|Classification of the Language of Tibetans in Jiju Township, Kangding Municipality
|中文关键词: 藏语支语言 康巴藏语 方言分类 崩波岗方言群 藏文对应
|英文关键词: Tibetic Khams Tibetan dialect classification Pomborgang group sound correspondence with Literary Tibetan
| This article discusses a linguistic classification of the Tibetans’ language spoken in Jiju (sKyid-yul) Township, Kangding Municipality, Ganzi Prefecture, Sichuan Province. Previous works have proposed different claims regarding the classification of the language of Jiju; some state that it is a dialect of the Zhaba language, and some maintain that it is a dialect of Khams Tibetan. By analysing the systematic sound correspondences with Literary Tibetan, the article demonstrates that the Tibetan’ language of Jiju is a dialect of Khams Tibetan belonging to the sPomborgang dialect group, neither Zhaba nor Minyag. It also provides a hypothesis that the sKyidyul dialect belongs to the Nyagchu subgroup of the sPomborgang group through a comparison of data of the sKyidyul dialect with its surrounding dialects. The method of analysis provided in this article can be a model of discussion to recognize a dialect classification within Khams Tibetan.
Kanding Municipality in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, is a multi-linguistic region, located at the central area of the Ethnic Corridor. The majority of inhabitants in the Municipality are Tibetan, and they speak various kinds of languages such as Khams Tibetan, Amdo Tibetan, Darmdo Minyag, nGochang, and Lhagang Choyu. This article discusses a Tibetan language spoken in Jiju Township, located at the south-western corner of Kangding Municipality. It connects with Jiulong County to the south, and with Yajiang County to the west. According to ganzi zangzu zizhizhou minzuzhi (1994: 127), Tibetans speak the Zhaba language, but Suzuki (2018) considers that it is a kind of Khams Tibetan; additionally, some locals believe that it is the Minyag language. There has not been any consensus regarding the linguistic affiliation of the Tibetans’ language in Jiju, but research on the descriptive linguistics in Jiju has not been conducted so far. Therefore, this article discusses the issue by examining two aspects: a systematic description of sound phenomena in a single vernacular and a contrastive study of multiple vernaculars from a geolinguistic perspective.
Before we recorded language materials in Jiju, we conducted a brief survey with a questionnaire on a the sociolinguistic situation in Jiju. There were 30 persons who participated in the survey, among whom 25 were from Jiju Township, and the rest was from the surrounding areas. Based on the results, we found that the Tibetan inhabitants in Jiju recognise their mother tongue as a language which differs from Darmdo Minyag. Their language is intelligible with the counterpart spoken in the south of Yajiang and Litang counties as well as some parts of Muli and Jiulong counties. The vernacular of Jiju is principally spoken within the family and local villages.
Following the result of the sociolinguistic survey, we hypothesised that the language of Jiju is a member of Khams Tibetan. In order to clarify a language’s affiliation as Tibetic, scholars such as Beyer and Tournadre pay attention to lexical forms inherited only in Tibetic languages among Tibeto-Burman. Words such as ‘seven’ (bdun) and ‘you’ (khjod) fulfil this criterion, and these are /d ～24/ and /h 55/, respectively, in the Jiju speech. However, the similarity of the lexicon is not perfectly valid for a linguistic classification when we consider a language affiliation due to long-term intermittent language contact. Nevertheless, we need examine this feature to provide a hypothesis.
This article discusses an essential set of sound correspondences between the Jiju speech and Literary Tibetan (LT), referring to previous works on Tibetan dialectology, in order to verify whether a given variety is a Tibetic language or not. This methodology will function in any other languages in the Tibetosphere.
II. Sound correspondence between the Jiju speech and Literary Tibetan
In this section, we discuss three categories: initials, rhymes, and syllable coalescence. We describe examples of the Geba vernacular of the Jiju speech.
We present various examples of four features: (1) obstruent initials with and without preinitials, (2) complex initials containing a glide (j and r in LT), (3) resonants (l and j as a LT root), and (4) LT nasal simplex m.
Feature (1) mainly clarifies that LT and display two different articulations (prepalatals and velars), LT voiced simplex corresponds to a voiceless nonaspirated counterpart in rising tone, LT preinitials correspond to prenasalisation or preaspiration. Feature (2) demonstrates the following sound correspondences:
LTseries Jiju speech
KJ prepalatal affricates in principle
skj prepalatal fricatives in some words
KR retroflex plosives
PJ prepalatal fricatives in principle
PR retroflex plosives in principle
TR retroflex plosives
Feature (3) presents that LT l corresponds to /j, l; , l/ whereas LT j corresponds to /, /. Feature (4) displays that LT simplex m corresponds to // in some words.
We provide a tabular of general sound correspondences of rhymes between LT and the Jiju speech and give some examples which have multiple sound correspondences.
2.3 Syllable coalescence
We find many cases of syllable coalescence, i.e., a single syllable correspondingto two LT syllables, in the Jiju speech. The majority is a case that the second syllable ofLT is pa, ba, ma, or mo, as cited below:
zla ba “moon” ndo24
kha ba “snow”k hɑ24
i ma “sun” 24
mna ma “wife” n55
bu mo “girl” p~24
Minor patterns are also found:
lag pa “hand”j24
sbra bu “fly”~24
smjug ma “bamboo”~24
sa bon “seed”sh~24
so ma “comb”sh24
ri bo “hare”r~55
However, some examples do not display syllable coalescence, as below:
sna ba “nose”n。24 55
rdzi ma “eyelash”dz24 mo55
rna ma “ear”n55 55
III. Contrastive study
In this section, we compare several features of the Jiju speech discussed in Section 2 with those in surrounding speeches. We present four speeches in total: two are from Jiju Township (Geba and Jiju), and the others are from Shangtuan Township in Jiulong County and Yayihe Township of Yajiang County. We exemplify three features, providing a tabular for each: sound correspondence, syllable coalescence, and local lexical features.
The summary of each feature is the following. The four speeches demonstrate a systematic similarity in the sound correspondence, that means they share common innovations; the situation of syllable coalescence is not in concordance among the four, that means this feature has occurred in a relatively recent period independently; and the four speeches share similar local lexical features, that implies they are in a genetic relationship and/or in a geographical dialect continuum. Based on these results, we can conclude that the Jiju speech is a dialect belonging to the sPomborgang dialect group of Khams Tibetan-sKyidyul dialect.
Additionally, we examine the position of the Jiju speech within the sPomborgang group by using data of other dialects in the whole group. Among four subgroups (Lithang, nDawpa, Muli, and Nyagchu) of the sPomborgang group, the sKyidyul dialect shares many common features with the Nyagchu and nDawpa subgroups, whereas it does not share distinctive features with the nDawpa subgroup. The geographical background also taken into consideration, we hypothesise that the sKyidyul dialect belongs to the Nyagchu group. However, we need more investigations more in detail also referring to studies on the migration history.
In this article, we discussed the language classification of the Tibetans’ language in Jiju Township by examining its sound correspondence with LT and its surrounding dialects. Our preliminary conclusion is that the language in Jiju is a dialect of sPomborgang Khams, a Tibetic language, neither Darmdo Minyag nor Zhaba. The examples and methodology examined in the article can be referable in other studies on languages spoken in the Tibeosphere. This study referred to the traditional method of dialectology of the Tibetic languages. Analyses on morphology and morphosyntax from a dialectological perspective are also indispensable in the future study.