Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Discussions on the Cantonese language.
Dylan Sung

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby Dylan Sung » Wed Jan 05, 2005 5:15 pm

Chinese mama, baba, are words which can be found in languages across the world, but one would not say they are of a Chinese origin solely. The term is faux-amis false friends. They are words which look similar but may have independently different origins.

Dyl,

Eng Wai

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby Eng Wai » Thu Jan 06, 2005 11:10 am

Grasy wrote
"What does Vietnamese belong to?
Mon-Khmer, Miao-Yao, Tibeto-Burman, Tai-Kadai, Sinitic, Austronesian, Language Isolate?
So long we have removed the last 3. So we can only debate these:
Mon-Khmer, Miao-Yao, Tibeto-Burman, Tai-Kadai"

Mon-Khmer is a language group of Austro-Asiatic language family, miao-yao alone is a language family, daic / Tai-Kadai is a language family, sinitic/chinese and tibeto-burman are language groups which belong to Sino-tibetan language family. Asutronesian is a language family which consists of sub-groups like Malayo-polynesian, formosan (some taiwanese aboriginal languages) etc. Perhaps we don't need to jump to language groups if we can't even agree on the language family of Vietnamese. Here, my "language family" consists of language groups. And one language family cannot be related to other language family, while language groups are related.

Let me rephrase Grasy's words. So we can only debate this, austro-asiatic, miao-yao and sino-tibetan. Miao yao doesn't appeal to many linguist or people, I guess it can be eliminated, and we can only debate on Sino-tibetan and austro-asiatic. I don't think Vietnamese could be a language isolate because the sinitic vocabularies are generally agreed to originate from sinitic languages and the non-sinitic languages are frequently linked to mon-khemr.

To know the history of Vietnamese language, we should know the hisotry of Vietnamese people. Who contributed the most to the present Vietnamese? Is it the north Vietnamese who migrated from China in the past, or the hill people who speak mon-khmer languages? Now in Vietnam, who speak "Vietnamese"? Where do the Vietnamese come from?

I will try my best to explain the history of Malay language as a reference. Malay came from present Indonesia. THe languages employed, with written record, by ancient people in Malay penisular were sanskrit. The Malay language we are talking now is the language brought over from Indonesia. Maybe there were people speaking malayo-polynesian related languages then in Malay penisular, but through the migration history and the language grammar of Malay people we know that Malay is certainly Austroneisan, although lots of basic essential vocabularies in ancient written and modern Malay are of Arab, Parsi, Sanskrit, Chinese and English origin.

So I would like to ask a few questions regarding Vietnamese, and hope you guys can answer me.

i) The grammar of Vietnames is certainly too different from Chinese (grammar of Cantonese and Mandarin are different but not too different), however, are they similar to mon-Khmer or any other Austro-Aisatic languages, or any other families languages, eg miao-yao?

ii) Is the modern vietnamese now spoken in ancient vietnamese as well?

iii) Are the modern Vietnamese (etnhic, not nationality) direct descendant of ancient Veitnamese? Who are the ancient veitnamese?

iv) I read that there are 2 major dialects of Vietnamese, north and south. THe south has more mon-khmer characteristcs. Is it just because they are closer mon-khmer speaking regions, or the south Vietnamese are the "purer" form of Vietnamese, thus indicating Vietnamese being a mon-khmer language?

v) Is dong-son civilisation related to modern vietnamese? Or is it just an ancient civilisation that happend within modern vietnam border and has nothing to do with present vietnamese? Ancient civilisation in Malay penisular had nothing to do with modern Malay in Malaysia.

Etc etc

Thank you

Eng Wai

[%sig%]

AlexNg

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby AlexNg » Fri Jan 07, 2005 1:03 am

Eng wai,

If you remembered my earlier post, north vietnam is the "purer" form as it existed as annam province of china a few thousand years ago. South vietnam is a recent conquest when the khmer empire fell.

You could be on the right track, the modern vietnamese and ancient vietnamese could be spoken differently. Just like modern mandarin and ancient or middle chinese are spoken differently.

Modern mandarin was influenced by northern tribal languages such as manchurian, mongol etc.

Lang

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby Lang » Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:56 pm

I believe that Vietnamese language is not related to Chinese. First, the Vietnamese have their own unique culture of their own before the Chinese invasion of their country. Second, Vietnam borrows lots of words from Cantonese. Borrowing words from another language doesn't make it similar. Ex: English borrowed lots of words from French, though its origin is Germanic. Third, Vietnamese are a very diverse people. They are probably mixed with many people whose languages get integrated into what we know as Vienamese language.

