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Common Neo-Hakka: A Comparative Reconstruction
Language and Linguistics Monograph Series 63
Author:W. South Coblin
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Size: 19 X 26 cm 833 pages English
ISBN:978-986-54-3228-7(PDF)
GPN:4710802650
Publication Date:2019-12-25
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Introduction
This work undertakes a comparative phonological reconstruction for the Neo-Hakka dialect group. The term Neo-Hakka is an English rendering of Chinese 新客家話, a new expression now increasingly being used by Chinese dialectologists and Hakka specialists to refer to what was earlier simply called “Hakka” (客家話). This Neo-Hakka group includes both the better known “Mainstream Hakka” dialects of the Méixiàn type and the lesser known ones of southern Jiāngxī and contiguous areas, whose speakers do not self-identify as ethnically Hakka or understand Mainstream Hakka when they hear it spoken. Thus, the Common Neo-Hakka comparative system developed here goes beyond the earlier Proto-Hakka phonological reconstruction of Keven O’Connor (1976), who worked exclusively with a number of Mainstream Hakka dialects.
 
Beyond the broad Neo-Hakka group alluded to above is a set of hitherto unclassified dialects that bear certain similarities to Neo-Hakka but for various taxonomic reasons cannot be classified as Hakka proper. These dialects are phonologically archaic in various ways and so are now called 老客家話by Chinese linguists, a term we render in English as “Paleo-Hakka”. The present study will not deal with the Paleo-Hakka dialects, which in our view deserve a special study of their own.
 
The reconstructive approach adopted in the present work is the classical comparative method. The reconstruction is based on data from twenty-seven Neo-Hakka dialects, which have been chosen to epitomize the maximum number of phonological distinctions required in the hypothetical proto-language. The work consists of six chapters, a data appendix of 1368 cognate sets and reconstructed forms, and an index to the text proper. The first chapter introduces background, methodology, and the specific materials to be used. The second, third, and fourth chapters deal with syllable initials, syllable finals, and tones respectively. The fifth chapter is concerned with dialect lexicon and the problems involved in reconstruction of full lexical forms, as opposed to single syllables. The sixth and final chapter discusses relevant Hakka historical and demographic questions, specific historical phonological problems, and possible avenues for future research in the history of the Hakka dialects.
 
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