What Makes Chinese so Vietnamese?
An Introduction to Sinitic-Vietnamese Studies
(Ýthức mới về nguồngốc tiếngViệt)
Table of Contents
Do not let the term 'Sinitic' to mislead or confuse you. Like that of the heading of "Mon-Khmer", "Sinitic" is repositioned because of the grandness of China, so to speak, even though the Yue entities had been in existence long before the emergence of the entity "Chin" (秦 Qin), i.e., "China", or "pre-Han", or the ancient state of what the Midlle Kingdom is called for today's China. They implicate mostly geo-political and cultural entities of the mainland of China whenever "Sinitic" or "Sino-" is referred in academic paper, having nothing to do with ancestral roots of everything as conveyed in the name. So Sinitic-Vietnamese (SV) is a linguistic concept for their affiliation in many aspects, not that the C language has given birth to V.
In essence, similar to 'Sino-', at a higher level, 'Sinitic' constitutes a part of a pivotal anthropological portal leading to different fields of 'Sinology', especially in anthropology, including linguistics. 'Sinitic', however, is a core entity not governed by the same connotation of "Chinese" as in 'Sino' that one normally perceives in Sino-Tibetan (ST). Linguistically the concept 'Sino-' is techinically analogous to what the prefix 'Indo-' fits in the context of "Indo-European" (IE) and 'Sinitic' to China is nominally pictured as what 'Sanskrit' to "India" that is not governed by each respective domain literally whether or not the current term "China" or "India" is brought into the larger picture. While the older linguistic Sanskrit entity plays a much more important role in any work of reconstruction of certain ancient IE languages than what is conveyed in "Indo-", 'Sanskrit' is not the mother of all IE languages. Similarly that is how the "Sino" or "Sinitic" relates to ST and SV and VS. It is only a part in the daisy chain of the whole Sinological strain that is interelated to other C dialects of which each is classed as a 'Sinitic' language in the ST linguistic family. That is the extent to which 'Sino' and 'Sintic' dictate their effective affiliation with Sinitic-Vietic, or SV, VS.
Terminologically, "Sinitic' in the linguistic context implicates a whole class of linguistic sub-family that includes, and could even extend to, speeches that could only be identified with one ancestral language that had existed long before the 'Chin' (Qin, hence 'Sinitic') came into existence even though the Qin Empire was very short-lived dynasty (221-206 BC). "Sinitic" hence is analogous to an arbitrary pick of Qin for its first unification of all states in ancient Zhongguo (中國 or Middle Kingdom) which embraces all dynasties and vassals that had ever been established in the mainland of China. In the meanwhile 'Sino' fits into 'Tibetan' and the terminology designates much more of a larger linguistic family that is affiliated with not only Sinitic but also Bodic, or Tibetan, languages. In other word, "Sino-" and "Sinitic" are academic terms that are elementally related to the political map of 'China'.
Graphically, if you slice the China's geography into cloves based on each major historical stage of development of China, and then gradually scale it back to around 3000 BC whence there virtually existed no "China", neither did "Qin" nor "Han" nor anything C. In short, the concept of "Chin", and "Sinitic" for the same matter, which has been arbitrarily picked by the academics, could have been replaced by "Han", or even "Chu" if in 208 BC the Chu had defeated the Han in their last battle to compete for the collapsing Qin Empire.
Research on the origin of any V word should be conducted in appreciative and meditative manners just as one would do in practicing Zen or Yoga.
From their perspective what contemporary AA avant-gardes have exaggerated much about is mostly on the zenre of their basic words, minus tonality and the like, characteristically, as compared to other prominent Sinitic linguistic attributes, all intrinsically. The AA MK theorists have simply ignored what has originally been essentially in store on the Sinitic-Vietic (or Sinitic-Yue) side of the C historical linguistics in several anthropological aspects. "Vietic" is a later term for a linguistic sub-family affiliated with ancient V — as in Viet-Muong — for the concept of tribal speech of ancient Yue languages nominally transcribed in C records as 粵, 越, 戉, 鉞...