I'm a Vietnamese who dearly embraces Chinese culture. Though I'd love to say that Vietnamese are ethnically/linguistically similar to the people of Canton, the truth isn't necessarily so. Vietnamese is a Mon-Khmer language.

Lang.

qrasy

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby qrasy » Sat Jan 08, 2005 6:00 pm

"Cloud" Japanese Kumo--Vietnamese M{a^}y--Muong M{o*}l
"Tree" Japanese Ki--Vietnamese C{a^}y-- Muong K{o*}l
"Rain" Japanese Ame--Vietnamese M{u*}a--Muong M{u*}a
"Hand" Japanese Te-- Vietnamese Tay--Muong Thay

What's going on here?

Dylan Sung:

>>>If you define tonal languages with those which relies on pitch differences to indicate meaning, then both modern Korean and Japanese displays these features. For example, the word 'nose' and 'flower' in Japanese are written using the syllables hana. What distinguishes the two is the pitch difference between them. Another pair is chopsticks and bridge, both written hashi, but distinguished by tone the first High-Low the latter Low-High pitch changes.
<<<Yes, but I think tonal language distinguishes not only pitch differences between syllables, but also the pitch difference in one syllable("contours").
Japanese would not distingush contour 55 and 53, I think.
So, Ha55-Na31 would mean the same as Ha53-Na21

>>>Korean uses the writing system known as Hangeul, which was created in 1444 AD by King Sejong. It is well known that this stage of the Korean language (often refered to as Middle Korean) is different to modern Korean. The hangeul writing of Sejong's day showed it had clearly defined symbols for tones (bang jeom), and was able to distinguish three different tones. These tone marks are incorporated in modern Unicode, but modern Korean doesn't employ the use of tones in it's everyday writing. Moreover there are instances of tonal dialects (like speakers in Gyeongsangdo) in Korean too, though the Seoul standard used for the national language is not tonal.
<<<"tonal dialects"? If the language Gyeongsandgo people used are really tonal, why is it called "dialect"? Korean and Gyeongsandgo could not be the same language if one is tonal but one is atonal, I think.

Eng Wai:
>>>Miao yao doesn't appeal to many linguist or people, I guess it can be eliminated, and we can only debate on Sino-tibetan and austro-asiatic
<<<But unappealing does not mean unpromising.

>>>I will try my best to explain the history of Malay language as a reference. Malay came from present Indonesia. THe languages employed, with written record, by ancient people in Malay penisular were sanskrit. The Malay language we are talking now is the language brought over from Indonesia. Maybe there were people speaking malayo-polynesian related languages then in Malay penisular, but through the migration history and the language grammar of Malay people we know that Malay is certainly Austroneisan, although lots of basic essential vocabularies in ancient written and modern Malay are of Arab, Parsi, Sanskrit, Chinese and English origin.
<<< I don't know where Malay come from, but it is said that Proto-Malayic comes from the Indochina peninsula.


Lang:
>>>I believe that Vietnamese language is not related to Chinese. First, the Vietnamese have their own unique culture of their own before the Chinese invasion of their country. Second, Vietnam borrows lots of words from Cantonese.
<<<Yes, but I think one can also borrow from close language. Vietnamese are not Sinitic, perhaps other group in Sino-Tibetan.

Dylan Sung

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby Dylan Sung » Sat Jan 08, 2005 9:36 pm

grasy:
<<<"tonal dialects"? If the language Gyeongsandgo people used are really tonal, why is it called "dialect"? Korean and Gyeongsandgo could not be the same language if one is tonal but one is atonal, I think.

Shanghai dialect is one of the Wu dialects of Chinese. It is said that it's tones behave more or less by pitch only, thus not really tonal in that sense.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_dialect

Can Shanghai be called a dialect of Wu? The similarity with standard Korean and Gyeongsandgo is on the same par, IMO.

<<<Vietnamese are not Sinitic, perhaps other group in Sino-Tibetan.

Ethnicity does not decide what language a person speaks. Conversely, a language cannot be defined by the ethnicity of the speaker alone. Linguist take the careful step of eliminating ethnicity from their consideration. Only the words in the vocabulary, it's pronunciation, and it's syntax and grammar are necessary to analyse the language.

