Sound Correspondence and the Comparative Study of Miao-Yao Languages (語音對應與苗瑤語比較研究)

From the Perspective of Complete Sound Correspondence (從完全對應的角度看)

in Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics

Rigorous sound correspondence is fundamental to historical linguistics. It serves as a solid start in studying genetic relationship. Regarding the genetic position of Miao-Yao languages, Li (1937) proposed a hypothesis that the Sino-Tibetan language family consists of Chinese, Tibeto-Burman, Kam-Tai, and Miao-Yao. Benedict (1942; 1975) excluded Miao-Yao from the Sino-Tibetan language family since sound correspondences between Miao-Yao and Chinese were considered to be caused by language contact. The key point in this debate has been ignored for a long time: are the related morphemes proposed in this debate supported by rigorous sound correspondence? In this paper, related morphemes across 11 Miao-Yao languages have been first identified under the requirement of complete sound correspondence, and then analyzed by the Rank Method. The result of the genetic relationship between the 11 Miao-Yao languages has been confirmed. The same procedure has been applied to Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes, and similar pattern has been found. The Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes were recognized to be inherited from the common ancestor of Chinese and Miao-Yao. Combined with the result from the perspective of pervasive sound correspondence (Wang 2015), the proposal of a genetic relationship between Chinese and Miao-Yao has been supported. The Inexplicability Principle has been used to weaken the possibility of Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes being induced by borrowing from Chinese to Miao-Yao, since some sound correspondences are unlikely to be explained by natural phonetic mechanisms. Moreover, related morphemes in Chinese and Miao-Yao have been examined from the perspective of Old Chinese, and such an examination also supports the hypothesis of a genetic relationship between Chinese and Miao-Yao languages.

嚴格的語音對應是歷史比較的基礎,也是判定語源關係的必要條件。在苗瑤語的語源問題研究中,李方桂(1937)提出漢藏語系四語族學說,即漢語、藏緬語、侗台語和苗瑤語。Benedict(1942、1975)則將苗瑤語從漢藏語系中劃分出去,理由是苗瑤語和漢語有對應關係的語素是由接觸造成的。苗瑤語系屬問題的爭議焦點在於苗瑤語和漢語音近義同的一批關係語素是否有嚴格的語音對應支持,然而這一問題一直以來不被重視。本文基於完全對應得到苗瑤語族內部11個語言的關係語素,隨後應用詞階法分析,結果如願所示,這11個語言之間具有發生學關係。同樣的程序應用于漢-苗瑤語關係語素,結果與上述呈現的模式相同,即這些關係語素是來自漢語和苗瑤語共同的祖語,而非語言接觸的產物。結合普遍對應的研究(Wang 2015),漢語和苗瑤語的發生學關係可以得到支持。不可釋原則也顯示漢-苗瑤語關係語素是由苗瑤語從漢語借用的可能性較小,因為二者間的部分語音對應不可能通過自然音變來解釋。此外,從上古漢語的角度對漢-苗瑤語關係語素的校驗也支持二者的同源關係。

Abstract

Rigorous sound correspondence is fundamental to historical linguistics. It serves as a solid start in studying genetic relationship. Regarding the genetic position of Miao-Yao languages, Li (1937) proposed a hypothesis that the Sino-Tibetan language family consists of Chinese, Tibeto-Burman, Kam-Tai, and Miao-Yao. Benedict (1942; 1975) excluded Miao-Yao from the Sino-Tibetan language family since sound correspondences between Miao-Yao and Chinese were considered to be caused by language contact. The key point in this debate has been ignored for a long time: are the related morphemes proposed in this debate supported by rigorous sound correspondence? In this paper, related morphemes across 11 Miao-Yao languages have been first identified under the requirement of complete sound correspondence, and then analyzed by the Rank Method. The result of the genetic relationship between the 11 Miao-Yao languages has been confirmed. The same procedure has been applied to Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes, and similar pattern has been found. The Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes were recognized to be inherited from the common ancestor of Chinese and Miao-Yao. Combined with the result from the perspective of pervasive sound correspondence (Wang 2015), the proposal of a genetic relationship between Chinese and Miao-Yao has been supported. The Inexplicability Principle has been used to weaken the possibility of Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes being induced by borrowing from Chinese to Miao-Yao, since some sound correspondences are unlikely to be explained by natural phonetic mechanisms. Moreover, related morphemes in Chinese and Miao-Yao have been examined from the perspective of Old Chinese, and such an examination also supports the hypothesis of a genetic relationship between Chinese and Miao-Yao languages.

