Monday, July 23, 2012

Middle chinese part 3 - coronals

Previous posts on this topic: 1 2

MC had three types of stops: voiced, unvoiced, and aspirated. There are complications in distinguishing these from each other. For simplicity's sake, I'll focus exclusively on MC aspirates for now, and in a later post I'll describe how to distinguish them.

The following consonants were some possible initials in MC: *tʰ *ʈʰ tsʰ ʈʂʰ *s *ʂ. Compare their reflexes in the modern languages:

 太 'great'
Mandarin: tai4
Cantonese: taai3
Japanese: tai
Korean: tae
Vietnamese: thái
徹 'penetrate'
Mandarin: che4
Cantonese: cit3
Japanese: tetsu
Korean: cheol
Vietnamese: triệt
菜 'vegetable'
Mandarin: cai4
Cantonese: coi3
Japanese: sai
Korean: chae
Vietnamese: thái
 車 'cart'
Mandarin: che1
Cantonese: ce1
Japanese: sha
Korean: cha
Vietnamese: xe 
三 'three'
Mandarin: san1
Cantonese: saam1
Japanese: san
Korean: sam
Vietnamese: tam

山 'mountain'
Mandarin: shan1
Cantonese: saan1
Japanese: san/sen
Korean: san
Vietnamese: sơn

Firstly, note that *s and *ʂ are distinguished only in Mandarin and Vietnamese, and *ʈʰ and *ʈʂʰ are distinguished only in Japanese and Vietnamese. Vietnamese is the only of the languages which does not distinguish between *tʰ and *tsʰ, so it must be used in conjunction with another language.

With some inspection, we see that the following combinations of languages are sufficient:
  1. M+J
  2. V+M
  3. V+C
  4. V+J
  5. V+K

Interestingly, 1 and 3-5 are the same sets of languages which sufficed to distinguish the liquid initials! (See last post.) Thus it makes sense to eliminate option 2 and again focus on the following combinations of languages:
  1. M+J
  2. V+C
  3. V+J
  4. V+K
For option 1, the algorithm is:
  1. M /t/ => MC *tʰ
  2. M /s/ => MC *s
  3. M /sh/ => MC *ʂ
  4. M /c/ => MC *tsʰ
  5. M /ch/ & J /t/ => MC *ʈʰ
  6. M /ch/ & J /sh/ => MC *ʈʂʰ
For options 2-4, the algorithm is:
  1. V /tr/ => MC *ʈʰ
  2. V /x/ => MC *ʈʂʰ
  3. V /t/ => MC *s
  4. V /s/ => MC *ʂ
  5. V /th/ & C/J/K /t/ => MC *tʰ
  6. V /th/ & C /c/ or J /s/ or K /ch/ => MC *tsʰ

(Side note: In the first post I mentioned using Mandarin + Japanese to reconstruct final consonants. I have to add that there's another ambiguity created by this, as some Japanese loans have long vowels due to an original diphthong rather than a final consonant, e.g. 高 Japanese kou Mandarin gao1. This means that sometimes one cannot tell if the MC final consonant is -p or null. Really the best thing is just to use Cantonese, Korean, or Vietnamese.)

No comments:

Post a Comment