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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


On the Chronological Strata in Min

Vol. 19 No. 1   6/1989    


On the Chronological Strata in Min


Kuang-Yu Chang









Key words



    As is well known, the Min dialects present one of the most complicated problems with respect to the chronological strata in Chinese dialectology. It is the author’s view that a layer is a type of change. Based on the Amoy dialect, together with historical documents as well as dialect geography, the author discovered that there were four discernible source dialects which formed what was later called Min dialects, they are: (1) the ancient Central Plain or Zhongyuan (中原)(2)the ancient Wu-Chu-Jiang-Huai or Jiangdong (江東), (3) the Tang-Song literary tradition and(4) The Hakka-Gan dialects. In addition, the author discusses the following three issues. 

    (1) The evolutionary types found in different dialects are fairly stable. It is this stability that makes the analysis of the so-called chronological strata possible.From the archaic to the middle periods there has been greater dialectal divergence than chronological differences. 

    (2) The existence of the literary/colloquial distinction entails the possibility of a composite phonological system – when a layer entered into an old one, it did not need to be readjusted. If there were readjustment, there would be no strata problem. 

    (3) The reconstruction of the so-called proto-Min could be done for two different purposes. In order to show source dialects, one should give each layer a proper proto-form; while to reconstruct character readings, each character can only be given a single proto-form, no matter how many readings a character might have in different layers. 



Author: Kuang-Yu Chang
Genre: Article
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