Languages and dialects of China
Edited by William S-Y. Wang 王士元 主编
This volume is based on a conference held in Oakland, California, in January 1986. The initial ideas for the conference were contained in a letter I sent to a few friends the preceding May. In it, I suggested several avenues of interaction and cross-fertilization, in the hope of correcting for the unfortunate insularity that specification often leads to in Chinese linguistics. Briefly put, these are: (1) linguistics with allied disciplines concerned with population movements, such as genetics, geography, and history, (2) data gathering with theory development, (3) language group with language group. The conference was the result of the many enthusiastic responses to that initial probe.
In the spirit of the above scheme, the pages that follow are divided into four parts. Part A begins with contributions from allied disciplines, Lee and Wong from history, Yuan from genetics, and Zhou from geography. It is important that the evolutionary scenarios we develop independently in linguistics be cross-checked against the relevant knowledge from other fields. All too often in Chinese linguistics, we forget that data gathering is only the first step, and that the real intellectual rewards come from the theoretical interpretations of these data. The papers by Chen and Cheng exemplify theory construction from data, one on the analysis of tones, the other on quantifying linguistic affinity.
Part B contains papers on some of the major linguistic groups in China. Wang Jun presents a wide perspective on the features of many of the minority languages of China. Such information is valuable not only for itself, but also indispensable for research on the historical development of the Han dialects. These latter are represented by overviews provided by Ting for Mandarin, by Pan for Wu, by Yue-Hashimoto for Yue, and by Norman for the Min dialects.
In Part C, Lin discusses the linguistic situation of Beijing, and Qian describes the speech of Shanghai. Often new patterns of linguistic usage are created at socio-cultural centers such as these two cities. Once established at the centers, these patterns radiate outward to bring out change at other sites. There are many more great cities in China, and I hope that these two pioneering studies can stimulate future research on these other cities. Similarly, I hope there will be more overviews of linguistic groups in China, on the models of the papers in Part B.
The volume closes with remarks by Pulleyblank, Mei and Hsieh [Zhu], commenting on different papers at the conference, each providing a distinct perspective on the field.
The topics discussed in this volume, the languages and dialects of China, are significant from at least two complementary vantage points: Chinese studies, and linguistic theory. The goals of Chinese studies are to understand the activities and the behaviors of the Chinese peoples, both in the past and in the present. One of the major avenues toward achieving these goals is through studying their languages.
The linguistic wealth of China is possibly the richest in the world in terms of the diversity of living speech and the time depth of written materials. Tapping the information in the ancient texts as well as unearthed artifacts, archeologists and historians have deepened our knowledge of the Shang dynasty China of 3500 years back. With the methods of historical linguistics, however, we should be able to push in time several more millennia beyond the Shang.
The histories of the language will surely provide evidence on early contacts among the peoples, in the form of words borrowed or grammar shared, as well as the possibility of dating these contacts. The reconstructed vocabularies presumably will include words of kinship, of flora and fauna, and of various aspects of material and spiritual life. These words will be useful toward understanding the culture, geography and cognitive structures of the speakers long ago.Parallel to the understanding society from language, we may also ask questions on how language has influenced society. In contrast to the great diversity in speech, there is relative unity in the written language. Presumably, it was the invention of writing that early marked the ancestors of the Han people for cultural dominance. This unity in writing also must have played a crucial role in bonding together the numerous peoples of China into one single cultural polity, to a scale not seen anywhere else in the world. The effect of this bonding must be even stronger in recent decades, with the sharp rise in literacy.
The feature of the written language that enables the cultural coherence in China is of course the distinctive morpho-syllabic logograph. The beauty of this system is that it is simultaneously connected to the meanings and the sounds of language; hence, its communicativeness is less vulnerable to changes in sounds of speech. The effect that this written language had on the evolution of the speech it represented, the consequence it has on the cognition of its users, these are some of the topics ripe for discussion at some future conference on the languages and dialects of China.
The goals of linguistics are to understand the nature of language, how it is structured, how it is transmitted, and how it changes. Here, again, China’s tremendous linguistic wealth promises profound contributions.
From the viewpoint of Change, the rich body of linguistic observations stretch over well over 2000 years, going back at least to Xunzi, and to the early dictionaries and dialect studies of the Han dynasty. In addition to these linguistic works, there is an enormous body of historical data on social contacts and population movements.
Putting together the archeological, the historical with the linguistic, we should be able to derive a detailed knowledge of how the dialects were formed as a result of both system-internal and external forces. There must been high degrees of hybridization throughout China’s past, as waves upon waves of people were driven from their homes by war, famine or plague, or lured into new lands by the promise of a better life.
