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A Phonological Reconstruction of Proto-Central Naga

  • Author(s): Bruhn, Daniel Wayne
  • Advisor(s): Matisoff, James A.
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation presents a preliminary reconstruction of the phonology and lexicon (268 items) of Proto-Central Naga (PCN), the putative ancestor of a group of Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily in Nagaland, a state in northeast India: Ao, Lotha, Sangtam, and Yimchungrü. Also reconstructed in the process is the phonology and lexicon (386 items) of Proto-Ao (PAo), the intermediate ancestor of the Ao lects. Teleo-reconstructions of Proto-Tibeto-Burman (PTB) are drawn upon to examine the sound changes that took place in the development from PTB to the Central Naga languages.

Chapter I (Introduction) provides background information on the Central Naga languages and discusses the history of scholarship on this group. The conventions and linguistic sources used throughout this work are also presented.

Chapter II (Proto-Ao) reconstructs the phonology and lexicon of Proto-Ao, the intermediate ancestor of the Ao branch of Central Naga. It presents the phonology of standard Chungli Ao, Mangmetong Mongsen Ao, and Proto-Ao, followed by reconstructions of PAo onsets and rimes based on 386 cognate sets. The reconstructibility of the PAo tone system is also explored, and the chapter is concluded with a discussion of the PTB>PAo and PAo>Ao sound changes proposed.

Chapter III (Proto-Central Naga) reconstructs the phonology and lexicon of Proto-Central Naga. It presents the phonology of Lotha, Sangtam, Yimchungrü, and Proto-Central Naga, followed by reconstructions of PCN rimes and onsets based on 268 cognate sets, with an intervening discussion of the prefixes. The chapter is concluded with a discussion of the PTB>PCN and PCN>CN sound changes proposed.

Chapter IV (Conclusion) examines the place of the Central Naga group within the Tibeto-Burman family based on a study of shared phonological innovations. The dissertation is then concluded with a discussion of future directions in diachronic research on the CN languages.

Seven appendices are provided (A-G): three indices of the sound changes proposed for PTB>PCN (Appendix A), PCN>CN languages (Appendix B), and PAo>Ao lects (Appendix C); two sets of charts summarizing the PTB>PCN>CN (Appendix D) and PTB>PAo>Ao (Appendix E) sound changes; and two indices of PAo (Appendix F) and PCN (Appendix G) reconstructions, alphabetized by proto-gloss.

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