嚴格的語音對應是歷史比較的基礎,也是判定語源關係的必要條件。在苗瑤語的語源問題研究中,李方桂(1937)提出漢藏語系四語族學說,即漢語、藏緬語、侗台語和苗瑤語。Benedict(1942、1975)則將苗瑤語從漢藏語系中劃分出去,理由是苗瑤語和漢語有對應關係的語素是由接觸造成的。苗瑤語系屬問題的爭議焦點在於苗瑤語和漢語音近義同的一批關係語素是否有嚴格的語音對應支持,然而這一問題一直以來不被重視。本文基於完全對應得到苗瑤語族內部11個語言的關係語素,隨後應用詞階法分析,結果如願所示,這11個語言之間具有發生學關係。同樣的程序應用于漢-苗瑤語關係語素,結果與上述呈現的模式相同,即這些關係語素是來自漢語和苗瑤語共同的祖語,而非語言接觸的產物。結合普遍對應的研究(Wang 2015),漢語和苗瑤語的發生學關係可以得到支持。不可釋原則也顯示漢-苗瑤語關係語素是由苗瑤語從漢語借用的可能性較小,因為二者間的部分語音對應不可能通過自然音變來解釋。此外,從上古漢語的角度對漢-苗瑤語關係語素的校驗也支持二者的同源關係。

* This work was supported by projects of National Social Science Fund of China, [16FYY016], [14ZBD102] and [13AZD051]. We are grateful to Prof. Shen Zhongwei for his comments on an earlier version of this article, two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. The corresponding author is Wen Liu, Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China. E-mail: liuwen3214@pku.edu.cn.

1 Complete Sound Correspondence and Historical Comparison

Sound correspondence is crucial to historical comparison. Before the establishment of sound correspondence, steps like identifying cognates or borrowed words, reconstructing proto-forms, confirming genetic relationship between languages, or subgrouping, may not get started. Since sound correspondence was possibly caused by inheritance or borrowing, morphemes of different languages with sound correspondences should be called related morphemes, rather than cognates (Chen 1996).

Chen (1996: 201–216) suggested that the definition of sound correspondences should be based upon probabilistic calculations. The following statistical formula was proposed to be used for searching for related words (see Chen 1996: 216–228 for details):

n ∙ p ≤ 0.1

Where “n” is the sample size being searched, and “p” is the probability of the particular phonological correspondences between the pairs of words under evaluation.

When complete sound correspondence is loosened up, correspondences are found only in some parts of a syllable (initial, final and tone), and related morphemes are recognized. However, the probability of accidental similarities would have greatly increased. Based on the data from Yi dialects and Bai dialects, Wang (2011) suggested that loosening up on complete sound correspondence has brought in more probability of resemblances. Over time, some examples for a particular sound correspondence may have gotten lost. The earlier two languages split, the more supporting examples of sound correspondences may get lost. On the other hand, loosening up on the requirement of complete sound correspondence is beneficial to recognize more sound correspondences. However, such measurement has to take the risk of additional chance resemblances in a comparative study. Thus, in the implementation of historical comparison, such measurement can be used with caution, as discussed by Chen (1996).

After related morphemes have been obtained based on complete sound correspondences, the genetic nature of these morphemes may be analyzed. The Rank Method and the Inexplicability Principle will be adopted for this task.

The Rank Method was proposed by Chen (1996), where the 200-word list (Swadesh 1952) has been divided into two sub-groups: the 100 basic-word list of Swadesh (1955), and the remainder of the Swadesh 200 word-list that excludes the items from Swadesh’s 100-word list. The two groups are named High-rank (the first 100 words) and Low-rank (the remaining 100 words). The two lists by Swadesh (1952; 1955) have been widely accepted, but were independently adopted by Chen (1996) to avoid subjective selection. It is assumed that words in the High-rank are more stable and loan-resistant than those that are in the Low-rank. More importantly, the Rank Method has been tested with a large number of languages. According to Chen (1996), genetically related languages, such as the Germanic languages, the Tai languages, and the dialects of Chinese, have a greater number of related words in the High-rank (the first 100 words) than in the Low-rank (the remaining 100 words). However, the number of related words in the High-rank is less than that are in the Low-rank if the two languages are in a contact relationship, such as the Tai languages and Chinese dialects.

The Inexplicability Principle was used to identify the language relationship by Wang (2004; 2006; 2012). The Inexplicability Principle refers to the inability of describing the representation of the related words in the recipient language in terms of the phonological system of the donor language. The inexplicable elements are considered to be counterevidence for the hypothesis of borrowing. Taking Chinese and Dai languages as an example, the mechanism of matching phonological systems of those two languages in contact has been analyzed thoroughly by Chen (1996). The analysis can serve as the empirical foundation of the Inexplicability Principle.