Currently, the sum total of our knowledge on the deeper histories of human language is based on virtually a single case, that of the Indo-European family. But even here, the basic issue is not resolved – whether the original Indo-European were nomadic conquerors on horseback, swooping southward from the Kurgan steppes, or Anatolian farmers, whose domain expanded gradually with their agricultural ways of life. I believe that from studying the languages and dialects of China, given the time depth of materials available here, another major case can be developed, so that our knowledge on language prehistory can rest on a broader base.
Synchronically, the potential is just as great. Western scholars have long been fascinated by the structure of the Chinese language, including such savants as Leibniz, Humboldt, and Rousseau. In this century, no less an authority than Edward Sapir called Chinese “soberly logical”, presumably referring to its highly regular syntax and its simple use of inflectional morphology. Indeed, Chinese grammar has been the focus of a great deal of linguistic research, especially since the publication of Y.R. Chao’s comprehensive grammar. Furthermore, recent work is extending into the grammar of other dialects as well, which appear to be actually more diverse than Chao has indicated.
Yet another part of China’s linguistic wealth is the highly distinctive tone systems. Tone languages are richer by one more dimension, as it were, than the “ordinary” languages. In addition to consonants and vowels, which are found everywhere in the world, words are built with the pitch of the voice as well. Although phonemic tones are found in almost all parts of the worlds, it comes closest to its classic form of one-syllable-one-tone in the languages and dialects of China. The lexical function of tone in Chinese is well known. A much less explored area is how tones behave when they come together, and how they interface with the other grammatical structures. This too is focus for much linguistic research, that is having an impact on linguistic at large.
All things considered, then, I feel that those of us working on the languages and dialects of China are in a particularly privileged position. Our work is clearly of fundamental importance both to understanding China and to understating human language. At the same time, it is crucial that we maintain a broad perspective, assimilating as much as we can the relevant results from each other as well as from allied disciplines.
In addition to the authors represented in this volume, there were several other contributions, which added greatly to the success of the conference. The first session was perhaps the liveliest, with a paper from L. L. Cavalli-Sforza on the parallels between biological and linguistic research, and a paper from W. Labov on methodological aspects of dialect investigations. Although these two papers did not deal with Chinese data per se, they were extremely helpful in forging links between Chinese linguistics and other related areas of research.
Another paper from the conference not included here is one on the application of Wave Theory to the study of Kejia dialects, presented by the late M.Hashimoto. It is an important contribution, sprinkled with many exciting insights. We hope to publish it as an independent article in JCL before long, after solving some technical problems in dealing with the maps it contains.
Finally, thanks are due to Lien Chinfa, Bob Sanders, Shen Zhongwei and Chuch Wooters for helping to make the conference run smoothly. Shen’s contribution toward the publication of this volume is especially appreciated. The conference was financed by a grant from the Wang Institute of Graduate Studies. Research on China during the 1980’s, especially scholarly work in the United States, was greatly facilitated through the generosity of Wang An, the late president of that Institute. Through these contributions, he demonstrated by deed the meaning of the phrase, yin shui si yuan.
Part A: General Contribution
Though research concerning Chinese blood groups dates back as far as 1918, it was not until 1960’s that people began to utilize blood group materials in order to study differences in the gene pools of Chinese populations. Since the end of the 1970’s research into Chinese population genetic has been quite active, and research into genetic markers has become increasingly popular, especially in the areas of red blood cell group-, the enzyme-, serum protein-, white blood cell group- and immuglobin-systems. It is estimated that in 1986 the genetic survey of the multi-system genetic markings of the more populous ethnic minorities on the Chinese mainland, especially those with populations over one million, will be completed. This will provide important data for the analysis and research into genetic differences within the Chinese populations, the origin of ethnic groups, and population migrations. China is a multi-ethnic country. Its regions are vast, and differences in geographic and climatic conditions are extremely great. The distribution of her population is greatly unbalanced. The process leading to the development of the various ethnic groups of China has a long historical origin. With regard to the origin and development of ethnic groups, and to inter-population relationships, this knowledge can be achieved through multi-disciplinary research. Using gene frequency data from as many loci as possible to study inter-population relationships, is a very important field. This paper investigates red blood cell group polymorphism among Chinese, and it is based on the large body of materials on red blood cell types which have accumulated over the past few years.
2. Materials and Methodology
2.1 The ten ethnic groups included in this discussion are the Han (most of the gene frequency data coming from the Han living in northern China), the Mongols of Inner Mongolia, the Hui of the Hui Autonomous Region of Ningxia, the Koreans of Yanbian District of Jilin Province in the northeast, the Uygurs of Xinjiang in the northwest, the Tibetans of Lhasa City in Tibet, the Zhuang and Dong of Guangxi in the south, the Bai of Yunnan Province in the southwest, and the Gaoshan of Taiwan Province in the southeast.
2.2 The blood group systems touched upon include ABO, MNSs, Rhesus, P, Duffy, Kidd, Kell, Diego, Lewis, Lutheran and Xg, for a total of 11.
