New Message (aryan invasion)

bpj at bpj at
Mon Dec 16 18:48:02 UTC 1996

At 19:11 16.12.1996 +0000, Peter D Banos wrote:

>My understanding is that modern spoken Chinese is not truly monosyllabic.
>It _looks_ like it because of the writing system, but in fact many of the
>"character combinations" they have evolved to get around the homonymy
>problem are now regarded as having become true polysyllabic words. This is
>especially true of the "Mandarin dialect;" Cantonese and other Southern
>speechforms have retained more phonetic distinctions (eg more tones, final
>stop consonants), therefore less homonymy, therefore more retention of
>simple monosyllables.
>(I'm not an expert, but if anyone wants I can probably dig up a source or
>two for the above.)

That was the oft-repeated view of no lesser a Chinese linguist than Y.R.
Chao, and I guess we can take his word for it. The same script-artifact
"monosyllabism" is also found in Tibetan, btw. The facts are:

(1) most _morphemes_ (not words) in  these languages are monosyllabic.

(2) the scripts delimit syllables, but not words. || ? | ||

Re.gards.Phi.lip. ||

__                     __  ___   __ ___ __
|_) |_  * | * __       (_ /_|| * (_ /_| (_ *
|   | ) | | | |_)            |     \
B.Philip Jonsson <bpj at>

"Peace is not simply the absence of war.
It is not a passive state of being.
We must wage peace, as vigilantly as we wage war."
(XIV Dalai Lama)

"A coincidence, as we say in Middle-Earth"

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list