the mainstream Chinese culture, e.g. in some Prinmi villages people prefer to build new houses with bricks and cement instead of long wood logs. Traditional fireplace for cooking is incompatible with such modern-style houses and, consequently, a brief daily ceremony performed on the fireplace before taking meal is foregone. While it is possible to properly document basic knowledge for log-house



construction and essential parts of ritual surrounding the fireplace, this knowledge is going to be monotonous and fragmented, unless a thorough documentation including all variations, as practiced in different villages, is attempted. A larger speaker population can be beneficial to the survival of a language mainly because the chance of some speakers holding a positive attitude towards the language will likely be higher, ceteris paribus; but above all, language attitude is vital to language maintenance (see Bradley 2002). To adequately safeguard the body of knowledge developed through the traditional culture of an ethnic group, the group in question must ensure that its language remains in constant practice. This provides another reason for keeping a heritage language in vigorous use among the speakers of a given language community. References Bradley, David. 2001. Language policy for the Yi. In Stevan Harrell (ed.), Perspectives on the Yi of Southwest China, 195–213. Berkeley: University of California Press. Bradley, David. 2002. Language attitudes: The key factor in language maintenance. In David Bradley & Maya Bradley (eds.), Language endangerment and language maintenance, 1–10. London: Routledge Curzon. Bradley, David. 2007. What elicitation misses: Dominant languages, dominant semantics. In Peter Austin (ed.), Language Documentation and Description, vol 4, 136–144. London: SOAS. Bradley, David. 2011. A survey of language endangerment. In Peter Austin & Julia Sallabank (eds.), The Cambridge handbook of endangered languages, 66–77. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bradley, David. 2013. Time ordinals in Tibeto‐Burman. Presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. Chirkova, Katia. 2012. The Qiangic subgroup from an areal perspective: A case study of languages of Muli. Language and Linguistics 13(1). 133–170. Ding, Hongdi. 2016. Testing the competence of first language(s): A cross-generational study of ethnic Nuosu in Liangshan, Sichuan. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong dissertation. Ding, Picus. 2005. Language modernization of Prinmi: Problems from promoting orthography to language maintenance. In David Bradley (ed.), Heritage maintenance for endangered languages in Yunnan, China: A symposium, 19–26. Bundoora: La Trobe University. Ding, Picus. 2006. A typological study of tonal systems of Japanese and Prinmi: Towards a definition of pitch-accent languages. Journal of Universal Language 7(2). 1–35.



Ding, Picus. 2014. A Grammar of Prinmi: Based on the Central dialect of northwest Yunnan, China. Leiden: Brill. Ding, Picus. 2016. Southern Min (Hokkien) as a migrating language: A comparative study of language shift and maintenance across national borders. Singapore: Springer. Epling, P.J., Jerome Kirk & John Boyd. 1973. Genetic relations of Polynesian sibling terminologies. American Anthropology 75. 1596–1625. Ferlus, Michel. 2013. The sexagesimal cycle, from China to Southeast Asia. Presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. Harrell, Stevan. 2001. Ways of being ethnic in Southwest China. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Harrison, K. David. 2007. When languages die: The extinction of the world’s languages and the erosion of human knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hill, Nathan. 2009. Tibetan as a plain initial and its place in Old Tibetan phonology. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 32(1). 115–140. Lu Shaozun 陆绍尊. 1983. 普米语简志 [A brief account of the Pumi language]. Beijing: Nationalities Press. Lu Shaozun 陆绍尊. 2001. 普米语方言硏究 [A dialectal study of the Pumi language]. Beijing: Nationalities Press. Michailovsky, Boyd. 2003. Suffix‐runs and counters in Kiranti time‐ordinals. In David Bradley, Randy LaPolla, Boyd Michailovsky & Graham Thurgood (eds.), Language variation: Papers on variation and change in the Sinosphere and in the Indosphere in honour of James A. Matisoff, 237–251. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. Nerlove, Sara & A. Kimball Romney. 1967. Sibling terminology and cross-sex behavior. American Anthropologist 69. 179–187. NeSmith, Richard Keao. 2002. Tūtū’s Hawaiian and the emergence of a neo-Hawaiian language. Manoa: University of Hawai'i thesis. Nettle, Daniel & Suzanne Romaine. 2000. Vanishing voices: The extinction of the world's languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sumbuk, Kenneth. 2006. Papua New Guinea’s languages: Will they survive? In Denis Cunningham, D.E. Ingram & Kenneth Sumbuk (eds.), Language diversity in the Pacific: Endangerment and survival, 85–96. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Tsunoda, Tasaku. 2005. Language endangerment and language revitalization. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Turin, Mark. 2004. Thangmi kinship terminology in comparative perspective. In A. Saxena (ed.), Himalayan languages: Past and present, 101–140. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Yan Ruxian 严汝娴 & Wong Shuwu 王叔武. 1988. 普米族简史 [A sketch of the history of the Pumi Nationality]. Kunming: Yunnan People Publisher.


INTRODUCING LIMI: A RISING TONE IS BORN* Cathryn Yang 5.1 Introduction This article presents new data and analyses of Limi, a previously undescribed Central Ngwi language spoken in southwest Yunnan, China. Limi is of particular interest because of its shift from a level tone system with contrastive phonation to a pitch-based system with contour tone—a tendency of Central Ngwi languages first noted some 40 years ago by Prof. David Bradley (1977: 7). In Limi’s tonal development, prevocalic consonants conditioned the emergence of a single rising tone, a phenomenon not widely attested at the time of Haudricourt’s (1954) model of tonogenesis or even Thurgood’s (2002) revision of that model. How dynamic F0 trajectories (i.e., contour tones) become phonologized in a language is one of the least understood areas of tonal research (Michaud 2012: 1). This initial documentation of Limi provides a case study of ‘contourgenesis,’ the birth of contour into a previously level tone language. The myriad possibilities and complex outcomes of tone splits, mergers, spreading, plus phonetic changes of pitch height and contour, present challenges for the building of a typology of tone change, though much foundational work is already in place (e.g., Abramson 2004; Bradley 1977; Brown 1975; Haudricourt 1961; Matisoff 1973; Pittayaporn 2007). Ngwi languages are in an excellent position to make a contribution to tone change typology, particularly the emergence of contour, for two reasons: 1) Bradley’s (1979) solid reconstruction of Proto-Ngwi usually makes it possible to clearly trace the conditioning of tonal developments, and 2) Proto-Ngwi was a level tone system with contrastive phonation (Bradley * I wish to thank the two anonymous Limi speakers who freely volunteered their time to participate in this study. The project was partially supported by a La Trobe University Humanities and Social Sciences Research Grant and SIL International. I would like to give special thanks to Mr. Bai Bibo at Yuxi Teacher’s College and the prefectural and county level Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commissions in Lincang for their help with fieldwork logistics. Thanks also go to the anonymous reviewer for helpful comments. All remaining deficiencies are my own responsibility.



1977), so the contours seen today in Ngwi languages must have emerged out of level tones whose phonetic value can be specified with some confidence. Also, Ngwi languages did not take part in the Great Tone Split of the Sinosphere, which doubled or even tripled the tonal inventory of many languages in one fell swoop (Haudricourt 1961; Brown 1975). Instead, they often added new tonal categories incrementally, one or two at a time, such that it is possible to hypothesize how tone categories have interacted and influenced each other over time without a sudden increase in complexity. Newly documented Ngwi languages such as Limi therefore hold much promise for the study of tone change (among other things). At the same time, many Ngwi language communities are now shifting to Chinese, making their documentation an urgent priority, a cause Prof. David Bradley has championed throughout his career. This article outlines Limi’s synchronic and diachronic phonology, with the aim of uncovering its position within the Ngwi family. Special attention is given to Limi’s Tone 1 split to a rising tone, the first contour tone to arise in Limi. To begin, a brief overview is given of the first emergence of contour, what I term ‘contourgenesis,’ with special emphasis on rising tones. 5.2 ‘Contourgenesis’ Tonogenesis is the emergence of phonemic tone in a language; tone in Asia is often a bundle of pitch, phonation and other cues (Mazaudon & Michaud 2008: 254), with contrastive pitch often developing out of an earlier phonation-based system (Thurgood 2002: 340). The initial result of tonogenesis is typically two distinctions (Thurgood 2002: 345) or at most three (Haudricourt 1954). Haudricourt’s (1954) influential model posits that phonemic contour can be present even in the initial stage of tonogenesis; however, findings from recent typological surveys suggest that contour usually emerges later, as more tone categories are added. Maddieson (2013), in his broad survey of 527 languages, finds that “contour tones are generally found in languages which have a larger number of tone contrasts. When the language makes only two or three tone distinctions, the tones are usually all level.” Zhang (2004: 168), in her survey of 187 contour tone languages, found that the presence of contour tones strongly implies the presence of level tones. This implicational hierarchy would be surprising if contour tones and level tones were equally likely outcomes of tonogenesis. Yip (2001: 327) surmises that contour is added “to allow for large inventories without spacing level tones too closely,” an idea in line with Flemming’s (2004) Dispersion Theory. These synchronic findings have implications for the diachronic



development of tone system complexity: contourgenesis, in most cases, probably follows after original tonogenesis. Haudricourt’s (1954) model holds that the conditioning segment’s position in the syllable is the main factor in inducing pitch height distinctions versus contour distinctions. Syllable-initial segments are thought to mainly affect pitch height, and postvocalic segments induce contour. Even Thurgood, in his revision of Haudricourt’s model, asserts that “it is primarily laryngeal consonants in postvocalic position that produce the voice quality distinctions responsible for contours” (2002: 345). But if contourgenesis usually happens after original tonogenesis, the factors in inducing contour should include maximizing a new tone’s perceptual distinction from already existing tones (Pittayaporn 2007: 1422). There are probably many mechanisms for introducing contour into a tone system; for example, Michaud (2006) documents the emergence of a rising contour tone in Naxi, a level tone language, through processes of syllable reduction and tonal reassociation. Pittayaporn suggests that one of the main ways contours develop is through prevocalic segments causing the pitch onset, but not the pitch offset, to shift, and the “change in overall contour shape is an incidental consequence of the onset shift” (2007: 1421). Of course, not every segment-tone interaction results in contour, and not every contour comes from segment-tone interaction. In the Sinosphere’s Great Tone Split (Haudricourt 1961), multiple contour tones may have been introduced through a single process of transphonologization, possibly through taking some aspect of a phonation-type characteristic and reinterpreting it as contour (e.g., breathy phonation, associated with low pitch, reinterpreted as a falling contour). The mechanism for the development of Limi’s rising tone is fairly transparent: prevocalic segments lowered the pitch onset (but not offset) of Proto-Limi’s Tone 1, a high level tone, creating a mid-rising contour. Other Tone 1 syllables (i.e., with initial voiceless stops and fricatives, and preglottalized sonorants) merged with Tone 3, the mid level tone. When Proto-Limi’s preglottalized sonorants (*ʔm, *ʔn, *ʔl, *ʔw) lost their preglottalization, the rising contour became contrastive on syllables with initial sonorants. Although Tone 1 syllables with voiced obstruents show the rising contour, it is only on syllables with initial sonorants that the rising tone is contrastive. This split is identical to the Tone 1 split found in Central East Mountain Lalo, Eastern Lalo, and Xuzhang Lalo (Yang 2015: 124-125). Rising tones have developed in many Ngwi languages: Lama’s (2012) inventory of Ngwi tonal systems shows 20 out of 37 having a rising tone; a few even have more than one. When a Tone 1 split shows a rising tone



splitting off from a high level tone, voiced prevocalic segments are often implicated, as seen in Ghomo/Emaorou (Hu & Duan 2000: 547), Mondzi (Hsiu 2014: 78-81), Muji and Phowa (Pelkey 2011), and Western Lalo (Yang 2015: 131). Even Mandarin Chinese’s ping tone split into today’s Tone 1 (high level) and Tone 2 (mid rising), with the rising tone conditioned by voiced prevocalic segments. It is likely that these languages underwent a process somewhat similar to the one hypothesized above for Limi, in terms of the role played by prevocalic segments. How does a phonetic, microprosodic effect on pitch onset phonologize as a contrastive rising contour? A promising theory for explaining this type of tone split is Beddor’s (2009) coarticulatory path to sound change, which predicts that the temporal extent of the coarticulatory source (e.g., prevocalic voiced segments) and the coarticulatory effect (e.g., lowered pitch) vary inversely: as the duration of the coarticulatory source becomes shorter, the duration of the coarticulatory effect becomes longer. This prediction was supported in Yang, Stanford and Yang’s (2015) sociotonetic study of Qingyun Lalo’s ongoing Tone 1 split to rising: as the VOT of voiced obstruents decreased in women’s speech, the lowering effect of the voiced obstruents on pitch spread through the syllable, creating a perceptually distinct rising tone. 5.3 Limi speakers and their sociolinguistic setting The Limi people have been the subject of several ethnographic studies (Li & Rong 2004; Wang 2006), but very little is known about the Limi language. The Limi people live in the contiguous highland areas of Yongde (永德), Fengqing (凤庆), and Yun (云) counties in Lincang Municipality (临沧市), Yunnan in southwest China. Their population is approximately 20,000 and is concentrated around Wumulong Town (乌木龙) in Yongde County. Limi comprise 70% of the 26,000 people living in Wumulong. Their autonym is li³³mi³³pho²¹ (male) and li³³mi³³mo³³ (female); -pho²¹ can also be used as a gender-neutral suffix meaning ‘people’. They are known locally in Chinese as 俐侎人, Limi ren (Limi people), though the Limi officially belong to the Yi Nationality (彝). The Ming Dynasty historical document 皇清职贡图 records that a group called the Limi (俐侎蛮) entered the Lincang area during the reign of the Yuan Dynasty’s Taiding Emperor (1325-1328 A.D.) (Wang 2006). According to Limi folk history, the ancestral group originated in Jingdong County (景东) of Pu’er Municipality (普洱市) and left abruptly to escape oppression from a cruel overlord. After arriving in Fengqing County, they first settled in Bangmai Village (邦卖/班卖) just north of Wumulong (Wang 2006). Based on a sociolinguistic interview with two Limi men and three Limi women in Wumulong Town, Yongde County, all of whom were between



the ages of 40 and 60, the language vitality status of Limi spoken there appears to be vulnerable (UNESCO 2003). The interviewed Limi speakers reported that some parents in Wumulong Town, including themselves, were speaking Chinese, rather than Limi, to their children at home. In villages located at some distance away from the main town, however, parents were still speaking only Limi to the children. The interview participants also reported that all Limi speak Limi to each other, including children to their peers, and children’s proficiency in Limi was reported to be high. Other groups living in the area include the Han Chinese and another branch of the Yi nationality, known locally as the ‘Luo’, (倮族) who probably speak a dialect of Lolo, another Central Ngwi language. Approximately 2,600 Luo live in and around Wumulong, often in separate villages from the Limi. While some of them have learned to speak Limi, Limi speakers usually use Yunnan Mandarin to communicate with them. A few Bai, Miao, and Wa live in the area as well. Limi usually marry within the Limi ethnic group and practice clan exogamy (Wang 2006). 5.4 Methodology Data presented in this paper were collected during May 2008 in Wumulong Town. The two informants, a male in his 60’s and a female in her 50’s, were both born and raised in Wumulong and were fluent speakers of Limi. Elicitation prompts came from Yang’s (2015) adaptation of Pelkey’s (2011) word list and contained 1,000 basic vocabulary items. All recordings took place in an inner room in the male informant’s home, using an Edirol R-09 digital recorder in uncompressed .wav format. The investigator, using Yunnan Mandarin, asked the participants to translate the Chinese prompts into Limi; the two Limi informants were bilingual in Yunnan Mandarin and Limi. The female participant produced the words in citation form (i.e., as isolated words) and the male participant produced the same words in the middle of a carrier phrase, both repeated three times. Carrier phrases, adapted from Pelkey (2011), usually had the target word occur between [ʑe²¹] ‘3SG’ with low tone and [so³³] ‘three’ with mid tone. This enabled the transcriber to hear the word of the target tone in contrast to the low tone and the mid tone. Transcribed Limi data is available at Acoustic analysis of the Limi tonal system was conducted using Praat (Boersma & Weenink 2012). The middle utterance of the three repetitions in citation form (pronounced by the female speaker) and in the carrier phrase (pronounced by the male speaker) was used. Since each speaker only produced recordings in one context (either citation or phrasemedial), there is unfortunately no way to compare intra-speaker



contextual variation. The F0 trajectory, beginning from the vowel onset through the end of the syllable, was manually segmented for each token by the author. F0 was then extracted using a Praat script (Zhong 2013), which measured F0 at 10 millisecond intervals. F0 measurements were normalized for time and pitch using Stanford’s (2013) script in R, in order to compare across speakers of different age and gender. The F0 trajectories were divided into 200 equally spaced relative time points across the syllable, and F0 values in Hertz (Hz) were converted to semitones, a logarithmic scale often used for such normalization. Each speaker’s mean pitch value of Tone 3, the mid-level tone, was defined as the zero-level pitch value and thus served as the benchmark for normalized pitch. Approximately 30 tokens per tone category (120 tokens total) were analyzed for each speaker. 5.5 Limi’s sound system The canonical Limi syllable minimally consists of an obligatory nucleus and tone: (C)V. In syllables with a nasal initial consonant, the syllable may reduce to a syllabic nasal, e.g., NEG /ma²¹/ is often reduced to [m̩ ²¹],[ŋ̣²¹] or [n̩ ²¹], assimilating to the place of articulation of the initial consonant of the following syllable. There are no consonantal codas in native Limi words, but /-ŋ/ occurs in Mandarin loanwords, e.g., hua³³səŋ³³ ‘peanut’. In words with three or more syllables, syllabic nasals with a mid or high tone may be incorporated as the coda of the preceding syllable, a post-lexical process that also reassociates the reduced syllable’s tone. The syllabic nasal with the low or rising tone does not appear to participate in this process. A mid tone reassociating to a low tone syllable creates a rising tone, eg., ‘day before yesterday’ /a²¹ʂə⁵⁵mə⁵⁵tʰi²¹ni³³/ can be pronounced [a²¹ʂən⁵⁵tʰiŋ²⁴]. There were no examples in the corpus of a high tone reassociating to a low or mid tone syllable, or a mid tone reassociating to a high tone, but those may occur as well. 5.5.1 Consonants Limi has 26 consonantal phonemes, as listed in Table 5-1 below. There is a three way voicing contrast for stops and affricates: voiced, voiceless unaspirated, and voiceless aspirated. Before /i/ and /e/, the retroflex affricates and fricatives are phonetically realized as alveolopalatal [tɕ], [tɕʰ], [dʑ] [ɕ] and [ʑ], respectively. The labiodental /v/ is realized as [w] before /a/ and /o/. Some consonants have restricted distribution: /f/ only occurs before /e/, /a/, and /u/, while /x/ occurs before all vowels except /i/ and /u/. Thus, /x/ and /f/ are in complementary distribution before /u/, where [f] may be considered as an allophone of /x/. /x/ realized as [f] before /u/ is a common occurrence in this linguistic area, for example in



Southwest Mandarin, some Lalo dialects (Yang 2015), and Duoxu in Sichuan (Chirkova 2014). There are no consonant clusters. /h/ is realized with nasalization as [h], and the following vowel is also nasalized. Table 52 gives examples of each consonantal phoneme. Table 5-1: Limi consonant phonemes Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Plosive p pʰ b t tʰ d Affricate ts tsʰ dz tʂ tʂʰ dʐ Fricative f v s z ʂ ʐ Nasal m n ɲ Glide j Lateral l

Velar k kʰ g


x ŋ


Table 5-2: Examples of Limi consonantal phonemes p pʰ b t tʰ d ts tsʰ dz tʂ tʂʰ dʐ k kʰ g

o²¹pa⁵⁵ pʰa³³ ba³³ ta³³ tʰa²¹ dæ²¹ tsa⁵⁵ tsʰa²¹bo³³ dza²¹ a³³tʂa⁵⁵ ɕi³³tʂʰa³³ dʐa²⁴ dʐʅ³³ka³³ i²⁴kʰa³³ ga²¹

‘bamboo basket’ ‘tie into a bundle’ ‘shoot (a gun)’ ‘all’ prohibitive ‘hit’ ‘clear (sky)’ ‘salt’ ‘weave’ ‘magpie’ ‘beam (main)’ ‘have’ ‘market’ ‘husband’ ‘drive out’

f v s z ʂ ʐ x h m n ɲ ŋ l j

fa³³ ve²¹ sa³³ma³³ -za²¹ ʂa³³ ʐa²¹ xa³³pu³³ ha⁵⁵ ma²⁴ na²¹ ɲa²⁴mo³³ ŋa²⁴ la²¹ jæ²⁴

‘dry’ ‘pig’ ‘whetstone’ diminutive ‘snake’ ‘big’ ‘porcupine’ ‘pick (fruit)’ ‘see’ ‘mend’ ‘younger brother’ copula ‘lick’ ‘laugh’

5.5.2 Vowels Limi has eight monophthongs /i e æ ɨ ə u o a/. Diphthongs occur in loanwords from Southwest Mandarin. When occurring as the second syllable of a disyllabic verb, the verb ‘to go’ /ze²⁴/ [ʑe²⁴] drops its initial consonant, and its rime fuses with the vowel of the preceding syllable, eg., ‘exit,’ /do³³ʐe²⁴/ is realized as [due²⁴] and ‘return’ /go²¹ʐe²⁴/ as [gue²⁴]. The resultant tone is rising. In the case of the experiential aspect marker /kue²⁴/, Limi has grammaticalized the verb ‘to cross over’ /ko⁵⁵ʐe²⁴/;a



similar grammaticalization path is seen in Southwest Mandarin’s 过 /kʷo¹²/, and Limi’s /ko⁵⁵/ may be an early loan from Mandarin (before Limi’s *L split to high). Table 5-3 gives examples of each vowel phoneme. Table 5-3: Examples of Limi vowel phonemes

i e æ ɨ u o a ə

pʰi³³ pʰe²¹ pʰæ³³ pʰɨ³³ pʰu³³ pʰo³³ pʰa³³ pʰə²¹

‘hot (spicy)’ ‘vomit’ ‘tie into a bundle’ ‘untie’ ‘to open’ ‘beautiful’ ‘peel (eggs, fruit)’ ‘swell’

mi³³ me²¹ mæ³³ mɨ²¹ mu³³ mo²¹ ma²⁴ mə³³

‘cooked; ripe’ ‘soldier’ ‘cloth’ ‘hungry’ ‘high’ ‘old (person)’ ‘see’ ‘blow on’

The vowel /ɨ/ is realized as apical vowel [ɿ]after ]after alveolar fricatives and affricates and as [ʅ]] after retroflex. Apical vowels are analyzed as alloallo phones of /i/ in Mandarin and other Ngwi languages like Duoxu (Chirkova 2014), but in Limi /i/ and /ɿ/ contrast rast after alveolar fricatives and affricates, cf. /sɿ⁵⁵tɕi²¹/ ‘written word’ versus /si²¹kʰa³³ si²¹kʰa³³/ ‘liver’. Figure 5-1 shows Limi vowels plotted by their relative F1/F2 formant values.

Figure 5-1: Limi vowel phonemes



5.5.3 Tone Limi has four contrastive tones on monosyllabic words, all in modal phonation: rising [²⁴], mid [³³], high [⁵⁵], and low [²¹]. While most verbs tend to be monosyllabic, other word classes tend to have two, three, and sometimes four syllables. In disyllabic words, all possible tone combinations are found, and it is assumed that tri- and quadrisyllabic words would hypothetically exhibit the full range of possible tonal patterns. As can be seen in Table 5-4, only syllables with initial sonorants show the full tonal inventory, due to the conditioning of the Limi Tone 1 split: syllables with voiced initials developed the rising tone, whereas elsewhere Tone 1 is now a mid level tone. In Limi, Tone 1 syllables with initial voiced obstruents always occur with a rising tone, but VOT is still contrastive between voiced and voiceless obstruents. The rising and high tones arose from splits of existing tone categories, while the low and mid tones are the result of mergers. The rising and the high tones are therefore much less frequent than the mid and low tones, so some tonal combinations are much less likely to occur (e.g., three rising or high syllables in a row). Table 5-4: Examples of Limi tones Proto-Ngwi tone category

Limi tone value


Proto-Ngwi form (Bradley 1979)


Mid rising

mu²⁴ ‘do’

cf. *mu¹ (Proto-Lalo)

3, H; 1/elsewhere


mu³³ ‘high’


L, 2/s- & ʔ-prefix_ 2, L/elsewhere

High Low

mu⁵⁵ ‘teach’ mu²¹ ‘sky’

*s-ma² *mo²

Table 5-5 gives additional examples of Limi’s historical development from Proto-Ngwi. An earlier stage of Limi, like Proto-Lalo, probably had preglottalized sonorants *ʔm, *ʔn, *ʔl, and *ʔw, a coalescence of the Proto-Ngwi *ʔ or *s- prefixes before sonorants. Preglottalization has since been lost in Limi, but at the time of the Limi Tone 1 split to rising, preglottalization must have still been in place, as it affected the outcome of the split: syllables with initial preglottalized sonorants merged with Tone 3, while syllables with initial plain sonorants took on the rising tone. The Tone 1 split must have happened before the merger of Tone 1 syllables with Tone 3, because Tone 3 syllables with voiced initials do not show a rising pitch. This implies that Limi’s rising tone split off from Tone 1 when



it was still a high level tone (Bradley 1977, also cf. Lalo’s tone correspondences in Table 5-5 below). Table 5-5: Examples of Limi tones’ historical development Proto-Ngwi tone Proto-Ngwi category


Lolo, Lalo, Nanhua (Sun Qingyun 1991) (Yang 2015)


*may¹ ‘delicious’




1/ s- & ʔ- _

*ʔ-mre¹ ‘earth’





*ʔəC-ma³ ‘mother’





*plu¹ ‘silver’



fv̩ ⁵⁵

Tone sandhi that involves alternation between tonemes (e.g., when Mandarin’s Tone 3 precedes another Tone 3, it is realized as Tone 2) was not found in the corpus, but tone sandhi involving allotonic variation occurs in two tonal patterns. When the rising tone immediately follows the high tone, its initial pitch is raised to mid, cf. /i²⁴/ ‘water’ with ‘dew’ (dew-water) [tʂʅ⁵⁵i³⁴]. In words with more than two syllables, when a low tone syllable occurs between other low tone syllables, the slight fall is leveled out as low level [22], eg. ‘cool’ [fu²¹lu²²fu²²lu²¹]. Figures 5-2 and 5-3 show the results of the acoustic analysis of the Limi tonal system. Figure 5-2 reflects the citation form uttered by the female speaker (who did not record carrier phrases). All level tones show a downdrift effect, with pitch gradually decreasing towards the end of the syllable. The rising tone peaks around 75% into the syllable and then decreases slightly. The low tone [21] is realized with a falling contour, which may be an automatic transition to the lowest pitch level rather than phonemic contour, but a perceptual experiment is needed to confirm this hypothesis. Figure 5-3 reflects the form in a carrier phrase, with the target occurring between a low tone and a mid tone, pronounced by the male participant (who did not record citation forms). The main difference between the two figures is that the carrier phrase form’s high tone average pitch is lower, probably because of the effect of the immediately preceding low tone. Also, pitch excursion (the difference between the lowest and highest F0 in a tonal trajectory) is dampened in phrase-medial form.





(c) Plotted as relative time versus relative pitch (semitones), and normalized for duration and mean mid level pitch: (a) high (blue), 30 tokens; (b) mid (grey), 35 tokens, (c) rising (black), 25 tokens; (d) low (red), 30 tokens.


Figure 5-2: Four contrastive tones on monosyllables, in citation form, pronounced by a female speaker.

(a) (b)

(c) (d)

Plotted as relative time versus relative pitch (semitones), and normalized for duration and mean mid level pitch: (a) high (blue), 30 tokens; (b) mid (grey), 35 tokens, (c) rising (black), 25 tokens; (d) low (red), 30 tokens.

Figure 5-3: Four contrastive tones on monosyllables, in the middle of a carrier phrase, pronounced by a male speaker.