2.3 The materials utilized in this paper come from 110 papers published since 1918 both in and outside of China, as well as from the survey results of the Institute of Genetics which have been conducted over the past several years on the 11 systems for red blood cell groups listed above.
2.4 Method of analysis, calculation of blood group combination
3.1 Common alleles
3.2 The frequencies of the most common blood groups and that of blood group combinations
3.3 The probability within a population that the blood group combination of two randomly selected individuals is the same even better reflects the polymorphism in blood groups of this population.
3.4 Genetic distance
The history of migrations in China has had a key effect on the formation and distribution of the Chinese dialects, and this has intrigued more and more linguists as well as historians. However, there has not been any intensive research on the relationship between migrations and dialects until recently. Aside from other reasons, an important one is the lack of research on the migrations history itself. Although numerous migrations of various scales occurred throughout history, they were always disregarded. Even for major migrations, what are left in the historical literature are scattered and oversimplified records. The difficulties in researching individual migration activities certainly complicate the study on migration history as a whole. Consequently, this paper devotes only to a sketchy description of the Chinese migration history, particularly migrations which are important for the development and evolution of Chinese dialects. A more comprehensive study will have to be pursued in the future.
The history of the Chinese migration can be traced back to the early Qin dynasty (211-207 B.C.). There are roughly two kinds of migrations: voluntary movements on the part of the people, and systematic immigration plans by the government. The former kind was mostly the result of wars, famine, or population expansion whereas the latter one was designed to fulfill certain political, military, or economic purposes. The directions in which all migrations took place were primarily from north to south, and east to west. Instances in which migrations occurred in opposite directions were rare. This characteristic gave birth to various southern dialects and the distribution of dialectal geography of modern dialects.
James Lee; Bin R. Wong
Three changes during the Qing (1644-1911) fundamentally altered China’s linguistic map. First, population tripled from 150 to 500 million people. Second, land area doubled from 5 to 10 million square kilometers. Third, tens of millions of Chinese migrated within China Proper and from China Proper to Greater China. The purpose of this paper is to summarize briefly the major flows of migration during the Qing and then to assess their implication for the study of the languages and dialects of China. In part one we describe large-scale migrations throughout China. In part two we focus on migrations to one city, the national capital at Beijing.
1. In Search of Quantitative Measurements as Syntheses of Dialect Differences
2. Quantitative Aspects of Tones in Chinese Dialects
3. Degrees of Dialect Closeness
4. Dialect Affinity Based on Lexicon
5. Genetic Affinity Based on Phonology
1. Chinese as a Tone Language
2. Tone Sandhi as Process Morpheme
3. From S-Tone to W-Tone
4. The Syntax of Tone Sandhi
5. Prosodically Conditioned TS
6. Concluding Remarks
Part B: Major Linguistic Group
With social, economic and cultural developments, the ethnic minorities that boast of writing systems raise the question of language standardization. For example, it is of relevance in practice to address the theoretical issue of how to treat the phenomena of the coexistence and coapplication of loan-words, grammatically different word orders and the heterogeneity of alien and indigenous constructions. Here we adduce some examples of the interaction between southern Han dialects and Kam-Tai languages, showing that despite the relevance of socio-cultural factors in language change, the assimilation of outside lexical items and syntactic structures does not mean the cultural backwardness of the host ethnic group. It is suggested that a realistic approach should be adopted to undertake language standardization with the objective of forwarding the development of and interflow in economy, technology and culture.
2. The Issue of Dialect Subgrouping
3. The Development of Initials
3.1 The Development of Voiced Obstruents
3.1.1 The Realization of MC Voiced Obstruents as Voiceless Aspirated Series in All Tone Categories
3.1.2 The Realization of Voiced Obstruents as Voiceless Unaspirated Initials
3.1.3 The Realization of MC Voiced Obstruents as Voiceless Aspirated Series in Tone I and as Voiceless Unaspirated Initials in Other Tones
3.2 The Palatalization Juan Series and Jung Series and its Related Issues
3.2.1 The Chronology of Appearance of Palatalized Initials
3.2.2 The Phenomena in Mandarin Related to Palatalized Initials
3.3 The Development of Other Initials
4. The Merger, Loss and Genesis of Codas
4.1. The Merger of Nasal Codas
4.2. The Loss of Nasal Codas
4.3. The Emergence of Nasal Codas
5. The Split and Merger of Tones and the Reconstruction of Tone Values
6. Closing Remarks
Roughly speaking, the Wu dialects are distributed over Zhejiang province and the south of Jiangsu province. They also spread into some parts of southern Anhui province, Shangrao, Yushan & Guangfeng in Jiangxi province and Pucheng in Fujian province (for more details see Fangyan 4. 1984 and Zhengzhang et al (1985)).
