The Mon-Khmer Studies Journal
celebrating 50 years of publication: 1964 - 2014
MON-KHMER STUDIES is the peer-reviewed, publication of record for research in
Founded in 1964, the MKS Journal is distributed online under a Creative Commons license.
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Scope of the Journal
Current Issue: Volume 45 (2016)
MON-KHMER STUDIES specializes in Austroasiatic (including Mon-Khmer and Munda) linguistics.
For fifty years the MKSJ has provided a scholarly forum for high-quality articles relevant to
the study of Southeast Asian languages and cultures.
We welcome submissions that advance the study of any SEA language family;
topics may include linguistic description, cultural description, comparison,
bibliography, historical development, sociolinguistics, stylistics, orthography, and paleography.
Alexis MICHAUD, Minh-Châu NGUYỄN and Hiển PHẠM
Z in company names: trendy clothing for a typical Vietnamese sound (MKSJ:45.53-65)
The letter Z is not part of the Vietnamese alphabet, any more than F, J and W.
But it is far from uncommon in language use.
It appears in the names of companies that target a popular audience, e.g. Zing for a local competitor to Yahoo.
Why is Z, the least used letter of the English alphabet, so trendy in present-day Vietnamese? The evidence reported heresuggests that the letter Z constitutes foreign-looking clothing for a typical Vietnamese sound.
In Hanoi Vietnamese, historical /ð/, /ʒ/ and /r/ (orthographic D, GI and R) merged to /z/,
making the voiced alveolar fricative a highly frequent sound -- and a potential identity marker for Hanoian speakers, with Z as a unified written rendering.
The results of an automated search through a large corpus of contemporary texts support the conclusions drawn from the qualitative analysis of examples.
Keywords:onomastics, graphophonemics, orthography, sociolinguistics, stylistics
ISO 639-3: vie
Phonological Correspondences between Jowai- and Narwan-Pnar (MKSJ:45.1-13)
This paper compares and highlights the phonological differences of the Pnar varieties
Jowai-Pnar (spoken in West Jaintia Hills) and Narwan-Pnar (spoken in East Jaintia Hills).
Preliminary analysis reveals correspondences which are regular and uniformly found in almost
all cognate words.
For instance, the long vowel of one dialect corresponds to a diphthong in the other,
the [e] of Jowai-Pnar corresponds to the [ɛ] of Narwan-Pnar, and the [ɛ] of Jowai-Pnar
corresponds with the [e] of Narwan-Pnar in the environment when they precede [-Ɂ],
[a] <> [ɔ], [o] <> [ɛ], [o] <> [ɛu], etc.
However, this pattern of corresponding different segments is seen only with
vowels, not consonants, excepting one case where
the coda of Jowai-Pnar [-Ɂ] corresponds to the [-c] of Narwan-Pnar.
In most cases,
any consonantal difference among the varieties of Pnar is the result of deletion or insertion.
Keywords: Pnar, phonology, vowel correspondences
ISO 639-3: pvb
V. R. RAJASINGH
Mūöt (Nicobarese). (MKSJ:45.14-52)
The paper presents a sketch of the Mūöt language of the Nicobar islands
(also known as Nancowry or Central Nicobarese). It is a synthesis of earlier studies,
and the latest available synchronic data.
Mūöt is a small, endangered language that presents various remarkable typological
characteristics, especially in the wider context of Austroasiatic typology: VOS word order,
highly inflected morphology, and highly constrained syllable structure.
The present sketch is unique as the only linguistic description of Mūöt
published in English in more than three decades.
Keywords: Nicobarese, syntax, phonology, morphology
ISO 639-3: ncb
Volume 45 Editor: Sujaritlak Deepadung
Last Issue: Volume 44 (2015)
Nathaniel CHEESEMAN, Elizabeth HALL & Darren GORDON
Palaungic Linguistic Bibliography with Selected Annotations (MKSJ:44.i-liv)
This bibliography expands the earlier work by Darren C. Gordon (2013).
It includes a brief description of Palaungic linguistic features and a discussion of classification.
References are organized first by linguistic domain, then historically by author.
Many unpublished Palaungic data sets (including many by the late Dr. Paulette Hopple) are referenced, with access location when possible.
