the Origin of the Mainstream Hakka Word [oi1] 'Mother' ", W. South
Coblin proposes that oi-type words for 'mother' in Hakka
varieties originate from the compression of two syllables (amoi)
into one (oi). Although amoi > oi at first
looks like am-loss (i.e., the disappearance of the first half
of the word), if the kinship prefix a- is analyzed as a zero
consonant Ø- plus a rhyme -a, then oi is really Øoi
with the initial of the kinship prefix Øa- and the rhyme
of the root moi 'mother':
That is an example of one of three types of compression in Chinese
and other languages of the region:
刀 Early Old Chinese *CVtaw > Late Old Chinese *taw 'knife' (If not for Vietnamese [zaːw] with lenition of *-t- conditioned by *CV-, no first syllable would be reconstructible)
2. disyllabic word > fusion of initial consonants of both syllables + rhyme of second syllable
抱 Early Old Chinese *mʌpuʔ > Late Old Chinese *bowʔ 'to carry in the arms'
*b is a fusion of *m- and *-p-.
My formulation needs to be tweaked because the vowel of the surviving syllable has changed under the influence of the lost vowel of the previous syllable: *u has lowered to *ow.
3. disyllabic word > initial of first syllable + rhyme of second
syllable ... no, I'd better reformulate that.
Coblin gives a standard Mandarin example: 不用 bú yòng lit. 'not use' > 甭 béng 'no need to' (note the neat stacked composite character). My initial formulation doesn't work; it would predict a fusion ˟bòng or ˟bèng (the latter takes into account the impossibility of -ong after labials in standard Mandarin). But the actual form has the tone of the first syllable and a rhyme that is unlike either syllable. So how about
3'. disyllabic word > initial of first syllable + fusion of rhymes of both syllables
to account for 甭 béng?
And 3' can be reworded to account for 抱 *bowʔ:
2'. disyllabic word > fusion of initial consonants of both syllables + fusion of rhymes of both syllables
No, wait, *-ʌ- in *mʌpuʔ isn't a rhyme - it's a
vowel in the middle of a word. And I can't think of a word to describe *CʌCu
> *CʌCow > *Cow. 'Umlaut' isn't right. Vowel
harmony is involved, but there's also diphthongization. I've used the
term 'bending' and Schuessler uses the term 'warping', but neither term
acknowledges the first vowel that triggers the process. 'Harmonic
bending' or 'harmonic warping'?
In any case, I've been thinking that reduction is irregular. Fusion
is a type of reduction. So I expect some difficulty in trying to ...
reduce reduction to a set of simple categories. I'd still like to say
something other than 'anything can happen', though. There are
constraints on complexity.
Let's zoom out from a single etymology toward the bigger picture of
Hakka as described by Coblin. Let me try to translate his words into a
South Central Chinese
|Early Southern Highlands
||a subset of Tuhua/Pinghua
土話 Tuhua 'local speech' and 平話 Pinghua 'ordinary speech' are generic
terms for a set of unclassified Chinese languages. Coblin proposes that
some of them may be related to his Southern Highlands Chinese group of
languages which I could call 'Greater Hakka'. He reconstructs 'mother'
in Early South Central Chinese as *mVi3/4, leaving aside the
problem of daughter forms with tones 1 and 2 (e.g., the "[oi1]" in his
title) for the time being.