Yuen Ren Society

Chinese Dialects And Their History

a panel proposed for


International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics
to be held at
Arizona State University, Tempe
November 7th - 10th, 2002

Comparative Phonology of the Huang-Xiao Dialects

W. South Coblin
University of Iowa

The Huang-Xiao or Chu dialects are spoken primarily in northeastern Hubei province. Though they are widely thought to belong to the Mandarin family, their affiliations within this group are disputed. The present paper is a comparative phonological study of eight of these languages and seeks to reconstruct a hypothetical proto-system, Proto-Huang-Xiao, from which they might have evolved.

Tugui Hua in Guangxi Province

Jerold Edmondson and Ming Chao Gui
University of Texas at Arlington and University of Oklahoma

This paper describes a kind of Chinese spoken widely in northern Guangxi Province.  It is often a second language for minority groups as well as a language used by Han people who are thought to be descended of garrison troops dispatched to defend the waterways and roads before Tang times.  In phonology, lexicon Tuguai of Luocheng and Rongshui counties differs quite a lot from that described for Nanning Pinghua in some recent publications.  In our paper we will sketch the initials, finals, and tones of this language and provide a vocabulary of several hundred words.  We will also try to contrast it with Nanning Pinghua.  This language resembles closely some varieties of Yue, but there remains controversy about its exact position within the Greater Han family.

Some Body Part Terms in Common Min

Jerry Norman
University of Washington

In this paper I examine a number of Common Min body part terms. Many of these terms exhibit phonological peculiarities when compared to the other dialects and to historical sources. Most words with nasal initials, for example, show evidence for a second series of voiceless (or aspirated) nasals. Min dialects also preserve, on the whole, a more archaic lexical profile. In the past, Chinese historical linguistics has been mostly concerned with phonology and syntax; the study of the lexicon has lagged far behind. The present paper is an attempt to show that careful attention to the lexicon of dialects shows that this is a rich field for future research.

Common Southern Jiangsu Mandarin

Richard VanNess Simmons
Rutgers University

The dialects of mid Jiangsu Province occupy a region where the Jiang-Hwai Mandarin dialects border with the northern Wu dialects. The Mandarin dialects in this area are characterized by features that seem to evidence strong Wu dialect influence, or even origin. This situation reflects the dialects' border status as well as the historical influence of Wu dialects in the region, which may have occupied a zone that reached much farther north in the past. This paper is an initial attempt to outline the common phonology shared by the Mandarin dialects of the southeast corner of this region. A picture of that common phonology is critically needed in the effort to sort out exactly how and where the dialects are or have been influenced by Wu.