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Lecture: San Diu – is it a variety of Cantonese or is it something else?

San Diu, a language spoken in Northern Vietnam, is understudied. The genetic relationship between San Diu and other languages is still not clear. There have been claims that San Diu is a form of Chinese language (Pham & Nguyen 2014: 89). Edmondson and Gregerson (2007: 744) stated that it is a form of archaic Cantonese, possibly related to Pinghua which is spoken in modern day Guangxi, China. In Ngyuen’s (2013) study, she compared San Diu vocabularies with three Chinese dialects: Yue (Guangzhou), Hakka (Meixian) and Southern Min (Teochew) and found that around 2/3 of the San Diu vocabularies are similar to Hakka (lexically and for some, phonetically).

To explore the genetic classification of San Diu further, I will be using shared innovations as a criterion for the classification in this paper. This is another way to falsify previous claims and the observation made by the surface synchronic comparison between Chinese dialects and San Diu. Innovations that are prototypical and unique to three Chinese dialect groups were chosen and compared with San Diu. Over 400 syllables were analysed overall. The result shows that, firstly, a huge amount of words are not from a Sinitic origin. Secondly, San Diu shares innovations with Yue and Hakka. I argue that the Sinitic words in San Diu largely came from Yue, since more innovations are shared with Yue than Hakka. This does not dispute the possibility that Hakka words did not make their way to San Diu, however. Further studies are needed for a deeper understanding to the origin of this language.


Day: 2019-11-29
Start time: 16:20
Duration: 00:30
Room: Schellingstr. 3 R203
Track: Historical Linguistics
Language: en



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