The Palaungic Languages: Classification, Reconstruction and Comparative Lexicon
Australian National University
This volume presents a reconstruction of the historical phonology and lexicon of the Palaungic branch of Austroasiatic, plus discussion of classification and homeland. Data from 22 published sources covering languages of Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam are compared to yield a proto-lexicon of 885 words of Proto Palaungic. It is hypothesized that the language was spoken by early Bronze Age rice farmers approximately 3000 years ago in the border region of Northern Laos and Xīshuāngbǎnnà. Although otherwise a fairly typical Austroasiatic language, Proto Palaungic show various phonological mergers and lexical innovations that clearly distinguish it from other branches of the family. The latter history of Palaungic is quite complex, with various daughter languages drastically restructuring, some developing tones in odd ways, others assimilating structural features of neighbouring tongues. The results include a new classification of the group and the identification of a new sub-branch ‘Bit-Khang’ comprised of languages previously misidentified as Khmuic.
Paul Sidwell graduated with a PhD in Linguistics in 1999 from the University of Melbourne; since then he has held appointments with the Max Planck Institute (Leipzig), the Centre for Research in Computational Linguistics (Bangkok) and the Australian National University (Canberra). Currently he is a senior lecturer/researcher fellow in the College of Asia and the Pacific of the ANU. The focus of his research lays in the comparative reconstruction of Austroasiatic language history and its wider implications for the history of Mainland Southeast Asia.
ISBN 9783862886302 (Hardbound). Languages of the World 50. 243pp. 2015.