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+-----+ Topic: Is Vietnamese Sino-Tibetan by dchph

Author: dchph posted on 6/8/2013 9:04:07 AM

From: Tay Wee Wen
To: dchph
Sent: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 11:39 PM
Subject: Is Vietnamese Sino-Tibetan


I am the reader of your website. I am a Chinese speaking the Min-Nam (Taiwanese) dialect. I have been to Vietnam. I wonder if you can answer me if Vietnamese belongs to the Sino-Tibetan languages. I have some knowledge of Japanese. I conclude that Japanese is not a Sino-Tibetan languages although the Sinoxenic lexicon can be as high as 60-70%.

Min-nan is a lect of Sinitic language branch, 100% mutually unintelligible with Mandarin, and having large sets of our own unique lexicon not found in Mandarin.

Your writing give me a impression that you would tend to be on the side that Vietnamese is Sino-Tibetan. It would be nice for you to help me clarify that.

Tay Wee Wen
from Singapore

(1) Vietnamese does not belong to the Sino-Tibetan linguistic family as classed by modern academics,
(2) Middle Chinese loanwords entered Japanese during the Tang Dynasty by the time Annam had been a protectorate for nearly 1000 years,
(3) like a Minnan speech, 85% of Sinitic elements have grown on on top of Vietnamese
(4) having scores of its own unique lexicons not found in Mandarin (approximately 3% of Mon-Khmer, 3% Minnan, 3% Cantonese, 3% Zhuang, 3% Daic, all belong to the Taic roots or Yue)
(5) While Vietnam gained her own independence since 939AD Fukien has been a prart China so its dialects have been heavily influenced by Ancient Chinese since Han Dynasty (111 BC, after the NanYue Kingdom had been annexed to the Han Empire); therefore, Chinese academicans have classified it as a Sino-Tibetan language.

James Campbell in Vietnamese Dialects states it best ( that

"I originally included Vietnamese in this study/website because of the fact its phonological makeup is very similar to Chinese and, indeed, its tonal system matches the Chinese one. Originally I wrote at this site: "Vietnamese is neither a Chinese language nor related to Chinese (It is an Austroasiatic > Mon-Khmer language more closely related to Khmer/Cambodian). Besides having a very similar phonological system, and due to the heavy Chinese influence on the language, it also has a tone system that matches the Chinese one." However, after reading and conducting a bit more research, it appears that Vietnamese' affiliation with Việt-Mương, Mon-Khmer, and Austroasiatic, may in fact be a faulty case."

[...] [Vietnamese] may not be considered a Sinitic language or one of the Chinese dialects, but the Kinh have a lot in common with the Chinese culture, and the language leaves little to doubt. I will not go into great detail about how this is claimed, as a great deal has been posted at some other websites (see below [for study by dchph, the author of this very paper]) and that is not the purpose of this site. However, one can see that Vietnamese shares many traits in common with Chinese: 60-70% Sinitic vocabulary, another 20% of vocabulary is substrata of proto-Sinitic vocabulary, much of the grammar and grammatical markers share similarities with Chinese, along with classifiers. One would find it very difficult to draw similar parallels between Chinese and other Mon-Khmer languages. It seems that after considering all of this, what is left that is Mon-Khmer is actually very little, and probably acquired over time through contact with bordering nations. For example, the numbers are of distinct Mon-Khmer origin, however, used in many compound words, Vietnamese uses instead Chinese roots (as is common in the other Sino-Xenic languages, Japanese and Korean)."

You may want to lean more from my writing at:

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