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The origins of Jiamao

Andrew Hsiu
December 2017, updated June 2018
Please cite as: Hsiu, Andrew. 2017. The origins of Jiamao. <https://sites.google.com/site/msealangs/home/blog/jiamao>.
Please note that this is a working draft that will be periodically updated.

Jiamao, an aberrant Kra-Dai language of southern Hainan, has multiple strata, which I have listed from earliest to latest.
  1. Austroasiatic [Thurgood 1992] (unknown branch that has parallels with eastern branches such as Vietic, Katuic, and Bahnaric)
  2. Tibeto-Burman (unknown Burmo-Qiangic / Eastern Tibeto-Burman branch or branches)
  3. Unknown independent Kra-Dai branch
  4. Central Tai ? [Norquest p.c.]
  5. Pre-Hlai [Norquest 2007]
  6. late Hlai [Norquest 2007]
  7. Hainanese (Min Chinese) [Norquest 2007]
This points to an origin of Jiamao on the mainland, most likely in the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam, or the coast of southern Guangxi. Lexical analysis of non-Kra-Dai words in Jiamao points to its origin as a mixed language that came together from (1) a "missing" Eastern Austroasiatic branch that originated from south of the Red River Delta, and (2) a "missing" Burmo-Qiangic branch that had migrated from Yunnan via the Red River, or perhaps via the upper Pearl River. This mixing may have taken place more than 1,500 or 2,000 years ago. This mixed Eastern Austroasiatic-Burmo-Qiangic language was then influenced by an unknown Kra-Dai branch and perhaps also by Central Tai in southern Guangxi, and then borrowed from early forms of Hlai as it entered Hainan.

Such mixed languages still exist today in southern China, such as the mixed Hmongic-Kam-Sui language Sanqiao of southeastern Guizhou.

Jiamao is not the only Kra-Dai language with words of Austroasiatic origin. Be and Kra languages also have Austroasiatic loanwords. Jiamao and Be also have various loanwords that likely came from an unknown branch of Austroasiatic, perhaps a "missing branch" that is currently extinct. Below are some Be words from Liang (1997), Jizhao words from Li & Wu (2017), and Austroasiatic branch reconstructions by Sidwell from the MKED.

new -- Be (Lincheng) nau4 : P-Bahnaric *ʔnaːw
moon -- Be (Lincheng) [mai4] sai1, Jizhao ʦaːi21 [ɗe55] : P-Katuic *ksaj
two -- Be (Qiongshan) bɐn5, Jizhao man55 : P-Bahnaric/P-Katuic *ɓaːr
grass -- Be (Qiongshan) bat7', Jizhao ɓat55 : P-Bahnaric/Katuic/Palaungic *ɓat
smoke -- Be (Lincheng) duai4 : P-Khmuic *ptoʔ / P-Palaungic *təəʔ (?)

The links with Eastern Austroasiatic branches suggests that Eastern Austroasiatic was a linkage that once extended all along the coast of Vietnam into the coast of Guangxi and the Leizhou Peninsula.

Jiamao has a mish-mash of words from different languages families and missing branches. It is a melting pot of linguistic relicts from a time when South China was much more linguistically diverse.

The Jiamao forms of non-Hlai origin below are from Norquest (2007), while comparisons are from the ABVD, MKED, and STEDT databases. Pletase note that these are initial look-alikes compiled for further analysis. No sound correspondences have been worked out, and there are no claims about whether the Jiamao forms and the compared forms are indeed related.

Jiamao forms often display the sound change *m- > p-.

