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Tibetan as a “model language” in the Amdo Sprachbund: evidence from Salar and Wutun

Erika Sandman and Camille Simon

Abstract

This paper outlines Tibetan morphosyntactic features transferred into two genetically unrelated and typologically distinct languages, Salar (Turkic) and Wutun (Sinitic), both spoken in the same linguistic area, the Amdo Sprachbund located in the Upper Yellow River basin in Western China. [1] Due to long-term linguistic contact with Amdo Tibetan, the culturally dominant language in the region, Salar and Wutun have undergone many parallel convergence processes, and they have developed shared grammatical features not found in their genetic relatives spoken elsewhere. By comparing the grammatical structures transferred from Tibetan into both Salar and Wutun, we aim to identify the most prominent Tibetan grammatical features that tend to be copied into neighboring languages despite their different genetic affiliations and typological profiles. Our study highlights the role of Tibetan as the dominant language of the Sprachbund, serving as a model for linguistic convergence for its neighboring languages.

Abbreviations

1

first person

2

second person

3

third person

abl

ablative

abs

absolutive

acc

accusative

ass

associative

asp

aspectual auxiliary (phasal aspect)

caus

causative

cit

citative

clf

classifier

coll

collective

compl

completive

cond

conditional

conn

connective particle

conseq

consequential converb

conv

converb

dat

dative

def

definite

dem

demonstrative

dur

durative

ego

egophoric

emph

emphatic

equ

equative

erg

ergative

excl

exclamative

exec

executive auxiliary (semantically void auxiliary based on the verb ‘to do’, which is used to connect evidentials with perfective aspect marker in Wutun)

fact

factual

fut

future

gen

genitive

h

honorific

het

heterophoric

id

identifiable (sub-category of definite)

incompl

incompletive

indef

indefinite

indir

indirect modality

inf

inferential

int

interrogative

instr

instrumental

ipfv

imperfective

lightV

light verb

loc

locative

nagt

non-agent

neg

negative

nmz

nominalizer

pass

passive

pauc

paucal

pfv

perfective

phat

phatic

pl

plural

PN

proper name

po

patient-oriented

poss

possessive

prob

probabilitative

progr

progressive

ref

referential

res

resultative

sg

singular

sen

sensory evidence

test

testimonial

top

topicalizer

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Published Online: 2016-3-1
Published in Print: 2016-3-1

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