Degree Year

2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Anthropology

Advisor(s)

Jason D. Haugen

Keywords

Chinese, Historical, Phonology, Sound change

Abstract

With a combination of methodologies from Western and Chinese traditional historical linguistics, this thesis is an attempt to survey and synthetically analyze the major sound changes in Chinese phonological history. It addresses two hypotheses – the Neogrammarian regularity hypothesis and the unidirectionality hypothesis – and tries to question their validity and applicability. Drawing from fourteen types of “regular” and “irregular” processes, the thesis argues that the origins and impetuses of sound change is far from just phonetic environment (“regular” changes) and lexical diffusion (“irregular” changes), and that sound change is not unidirectional because of the existence and significance of fortifying and bi/multidirectional changes. The thesis also examines the sociopolitical aspect of sound change through the discussion of language changes resulting from social, geographical and historical factors, suggesting that the study of sound change should be more interdisciplinary and miscellaneous in order to explain the phenomena more thoroughly and reach a better understanding of how human languages function both synchronically and diachronically.

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Anthropology Commons

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