Overview of Sino-Tibetan Morphosyntax

Authored by: Randy J. LaPolla

The Sino-Tibetan Languages

Print publication date:  December  2002
Online publication date:  May  2006

Print ISBN: 9780700711291
eBook ISBN: 9780203221051
Adobe ISBN: 9781135797188


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At the earliest reconstructable stage of the development of the Sino-Tibetan (ST) language family, possibly as much as eight thousand years ago (Thurgood 1994), the proto-language was monosyllabic. Matisoff (1991a: 490) reconstructs the syllable canon as *(P) (P) Ci (G) V (:) (Cf) (s). 1 1

P = prefix, Ci = initial consonant, G = glide, : = vowel length, Cf = final consonant, s = suffixal *-s; parentheses mark that the item does not appear in all syllables.

It is not clear whether the prefixes in some or all cases entailed a vocalic element. If so, the structure might have been sesquisyllabic (e.g. as in the name tə̌rùng ‘T’rung/Dulong’, the vocalic element of the tə̌- prefix is very slight).

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