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2. Placed into the right position – Etymological notes on tu and Congeners

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Chapter Summary

This chapter integrates recent advances in the reconstruction of Old Chinese (OC) phonology and morphology into a micro-study of its pre-medieval inscriptional usages, but it refrains from perpetuating abundantly available speculations about the "iconic values" of the earliest attested character shapes. Exploring possible OC word-families of , which connect the word to notions of 'position', 'orderedness', and 'display', the chapter finally reviews more remote extra-Sinitic affiliations proposed for the word in the literature. It concludes with a short comment on the typology of its semantic development. The chapter argues that the available palaeographical data, as well as internal and external comparisons point to a semantic core of which was nominal and centered around the concepts of 'positioning in space' and 'display in an ordered, appropriate' way.

Keywords: old Chinese phonology; pre-medieval inscriptional usages; remote extra-Sinitic affiliations



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