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date: 21 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Tibeto-Burman linguistic phylum was identified in 1823. However, the term Tibeto-Burman was subsequently used in two different meanings, one by scholars following Julius von Klaproth’s polyphyletic framework and another by scholars operating within the Indo-Chinese or Sino-Tibetan paradigm. The essential differences between the two lineages of thought are contrasted, and the evidence is weighed. The structure of the language family as a whole is presented with special reference to the historical discourse surrounding Sinitic. The geographical distribution of major subgroups and the phylogeny of the language family provide clues to Tibeto-Burman ethnolinguistic population prehistory and the ancestry of Sinitic. Several alternative theories of linguistic relationship are discussed. The languages belonging to the same linguistic phylum as Chinese and their locations are presented.

Keywords: Indo-Chinese, Sino-Tibetan, linguistic relationship, population prehistory

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