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Old ChineseA New Reconstruction$
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William H. Baxter and Laurent Sagart

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199945375

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199945375.001.0001

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An overview of the reconstruction

An overview of the reconstruction

(p.42) 3 An overview of the reconstruction
Old Chinese

William H. Baxter

Laurent Sagart

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 gives an overview of the phonological and morphological aspects of the reconstruction, detailing its main features: for word onsets, the pharyngealization and velar/uvular hypotheses, adapted from Norman and Pān Wùyún respectively; the different types of complex onsets and how they predict phonological distinctions lost in Middle Chinese, like the voiced aspirated and softened stops in Mĭn, the prenasalized initials of Hmong-Mien and the spirantized consonants of Vietnamese. For the rhymes, the hypothesis of a *-r coda, adapted from Starostin (1989), is introduced. The main Old Chinese morphological processes and the affixes which mark them are discussed and illustrated. Word families are defined as sets of words built on the same synchronic root; these are contrasted with historically related roots, which reflect fossilized morphological alternations from an earlier time, but which are no longer relatable by synchronic morphology in the Old Chinese period. The chapter ends on a discussion of the nature of the pre-Qín script and of issues relating to the interpretation of phonetic elements in the script.

Keywords:   pharyngealization, uvulars, softening, spirantization, prenasalization, affixation, roots, word families

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