That's why I find this thread which diverges into considering skin colour and ethnicity irrelevant to the analysis of a language based on the merits of the language itself.

Bye folks, I'm away on my hols...

Dyl.

qrasy

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby qrasy » Sun Jan 09, 2005 4:21 am

OK, there is something I forgot to write.

AlexNg:

>>>Different word order alone does not mean it belongs to different family.
In fact, cantonese has some word order different from mandarin, eg.
male chicken is "kai kung" and not "kung kai". The same order as vietnamese, so I believe it is an influence from the bai yue people.
<<<Days ago we discussed this, French are reverse to English but they are both Indo-European, although with different group. Do you know the reverse order can often mean "the same" or "different but pointing to the same thing"? Japanese: Koneko--> Ko=Child (one more Vietnamese word?), Neko=cat-->Koneko=Kitten.
But this does not mean Japanese is Modified-Modifier language, since Koneko can also be translated "Small Cat"/"Young Cat"/"Childly cat" not "Cat's Child". They could make different sense, but pointing to the same thing.
"Kai Kung" could be thought to be "noun adjective", but it can also be translated "noun noun"

Eng Wai:

>>>Otherwise Vietnamese must be classified as creole.
<<<well, this is not creole, "a language which is based on another language, but with their own pronunciation and limited vocabulary".

>>>So we can only debate this, austro-asiatic, miao-yao and sino-tibetan.
<<< How about Tai-Kadai, can we debate this?

>>>iii) Are the modern Vietnamese (etnhic, not nationality) direct descendant of ancient Veitnamese? Who are the ancient veitnamese?
<<< Modern Vietnamese (etnhic, not nationality) are seemingly direct descendant of "Ancient Vietnamese". (What I mean here is the Bai-Yue, not the past dwellers of Vietnam.)

>>>Here, my "language family" consists of language groups. And one language family cannot be related to other language family, while language groups are related.
<<<but in www.paul-raedle.de/vtrain/db-xx-info.htm I read: "Today we know much more about the etymology of languages. Languages with a common origin are grouped into families. In turn, families can be grouped in stocks, and stocks in phyla [pl. of "phylum"]. Finally, phyla can be grouped in macrophyla."

>>>the sinitic vocabularies are generally agreed to originate from sinitic languages and the non-sinitic languages are frequently linked to mon-khemr.
<<< OK, actually there are many non-sinitic but tibeto-burman words found in the Vietnamese. It also appears at different Mon-Khmer languages. (note that even though these words seems not linked to sinitic, most of tibetan words in Mon-Khmer is also linked to Sinitic). It is suspicious since usually not more than 8 languages of Mon-Khmer has it. I think it could be a loan which was not distributed thoroughly. Seeing the forms you can say that this is very old.

>>>however, are they similar to mon-Khmer or any other Austro-Aisatic languages, or any other families languages, eg miao-yao?
<<<I am confused with Miao-Yao languages. Some are SOV, some are SVO. Some are Md-Mr, some are the reverse. It seems that it is between Tibeto-Burman, Tai-Kadai and Sinitic. Here we should consider special grammars ("grammatical peculiarities"). "Poetic expressions" like "the eye of sky" (sun), adam's apple sometimes can spread, so it is often unreliable.

Dylan Sung:

>>>Even in English, you can change pitch to infer different meaning.
<<<You know that pitch difference means the "Punctuation" of the sentence in an atonal language.

>>>For example, the word 'nose' and 'flower' in Japanese are written using the syllables hana. What distinguishes the two is the pitch difference between them. Another pair is chopsticks and bridge, both written hashi, but distinguished by tone the first High-Low the latter Low-High pitch changes.
<<< how about "kami" (above, god, hair, paper)? "Me" (Eye, Woman, seaweed, sprout)? Certainly there will be some "perfect" homonyms in its vocabulary. This is just "pitch", not contour tone.

>>>The hangeul writing of Sejong's day showed it had clearly defined symbols for tones (bang jeom), and was able to distinguish three different tones. These tone marks are incorporated in modern Unicode,
<<< Where can I find this "bang jeom" in Unicode? Also, I read in http://www.paul-raedle.de/vtrain/db-ko-info.htm:
"Word and sentence build-up is much like in Japanese, but, like French, Korean no longer uses accent to distinguish words." What is this accent? Is it tones or just registers? Notice that Korean is "Like French", which abandoned their "accent". If this "accent" is "tone" then French was tonal.

