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Word Families

(2,954 words)

Author(s): Laurent SAGART
In the introduction to his Word Families in Chinese (1934:1), Bernhard Karlgren wrote: “it stands to reason that Chinese does not consist of so and so many thousands of independent monosyllables, none of them cognate to any others; in Chinese, as in all other languages, the words form families, groups of cognate words formed from one and the same primary stem”. In the same text, Karlgren also articulated the notion that in comparing Chinese with related languages, word stems, not words per se, are the appropriate objects of comparison. Karlgren’s Word Families assembled sets of words which resembled one another more or less closely in both Karlgren’s reconstructed Old Chinese (OC) pronunciation and in meaning: for instance xíng 行, Karlgren’s *g’ăng ‘to walk, to go’; huáng 徨, Karlgren’s *g’wâŋ ‘to go to and fro’; wáng 往, Karlgren’s *gi̭wang ‘to walk, go’; jiē 街, Karlgren’s *kĕg ‘street’; xiàng 巷, Karlgren’s *g’ŭng ‘street, lane’ and áo 遨, Karlgren’s *ngŏg ‘to ramble, stroll’, all of which begin and end in a velar and have meanings relating to the idea of walking. Naturally not all words of simila…
Date: 2017-03-02

Old Chinese Phonology

(4,463 words)

Author(s): Laurent SAGART | William H. BAXTER
1. Background Broadly speaking, Old Chinese phonology ( Shànggǔ yīn 上古音) is the sound system of Old Chinese, the language of the early first millennium BCE that underlies the rhymes (=rimes) of the Shījīng 詩經 (the Book of Odes) and the system of phonetic elements in the early Chinese script. An early stage of this language can be assumed to be the ancestor of all later attested forms of Chinese. Scientific investigations into the phonology of Old Chinese began in China as early as the Sòng period (960–1279), undergoing brilliant developments in the Qīng dynasty (1…
Date: 2017-03-02