A new example of PAN *-X

In my 2019 paper proposing a solution to Kra-Dai tonogenesis, I argued that the Kra-Dai tone B originated in two Austronesian endings: *-R, a voiced uvular fricative, already well established as a PAN phoneme; and *-X, a voiceless uvular fricative, not proposed before as a PAN phoneme. I presented 6 examples of PAN *-X with AN and Kra-Dai cognates in section 4.2 of that paper: ‘shoulder’ *qabaRaX, ‘palm of hand’ *dapaX, ‘knee’ *puquX, ‘bran’ *qepaX, ‘grandfather’ *apuX, ‘branch’ *saŋaX. In addition, I gave two examples of *-X without Kra-Dai cognates: ‘thorn’ *duRiX, ‘chaff’ *qeCaX. Later on (in this post), I found additional  Formosan evidence for *-X in *qeCaX. Here I want to present the evidence for a new PAN reconstruction ending in *-X.

Next to the well-known PAN word *susu ‘female breast, udder’ there existed a second form, reflected in Amis cohcoh ‘to suck, suckle’, which had a ‘laryngeal’ coda. Kra-Dai cognates are found in Laji (a.k.a. Lachi, Lati), and they are in tone B:

  • Jinchang Laji (=Flowery Lachi) tɕo44 (< B1) ‘breast, milk’ (Li Yunbing 2000 in ABVD)
  • Tân Lợi Laji co22 (< B12) ‘breast’ (Kosaka Ruichi 2000 in ABVD).

Tân Lợi does not distinguish B1 and B2:

  • co22 ‘breast’ (< B1)
  • (quN0) phu22 ‘shoulder’ (< B2)

While Jinchang does: Jinchang B1 is given as high rising 45 by Ostapirat (2000), mid-high 44 in Li Yunbing (2000), while B2 is mid rising/breathy 24ɦ in Ostapirat (2000): pɦu B2 ‘shoulder’ and low rising 13 in Li Yunbing: quŋ55 pu13 ‘shoulder’ (reconstructed with final *-X in Sagart 2019, cf. above).

Proto-Hlai (Norquest 2007) tɕiɦ B has tone B, like Laji (above), but the front vowel is unexplained. Outside of Norquest’s proto-Hlai, there is no reconstruction of ‘breast’, ‘milk’, or ‘udder’ given for proto-Kra, proto-Tai or proto-Hlai by either of Ostapirat or Pittayaporn.

For the initial correspondence of PAN *s in Lachi, compare *isa ‘one’, Jinchang Laji tɕaŋ44 , Tân Lợi Laji cam22. The nasal ending is an accretion. Bonifacy (1906:277) gives Lati ‘one’ as čam, but simply ča in ‘eleven and ‘twenty-one’ .

These considerations support the new AN reconstruction  *suXsuX ‘to suck, suckle, breast, milk’.


Bonifacy, Auguste. 1906. Etude sur les coutumes et la langue des La-ti. Bulletin de l’Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient 1906, pp. 271-278 (here)

Kosaka, Ryuichi [小坂, 隆一]. 2000. A descriptive study of the Lachi language: syntactic description, historical reconstruction and genetic relation. Ph.D. dissertation. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

李云兵 / Li Yunbing. 2000. 拉基语硏究 / Laji yu yan jiu (A Study of Lachi). Beijing: 中央民族大学出版社 / Zhong yang min zu da xue chu ban she.

Norquest, Peter K. 2007. A phonological reconstruction of proto-Hlai. PhD dissertation, U. of Arizona.

Sagart, Laurent. 2019. A model of the origin of Kra-Dai tones. Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale, 2019, 48 (1), pp.1-29. ⟨10.1163/19606028-04801004⟩

Cite this post as: Laurent Sagart, "A new example of PAN *-X," in Sino-Tibetan-Austronesian, 23/02/2022, https://stan.hypotheses.org/1570.

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