Vietnamese is sino-tibetan Part 2

Discussions on the Cantonese language.

Vietnamese is sino-tibetan Part 2

Post by AlexNg »

Since the original thread takes too long to download


We continue in this thread.


Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan Part 2

Post by qrasy101 »

I have found that there are tone marks in Hangul.
〮U+302E "Hangul Single Dot Tone Mark"
〯U+302F "Hangul Double Dot Tone Mark"

There is a possibility that one fixes high and low to countours and become "tones", may be this was how the African languages got their tones (only 2 usually).

In it's written:

"Shanghainese is rich in consonants and pure vowels [i y ɿ ɥ e E ə ɵ a ɒ ɔ ɤ o u]. Like other northern Wu dialects, the Shanghai dialect has voiced initials [b d g z v dʑ ʑ]. Neither Mandarin nor Cantonese have voiced initials."
>Voiced initials existed in Middle Chinese, so the difference with Mandarin makes nothing. Are there any voiced initials in Cantonese?

"Shanghainese is a register language, with only two live tonal constrasts (high and low). Compare this with 4 in Mandarin, and 6 in Cantonese. The Shanghainese tonal system is instead similar to African languages; different from other Chinese languages, Thai and Vietnamese. For more information on the tonal system, visit.."
<what I call tone is not "high", "low", but "rising", "falling"

"If the Ru tone and tones automatically related to the voiced initials (b d g z v dʑ ʑ) are not considered (as they are fixed into the syllabic structure), then the Shanghai dialect has only 2 live tonal contrasts (/53/ and /34/). This makes it especially unique amongst Chinese dialects."
<We know that Yang tones are automatically related to voiced initials, but we still call Middle Chinese as an 8-tone language (and not a 4-tone language), since Yang and Yin has different tonal value. SO there should be 3 tones in Shanghainese instead. May be RU tones may be abandoned since they are the same as qu, but YangShu is not the same as any Yin tone.

About this page,
I think even though it is High-Low-Low or anything they are still distinguishing "rising" and "falling"

Dylan Sung

Re: Vietnamese is sino-tibetan Part 2

Post by Dylan Sung »

For two tone marks, there are three possible tone notations, two tone marks making two tones, and one without a tone marking giving a third tone.

>> <Voiced initials existed in Middle Chinese, so the
>> difference with Mandarin makes nothing. Are there
>> any voiced initials in Cantonese?

I'm not sure what the first statement means here. Voiced initials exist in Shanghaihua, and Middle Chinese, but in Mandarin, there are no voiced initials. The difference is quite an important phonological change between MC and Mandarin. Most historical Chinese phonology books deal with the difference between Mandarin and MC, so I won't go into it here. WANG Li wrote plenty of books on the subject, for instance.

Cantonese voicing means your vocal cords move during the pronunciation of a sound. All vowels are voiced, however, sounds such as laterals, and nasals involve some measure of voicing. The concern about voiced initials general revolves around the set which is found in Shanghaihua and MC. In Cantonese and Mandarin these survive as voiceless unaspirated set [p t k] and voiceless aspirated set [p<sup>h</sup> t<sup>h</sup> k<sup>h</sup>].



Post by Viet_in_Mad_Wis »

Just wanted to say that trying to prove that Vietnamese is a Sino-Tibetan language by examining the origins of the Vietnamese could prove fruitless since it is NOT true that: "genes = language"

1. --brand new anthropology article; Feb 1, 2005.

"Gene flow across linguistic boundaries in Native North American populations"
Keith Hunley * and Jeffrey C. Long

