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date: 21 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Austric languages refer to a large hypothetical language group primarily spoken in Southeast Asia, including the Kam-Tai, Austronesian, and Austroasiatic languages. Austric languages in China are distributed in Guangxi, Yunnan, Hainan, and Taiwan. Intense language contacts among the people in these three regions led to one of the most remarkable contact areas in the world with typological changes and basic-vocabulary borrowings. There are four branches of Kam-Tai languages across South China, namely Kam-Sui, Zhuang-Tai, Li, and Geyang. Kam-Tai resembles Chinese in phonology and grammar. Its basic vocabulary is tonal and monosyllabic. Therefore, whether Kam-Tai is genetically related to Austric languages or Chinese has long been a much-debated issue. Austroasiatic languages in China are mostly toneless, SVO languages with tense/lax vowels and voiced/voiceless consonant clusters such as Va, De’ang, Blang, and Khmus, belonging to the Mon-Khmer branch, and Jing, Paliu, and Mang, belonging to the Viet-Moung branch.

Keywords: Austric, Kam-Tai, Austronesian, Austroasiatic, monosyllabic, language contact

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