The paper concludes with a Palaungic language index.
Where appropriate, items are included under more than one linguistic domain.
Some difficult-to-locate items are identified as being available at the David Thomas library (DTL), Linguistics Institute, Payap University (http://msealing.info/dt-library/).
While some conference presentations are included, this is by no means an exhaustive listing.
Keywords: Austroasiatic, Mon-Khmer, Palaungic, bibliography
Ryan GEHRMANN and Johanna CONVER
Katuic Phonological Features (MKSJ:44.lv-lxvii)
Katuic languages are spoken in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The internal phonological diversity of the Katuic branch is not as great as that of neighboring
Austroasiatic branches such as Bahnaric or Vietic, but noteworthy differences in phonological typology are found.
This article provides an overview of Katuic phonological typology, reviewing previous synchronic and
diachronic phonological studies, then presenting of our own research.
We will highlight some of the important issues that remain to be explored in the study of Katuic comparative phonology.
Keywords: Katuic, phonology, typology
ISO 639-3: iir, kgd, oog, tto, tth, kgc, ktv, kuf, pac, phg, tgr, llo, ngt, bru, brv, xhv, sss, kdt, nyl
Austroasiatic dataset for phylogenetic analysis: 2015 version (MKSJ:44.lxviii-ccclvii)
This paper delivers in citable form (with ISSN and publication date) a lexical dataset representing 122
Austroasiatic (AA) doculects, based on a 200 item list of semantic values,
with each lexical item scored for cognate judgement within each numbered semantic value.
This satisfies various requests from fellow researchers received subsequent to various analyses
(conducted with assistance from Simon Greenhill, ANU) being presented and discussed by the author at several conferences in 2015.
However, this PDF file is not specifically intended to be a working file, and colleagues are advised to use the Excel version of the dataset for research purposes and to cite this
publication as the authoritative 2015 form of a dynamic dataset.
It is anticipated that the dataset contains unrecognised errors, and is generally deserving of improvement.
Scholars are heartily invited to report any and all shortcomings,
or to make offers of improvement as they may feel appropriate;
such will be received with humility and acted upon with enthusiasm.
Keywords: Austroasiatic, database, lexicostatistics, phylogenetics
ISO 639-3: see listing pages lxx-lxxv
Variability in the use of spaces by writers of Hmong Daw (MKSJ:44.1-18)
Hmong Daw is a Hmong-Mien language that primarily uses the Latin script.
Both syllable-spaced and word-spaced formats are used,
with spacing varying by writer and by word.
Using a 15-million word corpus in Hmong Daw,
a list of 96 polysyllabic words was analyzed to see how
often each word was written in syllable-spaced and word-spaced formats.
The results show that most polysyllabic Hmong Daw words are usually
written with syllable spacing, but that spacing varies with the orthographic,
morphological, syntactic, and lexical properties of words.
Just as Kuperman & Bertram 2013 found with English compounds,
variations suggest that writers are most
likely to use spaces where they benefit readability.
The results also suggest that a purely linguistic word definition
is less useful for orthography decisions than a definition
that takes into account variables that affect reading for
different types of words.
Keywords: Hmong Daw, syllable spacing, orthographic variation
ISO 639-3: mww, hnj
SUJARITLAK Deepadung and AMPIKA Rattanapitak
A Lexical Comparison of the Palaung Dialects Spoken in China, Myanmar, and Thailand (MKSJ:44.19-38)
Palaung belongs to the Palaungic branch of the Austroasiatic language family.
Three main Palaung dialects are generally recognized (Ta-ang, Rumai, and Darang),
but as many as 13 are recognised by Mak (2012), according to criteria of language, clothing, and culture.
This paper presents the results of a lexical study using a 100 word data list (chosen following Mann 2004)
collected from 16 sites in China, Myanmar, and Thailand.
For the lexical analysis, the data were classed into cognates groups,
and then analysed using the lexicostatistical package GLOTTO and SplitsTree4 (version 4.13.1) to compute phylogenetic networks.
The results are compared to groupings categorized by names used by the Palaung people in China and outsiders (Deepadung, 2011),
and those classified by the criteria of historical phonology (Mitani, 1977; Ostapirat, 2009).
