Universiteit Leiden

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Ancient lexical borrowings between Sinitic and their northern neighbours

Wednesday 8 May 2024
Chinese Linguistics in Leiden (ChiLL)
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


Recent research suggests that the linguistic homeland for Sino-Tibetan was located in the Yellow River Valley. After the initial breakup of the language family, the Sinitic speech community likely stayed in situ while the Tibeto-Burman speakers moved northwest. This posits the Sinitic speakers among a number of linguistic neighbours, namely Japonic, Koreanic, Tungusic, Mongolic, and Turkic speech communities, i.e., the Transeurasian languages. Although these languages are geographically adjacent and chronologically contemporary, the lexical exchange between Sinitic and its Transeurasian neighbours at a prehistorical level is rarely studied. Therefore, this research aims to investigate the ancient lexical borrowings between Sinitic and its northern neighbours, as a lens to look into the cultural dynamic in Northern China and Northeast Asia in a prehistorical context. In this talk, I will present the preliminary results of this project, including the lexical items being borrowed, their borrowing dates and directions, cultural contexts, as well as the implications of these findings.

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