2 Complete Sound Correspondence and Comparative Studies of Miao-Yao Languages

The importance of complete sound correspondence has been realized by Wang and Mao (1995: 19–20). They stated: “In comparison, the initial, final or tone of some morphemes does not follow the rule of sound correspondence. There are three possibilities. First, such morphemes may not be cognate. Second, there may be an irregular change of a few morphemes in a particular dialect. Third, it may be a mistake in recording…. (However,) if both tone and initial correspondence of a syllable can be supported, its final correspondence may be established, though there is only one example. Similarly, tone and final correspondence of a syllable may imply its initial correspondence (Our translation).” They used “I!”/ “F!”/“T!” to mark initial, final, and tone irregularities, respectively. Such a method has been used widely ever since. Although the completeness of sound correspondence has been noticed in Miao-Yao comparative studies, ways to deal with it needs further study. So-called ‘irregularity’ should be reexamined. If there are no parallel examples, such irregularity has no foundation of sound correspondence. If there are parallel examples, it may belong to another set of sound correspondence, even though there are only few examples. These two different “irregularities” have not been distinguished by Wang and Mao (1995).

According to Wang and Mao (1995), if sound correspondences can be established for either two of the three elements of a syllable (initial, final and tone), the third would also be considered as sound correspondence, even though there are no examples to support the correspondence of the third. They assumed that morphemes under comparison were regarded as cognates if either two of the three elements of a syllable, initial, final and tone, are supported by sound correspondence. Each phonological element of cognates is inherited from the common ancestor, and belongs to a particular set of sound correspondence. There are limited numbers of parallel examples due to long-term language split. However, this assumption needs to be examined statistically. Whether the morphemes supported by partial sound correspondence as discussed above can be recognized as related morphemes depends on the sample size and the quantity of phonemes of languages under comparison (see Chen 1996: 222). If recognition of related morphemes is confirmed by a statistical algorithm, the third element of a syllable being a sound correspondence can be deduced. However, such sound correspondence is generated indirectly, while its foundation is weaker than those supported by parallel examples.

A widely-accepted family tree for Miao-Yao languages is yet to be found. Currently, a conservative measurement is used to select a representative language from each major branch of Miao-Yao languages (see Wang 2013). For instance, Xiangxi Miao = Jiwei (jw), Qiandong Miao = Yanghao (yh), Chuanqiandian Miao = Fuyuan (fy), Bunu = Qibainong (qbn), Baheng = Wenjie (wj), Jiongnai = Changdong (cd), She = Duozhu (dz), Mienic Yao = Luoxiang (lx), Jinmen Yao = Liangzi (lz), Biaomin Yao = Sanjiang (sj), Zaomin Yao = Daping (dp).

3 From the Perspective of Complete Sound Correspondence

The genetic relationship between Miao-Yao and Chinese has been a long debate. Li (1937) proposed the hypothesis of a Sino-Tibetan language family consisting of Chinese, Tibeto-Burman, Kam-Tai, and Miao-Yao. Benedict (1942; 1975) excluded Miao-Yao from the Sino-Tibetan family since sound correspondences between Miao-Yao and Chinese were thought to be caused by language contact. A key point in this debate has been ignored for a long time: are those related morphemes in this debate supported by strict sound correspondence? Gong (2006) examined some of them and concluded that “Chinese and Miao-Yao are not genetically related. Words with similar sound and similar meaning between them are either borrowed or accidentally similar. Although lots of effort has been made in the comparative study of Chinese and Miao-Yao, sound correspondence between them has not yet been established … (Our translation).”

3.1 Complete Sound Correspondence and Levels of Sino-Miao-Yao Related Morphemes

There are many phonetically and semantically similar morphemes between Chinese and Miao-Yao that were collected from previous studies. We should examine sound correspondences of these morphemes from the perspective of complete sound correspondence. Different levels of related morphemes may be distinguished. (1) All elements of a syllable (initial, final and tone) conform to sound correspondence. (2) Any two of the three elements conform to a sound correspondence, and the third is not. Theoretically, three sub-categories could be further divided, namely, initial and final correspondence, initial and tone correspondence, final and tone correspondence. (3) Any one of the three elements conforms to a sound correspondence, and the other two are not. Similarly, three sub-categories could be further divided, namely, only initial correspondence, only final correspondence, only tone correspondence.

Reconstruction of Middle Chinese by Baxter (1992) was used for Sino-Miao-Yao comparison. Reconstruction of Old Chinese was created by Li-Fang Kuei (1971), and modified by Gong (2002). For the Miao-Yao side, materials from Wang and Mao (1995) and the reconstruction of Proto-Miao-Yao by Ratliff (2010) were adopted. The identification of Sino-Miao-Yao morphemes followed the procedure given above.

The phonological information for Middle Chinese and Proto-Miao-Yao are recorded below.