5.6 Limi’s development from Proto-Ngwi and its genetic position within Ngwi Limi is clearly a Ngwi language, with all the diagnostic characteristics of the family: systematic correspondences to Proto-Ngwi’s innovative Tone *3; a split in stopped syllables into *L(ow) and *H(igh); a set of dyadic kin group classifiers for counting family groups; verb-final syntax with



preverbal negatives *ma² and *ta², etc. (see Bradley 2012, for a comprehensive list). Limi is also certainly a Central Ngwi language, with identifying lexical innovations for ‘fire’ /a³³to⁵⁵/ (literally, ‘the burner’) and ‘dog’ /a³³nu⁵⁵/ (‘the snatcher’), and splits in *2 and *L conditioned by the *s- and *ʔ- prefix (Bradley 2012). The next question is, within Central Ngwi, is it possible to group Limi within a lower-level cluster? The two candidates with the closest geographic proximity to Limi are the Lolo-Lipo cluster and the Lalo cluster. According to Limi folk history, the Limi ancestral group left Jingdong County in Pu’er Municipality over 600 years ago. Lalo and Lolo both live in that county and probably have for many centuries. Based on phonological innovations, Limi clearly affiliates more closely to Lolo than Lalo. Yet Limi also shows lexical borrowings from Lalo that imply social contact, such as ‘wife’ /mæ²¹ne²⁴/ (cf. Lalo /ma²¹ʔny⁵⁵/, Lolo /tsʰa³³mo³³/). The linguistic evidence therefore dovetails nicely with the historical: pre-Limi speakers, once part of a social network of proto-LoloLimi, lived in contact with proto-Lalo speakers in Jingdong County, then moved to the Lincang area. Limi speakers probably maintained social contact with both Lalo and Lolo groups in Lincang over the centuries. However, the Limi formed their own distinct identity, such that nearby Lolo speakers are known as a different ethnic group, the Luo. Proto-Lalo (PLa) phonology has been reconstructed (Yang 2015: 66141), but Proto-Lolo-Lipo (PLo) has not. By comparing Lolo and Lipo data (Sun 1991, CXMW 1988) with Proto-Ngwi (PN) (Bradley 1979), I make some suggestions as to PLo phonology, with the aim of discerning whether Limi reflects PLo or PLa more closely. There is a great deal of overlap between PLo and PLa, but there are also points of difference; point for point, Limi aligns with PLo. In both PLo and PLa, Proto-Ngwi consonant clusters of velar stop plus palatal glide *-j (*gj, kj, kʰj) merged with the palatoalveolar affricate series (*dʒ, tʃ, tʃʰ). PN velar stop plus liquid clusters (i.e., *gl, gr, kl, kr, kʰl, kʰr) then merged to a PLo velar-glide cluster series and later became affricates in most environments (but cf. Lolo ‘star’ /ke³³/ in Table 5-6). In contrast, PLa merged PN velar-liquid clusters with the stop series before close vowels and with the velar-glide cluster series elsewhere. Limi reflects PLo’s complete merger as opposed to PLa’s partial merger. In a parallel development, PN *pr and *pl > PLa *p but > PLo *pj before back vowels. Limi shows evidence of PLo *pj through its vowel development, e.g. Table 5-6 PLo *pʰju¹ ‘silver’ > pʰu³³, but cf. Table 5-9 *pʰu²¹ ‘price’ > pʰɨ²¹. Table 5-6 gives examples; Lolo examples are from Nanhua County (Sun 1991), Lipo from Wuding County (CXMW 1988), and Central Lalo from Qingyun Village, Weishan County (Yang 2015). Conditioning for PLa’s partial



merger is seen in the first and sixth rows; the whole series (voiced, unaspirated, aspirated) is represented by the voiceless unaspirated reflex. Table 5-6: PLa and PLo’s divergent development of velar consonant clusters Proto-Ngwi source and example *kr/_PLa *i & *o; *kl & *kr/_PLa *y, *ɨ, *u *krwe² ‘daughter-inlaw’ *kre¹ ‘leg’

PLa; PLo





*k; *kj


*kʰɨ²; *kʰjɯ²





*kʰi¹; *kʰjɯ¹





*kro¹ ‘horn’

*kʰo¹; *kʰjo¹





*(ʃ)-gru² ‘tendon’

*gu²; *gju²





*kl & *kr/_PLa *e, *ɛ, *a, *aŋ; *kl/_PLa *i & *o

*kj; *kj





*kle² ‘excrement’






*C-gray¹ ‘star’






*pr & *pl/_back

*p ; *pj





*plu¹ ‘silver’

*pʰu¹; *pʰju¹

fv̩ ⁵⁵




The key differences between PLa and PLo are seen in their respective vowel systems. Both systems have contrastive modal versus harsh (tense) phonation occurring on all monophthongs, with harsh phonation resulting after the loss of PN syllable-final stops. PLa has eight monophthongs (*i e ɛ a y ɨ u o) and a nasal-final rhyme *aŋ (for details see Yang 2015: 85-111), while I posit that PLo has only seven monophthongs (*i e ɛ a ɯ u o). Their front vowels *i e ɛ are almost identical to each other in source and similar in their current reflections, as seen in Table 5-7 (for brevity, only the modal vowels are presented here). Proto-Lolo-Burmese (PB) reconstructions are from Matisoff (2003).



Table 5-7: PLa and PLo’s convergent development of front vowels Proto-Ngwi source & example *i & *o/alveolar & palatal_; *e/elsewhere; *im, *iŋ, *i:n *ti² ‘one’

PLa; PLo















*(m)-le² ‘son’s son’

*ʔli²¹; *ʔli⁵⁵





*s-ɲo¹ ‘finger’

*ʔni⁵⁵; *ʔni³³





*i/labial stops_; *aj/alveolar & ∅_; *in, *an






*ʔ-daj² (PB) ‘to pound’

*te²¹; *te⁵⁵





*ʔ-kyin¹ ‘sour’

*tʃe⁵⁵; *tʃe³³





*nan² (PB) ‘spirit’






*i/tsy, dzy, r, mr, kj_; *ej; *aj/elsewhere; *waj, *we





*k/ʔ-ri² ‘big’






*way¹ ‘to buy’

*vɛ⁵⁵; *vɛ³³





*pe¹ ‘grey’

*pʰɛ⁵⁵; *pʰɛ³³





As seen in Table 5-8, PLo central and back vowels are quite different from PLa. The PN rhymes that formed PLa *ɨ instead merged with *i and *ɯ in PLo. Limi and Lipo show separate vowel correspondence sets for *ʃe² ‘die’ > PLo *ʃi³³ and *kyo¹ ‘sweet’ > PLo *tʃʰɯ³³, but Lalo reflects only PLa *ɨ. The numerous PN rhymes that formed PLa *y instead merged to PLo *ɯ (later merging with /e/ after alveolar initials in Limi). PLo and PLa *u developed from the same PN rhymes, as seen in Table 5-9, but PLo *o and PLa *o come from completely different sources. PLo *o comes from PN *a (see Table 5-10). PLa retained PN *o, which later shows distinct developments in various Lalo dialects (Yang 2015: 97-98). In contrast, PN *o split to PLo *u and *ɯ, most clearly seen in the Lipo data.



Table 5-8: PLa and PLo’s divergent development of central and back vowels Proto-Ngwi source & example

PLa; PLo





*i & *e/ʃ_;

*ɨ; *i





*C-ʃi(k)²/ ‘seven’

*xɨ²¹; *ʃi²¹





*ʃe² ‘die’

*xɨ⁵⁵; *ʃi³³





*e/pr & kr _; *we/k & kr_; *o/ky_

*ɨ; *ɯ





*kyo¹ ‘sweet’

*tʃʰɨ⁵⁵ ; *tʃʰɯ³³





*pre² ‘untie’

*pʰɨ⁵⁵; *pʰjɯ³³





*u/labial & alveolar _; *wa/alveolar_; *am, *wam, *wan, *um

*y; *ɯ





*swa² ‘tooth’

*sy²¹; *sɯ²¹





*xam¹ ‘iron’

*xy⁵⁵; *xɯ³³






Table 5-9: PLa and PLo’s divergent development of PN *o Proto-Ngwi source & example

PLa; PLo






*o; *u





*po² ‘price’

*pʰo²¹; *pʰu²¹





*mo² ‘sky’

*mo²¹; *mu²¹

n̩ ²¹





*o; *ɯ





*ko² ‘steal’

*kʰo²¹; *kʰɯ²¹





*ŋo¹ ‘cry’

*ŋo⁵⁵; *ŋɯ³³





*u/elsewhere; *waŋ, *oŋ

*u; *u





*tu¹ ‘thick’

*tʰu⁵⁵; *tʰu³³





*doŋ¹ ‘wing’

*du⁵⁵; *du³³






*ʔmu⁵⁵; *ʔmu³³







PLa retained Proto-Ngwi *a and *aŋ; in Lalo, *aŋ is reflected as either /a/ or /u/, depending on the dialect. In contrast, PLo underwent a chain shift in which PN *a > PLo *o, and then PN *aŋ > PLo *a. PN *a > PLo *o must have happened after (that is, placed in counterfeeding order with) PN *o’s split to PLo *u and *ɯ. Table 5-10 gives examples. Table 5-10: PLa and PLo’s divergent development of *a and *aŋ Proto-Ngwi source & example

PLa; PLo





*a; *wa/velar_

*a; *o





*ba² ‘thin’






*gwa² ‘chew’







*aŋ; *a




*m-daŋ¹ ‘to drink’

*daŋ⁵⁵; *da³³





*taŋ² ‘pine tree’

*tʰaŋ²¹; *tʰa²¹

tʰu̥ ²¹




*mraŋ¹ ‘see’

mjaŋ¹; mja¹



miɑo ³³


Table 5-11 presents a tone box for the languages geographically nearest to Limi: Lolo, Lipo, Eastern Lalo (Diaocao Village, Yang 2015: 54-57) and Central Lalo (Qingyun Village, as above). Lolo, Lipo and Limi share initial *ʃ- conditioning Tone *2/Tone *L syllables’ split to high pitch, a split not seen in Lalo. In fact, the only differences that Limi shows with Lolo’s tonal development are Limi’s Tone *1 split, loss of harsh phonation, and a slight difference in environment for Tone *L’s split to high. Limi’s Tone *1 split is identical to Eastern Lalo’s—the same conditioning causes a rising allotone in Central Lalo—but this single shared innovation is not typologically unusual enough to outweigh the other subgrouping evidence. Instead, shared innovations in initials, rhymes and tones suggest that Limi belongs in the Lolo-Lipo cluster, within the larger LoloLipo-Lisu cluster. Table 5-12 gives examples for each tonal correspondence set.



Table 5-11: Tone box for Limi, Lolo, Lipo, East and Central Lalo Tone *3 *1




Proto-Ngwi Initial Class all *(C-)voiced *(C-)voiceless *ʔ/s-prefixed *(C-)voiced *(C-)voiceless *ʃ *ʔ/s-prefixed *(C-)voiced *(C-)voiceless *ʔ/s-prefixed *(C-)voiced *(C-)voiceless *ʃ *ʔ/s- prefixed

Limi 33 24 33

Lolo 33

Lipo 33

E. Lalo 33 24 55

C. Lalo 33 [45] 55









31† 33

21 harsh 33 harsh


33 harsh


21 harsh 31 harsh 31 55 harsh 55


33 (harsh)

21 harsh

†Both East and Central Lalo show a tone split in *2 with complex conditioning (see Yang 2015: 121-123)

Table 5-12: Tone examples for Limi, Lolo, Lipo, East and Central Lalo PN tone & initial class *3 all *1 *(C-)vd *(C-)vless *ʔ/s*2 *(C-)vd *(C-)vless *ʃ*ʔ/s*H *(C-)vd *(C-)vless *ʔ/s*L *(C-)vd *(C)-vless *ʃ*ʔ/s-

Proto-Ngwi *(ʔ)ne³ ‘day’ *nji¹ ‘liquor’ *po¹ ‘rooster’ *s-ɲo¹ ‘finger’ *C-nu² ‘soft’ *si² ‘fruit’ PLa *ʃɨ² ‘seed’ *ʔ-pi² ‘comb’ *grokH ‘fear’ *sik H ‘tree’ *s-nokH ‘bean’ *wakL ‘pig’ *C-kokL ‘year’ *C-ʃikL ‘new’ *ʔ-lokL ‘graze’

Limi ni³³ dʐʅ²⁴ pʰɨ³³ ni³³ nu²¹ sæ²¹ ʂʅ⁵⁵ pɨ⁵⁵ dʐo³³ ɕi³³ no³³ ve²¹ kʰo²¹ ɕi⁵⁵ lo⁵⁵

Lolo ɲi³³ dʐi³³ pʰɯ³³ ɲi³³ nu²¹ sɛ²¹ ʂi⁵⁵ pi⁵⁵ dʑu̠ ³³ se̠³³ no̠ ³³ ve̠²¹ kʰu̠ ⁵⁵ ɕe̠⁵⁵ lu̠ ⁵⁵

Lipo ɲi³³ dʐɿ³³ phu³³ ɲi³³ nu³¹ sɤ³¹ ʂɩ⁵⁵ pi⁵⁵ dʑo³³ si̠³³ no³³ vɛ̠³¹ kʰo̠ ³¹ ʂʅ³¹ lo⁵⁵

E. Lalo nɛ³³ dzɿ²⁴ pʰə⁵⁵ ni⁵⁵ nɤ̪ ²¹ sɛ²¹ sɿ²¹ pə²¹ gu³³ ɕi³³ no³³ vei³¹ kʰu³¹ ɕi³¹ lu⁴²

C. Lalo ʔnɛ³³ dʐʅ⁴⁵ fi⁵⁵ ʔni⁵⁵ nə²¹ sɛ²¹ ʂʅ²¹ pɨ²¹ go̠ ³³ sɿ̠³³ nə̠ ³³ vɛ̠²¹ kʰo̠ ²¹ xɨ̠²¹ lo̠ ²¹



5.7 Conclusions: a rising tone is born Tracing Limi’s historical phonology in the above sections reveals the loss of segmental and phonation contrasts that put pre-Limi ‘in the market’ for a new contour tone: 1) loss of syllable-final consonants, 2) loss of harsh phonation, and finally 3) loss of preglottalized sonorants. Maddieson (2013) finds that “elaboration of tonal contrasts tends to be inversely related to complexity of syllable structure.” Pre-Limi, with its simple syllable structure and its three level tones, was fertile ground for ‘contourgenesis’, the birth of contrastive contour into a tonal language. Contextual variation, including coarticulation, contains the seeds of sound change. Limi’s rising tone was born as prevocalic voiced initials’ coarticulatory lowering effect on a high pitch onset was reinterpreted as a distinctive rising contour tone. Yang et al.’s (2015) sociophonetic study of a similar tone split in Lalo’s Tone 1 (still ongoing) sheds light on how Limi’s Tone 1 split may have happened, with a gradual spreading through the syllable of the voiced initials’ lowering effect on F0, creating a perceptually distinct rising tone. The inverse relationship found between the VOT of voiced stops and the temporal extent of their lowering effect lends support to Beddor’s (2009) theory of a coarticulatory path to tone split. Beddor proposes that listeners use coarticulation to interpret the signal and sometimes reinterpret the coarticulatory effect as the perceptually salient feature in the phonological representation. Limi and Lalo’s Tone 1 split suggest that prevocalic consonants’ coarticulatory effect on F0 may be a likely path for contourgenesis. Even as sociophonetic studies on Korean (Kang & Han 2013), Kammu (Svantesson & House 2006), and others, enable us to observe the coarticulatory path to ongoing tonogenesis, there are still many unanswered questions about secondary tone change. For example, are all changes equally likely, or is there a directionality of tone change such that high > rising is more likely than rising > high? How do pre- and postvocalic segments differ in their role in the creation and subsequent change of contour tones? Investigating newly documented languages such as Limi (before they disappear) contributes to the building of a typology of tone change. Limi’s Tone 1 split shows that prevocalic segments (as opposed to post-vocalic) can be the conditioning factor in contourgenesis. Such segments may have played a similar role throughout the Ngwi language area and even beyond.



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MEDIAL CHANGES IN JINO DIALECTS* Norihiko Hayashi 6.1 Introduction Many Tibeto-Burman languages have the syllable structure C1C2VC3/T [C=consonant, V=vowel, T=tone]. The medial, which is represented by C2, is a segmental element that connects the onset and vowel(s), and it can be found in most Tibeto-Burman languages. Medial changes have been focused on by many Tibeto-Burmanists because they have affected the changes of onsets and/or vowels in many languages. In this paper, I will discuss medial changes in two main dialects of Jino/Jinuo(基诺语): Youle and Buyuan.1 The total population of Jino speakers consists of around 23,000 people (2010 census), though the number of fluent speakers is estimated to be less than 70 percent of this population. Gai (1986) notes that 90 percent of the Jino population speak Youle and that the remainder speak Buyuan. Jino is affiliated with the Ngwi (Yi) languages of the Burmic branch of the Tibeto-Burman family (see Figure 6-1). The Jino varieties are spoken in the eastern part of Jinghong City, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China. 6.2 Synchronic description of Jino medials What kind of medials can we find in Jino dialects synchronically? To answer this, we take a look at their complete phonological inventory. * Earlier versions of this paper were read at the 17th Linguistic Circle for the

Study of East Eurasian Languages (Aoyama Gakuin University, July 4, 2010) and at the 144th Meeting of the Linguistic Society of Japan (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 2012). The data of Youle and Buyuan Jino were collected through the author’s project funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Mishima Kaiun Memorial Foundation. I express my sincere gratitude to the Jino consultants and the above institutions. 1 Gai (1986), Hayashi (2009a), and Jiang (2010) provide descriptive analyses of Youle Jino; Bradley (1983), Thurgood (1989), and Hayashi (2009b) among others discuss its historical aspects. Gai (1986) mentions Buyuan Jino briefly. The author now focuses on the study of this lesser described dialect as well and has made some preliminary and diachronic analyses, such as Hayashi (2013a, 2013b), etc.



Tibeto-Burman North-eastern India




Burmic Burmish


Burmese† Maru-Lashi-Atsi

Northern Central Southern Southeastern

Maru-Atsi Lashi-Achang†-Bola

Lalo Jino†

Akoid Bisoid

Youle† Buyuan† Akha Hani† Sangkong† (adapted from Bradley 1997, 2007, 2012) †

To be utilized for comparison in §6.3

Figure 6-1: Genealogy of Jino and other Burmic languages

6.2.1 Youle dialect The phonological inventory of Youle Jino is presented in Table 6-1. There are 33 consonants, 12 vowels, and 5 tones. Table 6-1: Phonological inventory of Youle Jino [Consonants] p t ph th ts tʃ tsh tʃh m n m̥ n̥ l l̥ f s ʃ v z r w

k kh tɕ tɕh ȵ ȵ̥

ŋ ŋ̥

ç j

x ɣ

[Vowels] i ɯ u e ø ɤ o ɛ œ ə ɔ a [Tones] 55, 44, 33, 35, 42



Note that each of the 33 consonants can be placed at the onset, but the medial slot is restricted to /-r-/ and /-j-/ only. Attested onset-medial combination patterns are listed below. : pr- [pɾ], phr- [pʰɾ], mr-[mɾ], m̥ r-[m̥ mɾ], kr- [kɾ], khr- [kʰɾ], : pj- [pʲ], phj-[pʲʰ], mj-[mʲ], m̥ j-[m̥ mʲ], tj-[tʲ], thj-[tʲʰ], lj-[lʲ], kj-[kʲ], khj- [kʲʰ] Within the above patterns, /tj-, thj-, lj-/ can be found only in loanwords, which are not the main focus in this paper. 6.2.2 Buyuan dialect The phonological inventory of Buyuan Jino is shown in Table 6-2. As can be seen in the table, there are 21 consonants, 8 vowels, and 5 tones. As in Youle Jino, all attested consonants can occur in the onset slot, but only /-j-/ can occur as a medial. Table 6-2: Phonological inventory of Buyuan Jino [Consonants] p t ph th ts tsh m n l f s w

tɕ tɕh ȵ ɕ j

[Vowels] k i u kh e ɤ o ɛ ɔ a ŋ [Tones]2 x 55, 44, 31, 35, 53

The combination patterns involving onsets and medials are listed below. : pj- [pʲ], phj-[pʲʰ], mj-[mʲ], tj-[tʲ], thj-[tʲʰ], lj-[lʲ] Note that there are no combinations of velar onsets with medials such as /kj-/ or /khj-/, which is different from the case of the onset plus medial in Youle Jino. Also, /tj-/, /thj-/, and /lj-/ are found more in loanwords than in cognates. 2 The functional load of 53 tones in Buyuan Jino is relatively small. The 53

tones might be better analyzed as allotones of another toneme.



6.3 Major types of medial changes Most of the Burmic languages allow medials in the syllable structure, which leads us to consider that the medials can be reconstructed to the Proto-Burmic stage (PB).3 This section deals with the major types of medial changes from PB to the Jino dialects. Hereafter, note that this paper utilizes the following cover symbols: K for velar stops, M for bilabial nasals, P for bilabial stops, TC for palatal affricates, TS for alveolar affricates, and TŠ for post-alveolar affricates. 6.3.1 Typology and areal perspective on medials Types of medials Before analyzing the medial changes in the Jino dialects, we should describe the types of medials found in Burmic languages. This paper distinguishes four types of medials, which are listed in Table 6-3. Table 6-3: Typology of medials in Burmic Macro Type of Medial

Type of Medial

liquid type

/-l-/ type /-r-/ type /-j-/ type /-w-/ type

semivowel type

Phonemic Transcription in Different Languages /-l-/ /-r/, /-ɾ-/, /-ʐ-/, /-ʒ-/, etc. /-y-/, /-j-/ /-w-/, /-u-/

In Table 6-3, four types of medials, such as, /-l-/type, /-r-/type, /-j-/ type and /-w-/ type, are illustrated. /-l-/ and /-r-/ subtype medials can be summarized as ‘liquid macro type’, with /-j-/ and /-w-/ subtype medials being summarized as ‘semivowel macro type’. And, the transcriptions of each medial type are listed in the rightmost column of each row. For example, the /-r-/ type is transcribed as /-r-/ in some grammars but/-ɾ-/, /ʐ-/, or /-ʒ-/ in others. In the liquid macro type, the /-l-/ type is considered to be stable because it is transcribed as /-l-/ in most grammars that mention it; in contrast, the /-r-/ type is considered unstable because it has variants in 3 I utilized this term here, though I call it ‘Proto-Lolo-Burmese (PLB)’ in other papers. The PB forms in this paper are based on Matisoff’s (2003) Proto-TibetoBurman (PTB) or PLB forms, and Proto-Ngwi (Loloish) forms reconstructed by Bradley (1979) are sometimes cited in later sections. The curly bracketed PB forms in later sections are reconstructed by the present author. Also, note that this paper does not mark tones in Proto-Burmic or Proto-Jino forms, because the tones in these forms have nothing to do with medial changes.



that the fricative /-ʐ-/ in some languages and the flap /-ɾ-/ in others are classified into the same type. In the semivowel macro type, both the /-y-/ type and the /-w-/ type have two main notational variants, namely /-y-/ and /-j-/, and /-w-/ and /-u-/. Both variants are sometimes better analyzed as the element of rhyming units. From an areal perspective (and diachronic viewpoint as well), the /-w-/ type should be considered different from the other types in that it is recognized as a part of the rhyme in many Tibeto-Burman languages; hence, the other three types, the /-l-/, /-r-/, and /-y-/ types, are the primary focus here in the context of medial changes. Areal distribution of medial types The phonological inventories of most Tibeto-Burman and Tai-Kadai languages spoken in East and Southeast Asia have only one medial or even none, other than the /-w-/ type. For example, Hani, Sangkong, Lhaovo, Lacid, and Bola, which are members of Burmic, have only the /-y-/ type (Huang 1992), and Tai Khaw, Tai Dam, and Lungming, which are Tai-Kadai languages, do not have medials other than the /-w-/ type (Hudak 2008). The number of languages with more than one medial is relatively small in this area. These languages include Written Burmese,4 Youle Jino, Bisu, and Standard Thai. The distribution of medials in these languages is summarized as follows: they tend to have medials in both the liquid and semivowel groups. Some of the languages and their medial distributions are listed in Table 6-4. Table 6-4: Distribution of medials in Burmic and Standard Thai Language Written Burmese Bisu Youle Jino Standard Thai

Liquid Type /-r-/ /-l-/ /-r-/ /-l-/, /-r-/

Semivowel Type /-y-/ (, /-w-/) /-y-/ /-j-/ /-y-/(, /-w-/)

Among the Burmic languages of the Tibeto-Burman family, the most elaborate system of medials can be found in Old Burmese, which is the ancestor of Written Burmese and Colloquial Burmese. Old Burmese has three medials other than /-w-/, namely /-l-/, /-r-/, and /-y-/. Hence, it is in fact the most useful for the reconstruction of medials in Proto-Burmic (PB), since the other Burmic languages have no more medials than Old 4 The transcription of Written Burmese in this paper follows Sawada (2001).



Burmese and no systematic orthography in their ancestral languages;5 though, of course, this absence should not be overestimated. This paper mainly utilizes Written Burmese forms for comparison because comparative sets do not necessarily attest Old Burmese forms, though Old Burmese forms are cited from Nishi (1999) in this paper if attested. 6.3.2 *Bilabial + medial In the remainder of §6.3, the major types of medial changes in the Jino dialects will be analyzed. Table 6-5 presents the Burmic forms corresponding to the PB forms with *Bilabial + Medial. Table 6-5: Proto-Burmic *bilabial + medial > Jino dialects Proto-Burmic ‘pus’ *blen ‘full’ *bliŋ ‘white’ *plu ‘to speak’ *brwak ‘to write’ (*braŋ) ‘bee’ *bya ‘to fly’ *blam ‘tasty’ (*mlan) ‘to lick’ *mlyak ‘horse’ *mraŋ ‘eye’ *s-myak † ‡

Youle Jino† prɯ42 ~prɯ44 ~phru55 pja42 pjo55 pjə55~ prɛ42 mrɛ35 mrə55 mjo55 mja33~

B. Jino‡ pju31 pju44 ~ pja55 (sa44) pju55 pji55~ pjɛ35 mje31~ mje55 mju55 mja44~

Hani bjɔ55 bjɔ31 phju55 (e55) bu31 bja31~ bjɔ55 [mɛ55]6 mje31 mo31 mja33

Sangkong ~pɯŋ55 pɯŋ33 phu55 ʨa33 po31 pja31 pjam55 ~mbɯ31 mbja31 ~mboŋ31 mja33~

Achang pʐəŋ55 pʐəŋ35 phʐo55 kʐai55 (tiam31) tʂua31~ tʂam55 (ʨhau55) liap55 m̥ ʐaŋ31 ȵ̥ɔˀ55~

WB praN~’ praN~’. phruu pro(re:) pyaa: pyaM [mraN~’:]7 lyak’ mrang’: myak’ci

Full citation forms: a55prɯ44 ‘full’, a33phru55 ‘white’, pjə55jə55 ‘bee’, mja33tsi55 ‘eye’ Full citation forms: a31pja55 ‘white’, pji55ji55 ‘bee’, mje31la55 ‘tasty’, mja44tsi44 ‘eye’

As can be seen in the words for ‘pus’, ‘full’, and ‘white’ in Table 6-5, there is a stable correspondence, YJ: BJ: H: SK: ACH: WB = Pr-: Pj-: Pj-: P-: Pʐ-: Pr-, which is reconstructed as *Pl- at the PB stage by Matisoff (2003: 72). We can posit the first medial change rule as follows: Rule 1: PB *Pl-> PJ Pr-> YJ Pr-, BJ Pj5 Xu (1991) discusses the medial changes of Burmic languages and reconstructed *pl, *bl, *ml, etc., at the PB stage, though her analysis is problematic in that she did not mention any Old Burmese forms. 6 The forms placed within square brackets in the H column of this and the following tables are from Haoni, a Mojiang dialect of the Hani language, using data from Huang (1992). 7 This Burmese form usually means ‘to taste’(Harada and Ohno 1979: 372).