Bibliographically, etymological evidences of the Yue etyma are actually buried deeply in ancient C literary and historical books. The plausibility of proven cognates, indeed, are manifested in parts by phonetic keys, or clues, amply noted in numerous ancient classical materials with notations such as "dúruò" 讀若 (pronunciation), the "fanqie" 反切 (spelling), the "xíngshēng" 形聲 (phonetic), etc. in traditional C linguistics. For instance, VS "cộ" /ko6/ (carriage) is a variant of the an archaic sound of 車 chē (carriage) as shown in HòuHànshū (後漢書 'Books on the Later Han') "dúruò" (is pronounced as) 居 jū (SV cư), which is in turn evidenced by the phonetic sign of 古 gǔ (SV cổ, OC *ku). Many old characters as etyma lexicographically are listed in the Kangxi Dictionary 康熙字典 with over 50,000 out of more than the possible 70,000 single C characters ever recorded with quotations and notations on variant dialectal forms and keys to pronunciations. Anybody who uses the Kangxi dictionary — now of course conveniently accessible online — can find numerous interesting examples therein, including thousands of outdated ideographs.
In this Sinitic etymological realm alone, as the time goes on more of them have been gradually tagged, analyzed, and reconstructed. That kind of work appears to be a painstaking task, like sieving tiny bits of gold dust from ground rocky sand in streams of C classics for every single etymon which can or cannot be identified with modern set of common lexicons, for example,
- "sọ" (head) 首 shǒu (SV thủ),
- "răng" (tooth) 齡 líng (SV linh),
- "ngọt" (sweet) 𩜌 [or '飠宛'] yuē (SV ngạt), or
- "chua" (sour) 酸 suān (SV toan),
- "rát" (sore) 熱 rè (SV nhiệt),
- "heo" (pig) 亥 hài (SV hợi),
- "lợn" (pig) 腞 dùn [ or 豘 tún ] (SV độn), etc.
Those AA champions have been inadvertently unaware of such linguistic traces of interrelationship among archaic Yue and Sinitic languages, etymologically connected in all shapes and forms gradually being unveiled. They could be proto-forms and archaic scripts which had later on evolved into Sinitic etyma for both of those C lexical items and their VS cognates as well — all called 同源辭 or words of the same root — for example, 川 chuān, 水 shuǐ, or 江 jiāng 'sông' for rivers or streams. Etymologically, VS etyma is postulated herein as having evolved from Sinitic-Yue forms. Specifically, Sinitic-Yue etymon 狗 gǒu corresponds to 'chó' (dog) while its SV sound 'cẩu' is for VS 'cầy', and that co-exists with Sinitic 犬 quán that gives rise to VS 'cún' (puppy), or 眼 yăn and 目 mù for 'mắt' (eye), and the likes. In other words, nothing on the AA MK camp is characteristically parallel to what described and cited above and more to come.
Archaeological excavations of cultural relics of the ancient Chu State (楚國) in parts of China South (CS) region have revealed a vast amount of its proto-Taic vestiges in forms of ancient "Yue" elements. Their affiliation is parallel to its development in the linguistic field based on findings of related VS etyma, that is, V words being cognate to those in Sinitic languages. Recall that the first king of the Han Dynasty, Han Gaozu (漢高祖), Liu Bei (劉備), was a Chu subject, so were his subordinates and troops. To say the least, after the process of Sinicization (漢化) of the Chu subjects of Tai-Yue origin, many Chu linguistic elements had become parts of the Han; however, later they are treated as if they were directly from the Han stock, namely, the Sinitic linguistic sub-family thanks to their direct relationship with other Han affiliations. Similarly, the same phenomenon could be said of what is considered as of AA MK thanks their close language contact on spot when the later Yue resettlers from Dongtinghu of CS region moved south into the Red River Basin.
Whether or not the new findings could finally uproot those well-laid cornerstones of AA-MK theory, at least they would possibly be complementary to what the current studies of VS field may be lacking for the reason that they are still heavily based on the systematic Han-Viet (漢越) readings of C etyma, which is diachronic while VS development synchronic. Credibility of all cited examples are direct results of applying the two new etymological techniques that the author called (1) analogical and (2) dissyllabic approaches.
