MY-HM papers at SEALS 23

Geneviève Caelen-Haumont gcaelen at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 7 04:45:17 UTC 2013

Dear Martha,

Thanks so much for your email and the promotion of Hmong-Mien studies !

Very friendly,


2013/6/7 Martha Ratliff <ac6000 at>

> Dear colleagues,
> We made a good showing at the SEALS conference in Bangkok last week.  I
> have pasted in abstracts for the 5 papers presented on Hmong-Mien languages
> below. Please contact individual presenters for more information about
> their talks:
> T. Daniel Arisawa <t.daniel.ari at>
> Geneviève Caelen-Haumont <gcaelen at>
> Elisabeth Ginsburg <elisabeth.ginsburg at>
> Martha Ratliff <ac6000 at>
> Yoshihisa Taguchi <taguchi at>
> Best,
> Martha
> **********************************************************
> 1) The degree of definiteness in noun phrases in Iu Mien
> T. Daniel Arisawa
> La Trobe University (CRLD) and Chiang Rai Rajabhat University
> This paper discusses the general structure of noun phrases in relation to
> their definiteness in Iu Mien. Unlike European languages, Iu Mien does not
> have articles whether definite or indefinite. Nevertheless, it is possible
> to express various degrees of definiteness-indefiniteness distinction, e.g.
> indefiniteness, numerical specification, definiteness, and identifiability.
> Devices employed to indicate them include classifiers (e.g. *dauh* <person/animal>),
> numerals (e.g. *yietc* 'one'), demonstratives (e.g. *wuov* 'that'), and
> the identification particle (*dongh* 'same'):
> (1) Yie buatc mienh (highly indefinite)
>   1SG see person
> 'I see people.'
> (2) Yie buatc dauh mienh (indefinite)
>   1SG see    CLF person
>   'I saw a person.'
> (3) Yie buatc yietc dauh mienh (numerical indefinite)
> ISG see one   CLF person
> 'I saw one person.'
> (3) Yie buatc wuov dauh mienh (definite)
> ISG see DEM CLF person
> 'I saw the/that person.'
> (4) Yie buatc dongh wuov daug (mienh) (identification + definiteness)
> 1SG see IDTF DEM CLF person
> 'I saw the/that very/same person.' (IDTF = identification)
> To form complex noun phrases, the possessive particle *nyei* is employed
> as in (5):
> (5) Yie buatc meih nyei dorn
> 1SG see 2SG POSS son
> 'I saw your son.'
> In fact, *nyei* is highly multifunctional, being a marker for the
> possessive, relative clauses, aspect, and adverbial phrases. (6) shows a
> complex noun phrase (in the square brackets) using *nyei* as the
> relativise marker; and more complex as (7).
> (6) Yie buatc meih gorngv taux nyei mienh
> 1SG see 2SG speak about/CVB  REL person
> 'I saw the person whom you talked about.'
> (7) Yie buatc [dongh meih gorngv taux (nyei) wuov dauh (mienh)]
> 1SG see IDTF 2SG speak about/CVB REL DEM CLF person
> 'I saw that very/same person whom you talked about.'
> Court (1986:193-4) only briefly mentions the omission (indicated by the
> round brackets above) of *nyei* and of the noun head (e.g. *mienh* 'person')
> (each in less than one page). Building upon his observations, the present
> study attempts to explain the omission of these elements in terms of
> definiteness and identifiability of noun phrases.
> 2) When diachrony is helping for a synchronic study: The case of the Mo
> Piu tones from the Hmong-Mien family in Northern Vietnam
> Geneviève Caelen-Haumonta and Katarina Bartkovab
> aHanoi University of Sciences and Technology and bUniversité de Lorraine
> The aim of our study is to describe an unknown branch of the Hmong-Mien
> family of languages which is unwritten and endangered. The Mo Piu ethnic
> minority lives in a remote area of the Northern Vietnam mountains. Since
> 2009, 4 recording sessions have been conducted. Studies have been carried
> out in two domains, in phonetics/phonology and --tonetics||/tonology. The
> present study focuses on the problem of Mo Piu tones. Previous studies
> [Caelen-Haumont, 2010, 2012] presented a former description of their nature
> and shapes. However, due to the context and speaker variability, the tone
> contours of the prototypes still remain an unsolved problem. Our goal is
> thus first, to check 2 methods of annotation relying on 2 annotation tools
> and also to improve on our former results on the Mo Piu language, by
> describing more precisely the tones contours.
> The corpus used was recorded at the MICA Institute in November 2012 by 2
> male speakers selected for their strong knowledge of the Mo Piu language.
> The present study uses a list of 175 words or compound words uttered 3
