Proto-Sino-Tibetan
PST; Proto-Trans-Himalayan
Reconstruction ofSino-Tibetan languages
Reconstructed
ancestor
Proto-Sino-Tibetan
Lower-order reconstructions

Proto-Sino-Tibetan (PST) is the reconstructed proto-language of the Sino-Tibetan language family and the common ancestor of all languages in it, most prominently the Chinese languages, the Tibetan language, Yi, Bai, Burmese, Karen, Tangut, and Naga, although others exist. Paul K. Benedict (1972) placed a particular emphasis on Old Chinese, Classical Tibetan, Jingpho, Written Burmese, Garo, and Mizo in his discussion of Proto-Sino-Tibetan.[1]

Proto-Tibeto-Burman may be considered as equivalent to Proto-Sino-Tibetan if Sinitic is considered to be a lower-order subgroup within the Tibeto-Burman group.[2]

Features

Reconstructed features include prefixes such as the causative s-, the intransitive m-, the miscellaneous b-, d-, g-, and r-, suffixes -s, -t, and -n, and a set of conditioning factors that resulted in the development of tone in most languages of the family.[3] The existence of such elaborate system of inflectional changes in Proto-Sino-Tibetan makes the language distinctive from some of its modern descendants, such as the Sinitic languages, which have mostly or completely become analytic.

Proto-Sino-Tibetan also included numerous consonant clusters, and was not a tonal language.

Phonology

Benedict (1972)

The table below shows consonant phonemes reconstructed by Benedict (1972).[1]

Plosive Fricative Sonorant
Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced Nasal Other
Labial p b m w
Dental t d s z n r
Palatal c ʒ y
Lateral l
Velar k g h ŋ

Peiros & Starostin (1996)

The reconstruction by Peiros & Starostin suggests a much more complex consonant inventory.[4] The phonemes in brackets are reconstructions that are considered dubious.

Plosive/Affricate Fricative Sonorant
Unaspirated Aspirated
Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced
Labial p b (bʰ) m w
Dental t d (dʰ) n r
Alveolar c ʒ (ʒʰ) s
Palatal ć ʒ́ ćʰ ʒ́ʰ ś ń y
Lateral (ƛ) l
Velar k g (gʰ) x ɣ ŋ
Uvular (q) (ɢ) (qʰ) (ɢʰ) (χ)
Laryngeal ʔ

Sound changes

Final consonant changes

The finals *-p, *-t, *-k, *-m, *-n, and *-ng in Proto-Sino-Tibetan remained in Proto-Sinitic and Proto-Tibeto-Burman. However, in Old Chinese, the finals *-k and *-ng that came after the close vowel *-i- underwent an irregular change of *-k>*-t and *-ng>*-n. In Proto-Tibeto-Burman, *-kw and *-ngw underwent a sound change to become *-k and *-ng respectively, while in Old Chinese those finals remained until Middle Chinese, where the finals underwent the same sound change.

Furthermore, in Proto-Tibeto-Burman, the finals *-g, *-gw, and *-d underwent the following changes:

  1. *-d>*-y
  2. *-gw>*-w
  3. *-g>*-w when it follows the vowel *-u-
  4. *-g>*-∅ when it follows the vowel *a and *-a-.

Example of sound changes

Voiceless plosive finals

Proto-Sino-Tibetan Old Chinese (Li Fang-Kuei) Proto-Tibeto-Burman
*-p *-jəp 汲 *kjəp *ka·p
泣 *khrjəp *krap
立 *(g-)rjəp *g-ryap
*-jap 接 *tsjap *tsyap
*-jup 入 *njəp *nup~ *nip
*-t *-iat 八 *priat *b-r-gyat
殺 *r-siat *g-sat
*-uat 脫 *hluat *g-lwat
*-jit 一 *·jit *it
*-k *-ək 翼 *lək *lak
*-jək 織 *tjək *tak
息 *sjək *sak
食 *N-ljək *(m-)lyak
飼 *s-ljəks *(s-)lyak
*-ik 節 *tsik>*tsit *tsik
縊 *·iks, *·jiks *ik
*-jik 蝨 *srjik>*srjit *s-rik
*-juk 曲 *khjuk *guk~kuk
*-kw *-əkw 毒 *dəkw *duk~*tuk
*-jəkw 腹 *phjəkw, *bjəkw *pu·k~*buk
六 *drjəkw *d-ruk