According to the statistical algorithm mentioned above, the probability of a pair of sound correspondence between Proto-Miao-Yao and Middle Chinese by chance is very low, i.e. p = (1/127∙37) * (1/122∙142) * (1/4∙4) = 1/1,302,487,616. Suppose that the lexical sample of Wang and Mao (1995) (n) is 5000. Then n*p= 5000 * (1/1,302,487,616), and the result is far less than 0.1. Therefore, the lexical items with complete sound correspondence between Chinese and Miao-Yao are certainly related morphemes; they are not related by chance.

3.1.1 Complete Sound Correspondence

Two examinations were conducted in this section. First, how well the 829 roots by Wang and Mao (1995) form sound correspondences according to the requirement of complete sound correspondence was analyzed, and then the relationship between Miao-Yao languages (or dialects) was identified. Second, Sino-Miao-Yao related forms identified by Ratliff (2010) were examined according to the requirement of complete sound correspondence, and then the relationship between Chinese and Miao-Yao was identified.

Based on Wang and Mao (1995), 30 examples following the requirement of complete sound correspondence were found in the 11 representative languages (see Appendix 1). The completeness requires that all the parts of compared syllables can be supported by sound correspondence. In this case, it means that initial, final and tone of the compared syllables should form a sound correspondence. Taking ‘stone’ as an example, its sound correspondences are shown below.

Initial correspondence

Final correspondence

Tone correspondence

12 High-rank items (full, hand, fish, tongue, hair, die, long, ashes, blood, horn, stone, and good) and 4 Low-rank items (fruit, snow, heavy and narrow) were found by means of the Rank Method (Chen 1996) was applied to the database. Such a distribution suggests that the 11 Miao-Yao languages are genetically related.

Ratliff (2010) identified a group of Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes based on Wang and Mao’s study, and categorized them as Chinese loanwords. The following morphemes were examined according to the requirement of completeness. Note that three levels of proto-forms have been divided in Ratliff’s study, namely, Proto-Miao-Yao, Proto-Miao and Proto-Yao. Tones of Proto-forms at the level of Proto-Miao-Yao were marked by four types of endings like the Old Chinese of Li Fang-Kuei’s system: unmarked; -X; -H; and the consonant endings -p, -t, -k. The tones of Proto-Miao and those of Proto-Yao were marked by A, B, C or D. Sound correspondence between the level of Proto-Miao-Yao and Chinese is focused on in this paper.

There are 211 Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes supported by complete sound correspondence (see Appendix 2). Take ‘borrow’ as an example, the complete sound correspondence is illustrated below.

Initial correspondence

Final correspondence

Tone correspondence

Among the 21 Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes, two belong to the Low-rank (“wash hands” 澡 and “wide” 廣) below, and none in the High-rank.

According to the Rank Method, less related morphemes in the High-rank indicates language contact. However, there are only two related morphemes under the rigorous requirement of complete correspondence. Too few related morphemes may easily cause misrecognition. If more Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes are found after loosening up on the requirement of complete sound correspondence, the observation from the perspective of the Rank Method will be more secure. As discussed earlier, the consequence of loosening up the requirement of complete correspondence would bring in more chance resemblances based on a comparative study of Bai and Yi, according to Wang (2011). Since the chance resemblances are distributed randomly across different ranks, they will have no interference on the actual distribution of related morphemes among High-rank and Low-rank. Therefore, when there are not enough related morphemes to identify the language relationship, the requirement of complete sound correspondence can be loosened up for related morphemes for the Rank Method to be implemented.

3.1.2 Partial Sound Correspondence

Partial sound correspondence refers to incomplete sound correspondence. Within a syllable only some parts are supported by sound correspondence. Theoretically, partial sound correspondences identified by Wang and Mao (1995) and Ratliff (2010) include the following types: (1) Correspondence on initial and tone, not on final; (2) Correspondence on final and tone, not on initial; (3) Correspondence on initial and final, not on tone; (4) Correspondence on initial only; (5) Correspondence on final only; (6) Correspondence on tone only. However, only 17 examples of type 3 were found in Wang and Mao’s study (see Appendix 3). The item ‘path/road/way’ was adopted as an example in order to show the partial sound correspondence.

Initial correspondence

Final correspondence

Tone correspondence

The tonal pairs of “path/road/path” were not found across the 11 representative Miao-Yao languages.

Among these examples, there are 9 High-rank items (person, leaf, bone, bird, moon, new, path, two, and drink) and 2 Low-rank items (wash and day). Such a contrast also confirms the genetic relationship between Miao-Yao languages.