The word for ‘to speak’ illustrates the correspondences YJ: BJ: H: SK: ACH: WB = Pj-: (--): (--): ʨ-: Kʐ-: Pr-, which leads Matisoff (2003: 523) to reconstruct *br(w)ak at the PTB stage. As for the word ‘to write’, we can identify a somewhat different rule like YJ: BJ: H: SK: ACH: WB = Pj-: Pj-: P-: P-: (--): r-. Although both words have different correspondences, it is arguable that PB onset in both should be reconstructed as *Pr-. PB *Prbecame *Pj- at the Proto-Jino stage, and the Buyuan Jino word for ‘to speak’ should have been replaced by another form (sa44). This idea can be summarized as Rule 2. Rule 2: PB*Pr-> PJ *Pj-> YJ Pj-, BJ PjAnother stable rule can be found in the words for ‘bee’ and ‘to fly’, YJ: BJ: H: SK: ACH: WB = Pj-/ Pr-: Pj-: Pj-: Pj-: tʂ-: Py-. Matisoff (2003: 68) reconstructed the PB forms for these words as *bya2 and *byam1, respectively, both of which may be accountable for a medial change rule like Rule 3. Rule 3: PB*Py->PJ *Pj->YJ Pj-, BJ PjThis paper agrees with Rule 3. For the word ‘to fly’, however, we should reconsider the PB form. If we reconstruct *Py- for it at the PB stage, it could have undergone the medial change PB *Py-> PJ *Pr-. This hypothesis would admit strengthening as a medial change, which would be rather strange from the viewpoint of naturalness. I argue that *Plreconstructed at the PB stage for the word ‘to fly’ can easily account for the medial change in the Jino dialects. Jino dialect words with the onset m- are quite similar to the ones with P-. Based on the words for ‘tasty’, ‘to lick’, ‘horse’, and ‘eye’, Rules 4 to 6 can be established. Rule 4: PB *Ml-> PJ *Mr-> YJ Mr-, BJ MjRule 5: PB *Mr-> PJ *Mj-> YJ Mj-, BJ MjRule 6: PB *Mr-> PJ *Mj-> YJ Mj-, BJ Mj6.3.3 * Velar + medial > K+ medial in YJ & affricates in BJ Medials following velar initials are rather problematic. In Old Burmese inscriptions, there are three types of velar and medial clusters, namely {kl}/{khl}, {ky}/{khy}, and {kr}/{khr}. However, in Written Burmese, the former two groups ({kl}/{khl} and {ky}/{khy}) merged into one ({ky}/{khy}), while the last one ({kr}/{khr}) remained as it was. The {-r-} stage is not attested before {-l-} after velar initials merged into {-y-} (Nishi 1999: 46).



Table 6-6: Proto-Burmic *velar + medial > Jino dialects Proto-Burmic ‘wide’ *glay ‘excrement’ *kləy ‘river’ *klyoŋ ‘to fall’ *gla ‘to hear’ (*gra) ‘tendon’ (*graw) ‘six’ *kruk † ‡

Youle Jino† ~krə55 ~khri55 ~khrɔ55 krɔ44 kjɔ55 ~kju55 khjo55

B. Jino‡ (khuan55) ~ ʨhi55 lɤ31~ kɔ31 ʨɔ55 a55ʨa55 ʨhu55

Hani je55 [ʨhi31] lo55 [kɔ33] ga31 ~gu31 ku31

Sangkong qeŋ31 (ʑaŋ31) laŋ55~ qa33 ka31 ~ku31 kho31

Achang kaŋ31 ʨhi31 tʂhă55~ kʐua35 kʐua31 ~kʐə31 xʐoˀ55

WB kyay’khye: khyong: kya kraa: ~kro khrok’

Full citation: a55krə55 ‘wide’, a55khri55 ‘excrement’, a55khrɔ55 ‘river’, a55kju55 ‘tendon’ Full citation forms: a55ʨhi55 ‘excrement’, lɤ31thu55 ‘river’

Table 6-6 shows quite complicated correspondences between Youle Jino, Buyuan Jino, and other Burmic languages. In the words for ‘wide’, ‘excrement’, and ‘river’, a stable correspondence is found between Youle Jino and Written Burmese, YJ: WB = Kr-: Ky-.8 Matisoff (2003: 201, 221, 294) reconstructs the onset of these three words at the PTB stage as Kl(y)-, which should hold also for PB. The other languages in the table show relatively unstable correspondences. This lets us speculate Rule 7. Rule 7: PB *Kl-> PJ *Kr-> YJ Kr-, BJ TC-, etc.9 The words for ‘to hear’, ‘tendon’, and ‘six’, on the other hand, illustrate a more stable correspondence rule, YJ: BJ: H: SK: ACH: WB = Kj-:TC-: K-: K-: Kʐ-/ xʐ-: Kr-. From the viewpoint of naturalness, the onset of these words at the Proto-Jino stage can be reconstructed as *Kj-; hence, we can write Rule 8 as follows. Rule 8: PB *Kr-> PJ *Kj-> YJ Kj-, BJ TCThere is a remaining form to be explained, that is, the word for ‘to fall’.10 Matisoff (2003: 649) reconstructed the PTB form for this word as *gla, which should be taken as PB form as well and is also identical to his PB reconstruction of the word for ‘to hear’. As seen in Table 6-6, however, the correspondence for the word for ‘to fall’ differs from that for ‘to hear’,11 8 Nishi (1999: 1) presents the OB forms for these three words like; klay ‘wide’, khliy ‘excrement’, and khloṅ ‘stream(river)’. 9 As Kl->Kr- is not attested in the Burmese history of medials, we should conclude that ancestor language of Proto-Jino diverged from Proto-Burmic before this medial change. 10 The OB form for the word ‘to fall’ is kla (Nishi 1999: 1). 11 Nishi (1999: 2) presents the OB form for the word ‘to hear’ like krā.



whose PB form should be reconstructed as *gra if Rule 8 is true. The word for ‘to fall’ in Youle Jino follows Rule 7, though in Buyuan Jino the medial -r- is lost, a problem which will be discussed in §6.5. 6.3.4 Affrication Apart from Achang and Written Burmese, the other Burmic languages in Table 6-7 have affricate onsets, which are innovations resulting from the affrication of the *Kr-/*Ky- onset of PB. The Youle Jino affricate onsets tʃ/tʃh-and ʨ-/ʨh- and Buyuan Jino ts-/tsh- correspond to Hani g-/ʨh-, Sangkong ʨ-/ʨh-, Achang tʂ-/ʨh-/kʐ-, and Written Burmese Kr-/Ky-. Both the Youle and the Buyuan Jino forms in this table have affricate onsets; hence, the onset of their Proto-Jino forms should be reconstructed as the affricate *TŠ-/*TC-. Table 6-7: Affrication in the Jino dialects Proto-Burmic ‘to boil’ *glak/ *klak ‘clear’ (*gliŋ) ‘narrow’ *ʔ-gyiŋ ‘navel’ *ʔ-kyak ‘cold’ *kyam, *glak ‘sweet’ *kyəw † ‡

Youle Jino† tʃa55 ~tʃhi42 ~ʨhɛ42 tʃha33~ tʃho55 ~tʃhi55

B. Jino‡ ~tsɔ55 ~tshi55 tsɤ35~ tsha31~ tshu44 ~tshi31

Hani ʨa31 gɔ55 (the31) ʨha55~ ga33~ ʨhu55

Sangkong (tɤŋ33) (so55) ʨi55 (ø31lø33) ʨho31 ʨhø55

Achang tʂuaˀ55 kʐəŋ31 (ȵ̥ap55) ʨhi31~ kʐuat55~ (uai31)

WB kyak’ kraN~’ kyan~’: khyak’ khyam’: khyV

Full citation: a55tʃhi42 ‘clear’, a55ʨhɛ42 ‘narrow’, tʃha33to55 ‘navel’, a33tʃhi55 ‘sweet’ Full citation forms: m31tsɔ55‘to boil’,a31tshi55 ‘clear’, tsɤ35li44lɔ44 ‘narrow’, a55khrɔ55 ‘navel’, a55tshi31 ‘sweet’

In the words for ‘narrow’, ‘navel’, ‘cold’, and ‘sweet’, which comprise the majority of the Table 6-7 data, Matisoff (2003: 182, 252, 282, 318) reconstructed -y- for the PB/PTB medial. This is mainly because most of the Burmic affricate onsets clearly correspond to Written Burmese Ky-,12 which influences the reconstruction of the PTB medial. The onset of the Proto-Jino forms (*TŠ-/*TC-) in this table may date back to PB/PTB *Ky-, which can be summarized as Rule 9. Rule 9: PB *Ky-> PJ *TŠ-/*TC-> YJ TŠ-/TC-, BJ TSSome counterexamples like ‘clear’, of course, should be examined in later analyses. 12 The OB forms for ‘cold’ and ‘sweet’ are khyaṁ and khyuiw, respectively

(Nishi 1999: 2).



6.3.5 Medial syncope Table 6-8 includes correspondence sets in which there are no medials found in Youle or Buyuan Jino, though medials can be reconstructed at the PB stage. Matisoff (2003: 26, 71, 74, 124, 195, 327, 649) reconstructed *-ror *-l- at the PB stage. In Jino, PB *-r- changed to -j-, and then the rhymes became front vowels. Afterward, -j- was lost before front vowels; hence, the phenomenon can be called ‘medial syncope’. Table 6-8: Medial syncope in the Jino dialects Proto-Burmic ‘tears’ *m-brəy ‘comb’ *pri ‘tail’ *mri(/ *mrey) ‘to fear’ *krok ‘sweat’ *krwəy ‘foot’ *krəy ‘to fall’ *gla ‘hole’ *kuŋ13

Y. Jino† (~ji55) phi55~ ~m̥ i55 khø44 khi55 ~khi55 krɔ44 ~khro55

B. Jino‡ pi31 phi55~ ~mi55 ʨhi55~ ʨhɤ55~ ~ʨhi31 kɔ31 ~khu31

Hani ~bi55 phe31~ ~mi31 gu33 khɔ31~ ~khɯ55 [kɔ33] [~khu55]

Sangkong ~pɯ55 (~khak33) ~mi31 qhe33 ~ʨho31 ~khɯ55 qa33 ~qhoŋ55

Achang ~pi55 phʐa31 (~ȵaŋ35) ʐoˀ55 ~xə35 ʨhi55 kʐua35 (toŋ31)

WB (myak’raN~’) bhii:/ phrii: ~mrii: krok’ khywe: khre kya ~khong’:

‘full (less appetite)’ *bliŋ







† ‡

Full citation forms: mja33ji55 ‘tears’, phi55ʃi55 ‘comb’, to55m̥ i55 ‘tail’, ʃɔ55khi55 ‘foot’ Full citation forms: phi55thu55‘comb’, tu55mi55 ‘tail’, ʨhi55lɔ55 ‘to fear’, ʨhɤ55tshɔ31 ‘sweat’, tsha31pɤ55 ‘navel’, a55ʨhi31 ‘foot’

The PB form *krok ‘to fear’, 14 for example, could have developed as follows: PB *krok > PJ *khrok (onset aspiration) > *khjok (medial change) > *khjø (rhyme mutation) > YJ khø (medial syncope) > khø44 First, some problems found in the Jino words with bilabial onsets should be mentioned. Benedict (1972: 64) reconstructs *r-may for ‘tail’ at the PTB stage because he took into account Aimol [Kuki] rəmai and Mikir [Kuki-Chin] arme. He was ‘tempted to interpret’ the Bahing [West Kiranti] form me-ri and the Written Burmese form a-mrii in terms of metathesis. If we posit the Old Burmese medials as important for the reconstruction of the PB form, it should not be overlooked that the Old 13 The medial in the word for ‘hole’ can be attested only in the Youle Jino

lexicon within Burmic. The medial of this Youle Jino word might be better explained as a kind of epenthesis, a hypothesis in need of further investigation. 14 The OB form for ‘to fear’ is krok (Nishi 1999:2).



Burmese form for ‘tail’ is mrī (Nishi 1999: 2), which would be better adopted for reconstructing -r- at the PB stage.15 Second, we should also focus on related Buyuan Jino problems. The words for ‘tears’, ‘comb’, and ‘tail’ in Buyuan Jino underwent the same medial syncope that took place in Youle Jino, whereas the words for ‘to fear’, ‘sweat’, and ‘foot’ show onset affrication (also see Table 6-6 in §6.3.3). The words for ‘to fall’ and ‘full’ in the Table 6-8 seem more complicated to account for than the others. These words correspond rather unstably to each other, though Youle Jino and/or Written Burmese words still attest a medial. The medial of these PB and PJ words can be reconstructed as *-land *-r- respectively, which were sporadically and incidentally lost in BJ after the divergence from PJ, though the BJ rhymes have back vowels. 6.3.6 Medial epenthesis Table 6-9 contains a correspondence set in which there are no medials attested in other Burmic languages, though medials are found in Youle and/or Buyuan Jino. As for the words for ‘nine’ and ‘to steal’, apart from Youle Jino, medial reflexes cannot be found in the Burmic languages, so they cannot be reconstructed in PB either (Matisoff 2003: 182). The -j- in Youle Jino, therefore, should be viewed as an independent innovation not attested in other Burmic languages.

15 The Youle Jino word for ‘earth’ is mi33tsha55, which has no medials. As for

this word, the Old Burmese mliy (Nishi 1999: 1) is a reflection of PTB form *m-ləy (Matisoff 2003: 71), which might let us speculate that -r- follows the onset m- in Youle Jino, though in fact it does not. Compared to the word for ‘to lick’ mentioned in §6.3.2, reflexes of ‘earth’ feature no medials, neither in Youle Jino nor in other Burmic languages. Hence, this should lead us to conclude that the PB form for ‘earth’ differs from the protoform ‘to lick’ and that we should reconstruct *mr- for ‘earth’ at the PB stage.



Table 6-9: Medial epenthesis in the Jino dialects Proto-Burmic ‘nine’ *gəw ‘to steal’ *kəw ‘able’ (*kəwŋ) ‘earthworm’ (*bəw-di) ‘male’ (*pa) ‘liquor’ *m-dzəy ‘hungry’ *mwat † ‡

Y. Jino† kju55 khju55 khju42

B. Jino‡ ʨa44 ʨha55 ʨha55

Hani ɣø31 xø31 (ȵa33)

Sangkong qø31 qhø31 ʨaŋ31




(qhaŋ31 te55) (ta55)

Achang kau31 xau31 (tat55)

WB kV: khV: (tat’) pV: ~

~phɔ55 ~phjɔ55 (za31jo33za31) (nuŋ31ʨi55) (i31ʨi55) (yoky’aa:) ~phɯ55 ~phja55 ~ba31 (te31qha55) tsi55 (@a_rak’) 55 55 31 mø mje ~ me mbe31 (ʂut55) mwat’

Full citation forms: pu33sɤ55 ‘earthworm’, khɔ55phɔ55 ‘male’, ʨe33phɯ55 ‘liquor’ Full citation forms: pja55tɤ31lɤ31 ‘earthworm’, khɔ55phjɔ55 ‘male’, tsi31phja55 ‘liquor’, mje55lɔ44 ‘hungry’

The Youle Jino word for ‘to steal’ could have undergone the following change: PB *kəw > PNg *ko2(Bradley 1979: 352) > PJ *kho > *khu > *khju > YJ khju55 Of course, the motivation for the medial epenthesis of Youle Jino -j- in this environment should be explained in detail, and some Tibetanists might be tempted to point out that the onset r- in the Written Tibetan rku ‘to steal’ should be related to the medial -j- of Youle Jino khju55. However, this idea should probably be rejected because the onset d- in Written Tibetan dgu ‘nine’, which is the parallel example to ‘to steal’, cannot be linked to this phenomenon. In Buyuan Jino a vowel mutation occurs: PJ *-u > BJ -a. Hence, the words for ‘nine’ and ‘to steal’ in Buyuan Jino show the following phonological process: ‘nine’: PB *gəw > PNg *go2 (Bradley 1979: 340)> PJ *ku > *kju > BJ ʨu > ʨa44 ‘to steal’: PB *kəw > PNg * ko 2 (Bradley 1979: 352)> PJ *khu > *khju > BJ ʨhu > ʨha55 The latter half of the examples in Table 6-9 are difficult to account for. As for the words from ‘earthworm’ to ‘hungry’ with bilabial onsets (P-/M-), apart from Buyuan Jino, there are no reflexes in other languages with medials. This leads us to posit that Buyuan Jino independently underwent medial epenthesis together with vowel mutation.



6.3.7 Summary of the medial changing rules As described above, there are nine medial changing rules found in Jino. These are summarized in Table 6-10. Table 6-10: Summary of medial changes Rule 1 Rule 2 Rule 3 Rule 4 Rule 5 Rule 6 Rule 7 Rule 8 Rule 9

Proto-Burmic > *Pl- > *Pr- > *Py- > *Ml- > *Mr- > *My- > *Kl- > *Kr- > *Ky- >

Proto-Jino > *Pr- > *Pj- > *Pj- > *Mr- > *Mj- > *Mj- > *Kr- > *Kj- > *TŠ-/ *TC- >

Youle Jino PrPjPjMrMjMjKrKjTŠ-/ TC-

Buyuan Jino PjPjPjMjMjMjTCTCTS-

Table 6-10 does not mention medial syncope or epenthesis, which will be discussed along with the above rules in the next section from the viewpoint of relative chronology. 6.4 Relative chronology 6.4.1 Medial changing rules and their application As we have seen, the medial changes in the Jino dialects can be summarized as in Table 6-11. The columns list the medial changes, change types, and relevant languages. Table 6-11: Medial changes and their application


Medial Change

Change Type



*-l- > -r*-r- > -j*Ky- > TŠ-, TC*-j- >∅/ _V[front] *-j- >∅/ _V *∅> j/ K_u ∅> j/ {P/M} _V

Rhotacization Yodization Affrication Syncope A Syncope B Epenthesis A Epenthesis B

Proto-Jino Proto-Jino, Buyuan Jino Proto-Jino, Buyuan Jino Youle Jino, Buyuan Jino Buyuan Jino Proto-Jino Buyuan Jino




Type A can be called a ‘Medial Shift’, and it consists of three subtypes. The first one, *-l->-r-, is a kind of rhotacization applied to Proto-Jino, as shown in Table 6-11. The second, *-r->-j-, is a kind of yodization seen in both Proto-Jino and Buyuan Jino. The third,*Ky->TŠ-, TC-, is a sort of affrication applied to Proto-Jino and Buyuan Jino. All three changes are a form of lenition (weakening), and the reversed direction, e.g., *-r-> -l-, should not be considered to have occurred in the development of Jino. Type B is medial syncope, of which two types occur: Syncope A, *-j>∅/ _V[front], applied to both Youle and Buyuan Jino; and Syncope B, *-j>∅/ _V, applied sporadically to Buyuan Jino only. The last type, Type C, is medial epenthesis. It also consists of two subtypes: Epenthesis A, *∅>j/ K_u, applied at the Proto-Jino stage; and Epenthesis B, ∅>j/ {P/M} _V, applied to Buyuan Jino together with its rhyme mutation. 6.4.2 Language contact With the preceding analyses in mind, it is now important to turn our attention to language contact and the chronological order of changes. As mentioned in §6.2, Youle and Buyuan Jino medial /-j-/ can follow onsets like /t-/, /th-/, and /l-/, and they can be followed by front vowels in Chinese loanwords. Some examples of Youle and Buyuan Jino loanwords are given below in (1) and (2), respectively. (1) Examples of Youle Jino loanwords a. [tj-]: tje44tje44 ‘Daddy’ < Ch. diē 爹, tjen35ʃi35 ‘television’ < Ch. diànshì 电视, etc. b. [thj-]: thjen55xua55pan33 ‘ceiling’ < Ch. tiānhuābǎn 天花板, thjao35vu44 ‘dance’ < Ch. tiàowǔ 跳舞, etc. c. [lj-]: ljen35ai35 ‘love (affair)’ < Ch. liàn’ài 恋爱, si35ljao35 ‘feed (for livestock)’ < Ch. sìliào 饲料, etc. d. [mj-]: mjen35fen42 ‘flour’ < Ch. miànfěn 面粉, etc. (2) Examples of Buyuan Jino loanwords a. [tj-]: tjao55 ‘to fish’ < Ch. diào 钓, etc. b. [thj-]: thjao55wu31 ‘to dance’ < Ch. tiàowǔ 跳舞, etc. c. [pj-]: pjen44pjen44 ‘edge’ < Ch. biānbiān 边边, pjen55 ‘to change’ < Ch. biàn 变, etc. d. [mj-]: mjen55mjen55 ‘noodle’ < Ch. miànmiàn 面面, etc.



As stated above, Syncope A was applied to both Youle and Buyuan Jino; hence, it is arguable that the examples in (1) and (2) where the medial -j- is followed by a front vowel and/or preceded by /t-, th-, l-/ entered the Youle and Buyuan Jino lexicons after medial changes in the cognates were complete. 6.4.3 Relative chronology and rule ordering To sum up this section, we can state the relative chronology and rule ordering of medial changes and other related phenomena, as in Table 612. Table 6-12 illustrates that there are two stages of the development, namely, PB > PJ and PJ > Jino dialects. The changes from (i) to (iv) are shared innovations found in Proto-Jino, whereas the ones in the bottom columns are independent innovations found in each dialect. We should pay attention to the difference of rule ordering between Youle and Buyuan Jino. Syncope A occurred in both dialects. In Youle Jino, however, it occurred after rhyme mutation, while in Buyuan Jino, it took place before rhyme mutation. If it had occurred after rhyme mutation in Buyuan Jino, it would have produced *pɛ35 for ‘to fly’, which is in fact illformed. Table 6-12: Relative chronology relating to medial changes Proto-Burmic > Proto-Jino16 (i) Onset Change (ii) Medial Shift (e.g., PB *Pl-> PJ *Pr-, PB *Pr-> PJ Pj-) (iii) Rhyme Mutation (iv) Epenthesis A Proto-Jino > Youle Jino Proto-Jino > Buyuan Jino (v) Medial Shift (v) Medial Shift (e.g., PJ *Pr- > YJ *Pr-)[No Change] (e.g., PJ *Pr- > BJ *Pj-) (vi) Rhyme Mutation (vi) Syncope A (vii) Syncope A (vii) Rhyme Mutation, Epenthesis B (viii) Syncope B [(viii) Borrowing] [(ix) Borrowing] PRESENT FORM of Youle Jino PRESENT FORM of Buyuan Jino 16 If Jino dialects are affiliated with Ngwi languages, the onset and/or rhyme mutation at the Proto-Ngwi stage before the Proto-Jino stage should be postulated. The changes at the Proto-Ngwi stage, which have been briefly mentioned in this paper, do not affect the explanation here, though they must be taken into account.



Tables 6-13, 6-14, and 6-15 show the development of example words from PB to PJ, from PJ to YJ, and from PJ to BJ, respectively. Table 6-13: Rule ordering of Proto-Burmic > Proto-Jino *blam ‘to fly’ (i) Onset Change *plam (ii) Medial Shift *pram (iii) Rhyme Mutation *praC (iv) Epenthesis A -----Proto-Jino Form *praC Proto-Burmic Form

*mri ‘tail’ *mri *mji *mji -----*mji

*krok ‘to fear’ *khrok *khjok *khjoC -----*khjoC

*gəw ‘nine’ *kəw -----*ku *kju *kju

*pa ‘male’ *pha -----*pha -----*pha

*gla ‘to fall’ *kla *kra *kra -----*kra

*pha ‘male’ -----*phɔ -----~ phɔ55

*kra ‘to fall’ *kra *krɔ -----krɔ44

Table 6-14: Rule ordering of Proto-Jino > Youle Jino *praC ‘to fly’ (v) Medial Shift *praC (vi) Rhyme Mutation *prɛ (vii) Syncope A -----Youle Jino Form prɛ42 Proto-Jino Form

*mji ‘tail’ *mji *mji *mi ~m̥ i55

*khjoC ‘to fear’ *khjoC *khjø *khø khø44

*kju ‘nine’ *kju *kju -----kju55

Table 6-15: Rule ordering of Proto-Jino > Buyuan Jino Proto-Jino Form

*praC ‘to fly’ *pjaC ------

(v) Medial Shift (vi) Syncope A (vii) Rhyme Mutation, *pjɛ Epenthesis B (viii) Syncope B -----Buyuan Jino Form pjɛ35

*mji ‘tail’ *mji *mi

*khjoC ‘to fear’ *ʨhoC ------

*kju ‘nine’ *ʨu ------

*pha ‘male’ -----------

*kra ‘to fall’ *kja ------









-----*kɔ ~ phjɔ55 kɔ31

6.5 Conclusion This paper analyzes medial changes in the Jino dialects, which are very complex, consisting of three types: medial shift, medial syncope and medial epenthesis. Note that medial syncope and medial epenthesis were applied to Proto-Jino and both dialectal stages, and the rule ordering of



syncope and rhyme mutation in Youle Jino is different from that in Buyuan. Finally, the paper places emphasis on a new suggestion for *-l- in PB *blam ‘to fly’ which is supported by the naturalness of medial shift. There are two key issues not yet mentioned in the paper. One is aphaeresis. The Youle Jino words lɔ55mɯ44 ‘tiger’, lo33mɔ55 ‘stone’, li55zɔ55 ‘grandchild’, and ja42 ‘hen, cock’ correspond to Written Burmese kyaa:, kyok’, mre:, and krak’, respectively. The Proto-Burmic forms of these words can be considered to have the onset *k- or *m-, which means that in Youle Jino, the onset was lost at a certain stage. The other issue is that of the double medials at the PB/PTB stage. In Old Burmese inscriptions, there are some attested forms that feature the double medial -ly- (Nishi 1999: 3-4). These include klya ‘to fall’, klyā ‘tiger’, and mlyuiw ‘to swallow’.17 These forms affected the reconstruction of PB/PTB forms, such as PTB *mlyəw-k ‘to swallow’ (Matisoff 2003: 84), though the relationship between Youle Jino mju55 ‘to swallow’ and PTB *mlyəw-k remains to be discussed in the future. Abbreviations ACH Achang BJ Buyuan Jino Ch. Chinese H Hani K velar stops M bilabial nasal P bilabial stop PB Proto-Burmic PJ Proto-Jino

PNg Proto-Ngwi PTB Proto-Tibeto-Burman SK Sangkong TC palatal affricate TS alveolar affricate TŠ post-alveolar affricate WB Written Burmese YJ Youle Jino

Data sources Longchuan Achang [Huang 1992] Buyuan Jino [my fieldnotes] Hani [Huang 1992] Proto-Burmic (Proto-Lolo-Burmese) [partly from Matisoff 2003] Proto-Tibeto-Burman [Matisoff 2003] Sangkong [Li 2002] Youle Jino [my fieldnotes] 17 Nishi (1999: 3-4) described that there are spelling variations in Old Burmese, such as kya ~ klya ‘tiger’, klon͘ ~ klyon͘ ‘monastery’, which can be interpreted as reflexes of a stage of the shift [-l-] > [-ly-] > [-y-].