Firstly, with the new analogical approach many V etyma of C origin could be positively identified and plusibly posited, including those camouflaged underneath some basic MK vocabulary substratum and vice versa; otherwise, they could have easily slipped away unnoticed, such as those of "chim" (bird) 禽 qín, "chuột" (mouse) 鼠 shǔ, "ngựa" (horse) 午 wǔ, "heo" (boar) 亥 hài, etc., (for more examples refer to the chapter on MK.)
The same analogy will help us analyze other sibling etyma as they could have been materialized within the same category in either semantic or cultural context, say, if a word characteristically has a C origin of the same linguistic traits and attributes, chances are that its related forms could be postulated as of the same strain as well, for example, "đất" 土 tǔ (soil) vs. 地 dì (land), "nặng" (heavy) 重 zhòng (SV 'trọng') vs. "nhẹ" (light) 輕 qīng (SV 'khinh'), etc. whereas in the cultural context that could mean the same concept withe the same morpho-syllable, such as 懷念故土 huániàngùtǔ ~> VS 'nhớvềđấtổ' (homesickness), 心地 xīndì (SV 'tâmđịa') ~> VS 'tấmlòng' ([in the bottom of one's] heart), 重擔 zhòngdàn ~> VS 'gánhnặng' ('heavy burden', both literally and figuratively), 輕視 qīngshì ~> VS 'khinhkhi' and 'xemnhẹ' (look down at), 輕易 qīngyí ~> VS 'khidễ' (look down at) and 'dễdàng' (easily), respectively.
The second one is the novel dissyllabicity approach. It is used to identify the etymology of many VS basic words, which could be partly in conjunction to and/or as subsequent of the analogical approach (in addition to what is already demonstrated in the cultural context as exemplified above). For example, 田地 tiándì ~ VS 'đồngruộng' (paddy field) gives rise to 下地 xiàdì (go to farm) ~> VS 'rađồng' / @ 'đồng' ~ 田 tián (SV điền) and @ 田 tián (VS đồng) ~> 'ruộng' (paddy field); so in this case, 地 dì has evolved into 'đồng' (farming field) which is associated with '田 tián' (SV điền) in return. The dissyllabic approach requires that historical linguists treat sound changes from those two-syllabled C words that evolved into the V dissyllabic variants as a synchronic event where each syllable could independently act on its own capacity as a stand-alone allophonic unit with its own generative characteristics. That is, the same syllable from those of monosyllabicity in dissyllabic words select their natural adaption in V.
The whole dissyllabic transformation process as such is not restricted to certain rigid rules of sound changes that govern phonologically-deposited diachronism. Generalization of that rule is based on recognition of multiple sound change patterns, morphemically or syllabically, as resulted from either lexical mutation, constraction, metamorphosis, metathesis, or spoonerism. They are sparodically synchronic events in which each morphemic syllable individually had diverged into multiple phonemic forms.
The bottom line of the matter is the implication posed by these two approaches will bring up evidences on C linguistic traits found in V and lay out the foundation for classifying V into a new VS linguistic sub-family category and putting it on par with other languages in the Sinitic of the larger Sino-Tibetan (ST) linguistic family.
Sinitic > Seven major Chinese dialectal groups / Sino-Tibetan < \ Sinitic-Yue > Sinitic Vietnamese
How do the MK etyma, i.e., those AA cognates, fit into the diagram above? To satisfy the AA demand, their position is to be postulated as follows:
Sinitic-Yue > Sinitic > Sinitic Vietnamese* > Annamese > Vietnamese / **proto-Taic < \ Austroasiatic*** > Mon-Khmer > Vietmuong > Vietic > Vietnamese**** ---------------------- (*) including Sino-Vietnamese (**) linguistic elements already existed prior to the class of Austroasiatic (***) could be interpreted as the Yue without Sinitic elements (****) which is redundantly the same as the above and can be omitted
The above Sinitic-Yue theorization is to be interpreted that those Yue linguistic forms originated from a common proto-Taic family, that probably existed at least 4000-6000 years ago and might also have given rise an entity that is now classed as the "proto-Austroasiatic" linguistic family. The whole process had taken place in parallel with the spreading of the culture Dongsonian bronze drums by earlier Yue migrants who could have brought them to Indonesia islands as we see it today. If that is the case, theorization of a northern movement from the Indo-Chinese peninsula could not be that of the Yue or AA as speculated previously. Either theory, AA MK or Sinitic-Yue, could be speculative in any case.
