Old Chinese rhymes
Old Chinese rhymes
Chapter 5 gives a systematic treatment of Old Chinese rhymes. After an overview of rhyme structure (main vowel, coda, and post-coda) in section 2.1, section 2.2 introduces the six-vowel system of Old Chinese. This involves two main hypotheses: (1) the rounded-vowel hypothesis, which assigns rounded-vowel origins to certain rhymes that have unrounded main vowels in Middle Chinese, and (2) the front-vowel hypothesis, which asserts that the Middle Chinese “division-IV” rhymes come from the front vowels *e and *i. Rhyming evidence which apparently contradicts these claims is discussed. Section 5.3 discusses several processes with wide-ranging effects on rhyme development: pharyngealization of initial consonants and the presence of prevocalic -r-, as well as various assimilation and dissimilation processes. Reconstructed Old Chinese rhymes are then systematically presented, classified by coda type (back; acute; with -w; labial) and vowel. As with the onsets, all reconstructed rhymes are illustrated by examples. Their sound correspondences with Middle Chinese (though not, in this case, with Proto- Mĭn, Proto-Hmong-Mien, or Vietnamese) are tabulated. The reconstruction of the *-r coda is supported by evidence from Chinese transcriptions of foreign words. It is also shown that a dialect development which treated final *-r as -j was characteristic of the region in and near the Shāndōng peninsula, in contrast to other regions, where *-r evolved to -n.
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