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FAMILY GROUP CLASSIFIERS IN KHATSO* Chris Donlay Khatso (kha⁵⁵tso³¹ 喀卓; aka Katso, Kazhuo 卡卓, Gazhuo 嘎卓 and Yunnan Mongolian) is an endangered language spoken in a single farming village in central Yunnan, the southwestern-most province in China. Khatso is classified as a Ngwi (or Yi) language, a branch of the Burmic group within the Tibeto-Burman phylum, although its exact position within the family is unclear. One feature unique to the Ngwi branch is the existence of family group classifiers, which describe collective groups of family members, such as ‘father & son’ or ‘grandmother & granddaughter’ (Bradley 2001). The form and function of the classifiers vary somewhat among the Ngwi languages that have them, including the degree of grammaticalization and how mixed-gender groups are described. This paper presents new data from Khatso about these typologically unusual classifiers, comparing and contrasting them with those in other Ngwi languages. The results also point to a potential historical connection between Khatso and Lisu, a Central Ngwi language spoken in northwestern Yunnan, providing another clue to the place of Khatso in the larger Ngwi branch. 7.1 Overview of Khatso Khatso is spoken only in the farming village of Xingmeng 兴蒙, which lies west of the county seat Tonghai 通海, approximately 100 kilometers south of Kunming 昆明, the capital of Yunnan Province. The village has a population of around 5,600 (通海县兴蒙乡2010年统计年鉴), and Khatso remains the language of daily life, though it is endangered. The Khatso are believed to be descended from the soldiers Kublai Khan brought to Yunnan in the 13th century to conquer China. In order to * I dedicate this paper to David Bradley with respect and gratitude for his mentorship and friendship during these past years. I also thank him, along with Bernard Comrie, Carol Genetti and Marianne Mithun, for comments on portions of an early draft. My gratitude also goes to the Khatso speakers who helped with my research. Any remaining errors are my own. This project was made possible by support from the National Science Foundation (BCS-1226804) and a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship.



control the region, his soldiers took local wives and settled permanently in strategic military and administrative sites. One such place, Qutuoguan 曲陀关, sits in a mountain pass above the Tonghai valley. When the Yuan Dynasty fell in 1368, the Mongol forces in Yunnan continued to resist the new Ming Dynasty army until 1381. At that point, the surviving Mongols fled. A group from Qutuoguan, said to be the relatives of the last commander and his troops, escaped into the valley below and hid in the marshy western edge of Qilu Lake 杞麓湖, which was much larger then than it is today. They are the ancestors of the Khatso, and the marshland, drained long ago, is the site of present-day Xingmeng (Huang 2009: 8). A recent language survey states that more than 99% of the residents in Xingmeng are proficient in the language, and it remains the language of everyday life in the village (Dai 2008: 3). Nonetheless, Khatso is endangered. All residents are bilingual in Chinese, and even in the village certain domains require its use, such as some government services, medical clinics and local trade. Furthermore, as Dai (2008: 112) points out, in the 1980s teachers in the local school began urging parents to teach their children Chinese before they started school. Today, many parents now purposely teach children Chinese as their first language. Khatso is then picked up by children while listening to the everyday conversation of adults. As a result, the Khatso of the younger generations is increasingly limited since its use is mainly restricted to a few domains. For these reasons, both the Ethnologue (Lewis et al. 2013) and UNESCO (Moseley 2010) classify Khatso as endangered. Despite its history, there are no obvious elements of Mongolic in modern Khatso. Instead, there is a strong consensus among linguists that Khatso belongs to the Ngwi branch (e.g. Bradley 1997, Bradley 2016, Dai et al. 1987, He 1989, Matisoff 2003: 697, Mu 2002: 26). However, which variety, or varieties, of Ngwi was its parent is unknown. Consequently, its exact place within the family is an open question. 7.2 Family group classifiers Family group classifiers are collective numeral classifiers that point to two or more individuals within a family, often of different generations, such as ‘father & son’ or ‘mother & daughter’. These classifiers have been found in languages in all three sub-branches of Ngwi. Although previously identified in a few individual languages (e.g. Lewis & Bai 1996 and Björverud 1998: 69), Bradley (2001) is the first and only typological overview of these classifiers, establishing them as a unique feature of the Ngwi branch as a whole. Bradley looks at seven languages across the three branches of Ngwi: Akha and Hani in the southern sub-branch, Nasu and Nuosu in the



northern sub-branch, and Lalo, Lipo and Lisu in the central sub-branch. Despite variation across the languages, there are a number of core similarities. Most of the family classifiers are disyllabic – an exception to the mainly monosyllabic nature of most classifiers in these languages – and often share relevant morphemes with common kin terms. Their morphological transparency varies, however, with the least transparent systems found in the central sub-branch. Not all Ngwi languages retain these classifiers; Lahu, for example, does not. Syntactically, they follow numerals – except for the numeral ‘one’ which is semantically impossible – with which they form tightly bound constituents. They may modify a head noun or pronoun, but often this is unnecessary and, in some languages, even ungrammatical. More often, they themselves serve as full noun phrases. The minimal paradigm contains at least three classifiers for the basic groups of ‘father & child’, ‘mother & child’ and ‘grandparent & grandchild’. In some cases there may be two grandparent classifiers that differentiate the older generation by gender. In some languages, there are also classifiers for siblings, siblings’ spouses or other relatives. Bradley reports that the classifiers are frequently used, especially when discussing one’s own family. Semantically, the classifiers define the relevant generations and, for the individual in the oldest generation, the gender as well. In some cases, ‘father & child’ may require that all referents be male, but often the classifiers may be extended semantically, so that both genders may be included or another generation added. The classifiers for ‘grandparent & grandchild’, for example, may at times include a parent from the intervening generation. The higher the numeral is the more variable the combinations, especially with the grandparent classifiers, since they may point to multiple grandparents, multiple grandchildren or both. As a result, context plays an important role in understanding the use of these classifiers in discourse. 7.2.1 Family group classifiers in Khatso Similar to that of Mandarin Chinese, the Khatso kin naming system is closest to the descriptive or Sudanese type (Morgan 1871: 413-425; Murdock 1949: 238-9). That is, there is a separate term for each distinct relative that expresses detailed information about his or her relationship to a given speaker. Often, these terms carry information about gender and birth order as well as maternal or paternal affiliation. Thus, there are separate terms for older sister (tsi³¹tsi³¹) and younger sister (ȵɛ³²³ma³³), which are in turn different from those of one’s father (ko³³mo³³, ȵa³³ȵa³³) or mother (ta³⁵i³¹, zɿ³¹ ȵa³³).



Khatso has a relatively elaborate set of family group classifiers (Donlay 2015: 286-295), though it is not as differentiated as the kin naming system. The classifiers are rarely used in discourse anymore; even older speakers prefer to use transparent periphrastic expressions to refer to family groups. This is undoubtedly due to the influence of Chinese, providing another example of how bilingualism is eroding the traditional language. As a result, the data in this paper come from elicited examples as well as discourse recordings in which speakers were specifically encouraged to use the classifiers.1 Because Mandarin has no equivalents, the Khatso data were elicited by describing the basic constructions cited in Bradley 2001 and testing possible combinations with native speakers. Most kin terms in modern Khatso are Chinese loanwords, so only a few are directly related to the corresponding family group classifiers, as the comparison in Table 7-1 illustrates. The three classifiers that denote parents are instead related to nominal suffixes. The classifier pa⁵⁵ ‘father & child’ is identical to the suffix that marks animals as male, as in ɣa⁵³pa⁵⁵ ‘rooster’ and m̩ ³¹pa⁵⁵ ‘stallion’, and the classifier pha³¹ ‘father, mother & child’ is identical to the human suffix that marks ethnonyms as male, as in kha⁵⁵tso³¹pha³¹ ‘Khatso man’ and na⁵³pha³¹ ‘Ngwi man’. The ethnonym suffix, however, does not include women; they are usually mentioned separately with the corresponding female suffix -ma³³. The classifier ma⁵⁵ ‘mother & child’ is no doubt related to the latter; the changed tone is likely due to analogy with pa⁵⁵. The grandparent classifier piɛ⁵⁵liɛ⁵⁵ is clearly unrelated to any of the grandparent terms. Only the sibling classifiers share morphemes with their nominal counterparts. The classifier for ‘brother’s wife’ is both a noun and a classifier, which is a rather rare phenomenon in Khatso. In addition, none of the family group classifiers are related to the general human classifier jo³⁵. Given their collective nature, all but one of these classifiers must be accompanied by a numeral of two or greater. The exception is pha³¹, which requires a numeral of three or greater, since it minimally includes two parents and a child. Nor can the classifiers co-occur with the demonstrative morphemes, which are considered singular, unless a numeral is interposed between them. They also cannot modify nouns as bare classifiers, which is common practice in Khatso for marking nouns as both singular and having specific reference. These are the only classifiers in Khatso to be restricted in these ways. In addition, except for those involving siblings, the family group classifiers trigger tone sandhi in the 1 Each example in the paper is notated with an abbreviation for the Khatso

speaker and the name of the source recording. The speakers featured here are khuɛi⁴⁴ li²⁴ 奎丽 (KL), kua⁴⁴ thi³¹ɕo²⁴ 官廷秀 (GTX) and xua²⁴ phɛi³³xo³¹ 华丕和 (HPH). Khatso data related to this topic may be found at



numerals si³³ ‘three’, xɤ³³ ‘four’ and kv̩ ³³ ‘nine’, causing them to change to tone 35, a sandhi pattern similar to one found in a number of other Ngwi languages (Bradley 2005). Table 7-1: Comparison of Khatso kin terms and family group classifiers Kin Terms a²⁴pa³¹, pa³¹ a²⁴ma³³, mo³³

‘father’ ‘mother’

n/a2 lau³³ti³³

‘paternal grandfather’

nɛi³³nɛi³³ a²⁴ko³³

‘paternal grandmother’ ‘maternal grandfather’

Family Group Classifiers pa⁵⁵ ma⁵⁵

‘father & child’ ‘mother & child’


‘father, mother & child’

piɛ⁵⁵liɛ⁵⁵ ‘grandparent & child’

a³⁵pho³²³, pho³²³ ‘maternal grandmother’ fɤ²⁴za³¹ ‘older & younger brothers’


m̩ ³³nɛi²⁴ tsɿ⁵⁵miɛ⁵⁵

nɛi²⁴ ‘sister, sibling’ tsɿ⁵⁵miɛ⁵⁵ ‘brother’s wife’

‘older & younger sisters’ ‘brother’s wife’

‘brother, sister’s husband’

The classifiers often occur without an overt referent. If one is present, it is more likely to be a singular personal pronoun than a noun; plural pronouns are dispreferred in this construction. If the referent is plural, then the noun sɛi⁴⁴ ‘family’ is usually added to the pronoun, where it functions as a possessive marker. This is also the case if the referent is a proper name, as shown in (1). The use of sɛi⁴⁴ is very common with the family group classifiers, and it is almost always present if the numeral is three or greater, as in (2). (1)

khuɛi⁴⁴ li²⁴ sɛi⁴⁴ ŋ̩̩³¹ ma⁵⁵ Kui Li family two FGC ‘Kui Li and her mother’ / ‘Kui Li and her daughter’ (KL-Elicitation)


ŋa³³ sɛi⁴⁴ ŋa³¹ piɛ⁵⁵liɛ⁵⁵ tɤ⁴⁴ tɕo³⁵ xɯ³³pɛi³³ family five FGC all then home 1SG ta⁵⁵ ta⁵⁵. ‘My grandmother, my three brothers (and) I were all at home.’ (HPH-Family)

2 Khatso does not have a lexical term for ‘parents’; instead the father and mother nouns are mentioned jointly in discourse, usually without a conjunction, e.g. a²⁴pa³¹ a²⁴ma³³ ‘(my) father (and) mother’.



There seems to be only one common noun that may be modified by a family group classifier in Khatso, and that is the generic noun tsho³³ ‘person’, as (3) and (4) demonstrate. No other nouns may be so modified, including human nouns such as za³¹ni²⁴za³¹ ‘girl’ or any of the kin terms. If the flow of discourse requires that referents be instantiated by common nouns, they are usually preposed, as in (5), or even topicalized, as in (6), so that the classifiers do not directly modify a noun. A pronoun may be inserted, as in (5), but none is required since zero anaphora is common in the language. (3)

tsho³³ ŋ̩̩³¹ ma⁵⁵ person two FGC ‘a mother and child’, literally ‘people mother and child’ (KL-Elicitation)


tsho³³ ŋ̩̩³¹ si³³ fɤ²⁴ person two three FGC ‘two or three brothers’, literally ‘people two or three brothers’ (HPH-Family)


i³³ kɛi³³ i³³ sɛi⁴⁴ mo³³ kɛi³³ i³³tshɤ³³ ŋ̩̩³¹ ma⁵⁵ 3SG CONJ 3SG family mother CONJ 3PL two FGC h k ua³¹la³¹ i³²³ wa³²³ Kunming go PFV ‘she and her mother, they two went to Kunming’ (KL-Elicitation)


ŋa³³ sɛi⁴⁴ lau³³ti³³ ni³¹ tɕo³⁵ ŋ̩³¹ 1SG family paternal.grandfather TOP then two tso³⁵ ŋɛi³³. EXIST.FOC ASRT ‘My grandfather, (he) only had two brothers.’ (GTX-Doctor)

fɤ²⁴ FGC

In discourse, the meaning of these classifiers depends on the nominal referent and the numeral attached as well as the age and gender of the speaker. The basic meaning of each classifier is shown in Table 7-2, along with a general rubric of use. Relationship points to the family relationship the classifier instantiates, referent means the person denoted by the head noun, and meaning defines the interpretations possible for each referent.



Table 7-2: Basic meanings of the family group classifiers in Khatso Classifier pa⁵⁵

Relationship father

Referent man woman man




father & mother

woman man woman man


grandparent woman man


brother, brother-in-law woman man


sister, sibling woman


brother’s wife

man woman

Meaning father & referent, referent & son/daughter father & referent mother & referent mother & referent, referent & daughter/son father, mother & referent father, mother & referent grandparent & referent, referent & grandchild grandparent & referent, referent & grandchild brother & referent, brother-inlaw & referent sister & referent, siblings & referent sister & referent, brother & referent, siblings & referent brother’s wife & referent (first person not possible) brother’s wife & referent father & referent

Although a classifier such as pa⁵⁵ simultaneously points to a father and a child, the speaker may fill either of those roles. Thus, the phrase in (7) may mean ‘my father and I’ for any speaker regardless of the situation, but when spoken by an adult male it may also mean ‘my child and I’. Likewise, if the phrase is spoken by people who do not have children – for example, teenagers or those who are unmarried – it can only mean ‘my father and I’. Ambiguity is generally resolved by discourse context. An adult female cannot use this phrase to refer to her own children; she uses ma⁵⁵ instead. Examples from discourse are presented in (8) and (9). (7)

ŋa³³ ŋ̩³¹ pa⁵⁵ 1SG two FGC ‘my father and I’ (for all referents); ‘my child and I’ (for male referents) (KL-Elicitation)




ŋ̩³¹ pa⁵⁵ tɤ⁴⁴ i³²³ wa³³ two FGC all go CRS ‘(my) father and I both went’ (HPH-Family)


ŋ̩³¹ ma⁵⁵ tɤ⁴⁴ i³²³ two FGC all go ‘the mother and daughter both go’ (HPH-Family)

In the case of the parent-related classifiers, increasing the numeral, as in (10), restricts the possible interpretations. Because no person has more than one father, this phrase can only refer to a man and his two children, who may be of either gender. In contrast, the classifier piɛ⁵⁵liɛ⁵⁵ allows for a greater variety of interpretations. The phrase in (11) may mean ‘your three grandchildren and you’ for older referents of either gender, or ‘your three grandparents and you’ for any referent. In addition, the intervening generation may also be included, so that another interpretation is ‘your father, two grandparents and you’. Again, the referents may be of either sex. An example from discourse is shown in (12). (10)

i³³ si³⁵ pa⁵⁵ 3SG three FGC ‘he and his two children’ (for male referents) (KL-Elicitation)


nɛi³³ sɛi⁴⁴ xɤ³⁵ piɛ⁵⁵liɛ⁵⁵ family four FGC 3PL ‘your three grandchildren and you’ / ‘you three siblings/cousins and your grandparent’ / ‘you two grandparents and your two grandchildren’ / ‘you two siblings/cousins and your two grandparents’ / ‘your child, two grandchildren and you’ / ‘you two siblings, your parent and your grandparent’ / ‘you two grandparents, your child and grandchild’ / ‘you, your parent and your two grandparents’ / etc. (KL-Elicitation)


si³⁵ piɛ⁵⁵liɛ⁵⁵ tɤ⁴⁴ sɿ³¹ ɕi⁵³ tshi³³ kho⁵³ za³¹ three FGC all seven eight ten CLF DIM lo⁵³ ja³²³ sɛi³¹, a³³tɕha⁵⁵khv̩ ³³ ŋa³³tshɤ³³. reach PFV.EMP still that.time 3PL ‘my grandmother and (we) two grandchildren, we were still only about seven, eight, ten years old at that time.’ (GTX-Doctor)



The sibling classifiers, fɤ²⁴ and nɛi²⁴, pattern in a slightly different manner. The male classifier fɤ²⁴ is only used to refer to brothers of male referents, as shown in (13). The birth order of the brothers is irrelevant; fɤ²⁴ may refer to older or younger brothers or both. The female classifier nɛi²⁴ is used for all other combinations. Thus, the phrase in (14) may refer to two sisters or a mixed group of siblings of a male speaker. For female speakers, the additional referents may be two sisters, two brothers or a mixed group of siblings. Again, context usually resolves any ambiguity. Examples from discourse are shown in (15) and (16). tsɿ⁵⁵miɛ⁵⁵ ‘sister-inlaw’ is unusual in that it may function as either a family classifier or a noun, as shown in (17), the only classifier in this group to do so. However, in the latter use it has an idiomatic meaning of ‘sister-in-law among many’, as the translation shows. There does not seem to be an analogous classifier for brothers-in-law; fɤ²⁴ is employed instead.3 (13)

i³³ si³³ fɤ²⁴ 3SG three FGC ‘he and his two brothers’ (for male referents) (KL-Elicitation)


ŋa³³ si³³ nɛi²⁴ 1SG three FGC ‘my two sisters and I’ / ‘my brother and sister and I’ (for male speakers); ‘my two sisters and I’ / ‘my two brothers and I’ / ‘my brother and sister and I’ (for female speakers) (KL-Elicitation)


ŋ̩³¹ si³³ fɤ²⁴ tɤ⁴⁴ tshɿ³¹ma³³ tshɿ³³ tɕi³³ wa³²³ two three FGC all wife marry enter PFV ‘two or three brothers (of mine) all married’ (HPH-Family)


si³³ fɤ²⁴ kɛi³³ ȵɛ³²³ma³³ jo³⁵ kɛi³³ sɛi⁴⁴, three FGC CONJ younger.sister CLF CONJ TOP xɤ³³ nɛi²⁴ tso³²³ sɛi⁴⁴ four FGC EXIST TOP ‘three brothers and a younger sister, there are four brothers and sisters’ (HPH-Family)

3 This asymmetry may be due to language loss, or may reflect the patrilocal nature of marriage among the Khatso, whereby wives traditionally lived with their husbands’ family. Thus, a collective term for the in-marrying wives of brothers in a single household is likely to be more frequently employed than a term for sisters’ husbands who live in separate households.



(17) a

ŋ̩³¹ tsɿ⁵⁵miɛ⁵⁵ two FGC ‘[referent] and a sister-in-law’


tsɿ⁵⁵miɛ⁵⁵ ŋ̩³¹ jo³⁵ sister-in-law two CLF ‘two sisters-in-law among many’ (KL-Elicitation)

Context is crucial for understanding the exact meaning of these classifiers in discourse. Cultural knowledge is likewise helpful. For example, it was traditional for boys to accompany their fathers to learn farming or a trade while girls would remain with their mothers to learn domestic skills. As a result, pa⁵⁵ and ma⁵⁵ are generally assumed to involve two generations of the same gender. Thus, the phrase in (10) above would historically be understood as ‘he and his two sons’, absent context to the contrary. Similarly, children were traditionally tended by their paternal grandmothers. Thus, although piɛ⁵⁵liɛ⁵⁵ may semantically point to any grandparent, combinations involving this classifier are likely to refer to one grandmother and several grandchildren, as the discourse example in (12) above attests. These classifiers may also refer to relatives outside the parental or grandparental groupings, though this is not their primary function. In this use, the same generational combination must be retained. Thus, pa⁵⁵, which often means ‘father & son’, may also refer to ‘uncle & nephew’, and the sibling classifiers are employed to refer to cousins on either side of the family. There are, in fact, no common nouns that mean ‘cousin’ in Khatso; they are simply called ‘brothers’ or ‘sisters’. The example in (18) illustrates another possibility; ma⁵⁵ points to a pair consisting of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Similarly, these classifiers may also be employed to refer to close friends of the family. Thus, ma⁵⁵ may refer to a child and her mother’s best female friend, and piɛ⁵⁵liɛ⁵⁵ may refer to friends of a grandparent. So in addition to cultural knowledge, information about the speaker’s family situation is also helpful. Because the village population is relatively concentrated, most residents are very familiar with the family history of their friends and neighbors. (18)

ta²⁴ to³³ tɕo³⁵ ŋ̩³¹ ma⁵⁵ tɤ⁴⁴, still also then two FGC all i³³ sua³⁵ tɤ⁴⁴ tɛi³³ thɛi³¹ ti³³ lead CLNK this carry PROG go ‘and then mother-in-law and daughter-in-law both, (they) thus went to gather (firewood)’ (HPH-Family)



7.2.2 Comparison of classifiers across languages Despite language-specific variations, the general use of family group classifiers is similar in all of the languages that have them, including Khatso. There is a core group that includes father-child, mother-child and grandparent-grandchild combinations, which may be extended semantically to include other relatives. For example, a child’s spouse may be included in the parent-related classifiers and grandparent-grandchild classifiers may include the intervening generation. Syntactically, they form tightly bound constituents with the accompanying numeral. They may optionally modify head nouns, but these are typically pronouns rather than common nouns. It appears that only in Nuosu may the classifiers modify kin terms. Differences among the classifiers pertain to the composition of the paradigms and the shape of the classifiers themselves. The comparative summary in Table 7-3 places the Khatso data alongside those of Bradley 2001. The core paradigms of Akha and Hani are simple and transparent. The parent and grandparent classifiers are differentiated by the gender of the oldest generation, and the disyllabic classifiers combine a kin morpheme with -za³¹ ‘son, child’. The Nasu classifiers are likewise transparent. The parent classifiers pair morphemes for ‘male’ or ‘female’ with -zo³³ ‘son, child’, and the sole grandparent classifier morphologically comprises ‘grandmother’ and ‘grandchild’, though it is used for grandparents of either gender. Nuosu has the most reduced core paradigm, with only father-child and mother-child classifiers. They are monosyllabic, containing morphemes that correspond to ‘father’ and ‘mother’ respectively. The core paradigms of the Central Ngwi languages are more grammaticalized and much less transparent, corresponding to only a few relevant kin terms. The second syllables all have initial /l/, which is derived from the morpheme for ‘grandchild’. Lipo and Lisu differentiate the grandparent classifiers by gender, but Lalo has just one classifier that applies to both. Comparing the paradigms, we see that the Khatso system shares features with both the central and northern sub-branches. The core classifiers do not directly correspond to kin terms, like the central languages. And, Khatso has only one grandparent classifier, like Lalo, although this also occurs in Nasu. In contrast, sibling classifiers exist in Khatso as well as several Northern Ngwi languages. Nuosu has a classifier for brothers, and Nasu has one for siblings as well as for female crosscousins who may also be brothers’ wives. And, like Nuosu, most of the Khatso classifiers have been reduced to single syllables, likely due to regularization with the rest of the classifier inventory. The Khatso paradigm does show one notable difference – the classifier pha³¹ which



refers to both parents together, a form that does not exist in the other languages. Table 7-3: Comparison of family group classifiers across languages4

Southern Ngwi Northern Ngwi Central Ngwi Akha Hani Nasu Nuosu Lalo Lipo Lisu


pɔ³³, po⁵⁵ mo²¹, mother ma³³za²¹ ma³³za²¹ mo²¹zo³³ mo⁵⁵ father & mother father



pa²¹za²¹ pho⁵⁵zo³³

grandparent brother

fi²¹li²¹, pi²¹li²¹ vɿ⁵⁵ɲi³³




pi²¹za²¹ phi⁵⁵ɬɿ³³


ma³³la²¹ mo⁵⁵lo²¹ ma⁵⁵la²¹ ma⁵⁵

bo⁵⁵za²¹ bo⁵⁵za²¹

grandpi²¹za²¹ mother


pa²¹la²¹ po⁵⁵lo²¹





mi⁵⁵li²¹ piɛ⁵⁵liɛ⁵⁵ fɤ²⁴ nɛi²⁴

mɛ⁵⁵ nm⁵⁵

brother’s wife

fɔ³³ (me⁵⁵) tɕhe²¹


(adapted from Bradley 2001)

In examining the shape of the Khatso classifiers themselves, we see great similarity to those in the Central Ngwi languages, especially Lisu. The parent-related classifiers in Khatso are identical in form and tone to the first syllable of those in Lisu. The loss of the second syllable may be due to the fact that it is etymologically related to a /l/-initial morpheme for ‘grandchild’ in Lisu which does not exist in Khatso; Khatso instead has (ɣ)ɤ⁵⁵za³¹ ‘grandson’ and (ɣ)ɤ⁵⁵ma³³ ‘granddaughter’. The grandparent classifier is similar to the grandfather classifiers in Lisu and Lipo, but with a different tone in the second syllable and different vowels in both. Since no forms outside the central sub-branch provide a closer match, these are likely innovations specific to Khatso. 4 Forms separated by commas reflect dialect differences. Underlined vowels

are tense.



The second syllable in the Lipo ‘grandmother’ classifier carries tone 55, a development that Bradley does not explain. It may be that the same process was at work in Khatso. Or, the second syllable may have changed to tone 55 in analogy to the first, similar to the leveling process that resulted in the uniform 55 tones in the Lisu classifiers. As for the vowel difference, Khatso does not have the tense vowels found in other Ngwi languages. The correspondences between the two types of vowel systems have not been researched, but it may be that the loss of the laryngeal restriction changed the quality of the vowel, which then spread to the preceding syllable. Or, it may be that the final /i/ was lengthened to /iɛ/ in phrase-final position, a pattern found in modern Khatso, which likewise spread to the preceding syllable. Note that the Khatso classifier tsɿ⁵⁵miɛ⁵⁵ shows the same innovations, suggesting that there are broader patterns at work. Of the remaining Khatso classifiers, only fɤ²⁴ has a possible cognate in the table, the sibling classifier fɔ³³ in Nasu, though apparently other Ngwi languages also have /f/-initial brother classifiers and /n/-initial classifiers for other sibling combinations (Bradley, personal communication, Nov. 24, 2014). All in all, the similarities between the Khatso and Lisu classifiers are unmistakable. As Bradley notes, the varying patterns of form and function among the family group classifiers align with the genetic divisions of the three subbranches of Ngwi, which were established independently through broadbased comparisons. Thus, the striking similarity between the Khatso and Lisu classifiers suggests that the two languages are closely related, an idea that is explored further in the next section. 7.2.3 Historical connections Khatso arose through language contact between Mongol soldiers and their local Yunnanese wives. Apparently these women spoke one or more Ngwi varieties because modern Khatso fits the typological profile of the family, regardless of whether one looks at phonology, vocabulary or syntax. Moreover, there are no obvious signs of Mongolic elements in the language. However, its place within the family remains an open question. And because many Ngwi varieties are either undocumented or underdocumented, it is not an easy question to answer. Against this background, the family group classifier data become even more intriguing. Clearly, they further cement the classification of Khatso as a Ngwi language, which was not in doubt. But they also seem to suggest that Khatso belongs to the central sub-branch of the family, a hypothesis that seems to be slowly emerging from the data.



The first studies of Khatso were focused on establishing it as a Ngwi language, rather than trying to identify its exact place within the Ngwi branch. This is undoubtedly because Chinese linguists generally do not ascribe an internal structure to the Ngwi branch. Thus, in the Chinese literature Khatso is compared to a great many Ngwi languages. The first grammar sketch compares Khatso to Lishan Yi (Dai et al. 1987), a variety spoken near Xingmeng. Later research compares Khatso to Sani (He 1989), which is found to the northeast in Shilin County, as well as Samei and Niesu, which are found southeast and west of Kunming respectively (He 1998). Sani belongs to the southeastern sub-branch; the others are considered northern varieties (Bradley 1997). In a rather broad survey, various features of Khatso are compared to those in Sani, Nuosu, Lisu, Lahu, Hani and Naxi, among others (Mu 2002, passim). However, none of these comparisons are systematic or comprehensive enough to determine the place of Khatso in the family. The main conclusion is that Khatso is a separate language within the family rather than a close relative or dialect of another variety (Dai et al. 1987, He 1989, Mu 2002: 26). Western linguists have focused more on finding relationships among the Ngwi languages, and have traditionally divided them into three subbranches based on shared phonological, morphological and lexical innovations, as in the Bradley data described above.5 Matisoff (2003: 697) includes Khatso (called Gazhuo) in the northern sub-branch of the family, along with Lalo, Nasu and others. Bradley (1997, 2016) places Nasu and Khatso in the northern branch, and situates Lalo, Lipo and Lisu in the central sub-branch. However, based on lexical and syntactic diagnostic tests performed during a 2012 field visit to Xingmeng with the author, Bradley now believes Khatso belongs in the central sub-branch (personal communication, October 3, 2012), though exact correspondences have yet to be elaborated. A recent study by Lama (2012: 141-142), which explores the relationship between 34 languages across all sub-branches of Ngwi, arrives at a different conclusion. Using a computational phylogenetic model, he determines that the language closest to Khatso is Samu, also known as Samadao, which is spoken on the outskirts of Kunming and considered a Northern Ngwi language (Bradley 1997). However, Lama notes that the Khatso-Samu pairing is not strong, and few details are provided for independent evaluation. Moreover, the data sample consists of only 300 lexemes and the results cut across the sub-branches accepted by Western linguists. Additional testing is required in order to fully understand the proposed relationship between the two languages. 5 A separate southeastern branch is now recognized (see Pelkey 2005, 2008).



Mutual intelligibility offers another potential window into the problem. No formal studies have been done to date, but Chinese linguists state that Khatso does not seem to share intelligibility with any Ngwi variety (Dai et al. 1987, Mu 2002: 27). This position is likely attributable to Khatso speakers themselves, who say that they do not understand the Ngwi varieties spoken around them – all of which are dialects of Nasu from the northern sub-branch (Bradley & Bradley 2002). Interestingly, a few Khatso villagers tell anecdotes about meeting Lisu speakers and discovering that they understood a fair amount of that language. Whether the Lisu speakers likewise understood Khatso is unknown. More research into intelligibility would provide a helpful counterpoint to historical methods. The shared innovations identified in the Khatso and Lisu family group classifier paradigms imply that they are closely related. Naturally, this is insufficient to establish a definite link. However, this information complements the picture painted by the two other data points just mentioned. First, recent diagnostic testing indicates that Khatso more properly belongs in the central sub-branch and, second, some Khatso speakers report an ability to partially understand Lisu. Taken together, these data suggest that the immediate ancestor of Lisu may likewise be the parent of Khatso as well. The evidence is not conclusive, of course, but it does lead to an emerging hypothesis about the place of Khatso in the Ngwi branch. 7.3 Conclusion By creating a typology of the unique family group classifiers in Ngwi, Bradley (2001) made an important contribution to our knowledge about classifiers and to our view of this major branch of the Burmic family. Moreover, the varying patterns found among Ngwi languages align well with the three traditional sub-branches of Ngwi, which were determined through broad-based comparative studies. The information about the Khatso classifier paradigm presented here likewise sheds new light on several areas. It expands the typology, adding new forms to the inventory and providing a more detailed view of how the classifiers are employed in discourse. It also adds intriguing data to an emerging hypothesis about the origin of Khatso. Partial evidence uncovered during previous studies, along with anecdotal information from speakers and recent diagnostic tests by Bradley, point to a possible historical link between Khatso and the Central Ngwi languages, especially Lisu. To be clear, the data are not conclusive and they should not be overstated. Nonetheless, they do bring into focus a promising new line of inquiry which may ultimately lead to the identification of the proper place of Khatso within the Ngwi family.