1. The Historical Background of the Formation of the Wu Dialects
2. The Main Features of the Wu Dialects
3. The Internal Divergence and the Subgrouping of Wu Dialects
The Yue dialect, in earlier works and especially in popular usage, has often been referred to as Cantonese. Linguistically speaking, the two terms should be strictly distinguished, “Yue” referring to a group of Southern Chinese dialects and “Cantonese” to the standard dialect of the group, which is the dialect of the city of Guangzhou or Canton.
“Yue” used as a linguistic term is relatively new. In its earliest usage, it refers either to a group of coastal peoples inhabiting Southern China or to the name of a state established by one of these peoples during the Spring and Autumn as well as Warring States periods (510-355 B.C.). The Yue peoples, or the Bai Yue (‘Hundred Yue’), are generally considered to be of non-Han origin. According to Chapter forty-one of the Historical Records or Shi Ji, the ancestors of the Yue king tattooed their bodies and cut short their hair – – customs alien to the Han people. These Yue peoples inhabited a vast area south of the Yangzi River – – from the present-day coastal area south of the Hangzhou Bay to the northern part of present-day Vietnam. Many problems still surround questions relating to the identification of these peoples summarized as the Hundred Yue in historical documents – -were they linguistically related tribes? Are they the ancestors of any of the now existing peoples in Southeast Asia or of the so-called minorities in China? What is the relationship between their language(s) and the modern Chinese dialects spoken in this area? To be sure, Southern China had been inhabited by various non-Han peoples before the Han people settled there. These non-Han aborigines include various Tai peoples, Miao and Yao peoples, Mon-Khmers and Malayo-Polynesians. The presence of Malayo-Polynesians in mainland Southern China is supported more on archaeological ground than solid linguistic evidence. To date the Tais, the Miaos and the Yaos still inhabit certain areas of Southern China while the Mon-Khmers have receded to Southern Asia. Are the Hundred Yue the ancestors of any of these aborigines?
1. Historical Background
2. Characteristic Features of the Yue Dialects
3. Problems Awaiting Further Research
1. Geographical factors
1.1 The Mǐn Dialects and Geography
1.2 The Mǐn Heartland
1.3 Mǐn Overseas
1.4 Dialect Islands
2. Historical Factors
2.1 The Early Hisory of Fújiàn
2.2 The Aboriginal Population
2.3 The Chinese Conquest of Fújiàn
2.4 Chinese Colonization of Fújiàn
3. The Problem of Stratification
3.1 The Components of Mǐn
3.2 The Yuè Substratum
3.3 The Hàn Foundation
3.4 The Mǐn Protolanguage
3.5 Min and the Qieyun System
4. Classification and Sub-grouping
4.1 The Definition of a Mǐn Dialect
5. Problems for Further Research
5.1 Meso-history and Micro-history
5.2 Dialectal Syntax
Part C: Cities: Beijing and Shanghai
Beijing is situated on the northwest border of the North China Plain. Taking the city proper as its center and spreading out in all four directions, Beijing encompasses ten districts and nine counties. It has a total surface area of 18000 square kilometers, and as of 1982 had a population of 9230000 (Figure 1). Though possessing this great a surface area and this great a population, no one had ever surveyed the distribution of its dialects in any detail. From 1982 to 1984 I offered a course at Peking University entitled “Survey of Pekingese.” In this course the students and I conducted a rather broad survey of this language. The survey itself was conducted in five stages and altogether surveyed 40 sites. Of these, six were conducted in the city proper, while the remainder were distributed in districts and counties outside the city. Each site had on the average 14 informants, representing differences in age, level of education, gender, and ethnicity, for a grand total of 560 persons. Because Beijing is so large and populous, it is fair to say that the materials from this survey are insufficient to bear out the entire picture of the Beijing dialect. However, from these materials, it is still possible to find some very interesting phenomena. This report for the most part proposes some preliminary views based upon these survey materials.
1. The administrative divisions in Shanghai, background of its population, and materials on the study of Shanghai dialect
2. The Phonetic Changes in the Shanghai Dialect
3. Comparisons and Contrasts of the Changes in Pronunciation in the Shanghai Dialect
4. The Microhistory of Change in Pronunciation of the Shanghai Dialect
5. The lexical and syntactic changes of the Shanghai dialect
Part D: Comments
Dialect studies rightly occupy a large place in Chinese linguistics. From a purely descriptive point of view the problem is immense, even more so when one includes not only the innumerable varieties of Hang language but also the languages of the minority people. One can only applaud the great strides tha thave been made in the last thirty or forty years in investigating and making known this vast treasure house of living data and hope that the work will go on at an even more rapid rate in future.
1. Tone Sandhi in Peking Mandarin
2. Relics of Old Chinese Morphology
These pages result from a two-day Symposium held at the City University of Hong Kong2 in July 1994.