Notably, the necessity of tonal correspondence for the identification of cognates has been emphasized by Wang and Mao (1995: 20). From their viewpoint, “If we encounter a rule of initial correspondence or final correspondence and there is only one example, we should look into tone correspondence first. If the tone correspondence is regular across all representative languages, we check the initial correspondence. If the initial correspondence is also regular, then the final correspondence will be regarded as a proto-rhyme category, though there is only one example to support such a category. Similarly, if the final correspondence is regular and there are more than two examples following such a correspondence, then its initial correspondence will be regarded as a unique proto-initial category, even though there is only one example for such an initial correspondence (Our translation).” It is not difficult to see that their identification relied on tone correspondence first, and then either initial correspondence or final correspondence. In other words, they suggested that such incomplete correspondence implied a Miao-Yao cognate. They explained two reasons why there was no parallel example for initial correspondence or for final correspondence (Wang and Mao 1995: 20). First, there were parallel examples, but they were yet to be found. Second, the initial or final in such cases has undergone unique changes in some languages. From the above examination, Wang and Mao (1995) did not insist on the principle of taking tone correspondence as a necessary condition for cognate identification, since there were Miao-Yao cognates with initial and final correspondences, but without tone correspondence.

Among Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes in Ratliff’s study (Ratliff 2010), there were three types of incomplete correspondence below.

First, correspondence on initial and tone, not on final, included 29 examples (see Appendix 4). Take “tongue” as an example. Such a type can be illustrated as follows.

Initial correspondence

Tone correspondence

Final correspondence

There is no example to support final correspondence of “tongue.”

Among these 29 Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes, there are 3 High-rank items (tongue, horn and eye) and 1 Low-rank item (split), as shown in the following table.

Second, correspondence on final and tone, not on initial, includes 22 examples (see Appendix 5). Take “father” as an example.

Final correspondence

Tone correspondence

Initial correspondence

There is no example to support initial correspondence of “father.”

In the reconstruction of Ratliff (2010), there were 22 related morphemes in Sino-Miao-Yao. There are 4 forms in the High-rank (new, clear, mouth/beak and dog), 2 in the Low-rank (husband and father). Examples are as following:

Third, correspondence on tone only, not on initial and final, includes 29 examples (see Appendix 6). Take ‘plum’ as an example.

Among these 29 examples, there are 5 High-rank items (neck, nose, tree, one, and drink) and 3 Low-rank (rope, far, and year), shown in the following table.

3.2 Partial Sound Correspondence and the Nature of Sino-Miao-Yao Related Morphemes

If we loosen up the requirement of complete correspondence, several different contrasts between High-rank and Low-rank Sino-Miao-Yao related words can be obtained in the following table.

It is notable that there are 6 High-rank items vs. 4 Low-rank ones under the loosened requirement of at least two out of three elements (initial, final and tone) with sound correspondence. Such contrast suggests that the relationship between Chinese and Miao-Yao is homogenous. If we loosen up the requirement of complete correspondence further to at least one out of three elements with sound correspondence, the High-Low contrast is 11 vs. 7. This result confirms the genetic relationship between Chinese and Miao-Yao.

The Inexplicability Principle mentioned in Section 1 can be used to examine whether these Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes are borrowed by Miao-Yao from Chinese. In Chinese history, Chinese is usually considered to be the donor language and Miao-Yao languages are considered to be the recipient language.

Among these complete correspondences identified above, the item of “wash (hands)” was used for the Inexplicability Principle.

In the partial correspondences, some examples following the Inexplicability Principle are listed as follows.

For these examples, it is difficult to use the original initials in the donor language (Chinese) to explain the changes in the recipient language (Miao-Yao) by using a plausible mechanism of sound change or reproduction. For example, the initial of “wash” 澡 from Old Chinese to Middle Chinese is always ts-, but the counterpart in Miao-Yao is nts-, and how could the n- pre-initial in Miao-Yao have been acquired? Similarly, it is difficult to explain the addition of a pre-nasal for “clear,” “nose” and “mouth” in Miao-Yao. The initial of “tongue” changes from Old Chinese d- to Middle Chinese zy-. Neither stage could offer the origin of mb- in Miao-Yao. The velar initials of “dog” and “neck” in Chinese are very unlikely to be reproduced as ql- in Miao-Yao via borrowing. It is notable that all these examples suggest that Miao-Yao kept more phonological distinctions. According to the Inexplicability Principle, these examples cannot be explained by the borrowing mechanism. Therefore, it is very likely that these examples are inherited from their common ancestor, and Miao-Yao kept more ancient phonological information in these examples. Taking reflexes in Miao-Yao as the reference of Proto-Sino-Miao-Yao, their changes into counterparts in Chinese are much more plausible.

There is no denying that the Inexplicability Principle bears some limitations. First, proto-languages are often used in comparison, but reconstructed systems are conditioned by elements from modern languages. Some early features may be lost in all modern dialects and cause inexplicable cases. Second, a knowledge of sound change will be improved with the advance of phonetic studies. The so-called inexplicability is always confined to the current knowledge of researchers (Wang 2017).