>>>Chinese mama, baba, are words which can be found in languages across the world, but one would not say they are of a Chinese origin solely. The term is faux-amis false friends. They are words which look similar but may have independently different origins.
<<<but there are too many words which is "claimed to be Mon-Khmer in origin but they are very similar to Sino-Tibetan". There are more than 40 basic words.

Lang:

>>>Though I'd love to say that Vietnamese are ethnically/linguistically similar to the people of Canton, the truth isn't necessarily so.
<<< Somewhere in this discussion there are words that explain that linguistic relationship could be different from ethnical relationship. I think Vietnamese is not very similar to Cantonese in language, but some persons here said that they are ethnically very similar.

>>>Vietnamese is a Mon-Khmer language.
<<< We are not sure about this so we are discussing it here.

AlexNg

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby AlexNg » Sun Jan 09, 2005 2:52 pm

If vietnamese is the original language of the ancient vietnamese people then ethnic relationship is involved.

Languages involved from a common ancestors and through migration in different parts of the world, slight modification of the original language occurs resulting in language family.

If vietnamese is really belongs to mon-khmer, then why is it that the vietnamese and khmer people are so different in looks ? They are genetically not from the same ancestors.

qrasy

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby qrasy » Sun Jan 09, 2005 6:06 pm

Eng Wai:

>>>Perhaps we don't need to jump to language groups if we can't even agree on the language family of Vietnamese. Here, my "language family" consists of language groups.
<<< Well, not everyone agrees the grouping of the groups. There are still questions like "Is Tai-Kadai or/and Miao-Yao a family or just groups?".
But when we jump to groups, it will be easier.


Dylan Sung:

>>>Shanghai dialect is one of the Wu dialects of Chinese. It is said that it's tones behave more or less by pitch only, thus not really tonal in that sense.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_dialect
Can Shanghai be called a dialect of Wu? The similarity with standard Korean and Gyeongsandgo is on the same par, IMO.
<<< Who says that Shanghai are not tonal? Even though the contour may not be constant, it does have PITCH DIFFERENCE IN ONE SYLLABLE. Shanghai tones depend in pitch change, distinguishing "Raising" and "Lowering" tones. Japanese do not have it, Japanese will consider Na54 the same as Na45 (both are the same: High pitch"), while Shanghai not. I think even most Chinese will not distinguish contour 25 with 15.

>>>Ethnicity does not decide what language a person speaks. Conversely, a language cannot be defined by the ethnicity of the speaker alone. Linguist take the careful step of eliminating ethnicity from their consideration. Only the words in the vocabulary, it's pronunciation, and it's syntax and grammar are necessary to analyse the language.
<<< If I considered ethnicity, I would put Burmese outside Sino-Tibetan, but I didn't so. I only think that Vietnamese is not very similar to Mon-Khmer.

AlexNg:
>>>If vietnamese is really belongs to mon-khmer, then why is it that the vietnamese and khmer people are so different in looks ? They are genetically not from the same ancestors.
<<< This could match nil relationship, but it can also match"Substituting" or "Mixing" hypothesis.

qrasy

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby qrasy » Sun Jan 09, 2005 6:12 pm

I have not read the article "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_dialect" but I have guessed that Shanghainese distinguishes rising and falling tones. They are /34/ and /53/, both would be considered high in Japanese. Pitch: >3=High; <3=Low

AlexNg

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby AlexNg » Sun Jan 16, 2005 1:44 am

The characteristics of the sino-tibetan group not sinic branch are as follows:

1. Tonal

That means the same sound can have different meanings by speaking in different frequency.

This does not include those languages (english, french) where you can OPTIONALLY raise the tone as a question. Because that applies to the whole sentence and not the word itself.

2. Monosyllabic

That means each sound by itself has its own meaning usually represented by an ideogram, and that the combination of 2 different ideogram modifies the meaning slightly.

This does not include those languages who has a few so-called monosyllabic words such as the english "fit" because most english words are still polysyllabic.

3. No verb changes

Verbs are not modified according to the time (present, past, future tense) or the person doing the action,
The sense of time is always expressed in terms of "in the future, before, after, in the past".

4. No noun changes

The plural form of noun is the same as the singular form. There is also no noun gender too as in latin languages.

The noun does not change by adding an "s" to the end or repeating the noun such as "bird bird".

5. All nouns have a grouping.

For example, a "piece" of paper, a "bunch" of people.

