188.8.131.52:45: WAS MIDDLE CHINESE (AND TANGUT) GRADE II UVULARIZED?
Last week I finally started an entry that was more than just a link to another scholar's work. However, I ran into Internet problems and put off writing nearly all of the entry until tonight.
On the 14th I discovered Evans et al.'s "Uvular approximation as an articulatory vowel feature". Although the paper only discusses that feature in the Mawo and Luhua dialects of Northwestern Qiang, I wonder if that feature characterized Grade II in Middle Chinese (MC).
Old Chinese (OC) syllables with 'emphasis' (pharyngealization) became Grade II syllables in MC if they had a medial *-r-. Otherwise they became Grade I syllables:
OC *CˁV > MC *CVI
OC *CˁrV > MC *CVII
In my reconstruction of OC, uvulars were only in 'emphatic' syllables. Medial *-r- had an uvular allophone *[ʀ] after 'emphatic' initials. This *[ʀ] weakened to a fricative *[ʁ] and uvularized the following vowel before disappearing in late OC:
OC *CˁʀV > *CˁʁV > *CˁʁVʶ > *CVʶ
Tangut Grade II may have had a similar origin: e.g.,
*pʰroH > *pʰˁʀoH > *pʰˁʁoH > *pʰˁʁoʶH > 0080 2pho2 [pʰoʶ²] 'snake'
There was no way to indicate uvularization in the Tibetan script, so
Tangut Grades I and II were not distinguished in Tibetan transcription.
MC Grade II vowels were borrowed as nonuvularized vowels in Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese - all languages lacking uvularization:
|歌 *ka (Grade I) 'song'||ca [kaː]||ka
|加 *k(ɰ/j)aʶ (Grade II) 'to add'||gia [zaː] < *kjaː|
Grade II developed a glide after velars in the MC dialect underlying Sino-Vietnamese:
OC *KˁʀV > *KˁʁV > *KˁʁVʶ > *KɰVʶ > *KjVʶ
Sino-Korean is based on an eighth century northeastern dialect in which
that glide had not yet fronted to *-j-. Velar *-ɰ- has
not left a trace
in Sino-Korean. The -y- in a few Sino-Korean borrowings of
syllables is due to the Korean-internal breaking of *e and does not
reflect later NE MC *-j-: e.g.,
界 MC *kɰèʶj > Old Korean *kéy > Middle Korean *〮곙 *kyŏ́y > modern Korean 계 kye [ke]
(5.24.1:42: The MC 'departing' tone that I indicate with a grave accent corresponds to the Middle Korean high tone that I indicate with an acute accent. I have projected the high tone back into Old Korean, but it is possible that the OK source of the high tone had a different contour. In any case, the contours of the OK and the northeastern MC tones were probably similar.
The earliest attested MK reading for 界 is a prescriptive reading 〮갱 káy that is not ancestral to modern Korean 계 kye. The prescriptive reading is from 界 MC *kɰàʶj. I reconstructed MK *〮곙 *kyŏ́y to account for the modern form.)
Sino-Khitan is based on a later stage of that northeastern dialect in
which *-ɰ- had fronted to *-j-: e.g.,
家 MC *kɰaʶ > Liao *kja(ʶ) > Khitan small script <g.ia>
Uvularization may have been lost in Liao Chinese after plain *a
raised to *o, leaving a gap to be filled by uvularized *aʶ:
*aʶ > *a > *o
If uvularization persisted in later stages, it must have been
subphonemic. It has not been observed in any living Chinese languages.