Taman language (Sino-Tibetan)

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Taman
Native to Myanmar
Region Htamanthi, Sagaing Region
Ethnicity Shan
Extinct 1931[1][2]
Sino-Tibetan
  • (unclassified)
    • Taman
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog tama1328[3]

Taman is an extinct Sino-Tibetan language that was spoken in Htamanthi village in Homalin Township, Sagaing Region, northern Myanmar. It was documented in a list of 75 words in Brown (1911). Keisuke Huziwara (2016)[1] discovered an elderly rememberer of Taman in Htamanthi who could remember some Taman phrases as well as a short song, but was not fluent in the Taman language. However, no fluent speakers of Taman remained in the area.

Language shift[edit]

Taman speakers have since shifted to Burmese and Tai Naing (Red Shan), a Tai language spoken in northern Myanmar.[1] Matisoff (2013:13)[4] surmises that pressure from the formerly widespread Kadu language had caused Taman to become marginalized. The descendants of Taman speakers have since been assimilated into Shan society.[1]

Classification[edit]

Benedict (1972) and Shafer (1974) had classified Taman as part of the Luish branch of languages.

Words and affixes shared exclusively between Luish and Taman are (Huziwara 2016):

  • negative prefix (Proto-Luish *a-, Taman ʔə-)
  • ‘put’ (Proto-Luish *péy, Taman pe)
  • ‘go, walk’ (Proto-Luish *ha, Taman hɔ)
  • ‘sun’ as a compound word that includes ‘eye’

However, Huziwara (2016)[1] notes that despite Taman sharing some similarities with Luish, Taman cannot be securely classified within the Luish branch itself, and its place in Tibeto-Burman remains uncertain. Taman also shares various similarities with many nearby non-Luish languages, including various Sal languages. Huziwara (2016) concludes that Taman is part of a linkage of Tibeto-Burman languages spanning across northeast India and northern Myanmar (i.e., comparable to Scott DeLancey's Central Tibeto-Burman languages), but does not recognizably fit into any known Tibeto-Burman branch.

Phonology[edit]

Taman has the following phonemes.[1]

  • Vowels: a, e, ɛ, i, ɨ, ɐ, o [ɔ, ɑ], u, ə
  • Consonants: p, ph, t, th, c [ts, tʃ], k, m, n, ŋ, r, l, s (sʰ), ʃ, x, h, w (v), y

Sound changes[edit]

Below are five innovations from Proto-Tibeto-Burman (PTB) to Taman identified by Huziwara (2016).

  • raising of low vowels (PTB *-a > Taman -ɔ)
  • fricativization of velar stops in word-initial positions (PTB *k- > Taman x-)
  • loss of velar stops in word-final positions (PTB *-ak > Taman -a)
  • addition of velar stops after high vowels (PTB *-i/-u > Taman -ek/-ouk)
  • affrication of *gry- (PTB *gry- > Taman c-)

Lexicon[edit]

Below is Brown's (1911) Taman word list as cited and re-transcribed in Huziwara (2016:19-29), and Brown's (1911) Taman list re-transcribed by Luce (1985), as cited and re-transcribed in Huziwara (2016).

The Taman word for 'river' is the same as the word for 'water'.

Gloss Taman (Brown 1911) Taman (Luce 1985)
one
two nek nek
three sùm sum
four pəli pəli
five məŋɔ məŋə
six kwa kwɑ
seven sənè səne
eight pəsè pəse
nine təxɐ tə̈xəː
ten ʃi ʃi
ape jùn -
arm, hand la la
arrow pʰəlɔ pʰəlɔ
axe wɔtùm wɔtum
bag tʰùmbɔ tʰumbə
bamboo
bat sɔŋpʰula sɔŋ-pulɑ
bear sʰap sʰap
bee ùìŋ uiŋ
big lwaŋ lwɑŋ
bird kətʃeksɔ kətʃeksɔ (sparrow)
bitter
blood sʰe sʰe
boat li li
body tu tu
bone raŋ raŋ
buffalo mɔk mɔk (cattle)
call lu -
cat mətʃeksɔ mətʃeksɔ
cold xɑm xɑːm
dog vi vi
ear nəpʰɑ nəpʰɑː
earth (soil) pəkɔ pəkɔ
eat -
elephant məki məki
eye pekkwe pəkkwe
father vɔ ~ wɔ vɔ ~ wɔ
female nëm nëm
fire ve
fish ətsɔ ətsɔ
flesh he
give nëm nëm
go
gold xɑm xɑːm
good kəmë kəmë
grass sʰèìŋ sʰeɪŋ
head kəkɐ kəkəː
hill kɔùŋrwe kɔʊŋrwe
hog va ~ wa va ~ wa (pig)
horse tʃipòùk tʃipɔʊk
house ʃìp ʃɪp
I
iron ʃa ʃa
kill səsʰèùk -
know tʃùp -
man (human being) mek mek
male laktʃaŋ lɑk tʃaŋ
moon səlɔ səlɔ
mother nëm nëm
name təmeŋ təmeŋ
night nɑtaŋ nɑːtaŋ
road lam lam
rock taŋpɔ taŋpɔ (stone)
salt tsùm tsum
snake pəː
silk -
speak tʰè -
star taŋpɐ taŋpəː
steal xɐlɔ xəːlɔ
sun pupek pupek
tooth vɑkòùn ~ wɑkòùn vɑkɔʊn ~ wɑkɔʊn
water tʰi tʰi
write rek -
year kèìŋ -