"Cultural and linguistic groups are often expected to represent genetic populations. In this article, we tested the hypothesis that the hierarchical classification of languages proposed by J. Greenberg [(1987) Language in the Americas (Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, CA)] also represents the genetic structure of Native North American populations. The genetic data are mtDNA sequences for 17 populations gleaned from literature sources and public databases. The hypothesis was rejected. Further analysis showed that departure of the genetic structure from the linguistic classification was pervasive and not due to an outlier population or a problematic language group. Therefore, Greenberg's language groups are at best an imperfect approximation to the genetic structure of these populations. Moreover, we show that the genetic structure among these Native North American populations departs significantly from the best-fitting hierarchical models. Analysis of median joining networks for mtDNA haplotypes provides strong evidence for gene flow across linguistic boundaries. In principle, the language of a population can be replaced more rapidly than its genes because language can be transmitted both vertically from parents to children and horizontally between unrelated people. However, languages are part of a cultural complex, and there may be strong pressure to maintain a language in place whereas genes are free to flow. "

2. --- many languages at first, then few---all from one set of genes, Native Ams, i.e. Few Genes vs Many Languages,

"Linguistic diversity of the Americas can be reconciled with a recent colonization"

Daniel Nettle, Merton College, Oxford

"The Americas harbor a very great diversity of indigenous language stocks, many more than are found in any other continent. J. Nichols [(1990) Language 66, 475-521] has argued that this diversity indicates a great time depth of in situ evolution. She thus infers that the colonization of the Americas must have begun around 35,000 years ago. This estimate is much earlier than the date for which there is strong archaeological support, which does not much exceed 12,000 years. Nichols' assumption is that the diversity of linguistic stocks increases linearly with time. This paper compares the major continents of the world to show that this assumption is not correct. In fact, stock diversity is highest in the Americas, which are by consensus the youngest continents, intermediate in Australia and New Guinea, and lowest in Africa and Eurasia where the time depth is greatest. If anything, then, after an initial radiation, stock diversity decreases with time. A simple model is outlined that predicts these dynamics. It assumes that early in the peopling of continents, there are many unfilled niches for communities to live in, and so fissioning into new lineages is frequent. As the habitat is filled up, the rate of fissioning declines and lineage extinction becomes the dominant evolutionary force."

3. ... s=10739760 ---on genetic disparity of Khoisan speaking Kung & Khwe

"mtDNA variation in the South African Kung and Khwe-and their genetic relationships to other African populations."

Chen YS, Olckers A, Schurr TG, Kogelnik AM, Huoponen K, Wallace DC.


"The mtDNA variation of 74 Khoisan-speaking individuals (Kung and Khwe) from Schmidtsdrift, in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, was examined by high-resolution RFLP analysis and control region (CR) sequencing... the Kung exhibited a set of related haplotypes that were positioned closest to the root of the human mtDNA phylogeny, suggesting that they, too, represent one of the most ancient African populations. Comparison of Kung and Khwe CR sequences with those from other African populations confirmed the genetic association of the Kung with other Khoisan-speaking peoples, whereas the Khwe were more closely linked to non-Khoisan-speaking (Bantu) populations. "

----So, Kung and Khwe both speak Khoisan, but Khwe are quite genetically dissimilar to Kung. Kung are light skinned Africans but Khwe are dark skinned Africans.

Genetically, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Fujianese, and even those from Zhejiang, etc. are very close for they are all descendants of the Yueh. This is especially true of the Vietnamese and Cantonese, because the more nothern Fujianese and particualarly the Zhejiangnese have more Northern Han genes due simply to proximity, southward immigration, and so on. However, according to the 3 cited papers above, same genes does necessarily not translate to same language. This is NOT to say that Vietnamese is not Sino-Tibetan, just that genes can only indicate linguistic origin, but can not provide definitive proof either way.


Post by AlexNg »

If your descendents all come from the same root, it is not illogical to think that their language is not the same.

Take for example, sino and tibetan-burmese.

Both groups originally came from the same group (this has been proven via DNA testing), one group migrated east to form the han people, another group migrated south to form the tibetan-burmese group.

The basic characteristics of both languages remain the same.

Similarly, I would think that the "bai yue" people in kwangtung province and that in vietnam originally are from the same ancestors.

Han and bai yue intermarriages would have resulted in the present cantonese in kwangtung province. Similarly, the one thousand years of control under china would also have resulted in intermarriage between the bai yue in vietnam and the han people.

Until the end of the vietnam war in 1970s which saw a large outflow of ethnic han from vietnam, there were still a large chinese population there.