Keywords: lexicostatistics, dialect classification
ISO 639-3: pce, rbb, pll, ril, yin
Historical Notes on Words for Knives, Swords, and Other Metal Implements in Early Southern China and Mainland Southeast Asia (MKSJ:44.39-56)
Linguistic evidence supports the claim in archaeological studies that early
metallurgy practices moved from north to south in China and Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA).
This historical linguistic study of words for knives, sickles, swords, and other metal
tools and weapons in the region shows an expected region of Chinese influence from China
to northern MSEA, encompassing Hmong-Mien, Tai, and Vietic.
However, there is also a region with Tai as the apparent source language group for such
terms that appear to have spread later into Austroasiatic languages.
The sociocultural circumstances and history of the spread of these words and their
associated implements are explored and described.
Keywords: Mainland Southeast Asia, metal tools, weapons, historical linguistics
ISO 639-3: aav, hmx, map, mch, mkh, och, sit
Volume 44 Editors: Paul Sidwell and Brian Migliazza
MKSJ Complete Volume 43 (2014)
Volume 43.2 (2014)
Suwilai PREMSRIRAT; Kenneth GREGERSON
Fifty Years of Mon-Khmer Studies (MKSJ:43.2:i-iv)
Anh-Thư T. NGUYỄN
Acoustic correlates of rhythmic structure of Vietnamese narrative speech (MKSJ:43.2:1-7)
This paper reports on acoustic realization of rhythmic structure of Vietnamese narrative prose speech.
Eight speakers of Saigon dialect read part of a short story.
Acoustic measurements including duration and intensity were taken for every syllable.
Syllables were labelled into four types: s (standalone monosyllable); s0 (first syllable of a three-word phrase/chunk in which it is the modifier of a bisyllabic word, e.g., cái ý kiến, thật âu yếm); s1, and s2 (first and second syllables of a bisyllabic word/chunk, e.g., ý kiến, âu yếm).
One-, two-and three-syllable units/chunks were also labelled utterance final / non-final.
For utterance-medial and utterance-final chunks,
the monosyllable had significantly longer duration and stronger intensity.
Within bisyllabic words, second syllables had longer duration and stronger intensity than first syllables.
Within three-syllable phrases/chunks, the first syllable of a three-word phrase/chunk was
not significantly different from the first syllable of the bisyllabic word.
The second syllables of bisyllabic words/chunks also had longer duration
and stronger intensity than the preceding first syllables.
This result suggests an iambic pattern of acoustic prominence of bisyllabic
and trisyllabic words/phrases in narrative speech.
Keywords: Acoustic correlates, rhythmic structure, narrative speech
ISO 639-3: vie
Agreement in Ho (MKSJ:43.2:8-16)
The aim of this paper is to show the conditions of agreement marking in Ho, an
Austroasiatic language. Pronominal clitics are attached as an agreement marker
on the preverbal word, the verb and may be before or after the finite marker.
The agreement morpheme allows Subject, Object, or both to be dropped. There
is no inflectional agreement marker in Ho. The agglutinating nature of the
morpheme makes North-Munda languages in general, and Ho in particular,
morphologically very rich. Negation too, can host agreement clitic. The
function of these clitic is twofold; one is to carry the load of the NP, and the other
is to allow the NP to be dropped.
Keywords: Agreement, Pro-drop, Animacy
ISO 639-3: hoc, mai
Volume 43.2 Editors: Paul Sidwell and Brian Migliazza
Current Year: Volume 43.1 (2014) ICAAL5
Arem, a Vietic Language (MKSJ:43.1:1-15)
The paper reports on the state of knowledge of Arem, a small endangered
language of the Vietic branch of Austroasiatic. Special attention is paid to the
synchronic and diachronic phonology, which display many remarkable and
highly significant features. The paper is richly illustrated with lexical examples.