4 Pervasive Correspondence, Complete Correspondence and Sino-Miao-Yao Comparison

The most rigorous requirements of related morphemes are supported by pervasive correspondences (Wang 2015) and complete correspondences. The Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes among basic words would be no High-rank items but 1 Low-rank item (“wash” 澡). Such a case suggests language contact. As previously stated, identifying language relationship based on small numbers of items is unreliable. If we loosen up on the requirement of pervasiveness and completeness, many more related morphemes will be obtained, and a genetic relationship between Chinese and Miao-Yao will be suggested by the indicator of more High-rank items than Low-rank below.

High-rank: “tongue” 舌, “eye” 目, “new/clear” 清, “mouth/beak” 嘴, “dog” 狗, “neck” 頸, “nose” 鼻, “tree” 树, “one” 一, “drink/smoke” 欱;

Low-rank: “wash (hands)” 澡, “wide” 廣, “split” 劈, “father/husband” 父, “rope/sash/cord” 繩, “far” 迂, “year” 年;

The earlier two languages split, the less related morphemes will be preserved in modern languages, and the fewer sound correspondences could be found. As shown in Wang (2011), if we loosened up the requirement of sound correspondence, more related morphemes may be found, while taking the risk of the addition of chance resemblances and borrowings.

5 Examination of Homogeneity of Lexicon

It is a notable phenomenon that rich synonyms have been accumulated in Chinese. One reason may be language contact as proposed by Schuessler (2003). In order to exclude borrowings, the examination of homogeneity of the lexicon may be implemented as proposed by Wang (2013: 7). The lexical items in comparison should be confined to a particular language of a certain period. For this purpose, Swadesh basic words of Old Chinese have been worked out by Chen and Wang (2006). The Sino-Miao-Yao related words in this paper may be filtered through this basic-word list under the most rigorous standards. The result of a High-Low rank contrast shown in Section 4 may be modified as the following.

High-rank: “tongue” 舌, “eye” 目, “dog” 狗, “neck” 頸, “nose” 鼻, “tree” 樹, “one” 一; Low-rank: “wide” 廣, “father/husband” 父, “rope/sash/cord” 繩;

Such a contrast suggests the Old Chinese and Proto-Miao-Yao have demonstrated a genetic relationship according to the Rank Method as well.

6 Concluding Remarks

In this study, we applied the requirement of complete sound correspondence, and the genetic relationship between Miao-Yao languages has been confirmed by the Rank Method. Loosening up the requirement to a certain degree has also supported the genetic relationship between the Miao-Yao languages. The same procedure was implemented to the Sino-Miao-Yao related morphemes. A genetic relationship, rather than language contact, was suggested by the Rank Method. Moreover, the application of the Inexplicability Principle has weakened the hypothesis of borrowing from Chinese to Miao-Yao. Combined with a study from the perspective of pervasive sound correspondence (Wang 2013), the idea of a genetic relationship between Chinese and Miao-Yao is supported.

In this comparison, the careful analysis of sound correspondence between languages has been highlighted. Though the final identification of a genetic relationship between languages is much noticeable, the basis of the identification and the sound correspondence in historical comparison may need more attention.

References

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  • Benedict Paul K. 1942. Thai, Kadai, and Indonesian: a new alignment in Southeastern Asia. American Anthropologist 44.4: 576601.

  • Benedict Paul K. 1975. Austro-Tai Language and Culture with a Glossary of Roots. New Haven: Human Relations Area Files Press.

  • Chen Baoya 陳保亞 . 1996. Lun yuyanjiechu yu yuyanlianmeng 論語言接觸與語言聯盟 [Language contact and language union]. Beijing: Language and Culture Press.

  • Chen Baoya 陳保亞. 1999. Hantai guanxici shengmu youxu guize duiyingbiao 漢台關係詞聲母有序規則對應表 [Table of initial correspondence of Chinese-Tai related words]. Yuyanxu eluncong 語言學論叢 [Essays on Linguistics] 22: 186225.

  • Chen Baoya 陳保亞 and Wang Feng 汪鋒 . 2006. Lun queding hexinyusubiao de jibenyuanze: yi Shanggu Hanyu weili. 論確定核心語素的基本原則—以上古漢語為例 [The definition of kernel morphonemes: the case of Old Chinese]. Yuyanxue luncong 語言學論叢 [Essays on Linguistics] 33: 183222.

  • Chen Baoya and Wang Feng . 2011. On several principles in reconstructing a proto-language—with the reconstruction of tone and pre-initial *h- and *ʔ- of Proto-Yi. Journal of Chinese Linguistics 39.2: 370402.

  • Gong Hwang-cherng . 2002. Collected Papers on Sino-Tibetan Linguistics. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics (Preparatory Office), Academia Sinica.

  • Gong Huang-cheng 龔煌城 . 2006. Hanyu yu miaoyaoyu tongyuan guanxi de jiantao 漢語與苗瑤語同源關係的檢討 [Reexamination of the genetic relationship between Chinese and Miao-Yao]. Zhongguo yuyanxue jikan 中國語言學集刊 [Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics] 1.1: 255270.