Dylan Sung

Post by Dylan Sung »

My mother's great uncle went to Vietnam before the turn of the twentieth century, during the Qing dynasty. She said that they sent money back to her grandmother periodically. But after the Sino-Japanese war, little was heard from them. We understand that quite a number of Chinese travelled to Annam/On-Nam as it used to be called to set up a new life.

If Chinese and Vietnamese intermarried during the French Colonial days, or earlier, and became naturalised as Vietnamese it may be lost in the midst of history, and so by DNA analysis, the current Vietnamese population may have part of their ancestry from ancestors who lately arrived from China.

That plenty of ethnic Chinese left after the Vietnam War of the 1960's and 1970's does not mean that this is evidence of Vietnamese language being related to Chinese. This is a straw man argument, Alex Ng.

This is why linguists though noting the possible ethnic mix of a people, they generally do not allow it to affect their classification of languages, since they base it upon the spoken language data itself.

Allow this thought experiment for a moment. Imagine an land of speakers of language X of ethnicity A. They are brought into contact with the peoples with ethnicity B who speak a language Y, but there are only a few arrivals. If they intermarry and the late comers adopt the language X after some generations, these late comers assimilate into the body of ethnicity A and language X speakers. Imagine over time that there are more and more people of language Y intermarrying and taking language X as their home language, such that over time, the population of ethnicity A dwindles, but their language is used by all people in their land. Soon those with pure ethnicity A are all gone, being a population of mix AB. Over time, B ethnicity increase their arrivals in the land originally of ethnicity A and the balance of their DNA derives mainly from ethnicity B, but speaking language X.

Now let English = X and African dialects = Y, and you get an example of how this has real life possibilities, though for African americans, they were forced to adopt a language. Ethnicity has little to do with language, and the categorisation of language should be based upon the vocabulary, grammar and syntax of the language and nothing else.



Is that related?

Post by qrasy »

How was this "Chinese outflow" related to this topic?

Ethnic Chinese are called "Hoa" in Vietnam.
In Ming there were 500000 Chinese trevelled there. I once wondered why there are only about 1 million Hoa in Vietnam Was this due to the large outward flow?

"Africans were forced to speak English and thus lost their original language" was reasonable, but if you say "Vietnamese originally spoke Sino-Tibetan but were forced to speak Mon-Khmer" it's not very logical.

There were no reason to do that. (Were there Khmer empire ruling over North Vietnam for quite long a time?)


Post by Guest »

My sentiments exactly, which is why I have disagreed with Alex Ng's reasoning from the outset.

Language and culture may be linked, but ethnicity is not indicator of a language's origins. This is why languages must be assessed only on the merits of its linguistic attributes, the grammar, the syntax, the vocabulary.

My suggestion is to analyse everyday spoken Vietnamese. You'll find Vietic words are used in the most everyday speech. If you're at loss for something to analyse, try one of those phrasebooks for holiday makers, Alex. SV vocab doens't appear so often in everyday speech if you look carefully.



Post by AlexNg »

I found this url which compares the similarity between cantonese and vietnamese.

makes for some interesting reading. ... nguage.htm


Post by qrasy »

New Year draws close...

Let's discuss things about the page you gave.

"This tells so little of the story that it's positively misleading. The Vietnamese language may have started that way, but its current form is the product of 1,000 years of Chinese rule..."If "proto-Viet" were really Mon-Khmer, then would still be Mon-Khmer unless all its aspects are replaced with Chinese.

"One book says that Vietnamese was originally non-tonal, but now it has six tones."
So long we have discussed the possibility of "tonogenesis".

