Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2213-8706
  • E-ISSN: 2213-8714
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Reconstruction studies of Old Chinese (OC hereafter) and Proto Sino-Tibetan (PST hereafter) have yielded numerous significant discoveries related to the phonological histories of these two ancient languages. Despite recent advancements into OC and PST phonological histories, a few mysteries remain yet unsolved. One such mystery, the ‘stop coda’ problem, is as hotly debated now as it was when it was first raised seventy years ago. This long-running debate focuses on the existence and identity of the ‘stop codas’ in OC and in its parent language, PST. One reason why this debate has failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion is that the reconstruction methodology is limited, which assumes the Neogrammarian law of sound change. This law holds that sound change occurs without exception in every form that meets the structural description. Although this law applies to many sound changes in myriad world languages, it is not the only possible pathway of sound change. In this paper, I will argue that the key to the ‘stop-coda’ problem of OC belongs to another sound change type — lexical diffusion.The organization of the paper is as follows. In Part One, I will introduce the background of the debate over the ‘stop codas’ in OC. Part Two reviews previous opposing analyses of the ‘stop coda’ debate. Part Three details my proposal for a lexical diffusion analysis of the ‘stop coda’ problem based on internal evidence in Chinese. Part Four investigates the problem using the Comparative Method based on external evidence from Tibetan and loan words from Chinese to Sino-Japanese. In Part Five, I will present my solution to the ‘stop coda’ problem, which is based on the analysis in the two preceding sections. Finally, in Part Six, I will discuss the general methodology of phonological reconstruction in light of the sound change mechanism.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Old Chinese reconstruction. Lexical diffusion; Stop coda
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