During the same period, the Yue-Sinitic entities had been formed with the fusion of those elemental forms as a result of transmutation among those "stay-behind" aborigines and the "newcomer" Sino-Tibetan resettlers in south of Yellow River, the ancient craddle of China, hence the becoming of a gene for those early "Chinese" who are seen also to have shared the common mythologies of Yándì 炎帝 (Viêmđế), Chénnóng 神農 (Thầnnông), and "children of Dragon" 龍種 (dòngdõi Tiênrồng, etc.) with descendants of the Yue who inhabitated CS region north and south of the Yangtze River Basin.
So be it either big fish (the Yue) or that of small catches (the AA-MK), each of these species, in sum, all has evolved from a common strain, the proto-Taic, so to speak, at a very early stage approximately ranging from 4000 to 8000 years ago, where the boundary among them was still a matter of intepretation and speculation based mainly on pre-historic artifacts excavated by archaeology and, of course, aforementioned pre-historic legendary.
As far as history is concerned, while some theories are hypothetical, others like the existence of the state of Yèlángguó 夜朗國 in Sichuan and the Yue State 越國 Yuèguó (VS 'NướcViệt') in Jiangsu 江蘇 (near the modern city of Shaoxing 紹興) in ancient times. Historical records of those early Yue people who spoke some form of proto-Yue living in those states during the Warring Period (475 - 403 BC) are lending some supporting evidences of the early proto-Taic natives and their habitats, hence, their speeches for that matter. (See APPENDIX K)
Linguistically and culturally, until the early 1970s, literary works written in V were still under heavy C influence in its style in both prose and poetry, of the latter which were still carefully crafted in Tang rhyming matrix fluxed with C classical metaphors and clichés depicted China's snowy settings somewhere in Suzhou or Hangzhou, which lasted until new France-educated generation brought home new romantic scenes of Paris and La Seine River. (See Tô Kiều Ngân's Mặc khách Sàigòn. 2013. and Hà Đình Nguyên's Chuyện tình Nghệ sĩ. 1992.) In comparison, 21st centuried writings are fairly different in Tuổitrẻ and Thanhniên newspapers as representatives. All in all under the perspective of Sinitic linguistic development it is postulated the Sinitic-Yue had evolved from linguistic fusion of speeches spoken by the indigenous Yue and those first Sino-Tibetan speakers — possibly aggressively warlike and intelligent normadic people and probably ancestors of Yin Dynasty's subjects — who had come and resettled beyond south of the Yellow River Basin in the habitat of the Yue located in today's CS (Y), all those etyma of supposedly related forms originally evolved from some ancient speeches of the Yue are currently still being spoken by the Zhuang, the Dai, the Dong, the Miao, etc., minorities living in the southern part of today's China.
As for V specifically, historically, the language has distinctively emerged as a special case of a Sinicized Yue speech that has been largely mixed with C elements dominantly prominent for a simple reason that it had gone through 1000 years under the rule of Imperial China as one of its prefectures. Its case, however, is much less Sinicized and different from the same process that has turned all Cantonese and Fukienese as C subdialects since ancient times. The V speakers inside Annam have been living in a soverein state for nearly 1100 years now while the other two prefectures continued to be stay under the shadow of China as of now. Most of V specialists have not paid enough attention to such solid historical details.