> times by 1 speaker (525 items), extracted from the Calmsea list (extended),
> and grouped according to 1-8 prototones [Ratliff, 2010]. Though on the
> basis of this corpus a diachronic and a synchronic studies can be achieved,
> the focus here is on the synchronic perspective.
> To check the objectivity of the annotations, 2 automatic and
> semi-automatic tonal annotation tools were used: Praat-Momel-Mistral+
> [Weber and al., 2012] and Prosotran [Bartkova and al., 2012], enabling a
> comparison of the tonal annotation results. The first part of this study
> presents the comparison of the tonal annotations yielded by these 2 tools,
> and the second part, in the frame of the words of the prototones lists,
> presents the mean values and standard-deviations of the patterns of the Mo
> Piu tones. In the semi- automatic (i.e. semi-manual) procedure, at the step
> of the xls files, a correction was made if necessary, concerning the
> threshold effect: ± 5 Hz around the threshold was granted. The conclusion
> is that the automatic and manual procedures are mostly in concordance.
> Our study allows also for a reduced number of different tone patterns and
> gives more precision about them, bringing to light a bidirectional pattern
> for falling tones /54/ (/544/) and /43/ (/433/), and a one direction
> pattern for /41/ (and of course for the plateau /33/). Concerning the
> prototones study, from these limited data restricted to only 1 speaker and
> containing an unbalanced number of items among the types of prototones,
> some new hypotheses can only put forward: the 2, 3, 5, 8 ones seem to have
> merged into the same tone /43/, while the prototone 1 seems to mostly
> correspond to the tone /54/. As for the other prototones, other data are
> needed to confirm whether 6 is split up in two tones /43, 41/, and whether
> 4 leads to the plateau /33/.
> 3) Topological relations in White Hmong: Description and typology
> Elisabeth Ginsburg
> Australian National University
> The paper describes the expression of topological relations in White
> Hmong, a Hmong Mien language, from the perspective of syntax and semantics.
> Melding linguistic description with comparative typology, I compare Hmong
> with other languages as described in *Grammars of Space *(Levinson and
> Wilkins, 2006). The original data used in this paper has been collected
> using the Bowerman and Pederson (1992) Topological Relations Picture
> Series.
> Topological relations have not yet been fully described in White Hmong but
> preliminary analysis shows that White Hmong behaves in an unexpected way
> cross- linguistically. For example White Hmong seems to violate
> the 'Implicational hierarchy across topological space' put forth by
> Levinson and Wilkins (2006: 519). This hierarchy describes how semantics
> influence the choice of which grammatical construction will most likely be
> used in certain contexts.
> By comparing the semantic maps developed for other languages found in
> Levinson and Wilkins (2006: 553-562) we begin to see where White Hmong fits
> in the bigger picture. Where typically languages express topological
> relations using constructions which may include adpositions and locatives,
> White Hmong and Kilivila (an Austronesian language of Papua New Guinea,
> described in Senft 2006: 206-229) frequently do not. In White Hmong and
> Kilivila, there are expressions of figure ground relationships which make
> extensive use of verbs and avoid locatives, although they can do so in
> different ways. The White Hmong example below shows a topological
> relationship which is expressed with the use of a single verb, *nkaug*,
> 'poke through'.
> (1) *Tus xib xub nkaug lub txiv ev.paum*
> CL arrow poke.through CL fruit apple
> 'The arrow is poking through the apple.' (White Hmong)
> The second example shows how Kilivila treats the same spatial relationship.
> (2) *Ekausi keyala esuvisi miyana bovada ebasisi e-kau-si keyala e-suvi-si
> mi-ya-na bovada e-basi-si *
> 3.-take-PL spear 3.-enter-pl DEM-CP.-flexible-DEM pumpkin 3.-stab-PL
> 'They take a spear, they enter this pumpkin (with it) they spear (it).'
> Kilivila (Senft 2006: 216)
> 4) Grammatical features shared by Austronesian and Hmong-Mien
> Martha Ratliff
> Wayne State University
> Over the past several years, linguistic similarities across pairs or sets
> of East and
> Southeast Asian language families have given rise to a number of
> well-known proposals
> for a closer relationship between one pair or set of families than others.