1. Jiamao-Austroasiatic comparisons
Jiamao    ɓuət7
Proto-Bahnaric     *ɓəs
Proto-Khmuic    *bəs

Jiamao    vi:4
Stieng    wii
Proto-Katuic    *tawah
Proto-Khmuic    *wah   wide, vast
Proto-Palaungic    *waas / *wah
Lawa    wïah

Jiamao    ʔɔː5
*ʔɲcɔŋ   shrimp   (proto Katuic)
*ʔə[c/ɟ]ɔŋ   shrimp (freshwater)   (proto West-Bahnaric)

Jiamao    tin1
*ɗeeŋ   road, way   (proto Palaungic)

Jiamao    tiaw4 < PMK    *t2rawʔ 'taro'

Jiamao    lɔn1
Mang (Jinping)     luaŋ31

Jiamao tshiaw1
*tial   earring   (proto West-Bahnaric)
tiaw   earrings (boucle d'oreilles)   (Nyaheun)
tiaw   earrings; wear something inside one's belt   (Nyaheun)
tiɛw   earring   (Cheng)

Jiamao    tse:2
Bolyu     ɬi:t10

3.2. Jiamao-Tibeto-Burman comparisons
Jiamao    tsap7 tsin5
cf. Qiangic, Loloish, Ersuish forms

Jiamao    tsha:k9
*Karen    chwɛ́q
*Karen    tsɣɑi

Jiamao    ʔɔŋ1
*TB    ʔon    nauseated / vomit
Meithei    ong
Written Burmese    ʔan
Jingpho    ʔan

Jiamao    vuəŋ4
PTB    *pwar
Tangkhulic    *pʰaar

Jiamao    tsem5
PTB    *tśi
TGTM    ᴮtsjam
WT rtsam-pa
Kaike jyam
PTani *sum
Bodo, Kiranti, etc.
Comments: Para-Bodish origin?

Jiamao    tsa:4
Loloish    *krap

Jiamao    pe:1
PTB    *b-la

to give
Jiamao    mɯan1
Tangkhulic    *mi
Kuki-Naga    *pe(k)

Jiamao    ləːn5
PTB *s-ley/ŋ ~ s-rey/ŋ
WB    hrañ

Jiamao    tshey1
*Tangkhulic    tsik
Tshangla, Central    tsaŋ

to eat
Jiamao    tey5
*Tani    do
*Northern Naga    they

3.3. Jiamao-Kra-Dai (non-Hlai) comparisons
Jiamao    ȵen5
Jingxi     ni:n3
Daxin     nin5
Shangsi     nen5

Jiamao    ŋɯa1
Proto-Kra     *hŋa C
Kra (Gelao, etc.)

Jiamao    ɬaw4
Proto-Hlai (Ostapirat)     *ala:u C
Lachi (Tân Lợi)     la0 ʔm45
Gelao (Fengyan)     la55 mi55
Gelao (Judu)     mi31

Jiamao    ɗey1
Mak/Ai-Cham    de1
Ong Be (Lincheng)     taŋ1

Jiamao kɔ:1
Proto-Tai     *krwɯ: A
Dong, Northern     ka11
Paha     ðɛŋ322 ka322

Central Tai / Kam-Sui

Jiamao    mɯat7
cf. PMP    *buaq

right (side)
Jiamao    pha:y5 pet10
Gelao (Bigong)     pha13 pəɯ31

3.4. Jiamao words of unknown origin
Jiamao phan1
not Tai; TB origin likely

Jiamao    maŋ1

Jiamao    ɗa:n1
cf. Biao Min (Dongshan)     than42     to bite (of dogs)

Jiamao    ŋa:w1

Li Jinfang [李锦芳]; Wu Yan [吴艳]. 2017. "Guangdong Wuchuan Jizhaohua gaikuang" [广东吴川吉兆话概况]. In Minzu Yuwen [民族语文] 2017:4.
Liang Min [梁敏]. 1997. A study of Lingao [临高语研究]. Shanghai: Shanghai Far Eastern Publishing House [上海远东出版].
Norquest, Peter K. 2007. A Phonological Reconstruction of Proto-Hlai (Ph.D. dissertation). Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona.
Thurgood, Graham. 1992. The aberrancy of the Jiamao dialect of Hlai: speculation on its origins and history. In Ratliff, Martha S. and Schiller, E. (eds.), Papers from the First Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, 417-433. Arizona State University, Program for Southeast Asian Studies.