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The origins of Shehua

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


I consider Shehua to be the "third" missing branch of Hmong-Mien spoken in the Gan River watershed of Jiangxi province, which is much further to the east than the homelands of Hmongic and Mienic in Hunan province. Shehua has been relexified by early forms of Hakka, perhaps sometime around the Tang dynasty. Proto-Southern Gan, which gave rise to Hakka and Southern Gan, was itself a mixed language in central Jiangxi that had a mixed Kra-Dai and Hmong-Mien substratum, an archaic Chinese layer, and a Late Middle Chinese superstratum, (Sagart 2002).

You (2002) has identified various Shehua words of non-Sinitic origin. I have analyzed these words and found that they have various parallels with divergent Hmong-Mien languages such as Pa-Hng, Qo Xiong, Dzao Min, Jiongnai, She, Bana, and others. Although these words of clearly of Hmong-Mien origin, the lack of any clear connection with any single Hmong-Mien language suggests that the substratum of Shehua represents a third branch of Hmong-Mien. Since there are also various Shehua words that show similarities with Kra-Dai, Shehua was also in contact with Kra-Dai, likely a branch (or branches) that was similar to Biao and Lakkia.

Please see <Shehua substratum.xlsx> (attached below) for lexical comparisons.


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Andrew Hsiu,
Jan 30, 2018, 12:30 PM
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