  • Haugen Einar. 1950. The analysis of linguistic borrowing. Language 26: 210231.

  • Li Fang-Kuei . 1937/1973. Languages and dialects of China. In The Chinese Year Book. Shanghai: The Commercial Press. Also in Journal of Chinese Linguistics1973.1: 113.

  • Li Fang-kuei 李方桂 . 1971 [1980]. Shangguyin yanjiu 上古音研究 [Studies on Old Chinese phonology]. Beijing: The Commercial Press.

  • Ostapirat Weera . 2016. Issues in reconstruction and affiliation of Proto-Miao-Yao. Language and linguistics 17.1: 133145.

  • Ratliff Martha . 2010. Hmong-Mien Language History. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

  • Schuessler Axel . 2003. Multiple origins of the old Chinese lexicon. Journal of Chinese Linguistics 31.1: 171.

  • Swadesh Morris. 1952. Lexico-statistic dating of prehistoric ethnic contacts: With special reference to North American Indians and Eskimos. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 96.4: 452463.

  • Swadesh Morris. 1955. Time depths of American linguistic groupings. American Anthropologist 56.3: 361377.

  • Wang Feng. 2004. Language Contact and Language Comparison – The Case of Bai. Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong PhD dissertation.

  • Wang Feng . 2006. Comparison of Languages in Contact: the Distillation Method and the Case of Bai. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.

  • Wang Feng 汪鋒 . 2011. Yuyin diying de liangzhong fangkuanmoshi jiqi houguo—yi Yibai bijiao weili 語言對應的兩種放寬模式及其後果—以彝白比較為例 [Two models to loosen the requirement of sound correspondence and their consequences—with a comparison of the Bai language and the Yi language]. Yuyanxue luncong 語言學論叢 [Essays on Linguistics] 44: 139.

  • Wang Feng 汪鋒 . 2012. Yuyan jiechu yu yuyan bijiao—yi Baiyu weili 語言接觸與語言比較—以白語為例 [Language contact and language comparison—The case of Bai]. Beijing: The Commercial Press.

  • Wang Feng 汪鋒 . 2013. Hanzang yuyan bijiao de fangfa yu shijian—Han Bai Yiyu bijiao yanjiu 漢藏語言比較的方法與實踐—漢、白、彝語比較研究 [Methodologies and implementations of Sino-Tibetan comparisons: The comparative studies of Chinese Bai and Yi languages]. Beijing: Peking University Press.

  • Wang Feng . 2015. Sound correspondence and the comparative study of Miao-Yao languages—from the perspective of pervasiveness of sound correspondence. Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics 8.1: 157176.

  • Wang Feng . 2017. The inexplicability Principle and recognition of genetic relationship: to solve the controversy of Sino-Tai ‘five’ and ‘six’. In New Horizons in Evolutionary Linguistics Journal of Chinese Linguistics. Monograph Series No. 27: 254260.

  • Wang Fushi 王輔世 and Mao Zongwu 毛宗武 . 1995. Miaoyaoyu guyin gouni 苗瑤語古音構擬 [Reconstruction of the sound system of Proto-Miao-Yao]. Beijing: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Press.

Appendix 1Appendix 2Appendix 3Appendix 4Appendix 5Appendix 6

At first, 27 related morphemes were obtained, but 6 of them could not be reconstructed for Proto-Miao-Yao.

It is notable that “father” and “husband” are different in Proto-Miao-Yao while the same in Chinese, which strongly suggests that different layers should have been involved. However, evidence from sound correspondences is not enough to identify borrowing. A similar phenomenon has occurred for “new” and “clear.”

Ostapirat (2016) argued that “dog” may be borrowed from Proto-Miao-Yao to Chinese as 狗 since the phonological appearance of “dog” in Proto-Miao-Yao is more complex than that in Old Chinese. Interestingly, he mentioned that another native root for “dog” is 犬, which appeared earlier in Chinese and can be traced back to Tibeto-Burman. If the two forms have exactly the same meaning, the motivation for the later borrowing from Proto-Miao-Yao to Chinese is shaky. In Shuowenjiezi, the difference between the two Chinese characters, 犬 and 狗, is stated clearly as “the former is big, while the latter small.”

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Sound Correspondence and the Comparative Study of Miao-Yao Languages (語音對應與苗瑤語比較研究)

From the Perspective of Complete Sound Correspondence (從完全對應的角度看)

in Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics

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References

Baxter William H. 1992. A Handbook of Old Chinese Phonology. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.

Benedict Paul K. 1942. Thai, Kadai, and Indonesian: a new alignment in Southeastern Asia. American Anthropologist 44.4: 576601.