> This work has
> primarily involved comparing small portions of the lexicon, supported by
> hints of sound
> correspondences, but has also involved comparing some closed word sets and
> grammatical features. In every case, we are challenged to provide a
> historical explanation
> for the best of this evidence, such as the similarity between the numeral
> systems of the
> TK language Buyang and AN (Sagart 2004). I do not find the idea of the
> late Stanley
> Starosta (2005)--that Sino-Tibetan, Hmong-Mien, Tai-Kadai (Kra-Dai),
> Austronesian,
> and Austroasiatic may all somehow be connected at a great time depth--too
> daring as a
> working hypothesis. One advantage of this hypothesis is that it allows us
> to remain open-
> minded about all three major proposals: Austric, Austro-Tai, and STAN, as
> well as
> --Yangzian|| (AA-HM). As a contribution to work on the East Asian complex, I
> would
> like to present some grammatical similarities between the
> centrally-located (and thus
> historically significant) HM languages and AN.
> At the 2004 SEALS meeting in Bangkok I presented the idea that the
> stability of
> individual basic lexical items is idiosyncratic, and the stability of
> phonologically-similar
> roots for the same basic concepts in two sister-candidate families, in
> conjunction with
> more conventional evidence, can point to a higher-level relationship. HM
> and AN share a
> few of these stable roots. In this presentation, I would like to present
> complementary
> evidence from grammar to suggest that HM and AN may have had a period of
> shared
> history. In particular, I will review and extend my earlier work on (1)
> the stative and
> causative prefixes of AN and HM (both appear in the identical AN/HM words
> for 'die'
> and 'kill'); (2) the AN and HM personal pronouns; and (3) the AN and HM
> spatial deictic
> systems. A person-based, three-way contrast ('this near me', 'that near
> you', 'that
> neutral') is typical for AN, but is relatively unusual for languages
> spoken on the
> mainland [NOTE: in the discussion after the talk, it was pointed out that
> such a system
> is indeed attested on the mainland]. The lexical and grammatical evidence
> taken together is
> slight in quantity but is strong in specificity, and requires an
> explanation.
> 5) On the phylogeny of Hmongic languages
> Yoshihisa Taguchi
> Chiba University
> The aim of this paper is to explore the phylogeny of the Hmongic
> languages, which constitute one of the branches of the Hmong-Mien language
> family. Several scholars have proposed family tree diagrams for this group,
> but most of them do not show evidence to support their trees. This paper
> will explore the phylogeny of this language group mainly based on lexical
> evidence, but also try to support the result with some phonological
> evidence.
> In the first section, I will draw a tree based on lexical evidence, using
> a list of lexical data of Hmong-Mien, which are selected on the basis of
> the CALMSEA wordlist (Matisoff 1978). The data are from several sources,
> including Wang (1985), Mao and Li (1997, 2005), Mao and Meng (1986), and
> Meng (2001). Next, I go on to examine the phylogenetic status of the
> lexical data in each slot of the list in terms of cognacy and borrowing
> possibility, mainly based on Ratliff (2010). Finally I input them into an
> algorithm to find the best tree(s). In the second section, I will try to
> determine whether or not the phonological innovations that these languages
> are assumed to have undergone support the calculation result obtained in
> the previous section.
> The main points of this study include: (1) we must propose a tree with
> many ranks for the Hmongic languages, in contrast to the flat trees that
> have been proposed, and (2) "the Miao language" in the previous
> classification, which includes Xiong (Xiangxi), Hmu (Qiandong), and Hmong
> (Chuanqiandian), is not tenable as a single monophyletic group, but each of
> these three languages belongs to different subgroups of the family.
> ------------------------------
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Geneviève Caelen-Haumont

url personnel :
Directrice de recherches CNRS

MICA Institute
IP Hanoi - CNRS/UMI-2954 - INP Grenoble
Hanoi University of Sciences and Technology
Truong Dai Hoc Bach Khoa
B1, 1 Dai Co Viet street
Hai Ba Trung district
Tel : +84 4 38 68 30 87
 Fax : +84 4 38 68 35 51
web :

genevieve.caelen at

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