Nasal finals

Proto-Sino-Tibetan Old Chinese (Li Fang-Kuei) Proto-Tibeto-Burman
*-m *-əm 含 *gəm *gam
頷 *gəm *gam
*-jəm 飲 *·jəmx *am
尋 *ljəm *la[·]m
*-jim 坅 *khjamx “pit” *kim
*-um 三 *səm *g-sum
*-jum 尋 *ljəm *lum
*-n *-an 乾 *kan *kan
*-jin 辛 *sjin *m-sin
*-ng *-jəng 夢 *mjəngs *mang
蒸 *tjəng *tang
*-jang 紡 *phjangx *pang
涼 *grjang *grang
迎 *ngrjang *ngang
*-ing 盈 *bling *bling~pling
*-jing 年 *ning>*nin *ning
名 *mjing *r-ming
甥 *srjing *sring
薪 *sjing>*sjin *sing
仁 *njing>*njin *s-ning
*-ngw *-jəngw 躬 *kjəngw *gung

Voiced plosive finals

Proto-Sino-Tibetan Old Chinese (Li Fang-Kuei) Proto-Tibeto-Burman
*-b *-əb 柔 *njəb>*njəgw *nəw
*-d *-əd 𤈦 *smjədx *məy
*-ad 簸 *padx/s *pwa·y
太  *tads *tay
蜾 *kwadx *kwa·y
我 *ngadx *ngay
移 *lad *lay
*-id 四 *sjids *b-liy
*-jid 妣 *pjidx *piy
畀 *sbjids *biy
几 *krjidx *kriy
屎 *skhljidx *kliy
死 *sjidx *siy
*-g *-əg        母 *məgx *ma
*-jəg      負 *bjəgx *ba, *bak
子 *tsjəgx *tsa
慈 *dzjəg *m-dza
孳 *dzjəgs *za
耳 *njəgx *r-na~*g-na
牛 *ngwjəg *ngwa
*-ag 補 *pagx *pa
苦 *khagx *ka
吾 *ngag *nga
五 *ngagx *l-nga~*b-nga
狐 *gwag *gwa
*-jag 斧 *pjagx *r-pwa
夫 *pjag *(p)wa
父 *bjagx *pa
無 *mjag *ma
魚 *ngjag *ngya
咀 *dzjag *dza
汝 *njagx *na
*-ug 口 *khugx *kuw
寇 *khugs *r-kuw
*-jug 霧 *m(r)jugs *(r-)muw
軀 *khjug *(s-)kuw
乳 *njugx *nuw
*-gw *-əgw 寶 *pəgwx *puw
抱 *bəgwx *buw
*-jəgw 鳩 *kjəgw *kuw
九 *kjəgwx *d-kuw
舅 *gjəgwx *kuw
*-agw 豪 *gagw *m/s-gaw
號 *gagws *gaw
熬 *ngagw *r-ngaw
臊 *sagw *sa·w
*-jagw 飄/漂 *phjagw *pyaw

Liquid finals

Proto-Sino-Tibetan Old Chinese (Li Fang-Kuei) Proto-Tibeto-Burman
*-l *-al 肝 *kan *m-kal
*-ul 本 *pən *bul~*pul
*-jul 銀 *ngjən *(d)-ngul
閩 *mjən *s-brul
*-jal 疲 *brjal *bal
*-il 洒 *silx *(m-)s(y)il
*-r *-ar 播 *s-bars *bwar
皤 *bar, *par *pwa:r
*-jar 販 *pjans *par
鮮 *sjan *sar
*-uar 酸 *suan *swa·r
*-jur 飛 *pjər *pur~*pir

Vocabulary

Words which do not have reliable Sinitic parallels are accompanied by a (TB).

Social terms

English Reconstruction by Old Chinese (Baxter-Sagart)[a][5]
I. Peiros & S. Starostin J. Matisoff
Person (in general) *mĭ *mi 民 *mi[ŋ]
Male *pă *pʷa 父 *p(r)aʔ
Female *mǝw *mow 母 *mˤoʔ (or məʔ)
Name (of a person) *miǝŋ *miŋ 名 *C.meŋ

Natural phenomena

English Reconstruction by Old Chinese (Baxter-Sagart)[a]
I. Peiros & S. Starostin J. Matisoff
Earth *ƛăy *ley ~ *lǝy 地 *[l]ˤej-s
Stone *ƛɨāŋ ~ *ƛɨāk *luŋ ~ *luk 琭 *[r]ˤok
Sand *srāy *sa 沙 *sˤraj
Fire *mēyH *mey 火 *[qʷʰ]ˤəjʔ [i]
Smoke *gʰiw *kǝw 熏 *qʰu[n]
Water *tujʔ *t(w)i(y) 水 *s.turʔ
Rain *(r-)qʰʷăH *rwa ~ *wa 雨 *C.ɢʷ(r)aʔ
Sun *nĭy *nǝy 日 *C.nik
Moon (TB) *(s-)lăH *la N/A
Star *(s-)q(ʰ)ār *kar 星 *s-tsʰˤeŋ[ii]
Night *yăH *ya 夜 *[ɢ]Ak-s
Tree *sĭŋ *siŋ ~ *sik 薪 *[s]i[n]
Leaf *lăp *lap 葉 *l[a]p
Plant root *bʰūl *bul ~ *pul 本 *C.pˤə[n]ʔ
  1. ^ Perhaps dialectally 𤈦 /*m̥əjʔ/ and 燬 /*m̥ajʔ/.
  2. ^ Possibly related to 清 /*tsʰeŋ/.

