Chinese loans in Old Vietnamese with a sesquisyllabic phonology
 
Xun Gong (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)
 
Journal of Language Relationship, № 17/1-2, 2019 - p.55-72
 
While consonant clusters, taken broadly to include presyllables, are commonly hypothesized for Old Chinese, little direct evidence is available for establishing the early forms of specific words. This essay examines a hitherto overlooked source: Old Vietnamese, a language substantially attested in a single document, which writes certain words, monosyllabic in modern Vietnamese, in an orthography suggesting sesquisyllabic phonology. For a number of words loaned from Chinese, Old Vietnamese provides the only testimony of the form of the Vietic borrowing. The small list of currently known sesquisyllabic words of Chinese origin attested in this document includes examples of both words with a secure initial Chinese cluster and words with plausible Vietic-internal prefixation.
 
Keywords: Old Chinese language, Old Vietnamese language, historical reconstruction, sesquisyllabic words, prefixal morphology
 
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