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date: 21 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Chinese languages evolved out of the Sino-Tibetan language family along the Yellow River, while the Tibeto-Burman languages remained scattered throughout western China. The Han-Chinese gradually became a culturally and socioeconomically dominant power in China. Within this historical background, two types of contact phenomena between Tibeto-Burman and Chinese languages emerged: borrowing and language shift. Usually, the lexicons of Tibeto-Burman languages borrow from the Chinese extensively. Typical cases of language shift are found common in the Wutun language of Qianghai and the Daohua language of Sichuan. They both derive most of their vocabularies from the local Chinese, while their basic morphosyntatic systems remain Tibetan. Also, although Bai has been commonly regarded as a Tibeto-Burman language heavily influenced by the Chinese, recent studies have found Bai a sister language of the Han Chinese, as evidenced by the existence of a large number of Sino-Bai cognates and a similar syntactic system.

Keywords: language contact, Tibeto-Burman, Chinese, borrowing, language shift, Wutun, Daohua, Bai

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