The Tai Ahom Sound System as Reflected by the Texts Recorded in the Bark Manuscripts

Date
2020-09-08
Authors
Gogoi, Poppy
Morey, Stephen
Pittayaporn, Pittayawat
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13
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2
Starting Page
14
Ending Page
42
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Abstract
Tai Ahom (Southwestern Tai) mostly survives in manuscripts. (Terwiel 1988; Morey 2015). It has long been held that Ahom retained many archaic features lost in most modern Tai languages. For example, Li (1977: pp87-89) reconstructs the cluster *phr- as evidence from Ahom in words like phra ‘rock’ and phrai ‘walk’. However, Diller (1992), argues that Ahom exhibited the “pan-Tai consonant mergers of the sort in which the sounds of the “low series consonants presumably fell together with certain of the others” and hence is not archaic. In order to uncover the true nature of Ahom, this paper investigates how each of Ahom graph relates to the reconstructed proto phonemes in the Proto-Southwestern branch (Li 1977; Pittayaporn 2009). Our analysis was based on eight carefully analyzed manuscripts, identified allographic variations, suggesting mergers and retentions of Tai phonemic contrasts are common among the modern Shan varieties and the lack of archaic features claimed by earlier authors.
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Tai Ahom, Allographic variations, manuscripts, mergers, retentions
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28 pages
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