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Abstract : The book Studies of the Tangwang language, published in 2014, first provides detailed analysis of the phonology, morphology and syntax of this language, which until now has not been very well known by the public (before this book, one article about the Tangwang language was published by Chen Yuanlong [Ibrahim] in 1985). The book is composed of five chapters, with an annex of four annotated texts and a vocabulary list of 2964 words. Chapter 1 describes the geographic, historic and religious context in which the Tangwang people live. I have exploited historical documents including those found in the Qing Dynasty archives (dating from the 18th century) as fully as I can, as well as legends, family genealogies (oral and written), and other sources. I have adopted an approach of proving an event not only with written documents but also with concrete material such as engraved steles, temple construction, and ancestral remains. The chapter has taken biological research results to identify population migrations in the past. By comparing statistics from 1988, 1996 and 2010, I have shown that more and more people have begun to self-identify as Dongxiang (Santa). However, they were actually Muslims. Moreover, these Muslims were in fact Chinese people who converted to Islam at different periods. This background is crucial to understanding their single language evolution. Chapter 2 gives an extensive description and analysis of the Tangwang language’s phonological system. Tangwang has 23 consonants and 8 vowels. The system is purely Chinese, and its sound change presents regular patterns just as occurred in other Chinese varieties, even though the Tangwang language has begun to lose its tones. It is interesting to observe that Muslim speakers first began to lose tones due to the influence of the Dongxiang (Santa) people, while those who are not Muslims have preserved the tones but are in the process of losing them, and the degree of loss varies from Han (Chinese) people to Muslim people (converted from Han). This chapter situates Tangwang in a larger geographic context. Languages which are losing tones are all concentrated in the Gansu-Qinghai border regions. We have to ask why. The Han people are surrounded by Mongolian people and sometimes by Amdo people. These toneless languages have profoundly impacted the Sinitic languages in this region and the distinctive tones have begun to be ambiguous or even useless. This fact provides a strong counterexample to the traditional point of view that distinctive tones are obligatory in a language like Chinese. What we have experienced is that they are not. In Chapter 3, I discuss Tangwang’s morphology. Some borrowed Arabic, Persian and Turkic words have entered the Tangwang language through the Dongxiang (Santa) language. Several words have followed a cyclic path: they were first loaned from Ancient Chinese into Dongxiang, and have now been introduced into Tangwang with a non-Han language phonetic form. Due to their modified pronunciation, people cannot easily track their origin. It is indicated that in Northern dialects in China, these words share the same origins and I suppose that most Tangwang people’s ancestries must come from the North. Chapter 4 discusses Tangwang’s syntax, which is a core part of any language. The word order is predominantly SOV (subject-object-verb), an order which is common to all Altaic languages, while SVO is also accepted in some cases (recall that the word order in Chinese is SVO). The Tangwang language borrowed its case system from the Dongxiang language, while Chinese is a morphologically poor language. The most amazing phenomenon is that Muslim people in Tangwang have borrowed some suffixes typically belonging to common Mongolian languages, whereas people who have not converted to Islam have not yet adopted these foreign elements. The last chapter deals with some theoretical issues such as degree of contact between languages and limits of quantification. It is argued that the Tangwang language is not a mixed language as several linguists believe (their conviction is based on one article, but its author did not put forth such a conclusion). We can observe that most phonological, morphological and syntactic features are shared by other Sinitic languages in this zone. I think that Tangwang must belong to a linguistic area situated at the border between Gansu and Qinghai, and that languages in this region are not mixed languages. Since Tangwang is located inside Dongxiang district, its language change appears to be faster. This is the first time that a comprehensive grammar of the Tangwang language has been published. This will contribute to language contact, language mixture and typology studies.
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Ouvrage (y compris édition critique et traduction)
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Contributeur : Dan Xu <>
Soumis le : samedi 25 février 2017 - 23:34:29
Dernière modification le : mercredi 5 août 2020 - 03:14:20


  • HAL Id : hal-01476830, version 1


Dan Xu. 唐汪话研究. Minzu chubanshe, 2014. ⟨hal-01476830⟩



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