In any case, fundamentals of linguistic elements to classify the V language into that of the ST are based on solid evidences of ST etymologies (see chapter on Sino-Tibetan etyma); therefore, approaches in this study will be deviated greatly from the re-enforcement of theories on the AA origin of V. In other words, theories proposed in this paper are in opposition with those linguistic traits found in MK lexicons as follows.
(Y)The Yin Dynasty (殷代 Yīndài), or Shang Dynasty (商朝 Shāngcháo), according to traditional historiography, ruled in the Yellow River valley in the second millennium BC, succeeding the Xia Dynasty and followed by the Zhou Dynasty. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shang_Dynasty/)
Also, in footnote (Y) from the previous chapter regarding the Yin Dynasty:
商朝又称殷、殷商（约前17世纪—约前11世纪[註 2]）是中国第一个有直接的同时期的文字记载的王朝。商朝前期屡屡迁都。而最后的二百七十三年盘庚定都于殷（今中国安阳市），所以商朝又叫殷朝。有时候也称为殷商或者殷。商朝晚期，中国的历史从半信半疑的时代过渡到信史时代。商是中国历史上继夏朝之后的一个朝代，相对于夏具有更豐富的考古發現。原夏之諸侯國商部落首领商汤率諸侯國於鳴條之戰滅夏帝国後建立。经历17代31王，末代君王商纣王於牧野之戰被周武王擊敗而亡。(https://web.archive.org/web/http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%95%86%E6%9C%9D) 根据《岭南摭怪》里的越南传说，中国殷代时，雄王因“缺朝觐之礼”，而招来殷王率来袭（又称“殷寇”；而《大越史记全书·外纪·鸿厖纪》则说是“雄王六世”时期的“国内有警”）。正当大军压境时，仙游县（或作武宁县）扶董乡的一位三岁童子自动请缨，带领雄王军队来到殷军阵前，“挥剑前进，官军（雄王军）后从。殷王死阵前”，而童子亦随即“脱衣骑马升天”。其后，雄王尊该名童子为“扶董天王”，立祠拜祭。
[HOWEVER] 近代越南学者陈仲金[Trần Trọng-Kim]以实事求是的态度，指出中国殷朝入侵的传说“实属谬误”，理由是：“中国殷朝位于黄河流域一带，即今之河南、直隶、山西和陕西地区。而长江一带全是蛮夷之地。从长江至我北越相隔路途甚为遥远。即使时我国有鸿庞氏为王，无疑也不会有什么纪纲可言，无非像芒族的一位郎官而已，因此他与殷朝无任何来往，怎能引起彼此间的战争。而且，中国史书也没有任何之处记载此事。因此，有什么理由说殷寇就是中国殷朝之人呢？” 因此陈仲金将之视作“有一股贼寇称为殷寇”而已。(Source: https://web.archive.org/web/http://baike.baidu.com/view/1854748.htm) [UNLESS LACVIET HAD BEEN PART OF THE ANCIENT CHU STATE (?). While they are about some legends of Thanh Giong, we focus only the linguistic aspect of the matter here. Howerver, there exist evidences that the ancient Vietic state had already been in contact with the Shang Dynasty with the Shang's 10th century BC bronze artifacts found in Hunan Province. ]
In Chinese group to bring relic back to Hunan, By Lin Qi,: "A 3,000-year-old Chinese bronze, called min fanglei, will soon return to its birthplace to be reunited with the lid from which it was separated nearly a century ago. The reunion was made possible by a private purchase by Chinese collectors on April 19 in New York. Acclaimed as the "king of all fanglei", the square bronze, which dates to the Shang Dynasty (c.16th century-11th century BC), served as a ritual wine vessel. It was excavated in Taoyuan, Hunan province, in 1922." (Source: https://web.archive.org/web/http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2014-03/21/content_17366159.htm)
(Remarks in between [ ] are made by dchph.)
ā ē ě ī ǐ ă ō ǒ ū ǔ ǖ ǘ ǚ ǜ ü ɔ ɑ ɪ ɛ ɤ ə ŋ ɯ ɪ ʔ ʃ ö χ ɓ ɗ ɱ ʿ ʾ θ ñ