Abbreviations ASRT Strong assertion Classifier CLF Clause linker CLNK Conjunction CONJ Currently relevant state CRS Diminutive DIM Emphatic EMP Existential EXIST Family group classifier FGC Focus FOC Perfective PFV PL Plural Progressive PROG Singular SG TOP Topic References Björverud, Susanna. 1998. A grammar of Lalo. Lund: Lund University. Bradley, David. 1997. Tibeto-Burman languages and classification. In David Bradley (ed.), Tibeto-Burman languages of the Himalayas, 1–72. Bradley, David. 2001. Counting the family: Family group classifiers in Ngwi (Tibeto-Burman) languages. Anthropological Linguistics 43. 1–17. Bradley, David. 2005. Why do numerals show ‘irregular’ correspondence patterns in Tibeto-Burman? Some Southeastern Tibeto-Burman examples. Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale 34. 221–38. Bradley, David. 2016. Tibeto-Burman languages of China. In Rint Sybesma, Wolfgang Behr, Yueguo Gu, Zev Handel, C.-T. James Huang and James Myers (eds.), Encyclopedia of Chinese languages and linguistics. Leiden: Brill. Bradley, David & Maya Bradley. 2002. Language policy and language maintenance: Yi in China. In David Bradley & Maya Bradley (eds.), Language endangerment and language maintenance, 77–97. London: Routledge Curzon. Dai Qingxia 戴庆夏, Liu Juhuang 刘菊黄 & Fu Ailan 傅爱兰. 1987. 云南 蒙古族嘎卓语研究 [Yunnan Mongolian Khatso language study]. 语 言研究 [Studies in Language and Linguistics] 1. 151–175. Dai Qingxia 戴庆夏. 2008. 云南蒙古族喀卓人语言使用现状及其演 变 [Language use and its evolution among the Yunnan Mongolian Kazhuo people]. Beijing: Shangwu Yinshuguan. Donlay, Chris. 2015. A functional grammar of Khatso. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California dissertation.



He Jiren 和即仁. 1989. 云南蒙古族语言及其系属问题 [Yunnan Mongolian and the classification question]. 民族语文 [Minority Languages of China] 5. 25–36. He Jiren 和即仁. 1998. 关于云南蒙古族卡卓语的形成 [About the formation of Yunnan Mongolian Kazhuo]. 民 族 语 文 [Minority Languages of China] 4. 51–54. Huang Chun 黄淳. 2009. 蒙古族简史 [Concise history of Mongolians]. Kunming: Yunnan Renmin Chubanshe. Lewis, Paul W. & Bai Bibo. 1996. Hani-English English-Hani dictionary. London: Kegan Paul International. Lama Ziwo (Qiu Fuyuan). 2012. Subgrouping of Nisoic (Yi) languages: A study from the perspectives of shared innovation and phylogenetic estimation. Arlington: University of Texas at Arlington dissertation. Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons & Charles D. Fennig (eds.) 2013. Ethnologue: Languages of the world, Seventeenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online: (1 May 2015). Matisoff, James. 2003. Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: System and philosophy of Sino-Tibetan reconstruction. Berkeley: University of California Press. Morgan, Lewis H. 1871. Systems of consanguinity and affinity of the human family. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution. Moseley, Christopher (ed.) 2010. Atlas of the world’s languages in danger. Paris: UNESCO Publishing. Online: (1 May 2015). Mu Shihua 木仕华. 2002. 卡卓语研究 [A study of Kazhuo]. Beijing: Minzu Chubanshe. Murdock, George Peter. 1949. Social structure. New York: Free Press. Pelkey, Jamin R. 2005. Puzzling over Phula: Toward the synthesis and statement of a sub-branch. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 28(2). 43–78. Pelkey, Jamin R. 2008. The Phula languages in synchronic and diachronic perspective. Melbourne: La Trobe University dissertation. 通海县兴蒙乡2010年统计年鉴[Tonghai County Xingmeng Village 2010 statistical yearbook]. 2010. Xingmeng: Tonghaixian Xingmengxiang Tongjizhan.


THE MORPHOLOGY OF NUMERALS AND CLASSIFIERS IN JAPHUG* Guillaume Jacques 8.1 Introduction In many Burmo-Qiangic languages, including Burmic (Bradley 2005) and Naish (Michaud 2011, 2013), the combination of numerals with classifiers is an area of grammar (indeed, in some languages, the only area of grammar) where morphological irregularities and complex alternations are attested.1 Somewhat paradoxically, in Gyalrong languages, otherwise known for their polysynthetic and irregular verbal morphology (Sun 2014; Jacques 2012b), numerals and classifiers present relatively simple and predictable alternations. In this paper, I first present a description of the morphology and morphosyntax of numerals and classifiers in Japhug and other Gyalrongic languages (going beyond the account in Jacques 2008) based on both corpus data and elicitation for some paradigms. Then, I evaluate several competing analyses to account for the observed data. First, Japhug may never have developed these irregular systems: as shown by Bradley (2005), most alternations in Burmic and other languages are the indirect effects of lost final obstruents. Since Japhug preserved all final obstruents as distinct segments, the basic conditions for the alternations to develop might not have been present in the first place. Second, the system found in Japhug could have recently been completely innovated. Third, it could be cognate with the numeral + * I wish to express my gratitude to the anonymous reviewer, whose comments were invaluable to improve this paper. The Japhug examples are taken from a corpus that is progressively being made available on the Pangloss archive (Michailovsky et al. 2014). This research was funded by the HimalCo project (ANR-12-CORP-0006) and is related to the research strand LR-4.11 ‘‘Automatic Paradigm Generation and Language Description’’ of the Labex EFL (funded by the ANR/CGI). 1 In the interest of space, I do not present here data on languages other than Japhug and Stau; the reader is invited to consult the cited sources for comparison. The Tibetan transcription in this chapter is based on Jacques (2012a).



classifier paradigms in Burmic and Naish but have been thoroughly simplified by analogical leveling. After a detailed examination of the evidence, I conclude that although thoroughly renewed by analogical leveling, the classifier system found in Japhug is partly inherited from the common ancestor of Gyalrongic languages and Pumi. 8.2 Numerals and classifiers in Japhug In this section, I present a synchronic description of the syntax and morphology of numerals and classifiers in Japhug, with some additional data on Stau, another Gyalrongic language, for comparison. First, I describe the structure of the noun phrase and the place of numerals and classifiers in it. Second, I provide an account of the morphology of numerals up to one hundred. Third, I compare the plain numerals with the numeral prefixes used on classifiers. Fourth, I discuss the numerals above one hundred. Fifth, I briefly mention the approximate numerals, which appear to be specific to Gyalrong languages. 8.2.1 Word order The noun phrase in Japhug presents the following word order:2 (1)




Numerals and classifiers appear after nouns and adjectives as in examples (2) and (4). (2)

‘She had to take care of three children and two old people (on her own.’ (14-tApitaRi, 27) (3)

‘There is only one seed in (each one) of its fruit.’ (11-qarGW, 89) 2 Note that attributive adjectives are all participial relative clauses; pre-

nominal attributive adjectives are rare, but not completely unattested (Jacques 2016).



The use of classifiers in Japhug is quite restricted in comparison with languages such as Naish, Burmic or Lizu/Ersu (see Lidz 2010: 216-224, Zhang 2014). There are a few classifiers specific for particular shapes such as tɯ-ldʑa ‘one long object’, tɯ-pʰɯ ‘one tree’, or tɯ-mpɕa r ‘one sheet’. However, most nouns (including nouns with animate or inanimate referent) use the generic classifier tɯ-rdoʁ ‘one piece’ (from Tibetan rdog ‘one piece’). Classifiers are not used in Japhug to express indefinite reference (unlike in languages such as Na, cf. Lidz 2010: 206). The indefinite determiner and numeral ci ‘one, a’ is used for this purpose. Some classifiers express a specific quantity, size or number of individuals (such as tɯ-boʁ ‘one group’ or tɯ-spra ‘a handful of’). Most classifiers, however, are used either to convey a distributive meaning, as in the example (4), or to single out an individual from a group, as in (5). (4) ‘Each person takes one straw.’(30-tChorzi, 37) (5)

‘He had four sons, but not even one of them was as smart as he.’(The smart one, 3) Numerals and classifiers can be used without nouns. Repetition of a classifier with the same numeral prefix expresses a regular distribution as in (6). (6)

‘(The mushrooms) grow one by one separately, (they do not grow) in clusters.’(22-BlamajmAG, 129) 8.2.2 The morphology of plain numerals Gyalrongic languages differ from otherwise closely related languages such as Naish (Michaud 2011) or Pumi (Daudey 2014: 141, Ding 2014: 91-2) in that the numerals 11, 12, 13, 16 and in some Gyalrongic languages 14, present a labial linker element between the root for ‘ten’ and that of the unit, separated by hyphens in Table 8-1. This labial linker is variously realized



as a stop (sqa-p-tɯɣ ‘11’), a labio-dental fricative (sqa-f-sum ‘13’) or a nasal (sqa-m-nɯz ‘12’) depending on the following consonant. The linker appears whenever the root of the unit does not contain an initial cluster. Note that the bare root of the numeral does not always correspond to the simple numeral. In Japhug ʁnɯz ‘two’ and χsɯm ‘three’ have a uvular prefix not found in the forms for 12 and 13; in Stau ɣni ‘two’ , xsɞ ‘three’, ɣɮdə ‘four’ and xtɕʰu ‘six’ have a velar fricative prefix which is lost in the numerals between 11 and 20, and which appears to correspond to the prefixal element kɯ- found in the numerals from four to nine in Japhug.3 Since the numerals which do not have the linker element (15, 17, 18 and 19) are also the ones whose bare root contains an initial cluster, the labial linker can be considered to appear between the two numerals roots in numerals between 11 and 19, whenever no cluster is present in the second root. See Table 8-1. It is unclear to what extent this linker is a Gyalrongic innovation, or an archaism, lost in other languages due to analogy, but its complete absence outside of Gyalrongic suggests that the first option is more probable. Numerals between 20 and 99 in Japhug can be generated by combining the tens with the units. For instance, ɣnɤ-sqamnɯz 22 is built from ɣnɤsqi ‘20’ and sqamnɯz ‘12’ by replacing the –sqi element by sqamnɯz. 8.2.3 Numeral prefixes In contrast with the relatively complex forms of the numerals 11 to 19, the combinations of numerals and classifiers in Japhug and Stau are relatively simple. Table 8-2 illustrates the numeral prefix paradigm in Japhug: the final consonants of the numeral root are lost, some vowels change to the back unrounded vowels ɯ or ɤ, but no other change takes place. In the case of the numerals above ten, the prefixal form is optional; it is possible to use the free form instead. Prefixal forms for other numerals under 100 can be generated with the same rules.4 The numerals kɯβde ‘four’ and kɯmŋu ‘five’ have two variants kɯβde/ kɯβdɤ- and kɯmŋu- / kɯmŋɤ- in the prefixal paradigm, the first of which is most common. 3 On the simplification of presyllables in Japhug and their sensitivity to onset

complexity, see Jacques (2014a). 4 The final stop -t in kɯngɯt ‘nine’ is unexpected (it is not even found in the closely related Situ language where we have kəngu ‘nine’), and most probably due to analogy with the coda of kɯrcat ‘eight’.



Table 8-1: Comparison of basic numerals in Japhug and Stau

In addition, kɤntɕʰɯ ‘many, several’ (the S-participle of a ntɕʰɯ ‘be many’) and the interrogative pronoun ‘how many’ have the prefixal forms kɤntɕʰɯ- and tʰɤstɯ- (as in kɤntɕʰɯ-xpa ‘many years’ and tʰɤstɯ-tɯrpa ‘how many pounds’).



All classifiers in Japhug except -rʑa ʁ ‘night’ follow the paradigm of –sŋi ‘day’. The classifier -rʑa ʁ ‘night’ is the only one with irregular forms, and even -rʑa ʁ can be used with the regular paradigm. In Stau, only the numeral prefixes ‘one’ e- and ‘two’ ɣnə- have a special form, the rest are identical with the free numerals. Table 8-2: Numeral prefixes in Japhug

8.2.4 Other numerals Numerals above one hundred present fewer morphological alternations than the units and tens. There are two ways of expressing ‘one hundred’ in Japhug. First, the noun-like numeral ‘one hundred’ can be employed as in (7). (7)

‘I need one hundred and eight able young men like me.’ (Slobdpon, 16) The numeral cannot be combined with unit numerals to express numbers between 200 and 900. The classifier ‘one hundred’ is used for this purpose, as in (8) (see §8.2.3 for an account of the numeral prefixes).



(8) ‘There are about three hundred of them, in one hive.’(26-GZo, 48) Numerals above the hundreds are all borrowed from Tibetan: stoŋtsu ‘thousand’, kʰrɯtsu ‘ten thousand’, mbɯmχtɤr ‘hundred thousand’ from stoŋ(tsʰo), kʰri(tsʰo) and ⁿbum.tʰer respectively. These numerals appear after the noun they qualify like ɣurʑa ‘hundred’. 8.2.5 Approximate numerals There are three strategies in Japhug to express an approximate number. First, there is a restricted set of approximate numerals for numerals under ten (Table 8-3). Table 8-3: Approximate numerals in Japhug

Second, it is possible to repeat the same classifier with a different numeral prefix, as in (9). (9)

‘It can only reach four or five pounds.’(22-kumpGa, 14) Third, for numerals above 99, it is possible to add a third person singular possessive prefix to express an approximate value, as in ɯ-ɣurʑa ‘several hundreds’, ɯ-kʰrɯtsu ‘several dozen of thousand’, etc. 8.3 Possible pathways of development for the numeral prefix paradigms in Gyalrongic There are three logical possibilities to account for the regularity of numeral/classifiers paradigms in Gyalrongic.



First, it could be a conservative feature, namely the non-development of complex alternations due to the fact that Gyalrong languages preserve final obstruents, unlike Pumi or Naish languages. Second, it could be due to the fact that the whole system of numeral prefixes was recently innovated. Third, the system itself could be cognate with the one found in Naish and Pumi, only having been renewed by analogy. 8.3.1 Archaism Gyalrong languages, and Japhug in particular, preserve the final obstruents fairly well. This is obvious in the case of words borrowed from Tibetan (see Table 8-4) and also in the inherited vocabulary. The final stops -b, -d, -g or Old Tibetan correspond to Japhug -β, -t, -ɣ / -ʁ respectively: the dental stop is preserved as a stop, and the other stops appear as fricatives. Table 8-4: Preservation of final obstruents in Tibetan loanwords in Japhug Japhug rɟɤlkʰɤβ βdɯt tɯɣ praʁ sŋaʁspa

Tibetan rgʲal.kʰab bdud dug brag sŋ


country demon poison cliff sorcerer

In Burmo-Qiangic languages other than Gyalrongic (except the Burmish branch), final stops are invariably lost. In the case of Naish, loss of final obstruents had already happened at the proto-Naish stage (Jacques & Michaud 2011). There is some evidence that the final stops in pre-proto-Naish may have left a trace in the patterning of tonal alternation in the numeral+classifier paradigms. As shown by Michaud (2011: 16-17), the comparison of the three Naish languages Na, Laze and Naxi reveals that numerals under 10 can be classified into the several groups based on their tonal alternations. The numerals 3, 7, 9 and 10 have specific alternations, but1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, 8 respectively always have the same tonal class. The group 6, 8 is particularly significant, as it is the only group of noncontiguous numerals, and both 6 and 8 have final obstruents in conservative languages (Tibetan drug and brgʲad, for instance). Thus, it can be hypothesized that (i) although final stops were lost, they were partially transphonologized as tonal contrasts and (ii) the development of the classifier system in Naish predates the loss of final stops.



This also suggests that languages that have not lost final stops, like Japhug, would be unlikely to have developed complex tonal or segmental alternations in their classifier systems, since the transphonologization of obstruent codas did not occur. Japhug, in this view, would be conservative in preserving a regular system with little phonetic accidence. Yet, such a hypothesis is untenable. While Japhug does preserve final stops in isolation, these final stops are lost in classifier+numeral combinations, and always in the same way. If the Japhug paradigm were really conservative, the final stops of the numerals should combine in complex ways with the onset of the classifier. For instance, we know from comparison that the protoGyalrong group *kp recently changed to Japhug βɣ with metathesis (as in βɣɤ za ‘fly’ cognate with Situ kəpos tsa , see Jacques 2004, 272). This implies that classifiers with initial p- should lautgesetzlich have an allomorph following numerals with a coda coming from *-k (i.e. ‘one’ and ‘six’). For instance, the classifier -pɤrme ‘year (of life)’ should have had the form †tɤβɣɤrme if the whole form had been inherited from proto-Japhug *tek-pɐrme instead of attested tɯ-pɤrme ‘one year (old)’. The fact that not a single classifier presents any alternation of this type proves that the system as such cannot be archaic. 8.3.2 Innovation An alternative possibility would be that the numeral+classifier systems found among Burmo-Qiangic languages are only superficially similar: it could be proposed that these paradigms are analogous rather than homologous, and result from independent parallel grammaticalizations. In this hypothesis, it would not be surprising that Japhug and Stau have few irregular alternations: it might just imply that these systems are very young and have not yet had the time to develop irregular alternations. Yet, there is evidence that the numeral+classifier systems in Gyalrongic languages are actually cognate to the systems of at least some of other languages of the Burmo-Qiangic group, and thus have some degree of antiquity. The only type of evidence that can show that the classifier systems are not independently innovated is to find irregular or suppletive patterns in the paradigms common between Gyalrongic and non-Gyalrongic languages. Although, as mentioned above, the numeral+classifier paradigms in Gyalrongic languages are very regular, there are nevertheless a few cases of suppletion found across Burmo-Qiangic, showing that the numeral+classifier paradigms are not mere parallel developments but should be reconstructed back to an intermediate node of the group.



The first such evidence concerns the numerals for ‘hundred’. We saw that in Japhug two roots are used to express ‘one hundred’, ɣurʑa and the classifier -ri ‘one hundred’. The former appears for numerals up to 199, while the second is used to express the hundreds from 200 to 900—for ‘one hundred’. This particularity is shared with other Burmo-Qiangic languages. Wadu Pumi has the noun-like ɕí hundred’ and the classifier -ɻɛj (Daudey 2014: 101) with distributions very similar to the Japhug etyma. Moreover, note that the correspondences -i: -a and -ɛj: -i between Wadu Pumi and Japhug are widely attested (see examples in Table 8-5).5 Hence, there is little doubt that the pair of roots for hundred in Japhug and Pumi are cognate. Since in both languages one of the members is a classifier, obligatorily taking a numeral prefix, it is unlikely that the classifier system of Pumi and Japhug were independently grammaticalized. Rather, it suggests that the two roots corresponding to Japhug ɣurʑa and -ri can both be reconstructed back to the common ancestor of Gyalrong languages and Pumi, and that the ancestral form of -ri was already a classifier in the proto-language; hence, a classifier system was already in existence at that time. Table 8-5: Correspondences between Japhug and Pumi

The second piece of evidence for the antiquity of the classifier system is the suppletion in the word for ‘year’ (about which see Jacques & Michaud 2011 and Jacques 2014b). Naish and Qiangic languages (but not Burmic) share a suppletion, whereby a root with a labial onset is used in the year ordinals ‘last year, this year, next year’ (in Stau -və) and a root with a velar onset is used as a classifier (in Stau -fku), as illustrated in Table 8-6 (see Figure 4-2 for more Prinmi/Pumi examples).6 5 Exclusively after palatalized onsets; -ə : -a in other contexts. 6 Rgyalrong languages, including Japhug, are an exception in that they have

generalized the labial root to the ordinal too, but this must be a late common Rgyalrong innovation since the closely related Khroskyabs and Stau languages preserve the two roots.



Table 8-6: Suppletion in the forms of ‘year’ in Burmo-Qiangic

This implies that, at the stage of the common ancestor of Naish and Qiangic, the root ancestral to Stau -fku was already a classifier and thus confirms the idea that a classifier system with numeral prefixes already existed. These data show that for some subbranch of Burmo-Qiangic (but perhaps not at the Burmo-Qiangic level), a numeral+classifier paradigm had already been grammaticalized, and that the present systems have not been independently re-created; rather, they are at least partially inherited from it. 8.3.3 Analogical leveling The third possibility to explain the simplicity of the morphology of numeral+classifier paradigms in Gyalrongic is that although their origin goes back to the common ancestor of Naish, Pumi and Gyalrongic, they have undergone several layers of analogical leveling which have erased irregular alternations. The regular alternations between numerals and their prefixal forms, involving centralization of vowels (-u → -ɤ, -i → -ɯ) are similar to the status constructus alternations that apply to the first member of compounds in Japhug (for a more complete account of status constructus in Japhug, see Jacques 2012b), as in Table 8-7. The loss of final consonants (including -ɣ, -z, -t, -m) found in the numeral prefixes is not generally observed in status constructus forms. Table 8-7: Regular status constructus forms in Japhug First element -ku ‘head’ si ‘tree, wood’ zrɯɣ ‘louse’

Second element -rme ‘(body) hair’ -rtaʁ ‘branch’ ndza ‘eat’

Compound -kɤ-rme ‘(head) hair’ sɯ-rtaʁ ‘tree branch’ zrɯɣ-ndza ‘praying mantis’

However, a few examples of compounds whose first element loses its coda are attested, mainly, but not exclusively, where the second element has a complex cluster (Table 8-8). None of these alternations are productive.



The limited amount of phonological alternations observed in numeral prefixes can thus be treated as a particular case of status constructus, generalized to all classifiers, although it originally probably was restricted to classifiers with a particular type of onset (in particular those with complex consonant clusters).7 Table 8-8: Loss of final consonants in status constructus forms in Japhug

The fact that some numerals have two competing prefixal forms (for instance kɯmŋu- vs. kɯmŋɤ- for kɯmŋu ‘five’) shows that analogy is still synchronically at work in the system, and therefore that a massive generalization of one particular allomorph is likely to have occurred several times in the history of Japhug and other Gyalrongic languages, on the basis of phonological alternations otherwise attested in the language. 8.4 Conclusion The present paper contributes in three ways to the comparative linguistics of Burmo-Qiangic languages. First, it provides detailed information on numerals and classifiers in Japhug, complementing the brief description in Jacques (2008, 185-194). Second, it presents a model explaining how the numeral prefixal system found in Japhug came to be the way it is, proceeding to document irregular cases of status constructus involving loss of final consonants. Third, it adduces evidence that a classifier system ancestral to the one found in Japhug had already been grammaticalized in the common ancestor of Gyalrongic and Pumi. 7 Note, however, that not a single instance of the loss of –m codas could be found in Japhug compounds. Table 8-8 is almost completely exhaustive.




Factual Generic Emphatic Inferential Inverse Linker Sensory

References Bradley, David. 2005. Why do numerals show ‘irregular’ correspondence patterns in Tibeto-Burman? Some Southeastern Tibeto-Burman examples. Cahiers de Linguistique - Asie Orientale 34(2). 221–238. Daudey, Henriëtte. 2014. A grammar of Wadu Pumi. Bundoora: LaTrobe University dissertation. Ding, Picus. 2014. A grammar of Prinmi: Based on the Central dialect of Northwest Yunnan, China. Leiden: Brill. Jacques, Guillaume. 2004. Phonologie et morphologie du japhug (Rgyalrong). Denis Diderot: Université Paris VII dissertation. Jacques, Guillaume. 2008. 嘉絨語研究 [Study on the Gyalrong language]. Beijing: Minzu chubanshe. Jacques, Guillaume. 2012a. A new transcription system for Old and Classical Tibetan. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 35(2). 89–96. Jacques, Guillaume. 2012b. From denominal derivation to incorporation. Lingua 122.11. 1207–1231. Jacques, Guillaume. 2014a. Denominal affixes as sources of antipassive markers in Japhug Rgyalrong. Lingua 138. 1–22. Jacques, Guillaume. 2014b. Esquisse de phonologie et de morphologie historique du Tangoute. Leiden: Brill. Jacques, Guillaume. 2016. Subjects, objects and relativization in Japhug. Journal of Chinese Linguistics 44. 1–28. Jacques, Guillaume & Alexis Michaud. 2011. Approaching the historical phonology of three highly eroded Sino-Tibetan languages: Naxi, Na and Laze. Diachronica 28(4). 468–498. Lidz, Liberty A. 2010. A descriptive grammar of Yongning Na (Mosuo). Austin: University of Texas dissertation. Michailovsky, Boyd, Martine Mazaudon, Alexis Michaud, Séverine Guillaume, Alexandre François & Evangelia Adamou. 2014. Documenting and researching endangered languages: the Pangloss Collection. Language Documentation and Conservation 8. 119–135.



Michaud, Alexis. 2011. The tones of numerals and numeral-plus-classifier phrases: On structural similarities between Naxi, Na and Laze. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 33(1). 1–26. Michaud, Alexis. 2013. The tone patterns of numeral-plus-classifier phrases in Yongning Na: A synchronic description and analysis. In Nathan Hill & Tom Owen-Smith (eds.), Transhimalayan linguistics: Historical and descriptive linguistics of the Himalayan area, 275–311. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. Sun, Jackson T.-S. 2014. Sino-Tibetan: Rgyalrong. In Rochelle Lieber & Pavol Štekauer (eds.), The Oxford handbook of derivational morphology, 630–650. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Zhang, Sihong. 2014. Numeral classifiers in Ersu. Language and Linguistics 15(6). 883–915.