Keywords: Vietic languages, lexicon, phonology
ISO 639-3: aem, ptk, vie
Nominalization in Pnar. (MKSJ:43.1:16-23)
Pnar, an Austroasiatic (AA) language located in the state of Meghalaya in
northeast India, is typologically interesting because of its range of
nominalization strategies. These include derivational verbal morphology,
pronominal gendered noun-class clitics that derive nouns when they attach to
verbs, and a relativizer. The relativizer wa has intriguing similarities to the
function of some nominalizers in nearby Tibeto-Burman languages (as
identified by Matisoff (1972) for Lahu, and for other languages in the area by
Noonan (1997); Bickel (1999); Watters (2008) among others). Unlike most TB
languages, however, this relativizer is pre-verbal, more similar to constructions
in other AA languages. Similar in form is the wa ‘with/and’ comitative
coordinator that also occurs in Pnar. In this paper I review the morphemes, their
syntax and interaction.
Keywords: nominalization, grammatical gender, derivation, relativisation
ISO 639-3: pbv
Impact of Tai Lue on Muak Sa-aak phonology (MKSJ:43.1:24-30)
The Austroasiatic language Muak Sa-aak belongs to the Angkuic branch of the
Palaungic subgroup. Speakers live primarily in eastern Shan State of Myanmar.
This analysis is based on the variety of Wan Fai village. Although Burmese and
Chinese are influential, their primary contact language is the Tai Kadai
language Tai Lue. Borrowing from this language is extensive, even to the extent
of replacing their numerals with Tai Lue. Although Muak Sa-aak underwent the
Germanic shift typical of Angkuic languages, replacing proto-voiced initials
with voiceless ones, it still retains some voiced initials. There is some evidence
that language contact may have resulted in a three-tone system, where pitch
would otherwise have been largely predictable. For the majority of rhotic-initial
loan words, borrowing shows a direct correspondence of Muak Sa-aak /r/ with
initial /h/ in Tai Lue. Some evidence from Assamese Tai languages suggests
that rather than being a replacement, this might reflect a time when Tai Lue
possibly still had a rhotic.
Keywords: Palaungic, Angkuic, phonology
ISO 639-3: tlq, khb, aho, aio, mya, cmn, huo, uuu, kjg, lbn
Conceptual metaphors of Vietnamese taste terms. (MKSJ:43.1:31-46)
The objectives of this study were to examine the use, metaphorical meanings,
and metaphorical concepts of four Taste Terms in Vietnamese: bitter, salty, sour and sweet.
Taste-term data were collected from dictionaries, linguistic corpora, and interviews with five informants.
Results based on structure reveal two types of metaphorical use: single taste terms, and taste terms in combination with other words,
including other taste terms, and non-taste terms.
Each type differs in details.
With regard to metaphorical meanings in Vietnamese, taste terms are categorized in one semantic domain: state metaphor.
The state metaphor is divided into three semantic subgroups: feeling metaphors,
habit/manner metaphors and quality metaphors.
The metaphorical concepts of Vietnamese taste terms can be categorized as: human qualities are taste.
Keywords: metaphor, semantics, taste terms
ISO 639-3: vie
Khmuic classification and homeland. (MKSJ:43.1:47-56)
The paper discusses an ongoing comparative investigation of Khmuic.
Original proposals are made concerning the classification of Khmuic
languages, their original homeland, and migrations that established present
distributions, with reference to a working phonological and lexical reconstruction.
Special attention is given to an apparent chain shift in the reflexes of
Austroasiatic *aː, broadly schematized as *aː > *ɛː > *iə > *iː, that supports a strongly nested family tree.
However, counter-examples that fail to show these developments force positing of various parallel correspondences.
We suggest that there were several phases of Khmuic expansion historically, each radiating from a homeland in the
north-west of Laos, and resulting in dialect mixing that has confused the correspondence patterns.
The pKhmuic phonology as reconstructed is quite straightforward; lacking tones, registers or an implosive contrast in the stop series.
Complex initial clusters are regarded as archaic, although relatively few are yet reconstructed.
Vowel correspondences are somewhat complex, consistent with an apparently rich history of
dialect borrowing. On the whole pKhmuic resembles the Khmu Cuang dialect phonologically.