Benedict Paul K. 1975. Austro-Tai Language and Culture with a Glossary of Roots. New Haven: Human Relations Area Files Press.

Chen Baoya 陳保亞 . 1996. Lun yuyanjiechu yu yuyanlianmeng 論語言接觸與語言聯盟 [Language contact and language union]. Beijing: Language and Culture Press.

Chen Baoya 陳保亞. 1999. Hantai guanxici shengmu youxu guize duiyingbiao 漢台關係詞聲母有序規則對應表 [Table of initial correspondence of Chinese-Tai related words]. Yuyanxu eluncong 語言學論叢 [Essays on Linguistics] 22: 186225.

Chen Baoya 陳保亞 and Wang Feng 汪鋒 . 2006. Lun queding hexinyusubiao de jibenyuanze: yi Shanggu Hanyu weili. 論確定核心語素的基本原則—以上古漢語為例 [The definition of kernel morphonemes: the case of Old Chinese]. Yuyanxue luncong 語言學論叢 [Essays on Linguistics] 33: 183222.

Chen Baoya and Wang Feng . 2011. On several principles in reconstructing a proto-language—with the reconstruction of tone and pre-initial *h- and *ʔ- of Proto-Yi. Journal of Chinese Linguistics 39.2: 370402.

Gong Hwang-cherng . 2002. Collected Papers on Sino-Tibetan Linguistics. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics (Preparatory Office), Academia Sinica.

Gong Huang-cheng 龔煌城 . 2006. Hanyu yu miaoyaoyu tongyuan guanxi de jiantao 漢語與苗瑤語同源關係的檢討 [Reexamination of the genetic relationship between Chinese and Miao-Yao]. Zhongguo yuyanxue jikan 中國語言學集刊 [Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics] 1.1: 255270.

Haugen Einar. 1950. The analysis of linguistic borrowing. Language 26: 210231.

Li Fang-Kuei . 1937/1973. Languages and dialects of China. In The Chinese Year Book. Shanghai: The Commercial Press. Also in Journal of Chinese Linguistics1973.1: 113.

Li Fang-kuei 李方桂 . 1971 [1980]. Shangguyin yanjiu 上古音研究 [Studies on Old Chinese phonology]. Beijing: The Commercial Press.

Ostapirat Weera . 2016. Issues in reconstruction and affiliation of Proto-Miao-Yao. Language and linguistics 17.1: 133145.

Ratliff Martha . 2010. Hmong-Mien Language History. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

Schuessler Axel . 2003. Multiple origins of the old Chinese lexicon. Journal of Chinese Linguistics 31.1: 171.

Swadesh Morris. 1952. Lexico-statistic dating of prehistoric ethnic contacts: With special reference to North American Indians and Eskimos. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 96.4: 452463.

Swadesh Morris. 1955. Time depths of American linguistic groupings. American Anthropologist 56.3: 361377.

Wang Feng. 2004. Language Contact and Language Comparison – The Case of Bai. Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong PhD dissertation.

Wang Feng . 2006. Comparison of Languages in Contact: the Distillation Method and the Case of Bai. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.

Wang Feng 汪鋒 . 2011. Yuyin diying de liangzhong fangkuanmoshi jiqi houguo—yi Yibai bijiao weili 語言對應的兩種放寬模式及其後果—以彝白比較為例 [Two models to loosen the requirement of sound correspondence and their consequences—with a comparison of the Bai language and the Yi language]. Yuyanxue luncong 語言學論叢 [Essays on Linguistics] 44: 139.

Wang Feng 汪鋒 . 2012. Yuyan jiechu yu yuyan bijiao—yi Baiyu weili 語言接觸與語言比較—以白語為例 [Language contact and language comparison—The case of Bai]. Beijing: The Commercial Press.

Wang Feng 汪鋒 . 2013. Hanzang yuyan bijiao de fangfa yu shijian—Han Bai Yiyu bijiao yanjiu 漢藏語言比較的方法與實踐—漢、白、彝語比較研究 [Methodologies and implementations of Sino-Tibetan comparisons: The comparative studies of Chinese Bai and Yi languages]. Beijing: Peking University Press.

Wang Feng . 2015. Sound correspondence and the comparative study of Miao-Yao languages—from the perspective of pervasiveness of sound correspondence. Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics 8.1: 157176.

Wang Feng . 2017. The inexplicability Principle and recognition of genetic relationship: to solve the controversy of Sino-Tai ‘five’ and ‘six’. In New Horizons in Evolutionary Linguistics Journal of Chinese Linguistics. Monograph Series No. 27: 254260.

Wang Fushi 王輔世 and Mao Zongwu 毛宗武 . 1995. Miaoyaoyu guyin gouni 苗瑤語古音構擬 [Reconstruction of the sound system of Proto-Miao-Yao]. Beijing: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Press.

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