The Reconstruction of Labial Stop + Sonorant Clusters in Proto-Far-Western Hmongic

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Abstract

A comparison of the Far-Western Hmongic languages of south-western China and northern mainland South East Asia leads to a reconstruction of Proto-Far-Western Hmongic with an initial consonant system that is comparatively rich in areal terms. These initials include three series of sonorants clustered after a labial stop: dental lateral (*pl-), retroflex lateral (*pι6;-) and palatal (*pj-). This article presents the comparative data and works through the reconstruction, showing the evidence for the contrastivity of the clusters in Proto-Far-Western Hmongic, examining the extensive sound changes that have occurred in the derivation of each synchronic dialect, and comparing the correspondences to the clusters in the rest of Hmongic.

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