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|Other Titles: ||On Conditioned Change|
|Authors: ||張光宇;Kuang-yu Chang|
As the development of the western discipline of historical linguistics has shown us, conditioned change and the comparative method are two sides of the same coin. Following Grimm's law of 1822, there came a sequence of laws: Lottner's law, the law of the palatals, Grassmann's law, as well as Verner's law, each marking a milestone leading the comparative method to its maturity in the later part of the nineteenth century. In retrospect, one may be curious about what happened in its eastern counterpart? It is safe to say that the majority of what has been said about conditioned change in Chinese historical phonology was by its very nature circumstantial, a hub of disputes. There are several reasons for this. For Karlgren, the great Swedish Sinologist who laid down the most important cornerstones for the reconstruction of Chinese historical phonology, the first objective was to transcribe the Chinese terminology into a sound system. Unlike his Western colleagues in the field of Indo-European languages, who were free of traditional burdens, Karlgren did not base his reconstruction purely on the comparative method. In many cases his method was a philological one, and as such, there was not much to say concerning conditioned change. This situation has remained basically unchanged even in the post-Karlgren period. Due to the relative paucity of Chinese dialect material before 1980, little evidence could be referred to in discussing conditioned change on a solid foundation. This is the second reason why discussion on conditioned change has remained largely theoretical rather than scientific.
This study is based on cross-dialect comparison. Most cases in this paper are discussed in a quite straightforward manner; we need only to compare two closely related dialects to ascertain which form serves as the conditioning factor and which form has undergone the conditioned change. Butthere are also cases where we are required to reinterpret the previously reconstructed forms or to do triangulation on our own before we proceed.
Reinterpretation is needed in cases where dialects show no sign of distinction for the different categories in ancient texts. An example of this is to be found in *吵g and *ang, which have merged as a single category in most modern Chinese dialects, north and south. In order to facilitate the procedure, I have treated them as simply one final: og (following Lu Zhiwei's view of 3 being equal to an open o). Likewise, Karlgren's -B which occurs mainly in third division finals (excepting one occurrence in second division final) can be viewed as a variant to his a (with a back vowel quality of some sort, that is, o~o).
Triangulation is put into practice when cases arise indicating that a bipartite development is involved. One example of this is found in the Middle Chinese Yin rhyme (*J9n), from which derived the various forms in the overwhelming majority of Chinese dialects. In striking contrast are the Hakka and Min dialects which appear to be quite different. As a first approximation of what might have happened in Chinese historical phonology, the triangulation is applied as shown in the following configuration: (take KK. for example)
Beijing Meixian Amoy
Viewed in this way, the bizarre form of Amoy can be explained in terms of conditioned change. There are many other parallel incidents that give credence to the theory of bipartite development in Chinese historical phonology. A perfect or near perfect parallelism is to be found in Western Europe, compare the above configuration with diagrams involving proto-Latin as well as Proto-Germanic.
The past two decades have seen an ever-increasing amount of Chinese dialect material come to light, and yet more can be expected to come. Based on hard facts gathered across China, one can pinpoint exactly what rules put forth in the past have a solid footing as opposed to those which are merely circumstantial. Instead of recapitulating what has been said in the paper, I have deliberately chosen to concentrate on my working principles in this summary. This is because I am of the opinion that in the study of conditioned change, we are often faced with the problem of setting a starting point, and without the guidelines sketched above, the great treasure of Chinese dialect material would in many respects remain inaccessible.
Key words: Chinese dialects, Conditioned change
|Appears in Collections:||[01 清華學報] 新30卷第4期|
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