The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

MorPhun 9/24: Boer on Old Chinese Morphology

Speaker: Boer Fu (MIT)
Title: Sagart & Baxter’s book on Old Chinese
Date and time: Monday 9/24, 5-6pm
Location: 32-D831

Chinese has been known as a language that does not employ any morphology apart from compounds. Each monosyllabic morpheme can stand as a word on its own, and interact with each other syntactically. But the language has not always been like this. Derivational prefixes, suffixes, and infixes have once been productive in Old Chinese. In this talk, I will draw examples from Sagart & Baxter’s 2014 phonological reconstruction of Old Chinese to illustrate their variety and relations to the writing system. I will also discuss the loss of affixation and its role in the emergence of tonal contrast in Middle Chinese. The implication on the reconstruction of Proto-Sino-Tibetan will be discussed briefly as well.