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The complexity and history of verb-stem ablauting patterns in Siyuewu Khroskyabs

  • Yunfan Lai ORCID logo EMAIL logo
From the journal Folia Linguistica


This paper describes the ablauting patterns in Siyuewu Khroskyabs, an understudied Gyalrongic language. Ablaut is only found in verbs containing closed syllables, and ablaut patterns in Siyuewu preserve Proto-Khroskyabs patterns relatively well. After providing a synchronic description of verb-stem functions and ablauting patterns, implicative entropy is used to model Siyuewu’s ablauting status. Entropy measurements reveal Siyuewu to have relatively low ablaut predictability, which may be suggestive of a historically conservative ablauting system. On the basis of this quantitative analysis, the current paper proposes an internal reconstruction of ablauting patterns, and postulates a series of velarised vowels for Proto-Siyuewu. Analogical changes are identified through comparison with other Gyalrongic languages. The reconstructed verb forms and patterns are then compared with neighbouring Gyalrongic languages and the directionality of analogy is discussed.

Corresponding author: Yunfan Lai, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Kahlaische Straße 10, 07745 Jena, Germany, E-mail:


I have received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 715618, Computer-Assisted Language Comparison, I would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their very constructive comments. I am sincerely grateful to Sacha Beniamine, Agnes Conrad, Guan Xuan, Nathan Hill, Guillaume Jacques, Dimitri Lévêque, Johann-Mattis List, Thomas Pellard and Tiago Tresoldi for their useful suggestions and guidance. I am also grateful to the editors, Olga Fischer and Sune Gregersen, for their final corrections.

Non-leipzig abbreviations

att = attenuative; conj = conjunction; dub = dubitative; ifr = inferential; interj = interjection; inv = inverse; jus = jussive; lcert = low certainty; part = sentence final particle; vi = intransitive verb; vt = transitive verb.


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Received: 2019-12-18
Accepted: 2020-04-16
Published Online: 2021-01-08
Published in Print: 2021-04-27

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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