Phrases and transcribed song[edit]

On March 2, 2015, Keisuke Huziwara[1] discovered an 83-year-old woman in Htamanthi who remembered some words and phrases of the Taman language, as well as a short song. The woman was born in a village just outside Htamanthi. The elicited words and phrases are (Huziwara 2016:14-16):

  • hɔ əna, hɔ təyauŋ '(I) went over there.' ( 'to go')
  • kʰam sɔ-nə-kɔ 'Did (you) eat?' (kʰam 'food, cooked rice'; 'to eat')
  • sɔ-kɛʔ 'already ate'
  • ʔə-sɔ-wɛʔ 'did not eat (yet)' (ʔə- 'negative prefix')
  • sɔ-nə-kɔ-ya 'ate; finished eating' (- 'desiderative suffix')
  • tʰitum ŋɔ lɔ 'Where is the water?' (tʰi 'water'; tum 'container'; ŋɔ 'where'; 'interrogative')
  • ʔəyɔ pe 'Where did I put it?' (pe 'to place'; ʔəyɔ 'where?')
  • wa dɔ 'Come!' (wa 'to come')
  • pi 'firewood' (cf. Meithei upi 'firewood')
  • məla 'tea'
  • məla sɔ nɔ 'Please drink tea.' (məla 'tea'; 'to eat')

The song is transcribed as follows.

ʔi ʔələyaŋ ʔi ʔələyaŋ
nənum təhɔ ʔinahɔ
məceiʔ cɔ he lɔcɔ ci
məceiʔ cɔ ʔi na
nam ha mina
hɔ pi cɔ

Huziwara (2016:15-16) analyzes the song as follows.

  • ʔi ʔələyaŋ ʔi ʔələyaŋ: exclamation introducing the song
  • nənum təhɔ ʔina hɔ: 'The child went.'
  • məceiʔcɔ he: 'Where is the child?' (Taman məceiʔcɔ 'child' < PTB *tsa-n)
  • lɔcɔ ci: [meaning unclear]
  • məceiʔcɔ, ʔina: 'I told the child'
  • nam ha mina: 'Where did you go?'
  • hɔ pi cɔ: 'I went outside.'

Altogether, the nouns, verbs, and prefixes elicited from Huziwara's (2016) Taman informant are:

  • kʰam 'food, cooked rice'
  • tʰi 'water'
  • məla 'tea'
  • pi 'firewood'
  • tum 'container'
  • məceiʔcɔ 'child'
  • ʔə- 'negative prefix'
  • 'to eat'
  • 'to go'
  • wa 'to come'
  • pe 'to place, put'

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Huziwara, Keisuke. 2016. タマン語の系統再考 / On the genetic position of Taman reconsidered. In Kyoto University Linguistic Research 35, p.1-34. doi:10.14989/219018
  2. ^ "UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in danger". www.unesco.org. Retrieved 2018-08-16. 
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Taman (Myanmar)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  4. ^ Matisoff, James A. 2013. Re-examining the genetic position of Jingpho: putting flesh on the bones of the Jingpho/Luish relationship. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 36(2). 1–106.
  • Benedict, Paul K. (1972). Sino-Tibetan: a conspectus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Brown, R. Grant (1911). "The Tamans of the Upper Chindwin, Burma." The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 41: 305–317.
  • Huziwara, Keisuke. 2016. タマン語の系統再考 / On the genetic position of Taman reconsidered. In Kyoto University Linguistic Research 35, p.1-34. doi:10.14989/219018 (PDF)
  • Luce, George H. (1985). Phases of Pre-Pagan Burma: languages and history, vol. I, II. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Shafer, Robert (1974). Introduction to Sino-Tibetan. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.