Keywords: Khmuic, classification, reconstruction, homeland
ISO 639-3: kig, khf, tyh, prb, mlf, prt, pry, mra, kjm, pnz, puo
Transitivity and affectedness in Mon (MKSJ:43.1:57-71)
The present study investigates the different uses of causative/transitive
directionals in Mon and the functional differences between the basic and
causative forms. Dealing with a typologically rare phenomenon, this study adds
to our understanding of complex verbal predicates and transitivity not only in
the Southeast Asia context, but also cross-linguistically. The study is based on
original data collected in Thailand and Myanmar from different varieties of
Mon, supplemented by published texts such as journal articles and short stories,
as well as elicited data.
Keywords: Mon, syntax, transitivity
ISO 639-3: mnw, shp, sbe
J. MAYURI, Karumuri V. SUBBARAO, Martin EVERAERT and G. Uma Maheshwar RAO
Some Syntactic Aspects of Lexical Anaphors in Select Munda Languages (MKSJ:43.1:72-83)
This paper investigates several syntactic aspects of anaphors
(reflexives and reciprocals) in the Munda languages Santali, Mundari, and Ho.
We intend to show that verbal reflexivization is an indigenous device,
and that nominal reflexivization is a form calqued from
neighbouring Indo-Aryan languages.
The verbal reflexive device performs other functions, including
detransitivizing marker, passive marker, and self-benefactive marker.
The nominal reflexive is optional when the verbal reflexive is present,
and obligatory when the verbal reflexive is absent.
Long-Distance Binding is not permitted when the anaphor occurs in
a subcategorized position.
Reciprocity is achieved through the infixation of a morpheme -pV-
in the main verb, where the vowel V in -pV- harmonizes with the
nucleus of the main verb's first syllable.
Some verbs have a special form when the verbal anaphor occurs.
Keywords: anaphora, pronouns, language comparison
ISO 639-3: sat, unr, hoc, mni, tel
Another look at serial verb constructions in Khmer (MKSJ:43.84-102)
Serial verb constructions (SVCs) are a widely recognized areal feature of
Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA) and Austroasiatic languages in particular.
Yet discussion of SVCs in Khmer has been sporadic.
The most extensive treatments of SVCs in
Khmer (Wilawan 1993, 1995; Sak-Humphry 2005) deny that the language has SVCs
on theory-internal grounds.
Haiman (2011) asserts that Khmer does have SVCs, but includes completive or
“success verb” constructions which function differently from structures
recognized cross-linguistically as SVCs.
I apply the “characteristic and diagnostic features of SVCs” from
Kroeger (2004) and Durie (1997) to Khmer,
taking monoclausality as the most important characteristic.
I use the binding behavior of the bimorphemic reflexive pronoun kluənæŋ
to show sentences that are single
clauses comprising multiple verb phrases without coordination or subordination
that share core arguments, refer to a single complex event, and must agree in
polarity and tense-aspect-modality (TAM). I conclude that Khmer does
have SVCs as rigorously defined.
Keywords: syntax, serial verb constructions, reflexive pronouns
ISO 639-3: khm
Interrogation in Muöt (MKSJ:43.103-123)
Muöt is one of the six varieties of Nicobarese languages. It is spoken
by ethnic Nicobarese inhabititants of the three Central Nicobar Islands:
Nancowry, Katchal and Kamorta of the Nicobar Archipelago, India.
In Muöt, interrogation is carried out with two kinds of interrogative
sentences: those that use interrogative words as markers, and those
that employ the suprasegmental feature of intonation.
This papers identifies interrogation markers, and
provides a descriptive account of the interrogation process.
We place our findings on a strong theoretical footing by surveying
the interrogation process as exemplified in extant works on the language,
and making necessary departures from these. Our data
are drawn from the Andaman Commissioned Project data base, which was
collected from the Nancowry Island between September and
December of 2004, just prior to the killer tsunami.
Keywords:interrogation, Muöt, Nicobarese
Volume 43.1 Editors: Paul Sidwell and Brian Migliazza
Publication note: As of Vol. 41 (2012) the Mon-Khmer Studies Journal has moved to
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Obituary: Kenneth David Smith (1935-2016).
In Memoriam: a tribute to MKS Journal founding editor David Thomas (1930-2006).
We regret to note the passing of Professor Philip N. Jenner (1921-2013); Editor of the Mon-Khmer Studies Journal 1977-1984.
ILCRD Mahidol University at Salaya
Salaya, Nakhorn Pathom 73170 Thailand
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