This would also exclude those languages in which the grouping is missing for a lot of nouns such as english (a computer etc)


Do Thai and vietnamese fall under this family language then ?

Can anybody who is an expert on these 2 languages contribute ?

I have always wondered why thai is in a different language family, I know it is tonal but is it monosyllabic ?

QRASY

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby QRASY » Sun Jan 16, 2005 11:37 am

The topic has grown very large. It has more than 100 replies. This is the 101st reply.

There are some links that say that Thai is Sino-Tibetan and not separate family.

www.infoplease.com/ce6/society/A0848333.html
www.lib.umt.edu/guide/lang/sinizhuh.htm
www.krysstal.com/langfams_sinotibe.html
www.gurunet.com/ t1-method-4-dsid-2040-dekey-SinoTibe-prodid-basic-curtab-2040_1
www.flw.com/languages/thai.htm
lakrabo.tripod.com/thai.htm
reference.allrefer.com/encyclopedia/T/Thailang.html

AlexNg

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby AlexNg » Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:18 am

Grasy,

If you look at

http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/society/A0861106.html

it says that vietnamese belong to the tai subfamily of sino-tibetan language family.

------------------------------------------------------------

Some considered tai as separate language family just like vietnamese:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai-Kadai_languages

-------------------------------------------------------------

The only thing to resolve all these ambiguities is to list down the characteristics of the language family like what I did.

Do thai and vietnamese sound alike or do cantonese and vietnamese sound more like each other ?

qrasy

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby qrasy » Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:27 am

About these Characteristics
>>1. Tonal
It was greatly possible that proto-Sino-Tibetan was also atonal, or even as late as proto-Chinese. Notice that outside Asia there are also tonal language, and even in Austronesian there tonal variants of Cham.
>>2. Monosyllabic
The words are MOSTLY monosyllabic not all. Perhaps the proto-Sino-Tibetan was perfectly monoyllabic, but this may not hold any longer.
example: Dimasa: Sini "Seven"
Also, tonal languages tends to be monosyllabic, they are many reductions in Phan Rang Cham compared to atonal Chams
>>3. No verb changes, 4. No noun changes
But there could be some verb<->noun change.
example: Mandarin: Broom "Sao4" <-> Sweep "Sao3"
>>5. All nouns have a grouping.
Since this is also shared by Indonesian, this does not contribute anything to our discussion since this is shared by all Southeast Asians.

>>Do Thai and vietnamese fall under this family language then ?
>>Can anybody who is an expert on these 2 languages contribute ?
>>I have always wondered why thai is in a different language family, I know it is tonal but is it monosyllabic ?
I know that Thai and Miao-Yao perfectly matches the description, and Phan Rang Cham fails on the 4th description. Unfortunately I am not an expert. Those "experts" will add something more at the descriptions like "adjective changes" or "noun phrase order" but if you add these descriptions you will make too small a group, and this would be "Branch" instead of "Family".

>>Do thai and vietnamese sound alike or do cantonese and vietnamese sound more like each other ?
Thai, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Teochew hears the "same" to one who don't understand.
If you hear Japanese, Indian, Arabian, Mongolian, you could also say that they are the "same".
This is due to pitch & pace.
In FAST speech, the atonal languages I listed lowers the average pitch in every fragment, so every fragment hears "555444333222111". Only between each fragments and at the end of a sentence there are a considerable pitch change. (Maybe in slow speech there also exists)
The tonal languages I listed shares 1 same feature, the pitch rises and falls very often, since they have >=5 tones.

MrFez

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan ?

Postby MrFez » Wed Jan 26, 2005 3:58 am

First of all it Cantonese, Hokkien, and Mandarin are all languages not dialects. They are all mutually unintelligible. They all came from one language a long time ago, but now they split off and are mutually unintelligible. American and British English are dialects, but Cantonese and Mandarin are as different as Spanish and French.

Also, the similarities between Vietnamese and Cantonese are due to the fact that when Vietnam was ruled by China, the mainstream Chinese language was much closer to Cantonese than Mandarin. Therefore all borrowed words maintained their Middle Chinese characteristics.

As for the language family issue, whether it is Sino-Tibetan or not is still up for debate but has anyone considered the possibility that Khmers borrowed some basic words from the Vietnamese instead of vice versa? Also noun-adjective order is not the defining thing in ordering languages. Just look at English and Spanish; they're both Indo-European. There is also a more "Chinese" way to count in Vietnamese (which has fell into disuse).


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