The Palaungic Languages: Classification, Reconstruction and Comparative Lexicon

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Paul Sidwell
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This volume presents a reconstruction of the historical phonology and lexicon of the Palaungic branch of Austroasiatic, plus discussion of classification and homeland. Data from 22 published sources covering languages of Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam are compared to yield a proto-lexicon of 885 words of Proto Palaungic. It is hypothesized that the language was spoken by early Bronze Age rice farmers approximately 3000 years ago in the border region of Northern Laos and X?shu?ngb?nnà. Although otherwise a fairly typical Austroasiatic language, Proto Palaungic show various phonological mergers and lexical innovations that clearly distinguish it from other branches of the family. The latter history of Palaungic is quite complex, with various daughter languages drastically restructuring, some developing tones in odd ways, others assimilating structural features of neighbouring tongues. The results include a new classification of the group and the identification of a new sub-branch 'Bit-Khang' comprised of languages previously misidentified as Khmuic.


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