Qualitative features of an object

English Reconstruction by Old Chinese (Baxter-Sagart)[a]
I. Peiros & S. Starostin J. Matisoff
Black, dark (TB) *nǝk *nak 黑 *m̥ˤək[i]
White wār *hwār 皤 *[b]ˤar[ii]
Big *tayH *tay 大 *lˤa[t]-s
Cold *(k-)răŋ ~ *(k-)răk *glak ~ *glaŋ ~ *graŋ 涼 *C.raŋ
Warm *lɨm *lim ~ *lum 融 *luŋ
Long (TB) *rĭŋ *riŋ N/A
New *cʰăr *sar 鮮 *s[a]r
  1. ^ It is possible that *s-nak is a descendant of *s-maŋ ~ s-mak (whence OC /*m̥ˤək/).
  2. ^ The more commonly used 白 /*bˤrak/ might be a derivation of it.

Verb stems

English Reconstruction by Old Chinese (Baxter-Sagart)[a]
I. Peiros & S. Starostin J. Matisoff
To eat *ʒʰa *dzya 咀 *dzaɁ
To drink *dʰɨn ~ *dʰɨŋ *daŋ ~ *doŋ 潼 *tjongs
To bite/chew *wā *wa
To die *sĭy(H) *sǝy 死 *sijʔ
To know, to think *siǝH *syey 悉 *[s]i[t]
To hear (TB) *tʰa(s) *ta N/A
To sleep *mĭyH *mwǝy 寐 *mi[t]-s
To stand *ryǝp *r(y)ap 立 *k.rәp
To sit *tūŋ ~ *tūk *duŋ ~ *duk ~ *tuŋ ~ *tuk 住 *dro(ʔ)-s
Give *pĭy *bǝy 畀 *pi[k]‑s

Numbers

English Reconstruction by Old Chinese (Baxter-Sagart)[a]
I. Peiros & S. Starostin J. Matisoff
1 *dyiǝk *dik ~ *t(y)ik ~ *t(y)ak 一 *ʔi[t]
2 *nĭy *ni 二 *ni[j]-s
3 *sɨm *sum 三 *s.rum
4 *lĭy *lǝy 四 *s.li[j]-s
5 *ŋāH *ŋa 五 *C.ŋˤaʔ
6 *rŭk *ruk 六 *k.ruk
7 *(s-)nĭt *ni 七 *[tsʰ]i[t]
8 *ryēt *gyat ~ *ryat ~ *rit 八 *pˤret
9 *kwɨH *gǝw ~ *kǝw 九 *[k]uʔ
10 *k(ʰ)ĭp *g(y)ip 十 *t.[g]әp
100 *(p-)ryā *gya 百 *pˤrak
  1. ^ a b c d e For Old Chinese notations in the Baxter–Sagart system:
    • Parentheses "()" indicate uncertain presence;
    • Square brackets "[]" indicate uncertain identity, e.g. *[t] as coda may in fact be *-t or *-p;
    • Angle brackets "<>" indicate infix;
    • Hyphen "-" indicates morpheme boundary;
    • Period "." indicates syllable boundary.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Benedict, Paul K. (1972), Sino-Tibetan: A Conspectus (PDF), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-08175-7.
  2. ^ van Driem, George (2007). "The diversity of the Tibeto-Burman language family and the linguistic ancestry of Chinese". Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics. 1 (2): 211–270. doi:10.1163/2405478X-90000023.
  3. ^ Egerod, Søren Christian. "Sino-Tibetan languages - Linguistic characteristics". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  4. ^ Peiros, Ilia; Starostin, S.A. (1996). A comparative vocabulary of five Sino-Tibetan languages. Parkville, VIC: Univ. of Melbourne, Dept. of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics. ISBN 9780732513504.
  5. ^ Baxter, William H.; Sagart, Laurent. "The Baxter-Sagart reconstruction of Old Chinese". The Baxter-Sagart reconstruction of Old Chinese. Retrieved 10 August 2022.