The Karen languages form a clearly defined cluster of languages with no members of uncertain status (Benedict 1972, Shafer 1974, Matisoff 1991, Bradley 1997, van Driem 2001, LaPolla 2001, Thurgood 2003, Manson 2010). The English term Karen is probably an adaption of the Burmese name for these people, but it has been reacquired by the Sgaw to refer to themselves. Other Karen groups rarely use this term to refer to themselves, and refer to themselves instead with an endogenous name, often based on the reconstructed Proto-Karen form *k-ɲaŋA (Solnit 2001), e.g. Kayah, Kayaw, Kayan, Sgaw. The Karen branch has been considered part of Sino-Tibetan for over a century, but only in the last 35 years has a consensus developed that these languages form a distinct branch within Tibeto-Burman rather than a sister to Tibeto-Burman. Benedict (1972: 129) notes that ‘morphologically, Karen diverges from Tibeto-Burman almost as widely as does Chinese, especially as regards syntax’. These features lead Benedict to claim that Karen is a sister of Tibeto-Burman proper. However, Shafer (1974) considered Karen to be a sister to the following Tibeto-Burman branches: Burmic, Baric and Bodic. Our current understand is more in line with Shafer than Benedict (Bradley 1997, van Driem 2001, Matisoff 2003). Speakers of Karen languages are located primarily along the eastern border of Burma from southern Shan State southward to the southernmost tip of Burma. Over the last two centuries there has been migration into Thailand along the western border with Burma and then  I dedicate this paper to David Bradley. When I started my MA under David, David shared his knowledge about Ngwi-Burmese languages in our regular meetings. These discussions helped me understand the broad features of NgwiBurmese. When I started researching the Karen branch, there was little help in the literature to situate my research. So this is my attempt to rectify the situation, following David’s (2012) paper on the characteristics of the Ngwi-Burmese branch.



further into northern Thailand. Bradley (1997: 46) suggests a total population of 3.9 million but notes that this is ‘substantially under enumerated’. The total population of ethnic Karen is somewhere between 6 and 12 million, however, not all ethnic Karen still speak Karen languages. Many now speak only Burmese, especially those living on the plains. The total number of Karen languages is unknown, but it would appear from the literature that there are between 20-30 distinct Karen languages. Sixteen of these languages have been reasonably documented, but the Karen languages found in the mountains of eastern Burma usually have numerous dialects, some often difficult to understand to other speakers of the same ethnicity (see, for example, Bennett (1991) for Kayah and Manson & Chou (2008) for Kayan). Internal comparison and reconstruction have been limited to either a few well known groups (normally the three largest groups: Sgaw, Pwo, and Pa’O) or data collected from outside of Myanmar with displaced groups. Reconstructions of Karen include Haudricourt (1946, 1953), Jones (1961), Burling (1969), Solnit (2001, 2013, in prep), Manson (2010, 2011) and Theraphan (2014). Based on the orthographies of two languages (Sgaw and Pwo) and his experience in other Asia languages, Haudricourt proposed a reconstruction that is still valid today. Jones’ immense work of collecting nearly 1,000 words from six Karen varieties was limited by his conservative approach to reconstructing only protoforms that had reflexes in all six varieties. Burling re-reconstructed Proto-Karen based on Jones’ data, but this reconstruction seems to be just a cerebral exercise without understanding the issue of tonal development in Southeast Asian languages; and thus, his reconstruction is phonologically unmotivated with respect to tonal development. In fact, both Jones and Burling ‘neglected the fundamental work by A. Haudricourt’ (Benedict 1972: 128). Solnit’s and Manson’s reconstructions have been developed independently and are based on Haudricourt’s pioneering work and fieldwork in a wider range of Karen speech varieties. Not surprisingly, the reconstructions are very similar. Theraphan’s reconstruction, the most recent, is based on a large wordlist, but only Proto-Karen fauna reconstructions have been published.1 This reconstruction is similar to Solnit’s and Manson’s with the greatest variation being in the proto-tones. From our current state of knowledge, we can see reasonably distinct clusters of Karen languages, but how they relate at higher levels depends on which feature of the languages a researcher is focusing on. Bradley (1997) notes that there is considerable disagreement on the subgrouping 1 A larger set of reconstructions is available in the STEDT database.



of Karen languages and provides a consensus subgrouping based on leading researchers of the time. The classification identifies three broad geographical clusters: Northern, Central and Southern. The Northern cluster includes Pa’O and Kayan; the Southern cluster Sgaw, Paku, Mobwa, Monnepwa and Pho; and the Central cluster Bwe, Geba, Kayah, Yintale and Manu. Manson (2009, 2011) suggests a four-way division (See Figure 9-1) with Southern including Sgaw, Luce’s Paku, and Mobwa; Northern with Kayan and Yintale; Central with Kayah, Bwe and Geba, and possibly Geker and the sub-cluster Kayaw and Manu; Peripheral combining Pa’O and Pho. The Central Karen languages show distinct phonological changes including vowel raising, the merging of final consonants (nasals and plosives) feeding into the vowel raising process and the development of breathy phonation. Southern Karen languages have merged plosive final syllables into the plain open syllable and the distinction of nasal final syllables has been neutralized, for example in Sgaw Proto-Karen *a, *ap, *at, *ak > a; and *am, *an, *aŋ > ɔ. The Peripheral languages, Pa’O and Pho are conservative in their phonologies but also share a tonal category-induced change in syllable-initial voiced plosives to voiceless aspirated plosives. The Northern cluster shows a similar conflation of nasal final syllables to the Southern cluster, but retains a nasal, either as a nasalized vowel or a final nasal that assimilates to the following sound, for example in Kayan Proto-Karen *a, *ap, *at, *ak > a; and *am, *an, *aŋ > ã~aŋ. The Northern and Central Karen languages also show similarities in their tonal development distinct to the Southern and Peripheral clusters. Figure 9-1 presents the subgrouping of Karen languages based on multiple phonological innovations. The clusters Geker/Gekho and Kayaw/Manu share features with both the Central and Southern branches, and at the current state of knowledge we cannot definitively assign these clusters to a higher level. 9.2 Phonology The phonologies of Karen languages have been massively restructured under the influence of languages of wider communication in Southeast Asia. The first and most significant influence is from Austroasiatic. Luce (1959: 1) claims that ‘Mon influence is very deep in Karen’, yet in his data (Luce 1985, Chart E) almost all of the examples are from Palaungic languages, not from Mon thus suggesting the most likely source being Palaungic. More recent influences have been Burmese, especially the plain-dwelling Karen and (Northern) Thai, for those Karen living in Thailand. Loans from Thai are not widespread across the branch and often show irregular tone correspondences, suggesting that the contact with Thai occurred after the breakup of Proto-Karen.



Figure 9-1: The subgrouping of Karen languages


Word and syllable structure

The complex roots of Proto-Tibeto-Burman have undergone considerable phonological change. The two-way distinction in syllable-initial plosives has developed into a three-way distinction independent of other TibetoBurman branches. Most final consonants of Tibeto-Burman remained in Proto-Karen and then underwent mergers depending on the cluster. Pa’O is the most conservative language and appears to have retained final plosives and nasals, but between the different Pa’O dialects there are often irregular correspondences in final consonants, e.g. ‘back’ Pa’O (Southern) ŋaŋ⁵² vs. Pa’O (Northern) ŋan⁵; ‘five’ Pa’O (Southern) ŋaʔ⁴⁵ vs. Pa’O (Northern) ŋat⁵. Typically, the Proto-Tibeto-Burman syllable-final plosives have merged in Karen to a final glottal, and the ProtoTibeto-Burman syllable-final nasals have merged to a single nasal or the vowel was nasalized. But based on the reflexes across the languages, we can reconstruct a three-way distinction in syllable-final plosives (-p, -t, -k) and nasals (-m, -n, -ŋ). Stress in Karen languages is on the final syllable of the word, resulting in the weakening of earlier syllables and the loss of PTB presyllables (e.g.



‘eight’ PTB *b-r-gyat, Proto-Karen (Theraphan) *kh/grɔt; ‘ripe’ PTB *s-min, Proto-Karen hminA).2 An example of the weakening of non-final syllables can be seen in the Kayan word ‘thigh’ /kʰaŋ⁴².du⁴²/ leg-upper: [kʰan⁴².du⁴²] ~ [kʰa(⁴²).du⁴²] ~ [kʰə.du⁴²] ~ [ka.du⁴²] ~ [kə.du⁴²] ~ [kədu⁴²]. The typical syllable structure for Karen languages is CMVFT, where C is the initial consonant, M is a medial (l, ɹ, w, j), V is the vowel (or diphthong), F is the final consonant and T is the tone. Pa’O has the largest syllable-final consonant inventory with six consonants: -m, -n, -ŋ, -p, -t, -k. All other Karen languages with final consonants have only a single nasal: -ŋ, but written orthographically as . Features of phones in a syllable can shuffle between the initial and the rhyme, especially between languages. But in Blimaw Bwe (Henderson 1985), we can see this variation between forms: (1) a b c d

ɰu² ~ wi² lwi¹ ~ lu¹ kʰwi¹ ~ kʰu¹ tʰwi² ~ cʰu²

‘snake’ ‘four’ ‘nine’ ‘dog’

Henderson argues that we need to consider the syllable as a segment, rather than just individual phones, and that some feature is shifting from the initial to the rhyme, and back again; e.g. [+round] is moving from the rhyme to the initial in example (1). 9.2.2 Onsets Karen languages have a series of three plosives—voiceless aspirated, voiceless (or implosive) and voiced—along with four positions (bilabial, dental, (alevo)palatal and velar) resulting in 12 plosives. In most Karen languages the voiced velar plosive has merged with the voiceless velar, but the voiced velar can be reconstructed based on its occurrence in Blimaw Bwe. Also, the distribution of the [k-] phone with respect to the tone category in other Karen languages and Kayan still retains some evidence with minimal pairs contrasting k- and g-, e.g. go̤ ⁵ ‘attract, recruit’ vs. ko̤ ⁵ ‘wind up, coil’; gwa̤¹ ‘husband’ vs. kwa⁵ ‘untie’. Karen languages have three initial voiced nasals [m-, n-, ŋ-], and some varieties (e.g. Geba) also have a voiceless series. The voiceless series can be reconstructed to the Proto-Karen stage as there is consistent widespread evidence in the tones of nasal initial syllables in almost all 2 When Proto-Karen reconstructions occur without an author, both Solnit and Manson reconstruct the same form. All PTB reconstructions are from Matisoff (2003).



Karen languages that have lost the voiceless-voiced distinction. If Geba has a voiceless nasal, the voiced nasal in other languages will have a different tone to the reflex of a Geba voiced nasal. The common Southeast Asian weakening of Proto-*ɲ- to j- is evident in most Karen languages, although *ɲ remains sporadically in Sgaw. Regarding the fricative inventory of Karen languages, the only ProtoKaren fricatives reconstructed are *s- and *h-. *s- is usually pronounced as a dental a fricate [t̪θ] under the influence of Burmese. However, the palatal series of proto stops include significant friction on release; and the stop component can sometimes be omitted, resulting in a three-way series of alveolar fricatives [s-, sʰ-, z-], for example in Kayan: (2)

cʰu⁵³ ~tsʰu⁵³ ~sʰu⁵³ ‘thorn’ cu⁵ ~tsu⁵ ~su⁵ ‘pointed’ ɟu³ ~ zu³ ~ju³ ‘rodent’

Often the voiced fricative weakens further and merges with the palatal approximant, see ‘rodent’ in example (2). The three approximants [w-, j-, ɹ-] and the lateral [l-] have voiceless counterparts in some Central Karen languages, but mostly these voiceless forms have merged with their voiced counterparts. Medial consonants are restricted to the approximants and the lateral, with Sgaw adding a voiced velar fricative [ɣ~ɰ]. The Karen medials cooccur with either the bilabial or velar plosive initial consonants. There have been numerous mergers with these clusters resulting in complementary distributions. Eastern Kayah, for example, has medial l clusters with voiceless plosives and medial r with aspirated plosives (Solnit 1997). 9.2.3


Karen languages typically have a symmetrical system of nine vowels. Some varieties add a second high central-ish vowel [ɨ̞] versus [ɯ], e.g. Pa’O. The nine vowels can be reconstructed to Proto-Karen. Only two diphthongs can be reconstructed for Proto-Karen, namely *ai and *au. Some varieties have split the low front and back vowels into off-glides *ɛ > [ai], *ɔ > [au]. On-glides are interpreted as a medial approximant plus a vowel: [ia] = ja, [ue] = we. Proto-Karen had a series of final plosives and nasals, but these have undergone mergers in the different Karen languages. The vowel and final consonant need to be considered as a unit ‘the rhyme’ as the reflexes of the vowel plus final consonant vary together, rather than independently. Pa’O has preserved most nasal final rhymes, but the plosive finals of Pa’O are mostly Tai or Pali borrowings. Plosive final rhymes are reconstructed



based on the variation of rhyme reflexes across the Karen languages and forms outside of the Karen branch. 9.2.4 Tone All Karen languages are tonal. Karen languages have either four, five or six tones. Table 9-1 presents examples of Karen languages that have four tones (Eastern Kayah), five tones (Yintale) and six tones (Kayan). Tones in Karen languages are a combination of pitch, phonation and final glottal constriction. Solnit (1997) notes that, except for the mid tone, Eastern Kayah tones end in a glottal. In Kayan Manson (2010) notes that breathy phonation occurs with the high and low tones and sporadically with the mid tone, and that a glottal can occur on the low tone and the high breathy tone. Table 9-1: Examples of Karen tones (Eastern Kayah, Yintale and Kayan)3

Eastern Kayah


reʔ⁵⁵ re³³ reʔ¹¹ rḛʔ²¹

baŋ⁵⁵ baŋ³³ bɜ¹¹ baŋ⁵¹ baŋ¹⁵

‘wax’ ‘across’ ‘random’ ‘trellis’

Kayan ‘wash’ ‘bamboo shot’ ‘paddy rice’ ‘scrub’ ‘yellow’

la⁵⁵ la̤ ³³ laʔ¹¹ la̤ ʔ⁵⁴ la̤ ⁴² la̤ ²²

‘moon’ EXCLM ‘one’ ‘under’ ‘leaf ‘warm’

Haudricourt (1946, 1953, 1975) reconstructed four proto-tones for Karen, three occurring with open or nasal final syllables and one occurring with closed syllables. One open tone, Haudricourt’s B tone is marginal, Theraphan (2014) ignores this tone, while Solnit and Manson recognize the marginal status of the tone. Weidert (1987) proposes an additional proto-tone B¹. However, this suggestion has not met with approval from other Karen researchers. 9.2.5 Consonant variation Speakers of Karen languages often alternate their pronunciation of syllable-initial consonants. These alternations appear to be dialectal (and sometimes idiolectal). One widespread alternation is syllable-initial twith l-, especially with the numeral ‘one’ and the nominalizer Proto-Karen *ta- (derived from the noun ‘thing’). In Kayan this alternation is especially 3 Eastern Kayah data from Solnit (1997), Yintale data from Myar Doo Myar

Reh (2004), and Kayan data from Manson (2010).



frequent with the politeness marker /la¹kjən⁴²/ ‘a little’ (Lit: one-bit) which has numerous phonetic expressions: [la¹kjən⁴²] ~ [ta¹kjən⁴²] ~ [la¹ki⁴²] ~ [ta¹ki⁴²] ~ [ləkjən⁴²] ~ [təkjən⁴²] ~ [ləki⁴²] ~ [təki⁴²]. Different Kayan dialects prefer one prefix over another. For example, the verb /məŋau³/ ‘speak’ often alternates between a plosive and nasal initial consonant: [məŋau³] ~ [bəŋau³], and even [mŋau³]. This initial consonant variation has no syntactic relevance, but it does identify the speaker as a member of a particular sociolect. 9.3 Morphosyntax There are three Karen languages that have ‘missionary’ grammars – Sgaw (Gilmore 1898, Wade 1861); Pwo (Duffin 1913); Pa’O (Hackett 1954). Now there are several modern comprehensive grammatical studies available for Karen languages: Solnit (1997) for Eastern Kayah; Kato (2004) for Pwo [in Japanese]; and Manson (2010) for Kayan. Payap University has produced several good MA length grammars, including Hsar Shee (2008) on Geba, Hsa Eh Ywar (2013) on Lahta, and Wai Lin (2013) on Monu. Surprisingly, there is no modern grammar of Sgaw, the most populous and accessible group. Unlike the majority of TB subgroups, Karen is consistently verb-medial and has no verbal agreement morphology that can be reconstructed. Pronouns are often unstressed and can become cliticized onto the verb, but this pattern is language specific. For example, in Sgaw there are three sets of pronouns: independent (topic), subject/possessor, and object: (3) a

jəʔ³=kəʔ³-lɛ 1SG=IRR-go ‘I am going’ (Jones 1961:12)


jɛ⁵, jəʔ³=ɔʔ⁵ təʔ³=kɛ⁵ ləkɔʔ³=baʔ⁵ 1SG 1SG=eat NEG=able anymore=NEG ‘Me, too, I can’t eat any longer’ (Jones 1961:41)


ɣɔʔ⁵ ne⁵ ja³ li⁵ cry get 1SG already ‘crying for me already’ (Jones 1961:55)

With ditransitive clauses the recipient is normally immediately after the verb; and the theme follows, SVRT: (4)

jə³ ʔi¹ maʊŋ¹ sɛʔ⁵ ɗo⁵ sə³ paʔ¹ ə³ni¹kʰi⁵ 1SG give Maung book LOC 3SG father BEN S V R T BEN ‘I gave Maung a book for his father’ Geba (Hsar Shee 2008: 127)



Adjuncts typically follow the core elements of the clause, as in (4) and (5): (5)

jə mə le¹ lə⁵ ʔəwe¹ 1SG IRR go with 3SG ‘I will go with him/her’ Pwo (Kato 2009:211)

Karen languages do not mark core grammatical relations, however, non-core semantic roles are marked and these forms can be reconstructed to the Proto-Karen stage. The instrumental preposition Proto-Karen (Manson) *dɔ also functions as a coordinator of noun phrases and clauses. The location preposition Proto-Karen (Manson) *ta marks static location and also goal. Some Karen languages also have a distinct preposition to mark goal, but this is not widespread across the family. The location preposition can sometimes be used to mark recipients when not in the immediately postverbal position, alternating with the dative Proto-Karen (Manson) *tu. The temporal semantic role is split between past time reference Proto-Karen (Manson) *la and non-past time Proto-Karen (Manson) *ba.4 Expressing source either requires the locative preposition or a distinct construction to a standard clause where the source phrase occurs before the main verb (Subj Source Verb Obj Adjuncts) rather than at the end of the clause. The pragmatic role of topic is often marked. However, at least two etyma can be reconstructed for Proto-Karen (Manson): *mɛ and the ubiquitous particle *nu (see example 12b, and Solnit 1997). Negation shows a great deal of variation in Karen languages. The negative marker can be reconstructed as Proto-Karen (Manson) *ta and probably is derived from the PTB negative imperative *ta. Karen languages vary in where the negative marker occurs. Kayan and Lahta, for example, simply place the negative before the verb or adjective being negated. Pwo marks negation by placing the negative before the verb/adjective and a second marker after the predicate. Sgaw, Bwe and Geba follow the same pattern, but the postverbal marker occurs at the end of the clause, rather than after the verb. And finally, Palaychi Kayah and Monu only mark negation at the end of the clause. See the following examples of these patterns: Kayan (Manson 2010) (6) tʰwi⁵³ kʰa⁵ sə⁵ en⁵³ na̤¹ tʰen⁵³ ləɨ⁵ ka⁵ dog so NEG bite 2S jump high IMPER ‘So the dog doesn't bite you, jump high’ 4 See Naw Bar Hso Wah (2011) for an analysis of *ba in Sgaw.



Pwo (Jones 1961) (7) pəʔ¹xwa⁵ nau¹ ləʔ¹ nai¹ ba¹ əʔ¹we⁵ PRT NEG believe NEG 3 king ‘The king didn’t believe her’ Sgaw (Jones 1961) (8) əʔwɛ⁵θeʔ⁵ təʔ³ khɔ⁵lə³ thi⁵klo⁵ baʔ⁵ 3PL NEG cross.over river NEG ‘They didn’t cross over the river’ Palaychi (Jones 1961) (9) ʔo¹ ma̤⁵ni⁵ na̤⁵na̤⁵ so¹ lə¹ ba¹ chɛ⁵ 3 get even silver 1 CLF NEG ‘They didn’t get even one silver coin’ As Karen languages employ tones, they make ample use of clause final particles to mark illocutionary force, speaker attitude and mirativity. Yet most grammars of Karen languages have not identified mirativity or speaker attitude. Illocutionary force includes the standard three (declarative, imperative and interrogative) and also hortatives, refutatives, rogatives, advisatives and several others (Kato 2004, Manson 2010). Speaker attitude markers include notions of ‘I think’, ‘surely’, ‘certainly’, ‘maybe’, and politeness markers, see the following examples from Kayan (Manson 2010, ch 10): (10) a

u⁵ me¹ kʰi⁵ pʰa⁵ ma̤¹θɨ⁵ pre³ this TOP 1SG father kill ASRT ‘This is the one that my father killed’


θa¹kʰyau¹ kan³kʰa⁵ sʰai¹pʰrau¹ ya⁵! scare light ray EXCL sə⁵ ba⁵³-θa¹kʰyau¹ kan³kʰa⁵ sʰai¹pʰrau¹ ko¹! ray NEG light RFUTE ‘Afraid of the light! You don’t need to be afraid of the light’


pri̤¹ θwi⁵makwan¹ ə̤ ¹ buy orange HORT ‘Let’s buy oranges’


kan³ u⁵blan⁵³me¹ “kʰi⁵ θɨ⁵ he¹ ya¹!” Te⁵³ ka-tai¹ θa¹ temp then 1SG die IMMIN MIR Teh IRR-say EoP ‘Then Teh said, “I’m going to die!”’


(10) e

an⁵³ kaŋə̤ ¹ ka¹! eat slow EXCL ‘You eat slow!’


an⁵³ kaŋə̤ ¹ ka⁵³! eat slow IMP ‘Eat slowly!’


tʰan⁵ u⁵ sʰon⁵ u⁵ den⁵ bear this cave this surely ‘Surley, the bear is in this cave!’


Some Karen languages have a passive construction, but it is relatively infrequent. The typical use is when people are talking about becoming ill. The passive is a get-passive, where the patient of the verb occurs as the subject, the verb is nominalized and the verb ‘get’ occurs before the nominalized verb: Kayan (Manson 2010: 258) (11) a a-nə³-ba¹ sʰa⁵ŋau¹ 3-get-EXPER malaria ‘S/he got malaria’ b

a-ne³-ba¹ ta-sʰa⁵ 3-get-EXPER NMLZ-ill ‘S/he got sick’


pi⁵sa³pʰo¹ ne³-ba¹ ta-pʰle¹ child get-EXPER NMLZ-hit ‘The child got a beating’

Applicatives are much more common. In Kayan the ditransitive clause with a benefactive has the structure shown in (12a) – the benefactive phrase can occur either in this position or clause final; when the beneficary is ‘promoted’ to primary object position, the predicate is marked with the benefactive applicative -ba⁴²: Kayan (Manson 2010) (12) a kʰi⁵ pʰe̤⁵ Za̤u¹ (tə⁵) anan³ pʰa⁵ ŋa⁵ le̤⁵ ta¹-ba⁴² 1SG give Zau LOC 3SG father BEN book one-CLF ‘I gave Zau a book for his father’ b

ŋa⁵ pra̤¹ pri̤¹-ba⁴² hə⁵ pi⁵sa³pʰo¹ ta̤⁵ that CLF buy-BEN COMPL child fish ‘That man bought the child a fish’



Sgaw (Chappell 1992, ex 18, 34) (13) a jə-kə-ɔʔ⁵ koʔ⁵kʰeʔ³ lə nə-ʀɔ̤ ³¹ LOC 2SG-sake 1SG-IRR-eat cake ‘I’ll eat the cake for your sake’ b

jə-pʰo⁴miʔ⁵ ma¹-θɛʔ⁵pʰaʔ³ ne̤³¹ ja¹ ta̤³¹ɣɔ¹ tə-ti⁴ 1SG-daughter make-break BEN 1SG thing one-CLF ‘My daughter broke a statue for me’

With the exception of ‘all’ and the possessor nominal, noun modifiers follow the head noun. The typical structure of the Karen noun phrase is as follows: ‘all’ Possessive NP NHEAD ATTRIB REL.CL DEM QNT CLF Lahta (Hsa Eh Ywar 2013: 62) (14) a ɲa³ ʃaʔ⁵ pi⁵ do¹ sʰu¹ ba¹ 1SG chicken small that six CLF ‘those six small chickens of mine’ Monu (Wai Lin Aung 2013: 67) b ʃi⁵ də⁵ pʰi¹tʃa̤⁵pʰo⁵ pə̤ ¹ja⁵ nu³ a¹-o⁵ hit TOP 3-bark dog REL child ‘the dog that the child is hitting/hit is barking’ When there is both a relative clause and an attributive, the attributive may occur at the end of the noun phrase: Eastern Kayah (Solnit 1997: 180) (15) ʔi¹swi⁵ tʰɛ⁵ja¹ dɤ⁵ vɛ³ pʰo³ʔe¹ pa³he¹nɯ¹ nʌ¹ tə¹-pɔ¹ du¹ curry pork REL 1SG cook yesterday that one-pot big NHEAD ATTRIB REL.CL DEM QNT-CLF ATTR ‘that big pot of pork curry that I cooked yesterday’ All Karen languages have numeral classifier systems; when counting nouns, the numeral is followed by a classifier. Classifiers also follow demonstratives when there is no numeral. The forms of the classifiers can be reconstructed (e.g. Proto-Karen *boŋA CLF.length, Proto-Karen *pʰluŋB CLF.round, Solnit 2013), suggesting that the classifier system was established at least at the Proto-Karen stage. Karen nouns can be divided into semantic classes based on their associated classifiers. The most frequent classifiers in Karen languages sort ‘count’ nouns into categories of humans, large (hairy four-legged) animals, smaller animals, flat things, round things and long things. ‘Mass’ nouns use mensural classifiers – containers, length, weight, parts and time. Cross-cutting this classification are autoclassifiers which replicate



the head noun when counting. Event quantification uses the same classifier construction with an event classifier, ‘x times’. Plurality is marked in most Karen languages by a classifier phrase with the numeral ‘one’ and a collective classifier, but Wabanbalo Kayan uses a plural suffix, found in the pronoun system: Wabanbalo Kayan (Manson 2010, ex 30) (16) a ba⁵ səʍa³ na¹hʌ⁵-ba³ tə-mə¹ŋao³-θɨ⁵ ɤ³ nṳ¹ this NF when king hear-BEN NLZR-say-PL ‘When the king heard these messages,…’ Pekon Kayan (Manson 2010, ex 30) (16)b be⁵ saʍa³ na⁵³hjən⁵-ba⁵³ ta-maŋau³ u⁵ la¹-han⁴² nṳ¹ NLZR-say this one-CLF NF when king hear-BEN ‘When the king heard these messages,…’ Often the classifier phrase is displaced from the noun phrase to the end of the clause: Monu (Wai Lin Aung 2013: 70) (17) a a¹mʊ⁵pwa̤⁵ ma¹tʰɔ⁵ hi⁵ də⁵ lə³ ko³ ta¹-mɛ¹ build house LOC field in one-CLF(house) ‘The old man built a house in the field’ Kayan (Manson 2010: 306) (17)b kʰi⁵ sʰa⁵ ka³ tu⁵ kʰi⁵ bi¹lu¹ θyən⁵-kʰo̤ ⁵ 1SG sell car DAT 1SG friend three-CLF(car) ‘I sold three cars to my friend’ Grammaticalization patterns can be seen in Karen languages. For example, Proto-Karen *ba ‘touch, hit’ (transitive) and ‘correct’ (intransitive) show movement to more grammatical marking including modality (permission, obligation and necessity), negation, passive and experience (See Naw Bar Hso Wah 2011 for a discussion of these grammaticalisation pathways in Sgaw). Classifiers are another example of grammaticalization, with many classifiers being derived from independent nouns. 9.4 Lexicon The Karen languages have a large innovative lexicon. Considering the data from Luce (1985, Charts E-J) nearly 50% of the 369 words are what Luce calls ‘Pure Karen’ – innovative words for which he could not find any possible borrowing source. Since then many of Luce’s Pure Karen lexemes



have been shown to have good Tibeto-Burman etyma, but still there is a significant innovative portion of the lexicon. Luce’s data shows 35% of the words having strong Tibeto-Burman cognates; these words are from the common (and most frequently used) semantic categories – numerals, body parts, kin, celestial objects, and verbs of speech and cognition. However, most of the Proto-TibetoBurman prefixes have been dropped with little evidence for the protoprefixes in the modern languages. The most common exceptions are Proto-Karen *l- initial consonant roots with a prefix; typically, these forms have a velar stop in Karen, e.g. ‘flea’ PTB *s-liy; Sgaw kli, Pwo kʰli, Kayan kʰle. Many of the loans from Mon-Khmer are early loans at the Proto-Karen stage as the reflexes of these words show consistent phonological changes associated with the development of each Karen language. These MonKhmer loanwords are primarily associated with the new flora and fauna of the tropics, farming technology, and new political systems. Surprisingly, many plant part names have been replaced with Mon-Khmer loans. The more southern Karen languages, which are in contact with Mon, have a larger Mon element in their lexicons, but the northern languages have less. Several Mon-Khmer borrowings show irregular tone or vowel developments suggesting separate borrowing in the Karen languages. Burmese loans are much more recent and are usually obvious, as are the occasional Thai loans. Varieties of Karen languages spoken in Thailand tend to have more Thai loans. Compounding is the most common morphological process Karen languages use to create words. As most morphemes consist of only a single syllable, adding another morpheme increases the phonological bulk of the word making the new word easier to disambiguate, e.g. Kayan la⁴² could mean ‘leaf’ or ‘target’ so an additional morpheme is added: θən⁴²la⁴² tree-leaf ‘leaf’; ba⁴²la⁴² hit-target ‘target’. Karen languages appear to have had prefixes, but these are not able to be reconstructed to the Proto-Karen level, as Solnit (1997: 48) notes: ‘what we seem to have is the persistence of affixation as a system, combined with rapid obsolescence of individual items in the system’. The possibility of a Proto-Karen animal prefix, *tə-, is suggested by the reflexes of ‘pig’, ‘bear’ and ‘dog’ (e.g. Kayan tʰau¹, tʰan⁵, tʰwi⁴², c.f. PTB *pʷak, *wan, *kʷəy, respectively), and also a number of other animal names that start with either t- or tə-. However, Karen languages do not consistently show evidence of this prefix for animal names.



