MY-HM papers at SEALS 23

defushi2006 at YAHOO.COM.CN defushi2006 at YAHOO.COM.CN
Tue Jun 11 07:48:06 UTC 2013

Dear Prof. Ratliff,
     Thank you a lot for the information.
Best Wishes!
   Shi Defu

At 2013-06-07 05:35:47,"Martha Ratliff" <ac6000 at WAYNE.EDU> wrote:
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>



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 buatcmienh(highly indefinite)
 1SG seeperson
'I see people.'
(2) Yie buatc dauh mienh(indefinite) 
 1SGsee   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, nyeiis 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 nyeias the relativise marker; and more complex as (7).

(6) Yie buatc meih gorngv taux nyei mienh
1SGsee2SGspeakabout/CVB  RELperson
'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)Tusxib xubnkauglubtxivev.paum
CLarrowpoke.through CLfruitapple
'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-sikeyalae-suvi-simi-ya-nabovadae-basi-si 
'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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