The Roots of Old Chinese

| C.R.L.A.O., Paris
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The phonology, morphology and lexicon of late Zhou Chinese are examined in this volume. It is argued that a proper understanding of Old Chinese morphology is essential in correctly reconstructing the phonology. Based on evidence from word-families, modern dialects and related words in neighboring languages, Old Chinese words are claimed to consist of a monosyllabic root, to which a variety of derivational affixes attached. This made Old Chinese typologically more like modern languages such as Khmer, Gyarong or Atayal, than like Middle and modern Chinese, where only faint traces of the old morphology remain.
In the first part of the book, the author proposes improvements to Baxter's system of reconstruction, regarding complex initials and rhymes, and then reviews in great detail the Old Chinese affixal morphology. New proposals on phonology and morphology are integrated into a coherent reconstruction system.
The second part of the book consists of etymological studies of important lexical items in Old Chinese. The author demonstrates in particular the role of proportional analogy in the formation of the system of personal pronouns. Special attention is paid to contact phenomena between Chinese and neighboring languages, and — unlike most literature on Sino-Tibetan — the author identifies numerous Chinese loanwords into Tibeto-Burman.
The book, which contains a lengthy list of reconstructions, an index of characters and a general index, is intended for linguists and cultural historians, as well as advanced students.
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 184]  1999.  xii, 272 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
List of Tables
x
Acknowledgements
xi
Abbreviations
xi
1. Introduction
1
1.1 The importance of word families in reconstructing Old Chinese
1
1.2 Old Chinese
4
1.3 Methodology of reconstruction
9
1.4 Plan of this book
11
2. Old Chinese Words and Roots
13
2.1 The Asian look of Old Chinese words
13
2.2 Words, roots, word-families, affixes
14
2.3 Chinese words and the Chinese script
19
2.4 Root structure
20
2.5 Place of insertion of the infix
21
2.6 Working hypothesis: morphological nature of consonant clusters
21
2.7 A/B distinction
23
3. Root Segmentals
24
3.1 Initials
24
3.2 Some controversial issues relating to Old Chinese root initials
29
3.3 Medials
42
3.4 Vowels, codas, rhymes
49
4. Prefixe *s-
63
4.1 Clusters which include prefix *s- as their first element
63
4.2 The functions of *s-
70
5. Prefix *N-
74
6. Prefix *m-
79
6.1 The reconstruction of m-
79
6.2 The functions of m-
81
7. Prefix *p-
87
8. Prefix *t-
90
8.1 The reconstruction of *t-
90
8.2 The functions of *t-
92
9. Prefix *k-
98
9.1 The reconstruction of *k-
98
9.2 The functions of *k-
100
10. Other Prefixes
108
10.1 Prefix *q-
108
10.2 Voiced stop prefixes
110
11. Infix *-r-
111
11.1 Medial -r- as an infix in OC
111
11.2 Infixed -l- in the Jin dialects
117
11.3 Infixed -VI- in the Min dialects
118
11.4 -l- insertion in modern dialects as the continuation of OC *-r- infixation
120
12. Initial Clusters
121
12.1 Infixal clusters
121
12.2 Prefixal clusters
121
13. Suffixation
131
13.1 Chinese tones and OC suffixes
131
13.2 Suffix *-ŋ ?
134
13.3 Suffix *-n?
135
14. Reduplication and Compounding
137
14.1 The die2 yun4 reduplications
138
14.2 The shuang1 sheng1 compounds
138
15. Etymologizing Old Chinese Words
139
16. Personal Pronouns
142
16.1 The first- and second-person pronouns
142
16.2 The third-person pronoun
146
17. Numerals
148
17.1 Three
149
18. Body Parts
153
18.1 Blood
153
18.2 Eye
153
18.3 Head
155
18.4 Hand
155
19. The Physical World
157
19.1 Water, river
157
19.2 Fire
158
19.3 Moon, night
159
20. Wild Animals
161
20.1 Deer
161
20.2 Snake
161
20.3 Dove
162
21. Mankind and Kinship
163
21.1 Man (human being)
163
21.2 Child (young human)
163
21.3 Child (kinship term)
164
21.4 Nephews and nieces; maternal uncle
165
21.5 Brothers
169
21.6 Wives and concubines
173
21.7 Sons
174
22. Agriculture: The Cereals
176
22.1 Millets
176
22.2 Rice
180
22.3 Wheat
183
22.4 Field
183
23. Other Cultivated Plants
185
23.1 Beans
185
23.2 Tea
188
24. Domesticated Animals
190
24.1 Dogs
190
24.2 Pigs
191
24.3 Fowl
192
24.4 Horned cattle
192
24.5 Goats and sheep
194
24.6 Horses
195
25. Food
197
25.1 Gruel
197
25.2 Vegetables
197
25.3 Meat
197
26. Metals
198
26.1 Copper and bronze
198
26.2 Iron
200
26.3 Silver
202
27. Transportation
204
27.1 Chariot
204
27.2 Boat
205
28. Commerce
206
28.1 Buy/sell I
206
28.2 Buy/sell II
206
28.3 Price
208
28.4 Money coin
208
29. Writing
209
29.1 To read
209
29.2 To write
210
29.3 Chinese character
210
29.4 Writing brush
212
29.5 Ink
213
29.6 Book
214
References
216
Appendix A: Chinese Chronology
234
Appendix B: List of Reconstructions
235
Index of Chinese Characters
243
General Index
249
“[...] the scholarly community should be pleased to have the views and a wealth of etymological suggestions of this prominent sinologist available in the form of a book [...]”
“[...] a major achievement in Chinese linguistics [...] Sagart's book belongs on the shelf of every serious Chinese historical linguist and many Asian language comparativists. It presents the best reconstruction of OC available [...]”
“[...] an invaluable abundance of information together with challenging and clever proposals.

[...] an ansolute pleasure to read and should interest not only Sinologists but also linguists concerned with the reconstruction of the internal history of languages.

“This is a truly significant book for East Asian historical linguistics and is necessary reading for all specialists in the field.”
“This is easily the most important book on the Old Chinese lexicon since Karlgren's Word-Families [...] and the most challenging contribution on Old Chinese morphology ever written. It deserves to be taught and tested, applied or amended, by whoever reads Old Chinese texts.”
Subjects
BIC Subject: CF – Linguistics
BISAC Subject: LAN009000 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  99016629
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