An Investigation of Various Linguistic Changes in Chinese and Naxi

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Title: An Investigation of Various Linguistic Changes in Chinese and Naxi
Author: Lu, Jung-yao
Abstract: This dissertation investigates the diachronic development of Chinese and Naxi, focusing particularly upon six linguistic puzzles that are likely to be associated with the various linguistic changes in most areas of the grammar, including sound/phonological changes, semantic/meaning changes, syntactic/sentence-structure changes, and contact-induced changes. This dissertation's primarily purpose is to provide new perspectives in order to solve these puzzles on the basis of typological and diachronic evidence. The dissertation will analyze cross-linguistic data from Chinese and Tibeto-Burman languages in order to reconstruct various diachronic developments in Chinese and Naxi. The main body of the dissertation from Chapter II to Chapter V will examine the six linguistic puzzles successively, as follows: (1) tonal splits in proto-checked syllables and subgrouping of Loloish, (2) semantic development of RETURN in Chinese, (3) semantic development of TAKE in Chinese, (4) development of agentive passive markers in Mandarin, (5) definiteness and nominalization, relativization, and genitivization in Chinese, and (6) development of nominalization, relativization, and genitivization in Naxi. My approach is a rather elaborate attempt to pursue a new framework for comparative reconstruction of historical linguistics. In my study, comparative analysis of historical linguistics focuses on reconstructing ancient patterns based on diachronic records and/or typological data from several languages or dialects in a language group. The ultimate aim of the comparative reconstruction is to demonstrate the historical process of language change. A historical linguist, like a competent detective, must possess acute vision and strong reasoning skills to be able to reconstruct the whole story of language change, and admissible evidence is of upmost importance. In order to discover the solution to the aforementioned linguistic puzzles, the linguist must rely on three key types of clues: typological evidence, historical evidence, and linguistic theories. The basic assumption behind the comparative reconstruction is that the diverse synchronic, linguistic patterns in the same language group were diachronically derived from an identical origin. The common origin of these linguistic differences could be a sound, a meaning, a function word, a syntactic structure, etc., depending on the linguistic field in question. Between the origin and synchronic diversity is a series of diachronic processes. Therefore, the framework of the comparative reconstruction should consist of at least three basic elements: (1) synchronic diversity in a language group, (2) the original pattern or form of diversity, and (3) diachronic processes from the origin to the diversity.
Date: 2012

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