"It also turns out that a shocking 60 percent of the vocabulary comes from Chinese as well. The situation is similar to English, which the books say is a Germanic language. With its extensive French influence, that too is hard to believe."The first inkling came when I started to recognize words in Vietnamese. I've never studied Vietnamese and I don't know any, so to recognize words in a language I don't know struck me as extremely strange. Nor do I have any recollections of a prior life. The only explanation was that the words were similar to Chinese, even though I had read that the two languages were unrelated. Political correctness told me not to compare Vietnam with China, but the more Vietnamese I heard the harder it was not to."
Well, anyone could be fooled of loanwords, all he listed is Sino-Vietnamese.
"Big" Viet to, lớn
"Perfume" Viet thơm
"Study" Viet. (Replaced with Sino-Viet)
"Prosper" (I don't have the knowledge of this word)
"White" Viet trắng
"telephone"điện thoại (most abstract things uses Sino-Viet, like Japanese likes to use Sino-Jap)
If that were really the words, then we could say that "Korean is also Chinese", and we know that it's not true.
"Unrelated" is also untrue, there are words claimed as non-Chinese but could have a source in Sino-Tibetan.

By coincidence, Cantonese is an older form of Chinese than Mandarin, and more similar to the medieval, southern Chinese that left its mark on Vietnam.>
Cantonese is not an older form of Chinese, only "a language that preserves many aspects of the Older form of Chinese" or "a language more similar to it"

No verb conjugations. A joy to students of both languages. Is there any languages outside Sino-Tibetan (and Tai-Kadai, Miao-Yao, Viet if you think that they are not Sino-Tibetan) that does this?A separate word to change the tense of a verb. Indonesian also do the same, they only add "already" to make past words , and "will" to make future words.
Where the adjectives in Chinese come before the noun (like English), in Vietnamese they come after the noun (like French).
This point does not make a language be outside of a family.
In Chinese, there's overlap between adjectives and verbs, but Vietnamese definitely has a verb for "to be", which is "là".
Don't Chinese have a word equivalent to this? I think Shì in Mandarin is one example. Mandarin do not say "Subject-Adjective" for "Subject-be-Adjective", nor Vietnamese use "be-Verb" like English.
Vietnamese also has some complex forms of address. The word for "you" changes according to age, gender and social differences. When someone in Vietnam meets you and asks your age right away, it's not to be rude. Rather, it's to be polite, so they can address you in the right way.
Tibetan has polite/impolite pronouns but I don't know the details. More: they use family relationships like "elder brother", "elder sister". Chinese/southeast Asians often use "family relationship" or "Proper Name" as "I, you".
Mandarin has 4 tones, Cantonese has 8, and Vietnamese has 6.
Cantonese has 9, doesn't it?

By the way, Vietnamese popular songs will rhyme phonetically, but songwriters don't feel the need to match the tones.
when we sing tonal languages we abandon tones, so of course we don't need to match the tones.The one that does sounds like Chinese sounds like southern Chinese, to the point where people mistake the letter "n" and the letter "l"
not all South Chinese languages confuse "n" and "l"

When we were in Huế, we saw a concert of Vietnamese court music. The leader of the group spoke in a way that sounded like Mandarin (lots of "shh" sounds of different depth).
"Shh" are written as "S" but in some dialects of Vietnamese it has been lost and merged into "X" (pronounced as English "normal S").

The other system has some more nasal consonants, like an implosive-sounding "b" with an "m" in front of it. This "b" sounds like it goes from the outside in, rather than the normal way you pronounce a "b" from the inside out. There's also a bouncy cadence that happens when these letters are present.
When I try to pronounce an implosive consonants, it's like "voiced plosive/stops" mixed with "nasals". I don't know whether it's the right way or not (I haven't ever heard anyone use them). I don't understand what "bouncy cadence" means.

There are five tones rather than the usual six.
The South/Central Viet has 5 tones rather than 6 tones.

