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Sound Correspondence and the Comparative Study of Miao-Yao Languages

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From the Perspective of the Pervasiveness of Sound Correspondences: 語音對應與苗瑤語比較研究——從普遍對應的角度看

Pervasive sound correspondence requires reflexes in all languages compared. Relaxing this requirement would include more late borrowings into the comparison and could cause a misunderstanding of language relationships. From this perspective, this paper investigates the basis of sound correspondence in the reconstruction of Proto-Miao-Yao. The genetic relationship between Miao-Yao languages can be confirmed by the genetic indicator of more high-rank and less low-rank related morphemes, either through the requirement of pervasiveness or a relaxed requirement; though this relaxation results in some degree of distortion. A similar procedure has been applied to related morphemes between Chinese and Proto-Miao-Yao with similar results. A genetic relationship, rather than language contact between Chinese and Proto-Miao-Yao, has been suggested by rank analysis. To double-check this conclusion, the inexplicability principle was used. This principle refers to the inability to describe the representation of related morphemes in the recipient language in terms of the phonological system of the donor language; these inexplicable elements are considered to be inherited from the ancestor language rather than acquired through borrowing. (This article is in English.) 提要 普遍對應指對應的表現形式在所有參與比較的語言中都有分佈。放寬這一要求會導致晚期借用混入比較,乃至造成對語源關係的誤判。從這一角度出發,本文考察了原始苗瑤語重構所依賴的語音對應基礎。無論是在普遍對應的嚴格要求下,還是放寬要求,苗瑤語之間的關係語素都是高階比低階多,這可以進一步確認它們之間的親緣關係。應用同樣的比較程式,漢語和原始苗瑤語之間的關係語素也顯示出同樣的分佈,因此,詞階分析支持苗瑤語與漢語之間的親緣關係,而非接觸關係。不可釋原則的應用同樣確認了這一判斷。不可釋原則指無法用施借語言的音韻系統來解釋受借語言中關係語素的表現,就說明二者之間的關係假定為親緣關係比接觸關係更為合理。幾個不可釋的例子可以在漢-苗瑤語關係語素中找到,因此,苗瑤語應該仍然歸屬於漢藏語系。

Affiliations: 1: Peking University, 北京大學


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