9.5 Multilingualism and multidialectalism Smalley’s (1988) discussion of Thailand’s hierarchy of multilingualism applies to the Karen languages. Many speakers of Karen languages are multilingual in the national language of the country they reside in – Burmese in Myanmar, Standard (or Northern) Thai in Thailand. Speakers of smaller Karen languages often are bilingual in the more dominant Karen language. Depending on their geographic location, the dominant Karen languages of wider communication include Sgaw in Karen State and the surrounding areas,5 and Kayah in Kayah State. For example, speakers of Palaychi and Dermuha are bilingual in Sgaw (Saw Lar Baa 2001), and many Monu speakers are bilingual in Kayah (Wai Lin Aung 2013). Bilingualism in a major language depends on several factors. Geographically, if a community of Karen speakers reside close to speakers of the national language, they are more likely to be bilingual in the national language. If they are further away from speakers of the national language, they are likely to speak a regional language (Mon, Shan) or a Karen language of wider communication (Sgaw, Kayah). More distant and geographically remote villages often have very few bilingual speakers. If there is bilingualism it will be primarily the males of the village. Religious affiliation also plays a part in the multilingual environment. Traditional Religionists, Roman Catholics and Buddhists are often bilingual in Burmese, while Baptists are bilingual in Sgaw, the church language for the Baptists. Many of the Karen languages have significant dialectal variation. The largest Karen group, Sgaw, who live primarily in the Irrawaddy delta has approximately 3-5 major dialects. This is most likely due to the widespread use of Bible Sgaw and the ease of movement throughout the region. The Sgaw in Thailand who have been separate for several centuries have some tonal and lexical variation, but little phonological variation. At the other extreme are the Kayan, who dwell in approximately 300 villages and have nearly 60 village lects (Manson & Chou 2008). 6 The variation between villages involves all aspects of linguistic structure – phonology, tone, lexemes, semantics and even the speed of delivery. 5 In Mon State, Myanmar Pwo Karen speakers often converse in Mon,

especially in the markets. 6 Manson and Chou’s analysis does not include Lahta, which they consider a separate language. The Lahta have more than a 25% difference in their basic lexicon compared to other Kayan dialects. Almost every Lahta village speaks a distinct dialect (Hsa Eh Ywar 2013).



As a result of the variation within each Karen language many speakers are both multilingual and multidialectal. When meeting another Karen speaker, there appears to be two main patterns of lectal choice. Both patterns start with speaking their own dialect. In the first pattern, if the speakers cannot understand each other, they adapt their pronunciation to approximate the other’s pronunciation. If communication is still not possible they switch to a language of wider communication (that choice depends on geographic and religious factors). Finally, if there is still no communication, Burmese is used. In the second pattern, if initial communication fails, the speakers switch immediately to the language of wider communication. For example, speakers of Kayan who live in Kayah State will start using their village dialect when meeting another Kayan. If they cannot understand each other they start adapting their pronunciation to what they think the other is speaking. If this fails, they will switch to Sgaw (if they are Baptist) or Burmese. Conversely, speakers of Kayan who live in Shan State will often start speaking their own dialect, but if communication fails, they will switch to Pekon (the standard variety of Kayan). If communication is still not possible the speakers will then switch to Burmese or, more rarely, to Shan. 9.6 Endangerment Only a few Karen languages and dialects are not endangered. While earlier versions of the Ethnologue list several Kayan languages as “in trouble” (an EGIDS score of 6b or 7), the current version (Lewis, Simons and Fennig 2016) has merged these smaller language varieties into larger groups with a stronger vitality, e.g. Palaychi and Dermuha have been merged into Mobwa Karen, even though there are significant phonological differences between these languages. Table 9-2 provides some examples of the variation. For comparison, Sgaw and Paku have been included, as representatives of the Southern branch of Karen. Dermuha data from Naw Veronica (2011), Paku data from Luce (1985), Palaychi and Sgaw data from Jones (1961). Many Karen languages are spoken by small populations; and with the increased development of new roads into the Karen territory, resource exploitation, and dam building, significant movements of villages have occurred. Thus, it is likely that more Karen languages and dialects will become more endangered. For example, the Palaychi had around 20 villages in the late 50s (Jones 1961), Saw Lar Baa (2001) lists less than ten villages, and recent discussions suggest there are only three villages that still speak Palaychi, and not all the children are learning Palaychi. The



other villages have disappeared or their speakers have switched to Sgaw Karen. Table 9-2: Examples of variations among Karen languages Gloss ‘dog’ ‘tiger’ ‘sleep’ ‘flower’ ‘eye’ ‘winnow’

Dermuha tʃʰwe⁵ tʰa⁵bə³le⁵ me³ pʰu³ ə³mi³ta⁵ xa⁵

Palaychi tʰwi⁵ ta³fu¹liʔ⁵³ mi⁵ pʰo⁴ m̤ ⁵ kra̤ ⁵

Paku tʰwi³⁵ mi⁵ pʰɔ⁵ mɛʔ⁵³ xi³

Sgaw tʰwɪ¹ bɔ³tθo³¹ mi⁵ pʰɔ⁵ mɛʔ³ xa³

Many smaller dialects and languages are shifting to more dominant languages. Some Lahta are switching to Kayan (Manson & Chou 2008), Dermuha speakers are switching to Sgaw (Naw Veronica 2011), and speakers of Sgaw, the most populous group, are switching to Burmese, especially in the Irrawaddy delta (Bradley 1997). Anecdotal comments from speakers of Kayah have noted that Kayan villages east of Inle Lake declaring their village Pa’O and switching languages to Pa’O. 9.7 Conclusion All Karen languages share numerous innovations at all levels of their linguistic structure. While there is significant innovation in the lexicon, the evidence as a whole supports the Karen languages as a branch of Tibeto-Burman. This scale of innovation is a rich area for further research. Karen languages share syntactic features including SVO word order, most modifiers following the head noun and post-verbal adverbial modifiers. However, there are subtle variations in syntax. The example of negation above is one aspect. The rich diversity of Karen languages and dialects, and the limited research completed, provide for fruitful future linguistic research. 9.8 Further research The Karen languages offer great opportunities for researchers in all linguistic sub-disciplines. From a personal perspective let me point out the need for new grammars for Sgaw and Pa’O, widespread language documentation of the Karen languages (and their dialects) and comprehensive collection of lexical items for each—using more than a lengthy wordlist, but rather collecting the lexemes by semantic domains. This, then, would feed into a more robust and comprehensive



reconstruction of Proto-Karen, and then finally we will be able to identify the nearest relatives of the Karen branch. Abbreviations ASRT Assertive ATTRIB Attributive benefactive BEN Consonant C EOP End of paragraph EXCLM Exclamative EXPER Experiencer Final consonant F IMMIN Imminent Imperative IMP


Irrealis Locative Medial consonant Mirative Quantifier Recipient Relative clause Subject Theme, Tone Verb, Vowel

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THE SOCIOLINGUISTIC CONTEXT OF THE TANGSA LANGUAGES* Stephen Morey 10.1 Introduction To honour David Bradley’s considerable contributions both to TibetoBurman linguistics and to the broad field of sociolinguistics, this paper will exemplify the contexts in which different Tangsa linguistic varieties are used, in particular their use as mother tongues, as different lingua francas, and as languages in public events such as church services and community festivals. Tangsa is a group of linguistic varieties spoken both in India and also in Myanmar, where the group has been termed Tangshang since 2003, forming part of the ‘Northern Naga’ or ‘Konyak’ group within the subgroup posited by Burling (1982, 2003) under the name Sal. The name Tangsa was actually coined by Indian administrators in the 1950s (Barua 2013), to group together a number of small Tibeto-Burman speaking * Research on Tangsa languages in India, and more recently in Myanmar, has been possible because of funds provided first by the Dokumentation der Bedrohter Sprachen (DoBeS) project of the Volkswagen Stiftung, and more recently of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. Both of these fellowships were taken up at La Trobe University which has been a centre for Sino-Tibetan studies of many years, greatly inspired by the presence of David Bradley, who has given me a lot of encouragment and help over many years. I thank my many Tangsa consultants in both India and Myanmar, in particular Lukam Tonglum (Cholim), Rev. Gam Win, Wanglung Mossang and Renman Keluim (Mueshaung), Ninshom Chena and Rev. Longkhap Yanger Thungwa (Chamchang), Shinyung Ngaimong and Wangkui Ngaimong (Ngaimong), Khithong Hakhun and Phulim Hakhun (Hakhun), Satum Ronrang (Rera), Daniel Mawyio (Lauchang), Bynn Kham Lann (Shecyü). I am also very grateful to colleagues, especially students from Gauhati University Linguistics Department, who have helped with language research, Palash Kumar Nath, Iftiqar Rahman, Niharika Dutta, Deepjyoti Goswami, Poppy Gogoi, Jürgen Schöpf, Meenaxi Barkataki-Ruscheweyh. I also thank Nathan Statezni for many useful discussions and for sharing his wonderful collection of data, including the map used in this paper. Thanks also to Mijke Mulder, Kellen Parker van Dam, the editors of this paper and the anonymous reviewer for useful comments.



communities on the India-Myanmar border, in what is now Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh. In this paper, I generally use the term Tangsa to refer to the whole group, following Indian usage, except when making specific reference to Myanmar, where Tangshang is used. There are around 80 Tangsa/Tangshang sub-tribes in the Naga Hills on both sides of the international border. They each speak particularly named linguistic varieties, with some varieties being almost identical, while others are mutually unintelligible (for further information about ethnolinguistic diversity in the region, see Morey 2015, in print). I use the term ‘sub-tribe’ to refer to these named varieties, following the general practice in India. The average population of these sub-tribes is around 1000-1200, with maybe 60% of the total living on the Myanmar side. Around a century ago, almost all of these sub-tribes lived in the more mountainous areas, in villages that were perhaps an average 3-4 hours walk apart. A large number of villages are shown on the 1920s British maps of the Tribal Areas (see Map 10-1); many of those villages are now abandoned. There has been a steady migration down to lower areas, particularly into the plains of Northeast India. There is very little migration from India into Myanmar. Taken together, the Tangsa varieties collectively constitute what is perhaps the largest Tibeto-Burman speaking group in the Patkai Hills. The naming of these sub-tribes is complex. Each has an autonym, and what may be termed exonyms used by other Tangsa sub-tribes, but in addition to those there is what I term a ‘general name’ used by other Tangsa people and also by non-Tangsa people, the origin of which we do not know (see Matisoff, Lowe and Baron 1996: x for discussion of autonym and exonym). For example the group whose autonym is Shecyü /ʃeʨɯ/ is called Khaikhya /kʰaikʰja/ by the Cholims, Shalke /ʃalke/ by the Mueshaung, and has a ‘general name’ Shangke /ʃaŋke/. In this paper, the autonym is used, with the general name in brackets the first time it is encountered. Subgrouping within Tangsa is not yet well understood, but there is a group of around 28 sub-tribes, often termed Pangwa in India, that share certain cultural and linguistic features, such as singing the Wihu song, which has its own song language that appears to preserve certain features of a putative proto-language. The Wihu song is associated with a traditional festival performed at the time of planting of upland rice (around January), discussed further below in §10.5. (See Barkataki & Morey 2013 for more discussion of the Wihu song and some of the traditional rituals associated with it). This paper will examine the sociolinguistic context of the use of Tangsa varieties from a number of perspectives. Firstly, the paper will exemplify individual linguistic practice, in the context of individual family



relationships, in particular the language usage of both parents. This will also be discussed in the light of the use of a number of different lingua francas,, both those that are Tangsa languages and those that are not, which have arisen as languages of communication in particular villages, villages groups of villages or small districts.

(By Kellen van Dam & Stephen Morey)

Map 10-1: The distribution of origin villages of Tangsa/Tangshang /Tangshang



Some of these lingua francas have been adopted as Church languages for use among Christian Tangsa people for worship, with at least three varieties in use by different denominations in India. In Church, language usage depends on (i) how many different varieties are in use in a particular village, (ii) which sub-tribe was first in the area, (iii) which subtribe has the largest population, (iv) which Christian denomination the villagers have adhered to, (v) the languages spoken by the preachers and other participants and (vi) whether non-Tangsa people are members of a particular Church congregation. The place of traditional song/ritual language in communication between varieties in former times will be compared with the use of various lingua francas and the increasing use of State and National languages for communication between varieties in the present day. 10.2 Individual language usage While there are a number of Tangsa people who marry speakers of the same variety, there are also many marriages in which the father’s variety is different, sometimes quite considerably, from the mother’s. Within Tangsa there are both sub-tribes, named units with identifiable linguistic forms, and also clans, membership of which determines who a person can marry. These clans are found across a range of varieties, so for example the Kelim/Keluim (/ke¹lɯm¹/) clan is found in both the Maitai and Mueshaung sub-tribes and almost certainly others1. A member of the Kelim/Keluim clan cannot marry another member of that clan, and this often means that people marry outside of their sub-tribe. Traditionally women would move to shift and live in their husband’s village and acquire his language, but might still speak their own variety with their children. Thus children may be brought up speaking more than one variety as mother tongues. In modern times, people from a range of different sub-tribes, with different mother tongues, are found in some villages, while other villages have just a single variety. Statezni (2013: 19) gives detailed information about the multi-varietal nature of many Tangsa/Tangshang villages close to the Stilwell Road on the Myanmar side. As an example, Khamtai village

1 My research so far has barely touched the diversity of clans within Tangsa /

Tangshang, and much more needs to be found out about them. Dutta 1959: 52 lists the exogamous clans in the Longri subtribe, as well as giving clan names for Mueshaung, Rera, Chamchang and Joglei.



has people from the following sub-tribes2, given with the numbers of households: Haqcyum (28), Cyolim (19), Moshang (4), Lochang (1), Mungre (2), Cyampang (2), Cyamcyang (2), Haqsik (1), Lakki (4). We will examine briefly the language use of an individual, a male aged around 40 whose mother is Lauchang (Langching) and father, now deceased, Mungre (Morang). In the area of Myanmar where he was brought up, the Shecyü (Shangke) variety is a lingua franca. All these three are Pangwa varieties, but our research has shown that there are significant differences between these three varieties as exemplified in (tone), though on the basis of the data presented here, Lauchang is closer to Shecyü than to Mungre. Table 10-1: Linguistic variety, Mungre and Lauchang (Vocabulary)3 Mungre Lauchang Shecyü

sun rɔ²ʃəl² ra²si² ra²ʃe²

father vei¹ vi¹ ve¹

fire var¹ ve¹ va¹

monkey vi²səl² ɣɯ¹sai² jɔkvi²

leg xəɯk ʒi¹ ji¹

moon jɤ³pi² ʒi³pu² ji³pi²

cold rɔ²soŋ³ ra²seŋ² ra²sɔŋ³

Table 10-1 lists several words demonstrating the lexical variety. The word for ‘sun’, a compound based on */raŋ/ ‘sky’, where the putative proto rhyme *-aŋ has become /-a/ in Lauchang and Shecyü and /-ɔ/ in Mungre. Within Pangwa, of those varieties so far recorded, only these three varieties and Chamchang, which is closely related to Shecyü, show the loss of final /-ŋ/ from the proto */raŋ/4. Table 10-2 shows that the forms of the past tense markers differ significantly between Mungre on one hand, and Lauchang and Shecyü on the other. While further research is still needed, it is suggested that the proto form of the past tense marker was /t-/ initial with the person markers having final stops, the latter of which is still seen in Mungre (see DeLancey 2011 for a discussion of these markers).

2 Here we give the spellings of the sub-tribes as in Statezni (2013). is preferred to by people I have worked with on the Indian side. 3 All of the data presented in this paper is from my own research in Northeast India and Myanmar since 2007. Most of the data in Tables 10-1 and 10-2 is published in Morey (2015), more will appear in Morey (in print). 4 The proto form here is based on French 1983, where the vowel is shown as /ə/.



Table 10-2: Linguistic variety, Mungre and Lauchang (Past tense markers) Mungre Lauchang Shecyü

1sg V taʔ V keŋ³ V keŋ³

1pl V tik V kai³ V kai³

2sg V luʔ V lau³ V laɯ³

2pl V lət V lan³ V lən³

3 V V te³ V tɔ³

The Lauchang and Shecyü past forms are very similar, but in other ways the varieties differ. Tangsa languages have alternating verb stems, where for at least some verbs the form that is used with the agreement markers, such as those in Table 10-2, have different tones, and sometimes different codas from the nominalized forms, as in Lauchang /ŋa³/ and /iŋa²/, respectively the verbal and nominalized forms of ‘sit’, where the nominalized form has a different tone. The cognate words in Shecyü, /ŋa³/ and /əŋa³/, have the same tone. (See Morey in print) The tones themselves are also quite different in their realization, as in Table 10-3: Table 10-3: Linguistic variety, Mungre and Lauchang (Tones) Mungre Lauchang Shecyü

Tone 1 41 33ʔ 42

Tone 2 44 51 33

Tone 3 21 44 53

Our study of Tangsa tones (see Morey 2014, in print) has found that Tangsa varieties generally have 3 tones on open syllables plus words with final stops, which are not marked with tones (as in the Mungre past tense markers in Table 10-2). As we can see in Table 10-3, each of these three varieties has a tone that can be categorized as high falling, but it is Tone 1 in Mungre, Tone 2 in Lauchang and Tone 3 in Shecyü, in other words there is a different group of words realized with the high falling tone in each of these three varieties. As mentioned earlier, the speaker whose language usage is being discussed here, is a native speaker of Mungre (his father’s variety), Lauchang (his mother’s variety) and Shecyü (the lingua franca in the area he was born). His father has been deceased for some time, and his wife is from a nonTangsa/Tangshang tribe, so at home he does not speak Mungre. He lives outside of the Tangsa area and at home speaks either Burmese or his wife’s language with her, and Lauchang with his mother. When in his father’s home village, however, he speaks Mungre with his father’s relatives and others who live there; but when travelling to nearby



villages would use Shecyü with speakers of other varieties. In meeting other Tangsa people, I have observed him to use Shecyü with those he knows to speak that variety but otherwise to use his own Mungre variety with older people, in the traditional way described in the next section. This speaker is typical of Tangsa people, in being able to speak the varieties of both his parents, as well as any variety that is a local lingua franca (Assamese in India and Burmese in Myanmar) and, in many cases, English as well. In some parts of the Tangsa area, people also speak a variety of Jinghpaw (or Singpho in India) which is itself a local lingua franca in some places. Still others who have shifted from one village to another will acquire the dominant variety of that village to add to the ones they already know. 10.3 Traditional language usage cross-varieties A number of consultants have told me that traditionally, when speakers of different varieties met, they would speak their own variety and their interlocutors would respond in theirs, a phenomenon known as receptive multilingualism (ten Thije and Zeevaert 2007). I have observed this frequently with older speakers, as for example, a Cholim (Tonglum) speaker using his variety and his interlocutors using their own Rera (Ronrang) variety. Among all the different sub-tribes mentioned so far, all of which are termed Pangwa varieties in India, the Wihu song, mentioned above, is a common language. Example (1) compares the song language in three varieties with the spoken language in one. I have only been able to mark tones in the song language of one variety, Mueshaung (Moshang); but it can be seen that while the three song language versions are almost identical, there are greater differences between the spoken versions. Take, for example, the imperative marker, which is /laʔ/ in Cholim, an invariant form used with both transitive and intransitive forms, and with all persons, and /kɯu¹/ in Mueshaung, which is a singular intransitive imperative form (plural is /kɯn¹/ and the corresponding transitive forms are /ʃɯu¹/ and /ʃɯn¹/). (1)

Mungre song ren ʨʰon tai le waŋ ra Cholim song ron ʨʰon tai le waŋ laʔ Mueshuang song ron² ʨon² təi² le² waŋ¹ lɤ² Cholim spoken ʨam¹ ʨo² ʨjɤ² ljɤ² βaŋ¹ laʔ Mueshaung spoken tsəm¹ ʨi² (lɤ²) βauŋ¹ kɯu¹ rice offer AG.NOMZ PRT come IMP ‘(you), the one offering the rice, come!’



Our consultants assure us that in former times, in public events such as the annual Wihu festival and other festivals, these songs would be sung and understood by people of all Pangwa varieties. This was, in effect, the Tangsa common language that many community activists today desire, but it is now not learned by younger people. 10.4 Tangsa varieties used as lingua francas Although, as discussed in the previous section, the traditional way of negotiating multiple linguistic varieties was that people were fluent in their parents’ varieties and able to understand the speech of those they came into contact with, younger people tend not to be able to do this. So, probably in more recent times, a number of varieties have come to be used as lingua francas in selected areas of the Tangsa speaking areas. On the Myanmar side, in some parts of Nanyun township of Northern Sagaing Division in Myanmar, Shecyü is used as a lingua franca and this variety “enjoys official support by the Tangshang leaders in Myanmar and the Tangshang Naga Central Culture and Literature Committee as a unifying dialect of the Tangshang” (Statezni 2013: 4). My Lungkhi (Lungkhai) consultants have told me that in nearby areas a little further to the South, Lungkhi was used as a lingua franca in some non-Lungkhi speaking areas, but is now less used. In the only part of the Tangshang area in Myanmar that I have been able to visit, Khamti town, Burmese is certainly the lingua franca of Tangshangs and indeed all Naga people, and was one of three languages used in announcements at the New Year Festival on 15th January 2015, the other two being English and Nagamese (an Assamese based creole).5 On the Indian side, Assamese is probably the lingua franca of communication between different Tangsa speakers in most situations, but there are some exceptions. In the villages near Kharang Kong in Assam, where I commenced my work in 2007, Singpho, a related Tibeto-Burman language, has been the lingua franca for generations. Around the time of the 2nd World War, Singpho was used as a lingua franca in a much wider area, but has now been restricted to relatively small area, one in which many Tangsa people grow up with Singpho as their mother tongue and a very limited knowledge of their Tangsa language heritage. 5 Because Nagamese is the common language in Nagaland, and because of the considerable diversity of Naga languages, some community leaders in Khamti want to adopt Nagamese as the ‘common language’ there. In my observation, few people there speak it; but literacy materials produced in Nagaland are now becoming available there.



In some other areas, a Tangsa lingua franca is in use. The first hill of the Patkai range, rising out of the plains of Assam at Ledo, has three Tangsa villages, Malou Pahar, Mullong 1 and Mullong 2. The language of Mullong 2 is Hahcheng (Hasang), a Pangwa variety, whereas that of Mullong 1 is Champang (Thamphang) a non-Pangwa variety having no person agreement marking on verbs and mostly disyllabic nouns. The language of Malou Pahar is Hakhun, also non-Pangwa, but having complex hierarchical verbal agreement marking and more monosyllabic nouns for basic vocabulary. The Hakhun are the most recent arrivals here, most of them having come across from villages on the Myanmar side of the border since 2000. The Champang have been in Mullong 1 for a little longer, but the Hahcheng has, it seems, been in the area for the longest. The three varieties are not mutually intelligible, and it is Hahcheng that has become the lingua franca of this hill. While everyone speaks Hahcheng, and some Champang people also speak Hakhun, I have not encountered Hahcheng or Hakhun people who speak Champang. Hahcheng is mutually intelligible with Joglei, the variety used in Presbyterian Tangsa churches in India (see below). Since Mullong 1 is a Presbyterian Church, Joglei hymns and Bible readings are used there. However, both Mullong 2 and Malou Pahar are Baptist, and thus use Chamchang for Hymns—a variety less easily understandable by the Hahcheng people in Mullong 2 than Joglei would be. One more very small lingua franca is the use of Ngaimong in Lakla village, where there are 16 Ngaimong households, 9 Maitai households and 6 households from other communities. All Maitai people in Lakla can speak Ngaimong and do so when meeting people from Ngaimong households, but they speak Maitai when they are among themselves. 10.5 Language usage in community events Most of the Pangwa Tangsa/Tangshang people that I have met are now Christians, joining a range of denominations. In many villages, therefore, most of the public events are centered around the Church. The first converts became Baptists in the early 1970s, influenced by Ao Naga missionaries, and eventually the Tangsa Baptist Churches Association (TBCA) was formed and many churches belong to this organization. On the Indian side, the first Bible translation was apparently commenced in the 1970s in the Mungre variety, but after some time it was decided the Chamchang6 (Kimsing) would be the variety used for Bible 6 In Myanmar the spelling has been adopted, using for

/ʨ/ and for /ʨʰ/. On the Indian side, these two sounds are written as



translation. The first new testament, translated by Rev. Longkhap Yanger Thungwa was published in 1992, and reprinted in 2007 (Statezni 2013: 31). Hymn books have been produced on both sides of the India-Myanmar border, in Chamchang on the India side and in the closely related Shecyü in Myanmar (Statezni 2013: 31). Table 10-4: Language usage in Baptist Churches (under the TBCA) Nongtham Main language Chamchang

Malou Gaon







Chamchang, Assamese




Bible reading







Hakhun, Assamese, Hahcheng








Special songs





Group Prayer


Assamese, Chamchang



Private prayers own language own language own language own language

Members of the TBCA churches are required to use the Chamchang Bible and Hymn book in Church; but, as we see in Table 10-4, the actual languages in use vary according to which part of the church service is going on. In this Table the main language of the village is listed first, then the different parts of the service are listed. Most of these categories will be familiar to readers; so, for example, the introduction also includes community announcements, while the preaching or sermon is presented by a range of community members and is used to explain that part of the Bible that was read. Generally there are two types of singing: hymns, sung and respectively in Rev. Yanger‘s orthography. On the Myanmar side is dispreferred because of the double , whereas in India is commonly used for transcribing Hindi and other Indic languages 7 I did not record the group prayer in this church service, which was probably The Lord‘s Prayer, and cannot recall which language it was spoken in.



by all people together, and ‘special songs’ performed by one or more members of the congregation. There are also two types of prayer: the group prayer spoken slowly by all people together, and the private prayers, spoken out loud by all people together, at their own pace and for as long as they wish. Both from observation and discussion with community members, I can say that in this situation people pray in the language that they are most comfortable with, likely to be their own mother tongue. The information in Table 10-4 is gleaned from attending and recording8 a number of Baptist services between 2008 and 2014, in four villages, as follows: Christmas Eve service at Nongtham, 2014-12-24 Sunday service at Malou Gaon 2008-12-14 and Christmas 2014-12-24 Sunday service at Balinong 2008-01-24 Saturday service at Kuttom, 2012-11-03 Table 10-4 shows a range of different language patterns in different villages. Nongtham village is all Chamchang speaking, and all households are members of the TBCA. Since the language of the village is also the language preferred by the TBCA, all parts of the church service are in Chamchang, excepting that there may be a small section of the introduction and announcements in Assamese for the benefit of nonTangsa people who, for example, work as laborers in nearby tea gardens. In the other villages in Table 10-4, the situation is very different from Nongtham. In Malou Pahar, the majority of the population speak Hakhun, a non-Pangwa variety of Tangsa/Nocte, with complex hierarchical verbal agreement that is not mutually intelligible with Chamchang. So in Malou, as also in Balinong, while they use the Chamchang Hymn Book and sing enthusiastically from it, the special songs, Bible readings and preaching are all in other languages. Because, as discussed above, Hahcheng, a Pangwa variety, is the lingua franca of this area, and also because the pastor at Malou in 2008 was a Hahcheng speaker, that variety was used for preaching in some of the services I attended, whereas in other services it was Hakhun, usually mixed with some Assamese9. 8 The recordings of Church Services and other public events discussed here are all in process of being archived at the DoBeS archive. 9 In Baptist services there is a often a different preacher at each services, members of the community, both male and female, taking on the role of preacher.



A significant number of non-Tangsa people also attended the services that I recorded in Malou, and for their benefit, parts of the service were conducted in Assamese and they presented a song in the Sadri language, a Hindi-based creole spoken by many tea garden laborers (Adivasis). In the Rera speaking village of Balinong, as Table 10-4 indicates, Rera is used for all parts of the service, except for (i) group hymn singing, where the Chamchang Hymn Book is used, and (ii) the Bible reading which was done in English, and then explained in a Rera sermon. The pastor who preached on that occasion was English educated, which presumably explains the choice of English as the language of the Bible reading rather than Assamese. The village of Kuttom is entirely Muklom speaking, but, unlike Nongtham, is divided between Baptists, Presbyterians, and followers of the Rang Fraa faith, which is a newly codified indigenous faith, supported by some Hindu religious groups10. Despite the close proximity of Kuttom to Nongtham (less than 1km), and despite the instructions of the TBCA that no other Hymn Books be used, the Muklom Baptists have made a Gospel Song book in Muklom-Havi dialogue, printed in 201211. With the aid of this book, all parts of the church service were in Muklom, save the Bible reading. Table 10-5 sets out the language usage in non-TBCA Church services that I have attended over several years. The details of these church services is as follows: Sunday service, Old Plone Baptist Church, 2014-03-02 Sunday service, Neotan Catholic Church, 2014-12-20 Sunday school, Lakla Presbyterian Church, 2012-02-19 Sacrament and Baptism, Lakla Presbyterian Church, 2012-02-26 All of the villages mentioned in Table 10-5 were Baptist at one time, and there is still a TBCA Baptist Church in Lakla, which a minority of the villagers attend. My Mueshaung consultants told me that around 1990 many people left the TBCA because of the insistence in using Chamchang language, and now the various Mueshaung villagers around Neotan have a range of different churches: some remaining TBCA Baptists, presumably using the Chamchang hymn book; some forming a new Baptist Church, the Hawa Naga Baptist Convention (HBCN); some forming the Christian 10 I have not been able to attend a Rang Fraa ceremony, but have seen the books they use which are largely in English but partly in Muklom. The Muklom books produced so far use an orthography that is not phonemic and does not mark tone. 11 The word dialogue is frequently used in Northeast India to mean ‘dialect’.