Other oddities: the initial letter "c" is voiced like "g", and the letters "tr" sound like "ch". What this means is that Vietnamese for "thank you", "cám ơn", is pronounced, "gam oon". The name for China, which the Chinese call "Chung Kuo", is pronounced very similarly in Vietnamese, but written as "Trung Quốc", and the "q" is also a "g". "c/q" sounds like " k " but not " k' ". I don't know what "g" is he telling us, maybe it's "Korean/Mandarin g". I am not sure about whether "voiced" here means "pronounced" or "uttered with voice". There is "g" pronounced as real "g" (but g is pronounced "z" if we have i/e, so we use "gh" for them).
"tr" was "retroflex t" (while we have "retroflex S" as chinese "Sh"). I don't know how is it pronounced now but it seems that it is now "retroflex ts"

(Chinese "Ch")

Dylan Sung:
There are some kind of "language replacement without mixing". Many (NOT ALL) Indonesian Chinese abandoned their first language. So we have pure Chinese not speaking Chinese language.
Also, there are some instances of "Cina-Benteng" here, who are mix of Indonesian and Chinese (but I am not talking about them). They don't look like Chinese/half-Chinese at all. They rather look EXACTLY like Indonesian. (This is the reason that I don't believe that all Vietnamese come from Khmer-Chinese intermarriage)


Post by AlexNg »


If you don't count the "ru" tone, then cantonese has only 6, the same as
north vietnamese ! If you count the "ru" tone then cantonese has 9 and vietnamese has 8.

I am just amazed that the number of vietnamese tones is so similar to the southern chinese dialects such as min and yue which is part of "bai yue" in the past.

If vietnamese tones developed separately, they wouldnt be so similar , it could have been less or equal to 4.


Post by qrasy »

Happy Chinese New Year!

It is said that Vietnamese tones also came from "registers", so there would be many tones in it.

There were 4 ("clear", "creaky", "fricative" and "stop") multiplied by 2("voiced", "voiceless").

Dylan Sung

Post by Dylan Sung »

Posted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 3:33 pm Post subject:

If you don't count the "ru" tone, then cantonese has only 6, the same as
north vietnamese ! If you count the "ru" tone then cantonese has 9 and vietnamese has 8.

I am just amazed that the number of vietnamese tones is so similar to the southern chinese dialects such as min and yue which is part of "bai yue" in the past.
The Chaozhou dialect has eight tones, or six if you merge the Ru tones with the others.

The Baiyue are not one people, but a general term to indicate the many tribes living in southern China during the Zhou dynasty. Amongst them, the Jing are said to be the ethnic Vietnamese group related to some of these so called Baiyue. There are Jing words in Cantonese, but this may be due to borrowing, just as SinoViet vocabulary is borrowed from Chinese.



Post by Guest »

Cantonese is not an older form of Chinese, only "a language that preserves many aspects of the Older form of Chinese" or "a language more similar to it"
Or it could be construed as more conservative, in that the language was not susceptible to as much change as other related languages. For example Icelandic spelling today is slightly different from the Old Norse written during the days of Snorri Stulusson and his Eddas, or the venacular Icelandic bible of Bishop Gudmundson three hundred years later in the sixteenth century. But it's related languages like Norwegian and Swedish have changed greatly to that of Icelandic, even though the Vikings which took Old Norse originally came from Norway.

Cantonese in respect to tones and the preservation of -p -t -k endings is more conservative than Beijing dialect upon which modern standard mandarin's sounds are based.

Similarly, Min dialects and some Wu dialects preserve a richer consonantal onset array than Cantonese, so it is more conservative in that respect, since its voiced initials, apirated initials and unaspirated initials are all found in Middle Chinese.

But Mandarin is much more conservative in the preservation of dipthong vowels than Cantonese.

I think it was Wang Li the eminent sinologist who once coined a system of transliterating Chinese, by using the initials of Wu, the vowels rimes of Mandarin and the endings and tone of Cantonese. It was said to approximate MC transliterations quite well, apparently.



Post by AlexNg »

We are going to side track a bit here.

Which chinese language - min, mandarin, cantonese, wu, xiang, hakka
resembles the chinese spoken in ancient china (shang, chou dynasty)
and which resembles middle chinese (chin, han, tang dynasty) ?

I heard that min branch off from ancient chinese and the others branch off from middle chinese ? What does it mean ?

Which language has the richest sounds. Personally, I think that mandarin is a very weak language due to its lack of p, t, k endings. Of course, it has the r sound at the beginning which other chinese language doesn't have.

What about vietnamese sounds ?