Sino-Tibetan Languages

Authored by: Scott DeLancey

The World’s Major Languages

Print publication date:  November  2008
Online publication date:  January  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415353397
eBook ISBN: 9780203301524
Adobe ISBN: 9781134261567

10.4324/9780203301524.ch41

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Abstract

The Sino-Tibetan family consists of two branches: Sinitic, consisting of the Chinese languages and possibly the aberrant Bai or Minjia language of Yunnan (although Bai may also be a heavily Sinicised Tibeto-Burman language), and Tibeto-Burman, which includes several hundred languages spoken from the Tibetan plateau in the north to the Malay peninsula in the south and from northern Pakistan in the west to northeastern Vietnam in the east. Earlier classification schemes included Miao-Yao, Tai and Vietnamese in the Sino-Tibetan family on the basis of their remarkable typological resemblance to Chinese, but it is now clear that the structural resemblances and shared vocabulary among these languages are areal features rather than shared inheritance from a common ancestor.

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