Revival Church, and some becoming Roman Catholics. I have attended services in all of the last three churches, and in Table 10-5 there are details of the services in the HBCN church and also in the Catholic Church. Table 10-5: Language usage in other churches Old Plone Baptist

Neotan Catholic

Lakla Sunday School

Lakla Sacrament

Main language Mueshaung








English, Assamese, Mizo

Bible reading


Mueshaung, Hindi






Joglei, Assamese12 Mizo, Assamese

Exhortation by the priest






Prayer from elder


English Joglei


Joglei Ngaimong

Group Prayer




Final blessing


Hindi, English

not recorded


own language

own language

own language

Private prayers own language

Both Old Plone and Neotan are villages where all households are Mueshaung speaking, though Neotan at least is divided between Baptists and Catholics13. The service in Old Plone was conducted entirely in Mueshaung, using the Mueshaung Bible translated by Rev. Gam Win and published first in 2000 (Statezni 2013). The Catholic service in Neotan was 12 This was actually a reading and explanation from The Miracles of Jesus, rather than a typical sermon, though it takes the place of the sermon in the Sunday School service. We were later told that the Assamese was only used here because of the presence of visitors, several Assamese linguistics students and two Westerners. 13 I do not know if there is more than one church in Old Plone, and could not re-check this fact for this paper.



also mostly Mueshaung with the exception of those parts of the service directly conducted by the Priest, who is a South Indian and spoke all but one part of the final blessing in Hindi. Thus far there are no trained priests from the Tangsa Catholic communities that I am aware of, so a service that is 100% in the local language would not be possible in a Catholic Church as yet. Also in the 1980s or early 1990s, some Presbyterian Mizo missionaries from Mizoram arrived in Northeast India and commenced converting people to Presbyterianism. The first centre of this activity in the Northeast was at Lakla14, but more recently a mission, and a Tangsa Model School, have been set up in Khasan village, a short walk from both Kuttom and Nongtham. Joglei, the language used in Khasan, was adopted by the Presbyterians for use in their work, and a Hymn Book, as well as The Miracles of Jesus a book of lessons in Joglei language, has been printed. In Lakla village, Ngaimong is the mother tongue of about 50% of the people, with around 30% being Maitai speakers. Ngaimong is the lingua franca of the village, and is mutually intelligible with Joglei, the language of the Presbyterian Tangsas. The Presbyterian Church has a weekly Sunday morning ‘Sunday School’, and in Lakla this is divided into three parts—for children, for adults and for Mizo speakers. I attended the adults session in which the introduction was done in Ngaimong, but the main teaching, the reading of The Miracles of Jesus and the discussion of their meaning, was in Joglei, as were the group prayers and hymns. A week later the Evening service was a Sacrament (Holy Communion) and Baptism, involving the whole community. This brought together people from the village but also the missionaries and teachers from the school, some of whom are Mizo. The preaching for that night was in Mizo (also Tibeto-Burman but not part of Northern Naga), so the sermon was translated into Assamese. The language usage in this service was very different from that in the Sunday School a week earlier, because Tangsa varieties were much less in evidence, except for the Hymns, which were sung in Joglei. As can be seen from this brief survey into language usage in Tangsa Church services, there are a range of different patterns, with several common features. Firstly, private prayers were always done in a range of languages, usually people’s own mother tongues, though this is essentially 14 Lakla also has two private schools, attendance at which is much sought

after, the Jeroel School (Presbyterian) and the Mount Carmel School (Baptist).



impossible to research. Secondly, hymns were sung using the printed Hymn books—Chamchang for Baptists, Mueshaung for the various Mueshaung speakers and Joglei for Presbyterians. The only exception to this is the Muklom Baptists who have made their own, unofficial, Hymn Book. Bible readings were only done in the local language, where there was a Bible translation, i.e. Chamchang, Mueshaung and Joglei. However unlike with Hymns, the Bible translation into Tangsa language wasn’t used unless that variety was also the language of most of the congregation. Thus in Malou Pahar, Balinong and Kuttom, English was used, the meaning being later explained in a sermon in the native language. Church services are not the only Christian events held in villages; other very important events include Weddings and House Openings. I have attended a number of the latter, such as the dedication of a house in the Rera village of Phulbari in November 2011. As can be seen in Table 10-6, the Rera language was only used in part for the words of welcome, in part of the Pastor’s address (the portion where the family is invited to come up into the new house) and for a short group prayer. In some locations, where people have not converted to Christianity, House Dedications are still practiced in the traditional way, with the sacrifice of animals and the singing of ritual songs, such as the Wihu Song. As already mentioned, the Wihu song was sung in a kind of ‘common Tangsa’ language, and it could be said that the use in House Dedications of Assamese, the modern-day common language on the Indian side, is a continuation of this practice of using a common language in this ceremony. Table 10-6: Language usage in the Phulbari House Dedication, 2011-11-03 Phulbari, House Dedication Welcome words Hymns Pastor’s address Speeches Group prayer Private prayers Bible reading Sermon Prayer of thanks

Rera, Assamese Chamchang Rera and Assamese Assamese Rera own language English Assamese Assamese



I have not attended a House Dedication in Nongtham or Neotan, where it might be expected that more of the ceremony is conducted in Chamchang or Mueshuang respectively. Probably speeches would continue to be given in Assamese, as non-tribal visitors might be invited to such an event. To conclude this survey of language usage, I will present some details of the language usage at a non-Christian event, the Wihu Kuq (Wihu festival) held at Kharang Kong. In Assam, this festival is now held on the 5th January every year. In both 2008 and 2009, on the evening of the 4th January a small ceremony was held in which a large leaf was buried near the entrance to the village. In the early morning of the 5th, this leaf and some soil was dug up and carried back to each of the houses in the village in which the festival was celebrated, to form a hearth for sacrifice. This was accompanied by singing of the Wihu song, and shouts of Ahe ‘good!’. Once back in the house, a chicken was sacrificed and at the same time a prayer was spoken and then the Wihu song was sung. In 2008 the formalities of the festival were completed by the raising of the Indian flag in the mid morning, accompanied by a short speech in Assamese and Cholim by the community leader, Mr. Lukam Cholim (Tonglum). For the rest of the day there was informal singing, in which people visited the houses of others to sing, eat and drink rice beer. Guests were welcomed by singing that began as those guests approached the house and continued on the front porch and later inside the house. Table 10-7: Language usage in the Wihu festival, Kharang Kong 2009 Wihu Kuq 2008

Wihu Kuq 2009

Wihu songs

Wihu song language

Wihu song language


Wihu song language

Wihu song language

Speech and flag raising

Cholim, Assamese





Meeting Announcements during the games Informal singing


Assamese, Cholim15



Wihu song language

Wihu song language

15 The only words of Tangsa language spoken in this meeting were spoken by

me in the Cholim variety.



In 2009, guests arrived from neighboring villages; and a much larger festival, with games and dancing, was organized. As part of this festival there was a ‘meeting’ in which local government officials gave speeches in Assamese. As in the House Opening, the Wihu Kuq festival of 2009 included people from other villages and non-Tangsa communities. Thus, the speeches and announcements were generally made in Assamese. 10.6 Conclusion In this paper, I have presented information about the use of different Tangsa languages in both traditional and modern situations and at the individual and community level. The significant linguistic diversity within Tangsa, combined with different situations of language contact in different places, means that the linguistic usage patterns differ from place to place. The linguistic complexity of the traditional festivals, where people spoke in their own varieties but sang in a common Wihu song language, is to some extent being mirrored in the way that Church services are conducted today, with a variety of languages used but a common language for Hymn singing—depending on which denomination the community is part of. Individual language use is also changing, from the traditional pattern of everyone speaking their own variety and being able to understand the other varieties of speakers with which they come in contact, to the use of a lingua franca. These lingua francas vary from place to place, sometimes the local language of wider communication, such as Burmese or Assamese, and sometimes one of the Tangsa varieties such as Shecyü in Nanyun township in Myanmar.

Abbreviations ag.nomz agentive nominalizer prt particle HBCN Hawa Naga Baptist Convention TBCA Tangsa Baptist Churches Association



References Barkataki-Ruscheweyh, Meenaxi & Stephen Morey. 2013. Wihu song of the Pangwa Tangsa: poetry and linguistic forms, meaning and the transformation to a symbol of identity. In G. Hyslop, S. Morey & M. Post (eds.) North East Indian linguistics, volume 5, 280–303. Delhi: Cambridge University Press. Barua, Surendranath. 2013 (1991). Tribes of the Indo-Burma border. Bhabani: Guwahati. Burling, Robbins. 1982. The Sal languages. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 7(2). 1–31. Burling, Robbins. 2003. The Tibeto-Burman languages of Northeastern India. In G. Thurgood & R. LaPolla (eds). The Sino-Tibetan languages. 169–191. London: Routledge. DeLancey, S. 2011. Nocte and Jinghpaw: Morphological correspondence. In G. M. H. Lowes, S. Morey, & M. W. Post (eds.), North East Indian linguistics 3, 61–75. Delhi: Cambridge University Press. Dutta, Parul. 1959. The Tangsas of the Namchik and Tirap Valleys. Shillong: North-East Frontier Agency. French, Walter. 1983. Northern Naga: A Tibeto-Burman mesolanguage. New York: City University of New York dissertation. Matisoff, J. A., J. B. Lowe & S. Baron. 1996. Languages and dialects of TibetoBurman. STEDT Monograph Series #2. Centers for South and Southeast Asia Studies. Berkeley: University of California. Morey, Stephen. 2014. Studying tones in North East India—Tai, Singpho and Tangsa. In Larry Hyman & Stephen Bird (eds.), How to study a tone language = Language Documentation and Conservation 8. 637–671. Morey, Stephen. 2015. The internal diversity of Tangsa: Vocabulary and morphosyntax. In Mark W. Post, Scott DeLancey & Stephen Morey (eds.), Language and culture in Northeast India and beyond: In honor of Robbins Burling, 23–40. Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics. Morey, Stephen. (in print). Tangsa. To appear in Graham Thurgood & Randy LaPolla (eds.), The Sino-Tibetan languages, 2nd edn. London: Routledge. Statezni, Nathan. 2013. Fifty-five dialects and growing: Literacy and comprehension of vernacular literature among the Tangshang Naga in Myanmar. Dallas: Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics MA thesis. ten Thije, Jan D. & Ludger Zeevaert. 2007. Receptive multilingualism: Linguistic analyses, language policies and didactic concepts. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.



Details of Religious books16 Bible Society of India. 2007. Tongshong Nye (New Testament). Bangalore: Bible Society of India. (In Chamchang, translated by Rev. Longkhap Yanger Thungwa) Bible Society of Myanmar. 2004. Tishox Tvtsvmc Shic (Hawa Naga Christian Hymnal). Yangon: Bible Society of Myanmar (in Mueshaung) Bible Society of Myanmar. 2000. Vsawc Bawmhkvmc Vnyalx nuiyc Tvstsvmc Luik & Bawmc Tvguip Luik (New Testament and Psalms and Proverbs). Yangon: Bible Society of Myanmar. (In Mueshaung, translated by Rev. Gam Win) Muklom-Havi Christian Committee. 2012. Gospel Song Book in Muklom Havi Dialogue. Kharsang: Gospel Printing Enterprise (in Muklom) Presbyterian Church of India. 2007. Kristian Shai Likdap (Christian Song Book). Khasan: Arunachal and Assam East Presbyterian Church. (In Joglei) (2nd Edition) Presbyterian Church of India. 2011. Jesuh Kristo Avangchhing Jakshim Tam. (The Miracles of Jesus). Khasan: Arunachal and Assam East Presbyterian Church. (In Joglei) Rangfraa Faith Promotion Society. 2008. Rangfraaism. Its system of worship and prayer. Changlang: Rangfraa Faith Promotion Society (In English and Muklom) Tangsa Literature Committee. 1998. Hymn Book. (In Chamchang)

16 As far as I know, none of these books are available in any public libraries or University libraries. I have personal copies of some, and photographs of all or part of some others. I am grateful to the anonymous reviewer for pointing out that it would have been good to indicate the availability of these interesting texts, but this is unfortunately not possible.


ON KUKI-CHIN SUBGROUPING* David A. Peterson This paper will present the evolving thoughts I have on subgrouping within the Kuki-Chin branch of Tibeto-Burman. The central notion developed here is one that I presented at the International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics in 2000 but have yet to publish except in the preprint volume for that conference. Namely, rather than adopt a model of subgrouping for Kuki-Chin in which there are Northern, Central, Southern, and Old Kuki groups, as has been widely assumed since the Linguistic Survey of India, we should recognize some similarities at least between the Northern and the Southern languages and adopt a Center/Periphery subgrouping model. This basic model has since been adopted by various researchers (e.g., by VanBik in his 2009 reconstruction of Proto-Kuki-Chin). I have never publicly revised my own conception of the proposal based on further evidence I have become aware of since 2000. To present a further refinement of this view on subgrouping Kuki-Chin will be one of my main goals here. In my 2000 paper, I had as an additional goal to question the membership of the Southern Kuki-Chin subgroup; I will provide further discussion of this issue here. I will also touch on other problematic aspects of existing subgrouping proposals (and partial proposals) and discuss the kind of evidence I believe we will require to eventually formulate a definitive subgrouping for this major Tibeto-Burman branch. * My work on Kuki-Chin, especially Hyow, Khumi, Pangkhua, and Rengmitca, has been supported by NSF grants #BCS-0349021 and #BCS-1360770. To provide a response to David Bradley’s 1997 Kuki-Chin subgrouping has long been an inspiration to the present project, so is it appropriate that it appear here first, in a book honoring this great scholar, colleague, and friend. Thank you to Ken VanBik, Tim Pulju, and Jim Stanford for discussions of various aspects of the paper’s contents and to the many consultants from the communities I work with for teaching me about their languages. I also would like to acknowledge the indispensible assistance of Muhammad Zakaria in verifying and augmenting the data from Hyow presented here. Unpublished manuscripts and handouts by the author referenced in this paper will be made available at the author’s website, which is accessible via



11.1 The history of Kuki-Chin subgrouping The Kuki-Chin group includes dozens of named varieties for what may number as many as fifty independent languages, although the usual issues regarding the language vs. dialect distinction are very much relevant in the present context. For instance, there is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between Hakha Lai, spoken in Hakha, and Laizo (or Zahao), spoken in Falam; nevertheless, language politics militate against recognizing these as mere dialects of a single language. I will not attempt a full exegesis of the different names used for Kuki-Chin languages here; to explain it all is beyond my ability at this point and would surely require a small monograph. Suffice it to say that since place names, clan names, and actual language/dialect names are all used to describe language varieties, there is an overabundance of names, as is typical in this part of the world.1 11.1.1 The Linguistic Survey of India subgrouping Until close to the end of the millennium, Tibeto-Burmanists operated with a traditional subgrouping hypothesis, which stemmed from the Linguistic Survey of India (LSI), and which Sten Konow best detailed in his 1902 paper, “Zur Kenntnis der Kuki-Chinsprachen”. This classification is given in Figure 11-1. Konow did not rely on identification of systematic sound change innovations to subgroup the languages. Rather, the model appears to be based primarily on morphosyntactic similarities between the members of the different subgroups, e.g., their interrogative pronouns, strategies for plural formation, markers for standards of comparison, causative markers, and so forth. This is not, however, couched in terms of an overarching theory of what elements in these different domains were present at the Proto-Kuki-Chin (henceforth Proto-Kuki-Chin) stage. For instance, Konow notes the presence of causatives in -sā or -ʂak, in the Northern languages, apparently without realizing that this is probably an element that should be reconstructed at a level which would also include the Southern and Central languages, at least. (See below for further remarks 1 It is worth mentioning that specialists in Kuki-Chin are moving towards adoption of a new name for the branch, South-Central Tibeto-Burman. This will allow us to avoid the use of two (sometimes unpopular) exonym designations for the languages; however, adoption of this new name is not meant to necessarily imply acceptance of DeLancey’s proposed Central Tibeto-Burman subgroup on the part of any given researcher. The designation Mizo-Kuki-Chin, adopted by Burling in an influential paper (2003), is even less desirable than Kuki-Chin itself, as it appears to elevate the status of one of the languages, albeit the one with the largest number of speakers, unnecessarily.



on this element.) He notes prefixal causatives in ma- (and other forms) in the Old Kuki languages, but does not acknowledge (and perhaps did not realize at the time) that there is also widespread evidence for this element in languages like Khami (classified as Southern) and Pangkhua (classified as Central). Old Kuki — Rāngkhōl, Bētē, Hallām, Langrong, Aimol, Anāl, Chiru, Hiroi-Lamgāng (modern Lamkang), Kolrēn, Kōm, Pūrūm, Mhār (modern Hmar), Chå Northern — Thādo, Soktē (modern Tedim and other dialects), Siyin (modern Sizang), Rāltē, Paitē Central — Shunkla/Tashōn (modern Falam), Lai/Baungshe, Lakher (modern Mara), Lushēi/Dulien (modern Mizo), Banjōgī (modern Bawm), Pangkhu (modern Pangkhua) Southern — Chinme, Welaung, Chinbōk, Yindu, Chinbōn, Shö/ Khyang (including Hyow), Khami (including modern Khumi, Mro-Khimi, etc.) Figure 11-1: Konow’s subgrouping of Kuki-Chin languages

11.1.2 The Sino-Tibetan Conspectus subgrouping Benedict’s (1972) conspectus does not offer the kind of detail given by other authors. However, it is clear that his subgrouping schema largely conforms to the essential characteristics of the LSI model. He notes that Khami appears to be especially distinct from what he takes to be the most archaic–Old Kuki–even among the already highly divergent Southern languages; he nevertheless includes Khami under the Southern subgroup. 11.1.3 Shafer’s subgrouping The next well-articulated subgrouping, by Shafer (1974), given in Figure 2, also largely retains the characteristics of the LSI subgrouping, including Northern, Central, Southern, and Old Kuki branches. Shafer’s model differs from Benedict’s in the placement of Mara: it is not found under the Central Branch. It is noteworthy that Shafer also includes the Tangkhulic languages, Meithei (Manipuri), Karbi (Mikir), and the Naga languages under his Kukish division. I only include the Kuki-Chin members in Figure 11-2, and have consolidated some low-level groupings in the interest of space.



Kukish Section (Indo-Burmese frontier regions) — Southern Branch Śo: Sandoway, Thayetmyo, Minbu, Tśinbon, Chittagong, Lemyo Yawdwin Tśinbok Khami Southern: Khimi Northern — Lakher Branch Mara: Tlongsai, Hawthai, Sabeu, Zeuhnang, Śandu — Old Kuki Branch Central Unit: Tśiru, Aimol, Purum, Langrong Kyau Western Unit Northern: Hrangkhol, Biate Southern: Hallam S Luhupa Kolhreng (C Peripheral) Unit: Kolhreng, Kom, Tarao Lamgang (Southern) Unit: Lamgang, Anal, — Langet — Central Branch Luśei Unit: Luśei (Dulien (Standard) dialect, Ngente dialect) Zahao (Yahow) Hmar Pankhu (Bom) Haka Unit: Haka (Lai), Śonśe, Taungtha, Bandz’ogi Kapwi Unit — Northern Branch Thado (Ralte) Śiyang (Siyin): Vuite (Paite) Etc. Figure 11-2: Shafer’s subgrouping of Kuki-Chin languages

11.1.4 The Bradley and Thurgood subgroupings Bradley (1997) and Thurgood (2003) also retain the overall structure of the LSI subgrouping, with a few noteworthy exceptions. In particular, Bradley’s subgrouping treats Mara and Khami/Khumi as first-order branches from the rest of the family. Thurgood’s subgrouping treats Mara as a part of the Central branch, and does not include Khami/Khumi.



— Mara — Khami/Khumi — Kuki-Chin Old Kuki: Rangkhol (Bete), Hallam, Langrong, Hmar, Anal, Kom, Chawte, Mayol, Lamgang, others Core Kuki-Chin North Chin: various Central Chin: Lai(zo) (various), Mizo South Chin: Ashö Figure 11-3: Bradley’s subgrouping of Kuki-Chin languages

– Chin Northern Chin: Tiddim Chin, Siyin, Thado, Ralte, Paite, Gangte, Pawi, Chiru, Simte Central Chin: Mizo, Lai, Zahao, Bawm, Mara Southern Chin: Shö, Daai (Nitu), Khyang – Kuki languages/dialects [Old Kuki]: Kom, Aimol, Bete, Hallam, Langrong, Anal, Chothe/Chote/Chawte, Hmar Figure 11-4: Thurgood’s subgrouping of Kuki-Chin languages

11.1.5 The Center/Periphery model As mentioned above, in 2000, I proposed, based on shared phonological and morphosyntactic characteristics, that the geographically-motivated Northern/Central/Southern/Old Kuki model should be abandoned in favor of one which recognized Central and Peripheral subgroups. The Peripheral group would contain the former Northern and Southern languages. I noted that the placement of Khumi in a Southern group was uncertain, but that there was some evidence that it might belong in the Peripheral group. I also did not draw a firm conclusion about the position of the Old Kuki languages, although I suggested they were probably closely aligned with the Central group. 11.1.6 Khoi Lam Thang’s subgroupings The next major attempt to subgroup Kuki-Chin is found in Khoi Lam Thang’s 2001 Payap University MA thesis. He used both methods for measuring lexical similarity and considerations of shared phonological innovations to posit alternative subgroupings. Considerations of lexical



similarity yielded results more closely resembling the Bradley subgrouping model: Northern, Central, and Southern, with Mara and Khumi representing outlier branches. (Khoi Lam Thang did not include any data from Old Kuki languages.) The consideration of shared phonological innovations, which yielded a subgrouping to a certain extent resembling the Peterson (2000) subgrouping in that Northern and Southern were grouped together while Central languages formed a more cohesive subgroup, was unfortunately marred by mistaken assumptions about what the proper reconstructions (and hence subsequent sound changes) were (VanBik 2009: 22-23.) 11.1.7 VanBik’s subgrouping In his reconstruction of Proto-Kuki-Chin, VanBik (2009) adopted the structure of the Center/Periphery model. However, he did not question the position of Khami/Khumi internal to a Southern Chin branch of the Peripheral group. He also set up a Maraic branch independent from the Central and Peripheral groups. VanBik did not consider Old Kuki data on the grounds that little reliable information for them was available at the time (VanBik, p.c.) — Peripheral North: Thado, Sizang South: Khumi, Cho-Asho — Central: Laamtuk Thet Lai: Hakha, Falam Mizo: Lushai, Hmar — Maraic: Mara, Zotung, Senthang Figure 11-5: VanBik’s subgrouping of Kuki-Chin languages

11.1.8 So-Hartmann’s Southern Kuki-Chin While she did not attempt a full subgrouping for the family, So-Hartmann (1988), and later discussions by the same author and Kee Shein Mang (2006) on the grouping of Southern languages, have perpetuated a view in which Khami/Khumi and other Southern languages are subgrouped together as a Southern branch of Kuki-Chin. Using lexical similarity arguments, So-Hartmann noted there were two subgroups within this Southern branch: languages more like Khumi/Wakung (=Mro-Khimi) and languages more like the southern languages spoken further to the east



and south (including Daai, and presumably Asho, as well as Hyow, spoken to the west in Bangladesh.) — Paletwa Group: Anu-Khaungsho2 T’aw, Mro-Khimi, Lemi, Khumi — Cho Group: Matu, Chinpon Ngmüün, Daai, Mkaang Figure 11-6: So-Hartmann’s Southern Kuki-Chin

Note that the model proposed by So-Hartmann, based on considerations of shared cognate percentages rather than on specific shared innovations, is not incompatible with a view in which the Paletwa group is separate altogether from a Southern subgroup; it could instead be a first order branching from the family, or even joined with one of the other recognized subgroups. 11.1.9 Summary Thus, up to this point, there have been two basic models proposed for subgrouping Kuki-Chin, shown schematically in Figures 11-7 and 11-8.


Northwestern Northeastern Central Southern

Figure 11-7: Geography-based model


Khomic Maraic Northwestern Central Peripheral Northeastern Southern

Figure 11-8: Center/Periphery model 2 See discussion in §11.3.2 below.



The Geography-based model is essentially the Linguistic Survey of India model. Here I have substituted the term Northwestern for the infelicitous Old Kuki as was agreed upon by a group of Kuki-Chin specialists in 2013; along with this change, the formerly Northern subgroup is now known as Northeastern. The Center/Periphery model depicted here is different from the one used by VanBik in that Khami/Khumi has been removed from the Southern branch, as in Bradley’s subgrouping model. In recent presentations I have adopted the term Khomic to refer to this branch of several distinct languages, including Khami/Khumi, Mro-Khimi, Lemi, Rengmitca, and others. 11.2 The Center/Periphery model in detail 11.2.1 Phonological evidence The essential piece of evidence for a Center/Periphery subgrouping is the treatment of Proto-Tibeto-Burman *r. In essence, what on Kuki-Chin external grounds presumably was an original rhotic sound has been fully retained in Central languages and, based on available evidence, in Northwestern languages. In other languages, it has to a greater or lesser extent progressed towards a velar fricative (many traditional Southern languages, parts of Khomic) or even strengthened into to a velar stop (traditional Northern languages and at least one Khomic language). Hill (2014) has recently proposed that this change be referred to as Shafer’s Law, as Shafer was apparently the first to discuss it in detail in published work (1974: 205), but it is perhaps better known from Solnit’s (1979) paper. Shafer actually gives credit to Shakespear (1912: 226) for the original, if not fully developed, observation. Given that Shafer has a more sophisticated understanding of the phenomenon than Shakespear, however, it seems reasonable to adopt Hill’s suggestion. As will be seen here, though, it is unclear whether this set of changes is deserving of the title ‘law’. The seeming finality of Henderson’s g in her classic study of (Northeastern) Tedim (1965), and of Jordan’s g in his dictionary of (Southern) K’Cho (1969) hide myriad complications which preclude their simple equation. Rather, we will conclude that what these must reflect was a tendency towards variation in the pronunciation of this sound which obtained in a portion of the family excluding the Central and Northwestern languages; this variation resulted in the various reflexes we see now rather than a single exceptionless sound change at a ProtoPeripheral stage. Shafer’s law in Northeastern Kuki-Chin The clearest evidence for the development of *r towards a velar (g initially and k finally) is in Northeastern Chin. Henderson (1965) clearly shows g



and k as consistent reflexes of *r in Tedim (e.g., gul ‘snake’ < *rul, nak ‘nose’ < *n̥ ar, etc.) The evidence from Thado (Hodson 1906, Krishan 1980) is also nearly without exception, although a later change there merges original *k and k from *r in final position as -ʔ almost universally. Sizang’s reflex is seemingly less straightforward, with *r developing into ŋ initially. As far as I know, with perhaps one exception (Sizang na ‘nose’, where we would expect a final k), the change from *r to k finally in Northern Chin languages is absolute. Khoi Lam Tang (2001) notes, however, that even for Tedim there is evidence that the change in the initials had not run its course at the time Luce collected data for the language. Based on the available Luce wordlists (published 1985) for Tedim, there was typically free variation between ŋɡ and ɣ for reflexes of initial *r (for instance, ŋɡɪl1/ɣɪl1 ‘bowels’, ŋ ɡul1/ɣuːl1 ‘snake’, ŋɡam1/ɣam1 ‘jungle, country’) rather than a consistent g reflex. Henderson does not note such variation in her description of g in Tedim, but Luce’s transcriptions are much narrower than the representation Henderson’s study provides.3 Thado, by the early twentieth century, had a voiced velar stop reflex for initial *r which was “properly hard, but in some words, it is considerably softened” (Hodson 1906: 4), and in some cases had “slight aspiration” (1906: 5). Several g reflexes of *r cited by Hodson include this feature, which it seems likely referred not to aspiration but to lingering frication.4 The ‘softened’ nature of the sound was exemplified in the form for ‘six’, which was claimed to have variants wūp and gūp. By the time of Krishan’s modern description (1980), there was no discussion for either of these features noted by Hodson. As noted earlier, in Thado, final *r merged with *k, and by the time of Krishan’s work this had developed into -ʔ throughout. However, there is evidence of a -k stage for *r in the guise of a few words where *-k (resulting from *r) must have shifted to a non-velar place of articulation, including athat ‘new’ (< *thar), khit ‘back, verbal suffix’ (