Volume 21, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1606-822X
  • E-ISSN: 2309-5067



Tangut, a mediaeval Qiangic language (Sino-Tibetan family) distinguishes three grades (). The traditional Sofronov-Gong reconstruction of this distinction postulates different degrees of medial yod: Grade I {-Ø-}, Grade II {--}, Grade III {--}. The yods, however, are not supported by the transcriptional evidence. Based on cognates between Tangut and Rgyalrongic languages, this study proposes the : Tangut syllables have contrastive uvularization. Grade I/II syllables are uvularized, while Grade III syllables are plain. For phonological velars, uvularized syllables trigger a uvular allophone, while plain syllables trigger a velar allophone. Tangut uvularization is an instance of a common typological feature in Qiangic languages, that of G S V A (GSVA), variously termed uvularization, velarization, tenseness, or R T R (RTR). Recognizing Tangut grades as a case of Qiangic GSVA has far-ranging potential consequences for Sino-Tibetan comparative linguistics.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Guttural Secondary Vowel Articulation; Qiangic languages; Tangut; uvularization
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