Tai Kadai languages

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Distribution areas of the Tai Kadai languages.
  • Kadai / Kra
  • Kam-sui
  • Hlai
  • Tai languages:
  • Northern Tai
  • Central Tai
  • Southwest Tai
  • The Tai-Kadai languages (also Kra-Dai languages ) are a language family of over 90 languages ​​spoken in Southeast Asia and in southern and central China with almost 100 million speakers. Tai-Kadai is usually divided into the three main branches Hlai , Kadai and Kam-Tai .


    According to the usual classification, the Tai-Kadai languages ​​are divided into the three main branches of very different sizes: Hlai (or Li ), Kadai (also called Kra or Geyang ) and Kam-Tai (or Zhuang-Dong ). The Kam-Tai languages ​​make up about 99% of the total number of speakers and are in turn divided into the branches Kam-Sui and Tai as well as the two individual languages Lakkia and Ong-Be .

    Tai-Kadai (93-96 languages ​​in total, 81 million speakers)

    • Hlai or Li (2–3 languages, 720,000; in the central mountain region of Hainan (China))
    • Kadai or Kra or Geyang (15-16 languages, 100,000; in northern Vietnam and in Guangxi , Yunnan and Guizhou (China))
    • Kam-Tai or Zhuang-Dong (74-78 languages, 80 million)
      • Kam-Sui (12 languages, 2.2 million; in Guangxi, Guizhou and Hunan (all China))
      • Lakkia or Lakkja (1 language, 9,000; in Guangxi (China))
      • Ong Be or Bê (1 language, 600,000; in Hainan (China))
      • Tai or Zhuang-Tai (60-61 languages, 77 million)
        • Northern Tai languages ​​(13-19 languages, 12.4 million; in Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou and Hainan (all China))
        • Central Tai languages ​​(7-10 languages, 8 million; in Northeast Vietnam and Guangxi (China))
        • Southwestern Tai languages ​​(32–34 languages, 57 million; in Thailand, Laos, North Cambodia , Northwest Vietnam, Yunnan (China) and in North and East Myanmar )

    This widespread classification is criticized by some authors. Instead, it is proposed to divide the language family into two main branches, the northern and the southern. The former would therefore include the Kra and Kam-Sui languages ​​(which form the northeastern branch with Lakkia), the latter the Hlai and Tai languages ​​(which form the Be-Tai branch with Ong Be).

    Important Tai Kadai languages

    The following list contains all Tai Kadai languages ​​with more than one million speakers and is sorted by number of speakers. The number of speakers is given, if known the number including the second speakers (S2), and the assignment to the respective subfamily of Tai-Kadai.

    • Thai (20 million native speakers, 40 million second speakers, Southwest Tai)
    • Zhuang (16 million, very different, partly not mutually understandable dialects, some of which belong to the North Tai, partly to the Central Tai branch)
    • Isan (15 million, Southwest Tai)
    • Lanna (6 million, Southwest Tai)
    • Southern Thai (4.5 million, Southwest Tai)
    • Lao (3 million native speakers, 1 million second speakers, Southwest Tai)
    • Shan (3.3 million, Southwest Tai)
    • Bouyei (2.6 million, North Tai)
    • Tày (1.6 million, Central Tai)
    • Dong (1.5 million, Kam-Sui)

    The web link given below contains all Tai Kadai languages ​​with their current speaker numbers and their genetic classification.

    Relationship with other language families

    In the past, Chinese linguists believed that the Tai Kadai languages ​​were a subset of the Sino- Tibetan languages . This view is now considered refuted.

    The linguist Paul K. Benedict put forward the theory in 1942 that Tai-Kadai (or Daic ) was related to Austronesian and together with it formed the so-called Austro-Tai language family. Current representatives of this theory include a. Laurent Sagart and Weera Ostapirat. The origin of the Proto-Daic , a language of a rice-growing population, is according to Blench in Taiwan , from where it spread through southern China. Another view is that the common origins of the Austronesian and Tai-Kadai languages ​​are in southeastern China.

    With his reconstruction and analysis of Proto-Tai-Kadai and Old Japanese , the linguist Alexander Vovin shows that both have a common origin in southeastern China and that there are similarities to the Austronesian languages.

    Typological remarks

    The Tai Kadai languages ​​are tonal languages with three to nine contrasting tones. They are usually monosyllabic (monosyllabic words) and hardly have any morphology (declination, conjugation). Most Tai-Kadai languages ​​have the sentence structure SVO (subject-verb-object), in exceptional cases also SOV. Attributes and other nominal additions are behind the noun , which they describe in more detail.

    Two-syllable word stems can be reconstructed for Proto-Tai-Kadai. The reduction to monosyllabic forms is a recent development in today's individual languages.


    • Paul K. Benedict: Thai, Kadai and Indonesian: A New Alignment in Southeastern Asia. In: American Anthropologist. Vol. 44, No. 4, 1942, ISSN  0002-7294 , pp. 576-601, doi : 10.1525 / aa.1942.44.4.02a00040 .
    • Paul K. Benedict: Austro-Thai. Language and Culture. HRAF Press, New Haven CT 1975.
    • Anthony VN Diller, Jerold A. Edmondson, Yongxian Luo: The Tai-Kadai Languages. Routledge, Oxford / New York 2008, ISBN 978-0-7007-1457-5
    • Sören Egerod: Far Eastern Languages. In: Sydney M. Lamb, E. Douglas Mitchell (Eds.): Sprung from Some Common Source. Investigations into the Prehistory of Languages. Stanford University Press, Stanford CA 1991, ISBN 0-8047-1897-0 , pp. 205-231.
    • Ernst Kausen: Tai-Kadai languages . In: The Language Families of the World. Part 1: Europe and Asia . Buske, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-87548-655-1 , p. 915-961 .
    • S. Robert Ramsey: The Languages ​​of China. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ 1987, ISBN 0-691-06694-9 .
    • Merritt Ruhlen : A Guide to the World's Languages. Volume 1: Classification. With a Postscript on recent Developments. Arnold, London 1991, ISBN 0-340-56186-6 .

    Web links

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ Yongxian Luo: Sino-Tai and Tai-Kadai. Another look. In: The Tai-Kadai Languages. 2008, pp. 9–28, on p. 14.
    2. ^ Yongxian Luo: Kra-Dai Languages. Retrieved September 24, 2018 .
    3. ^ Anthony Diller: Introduction. In: The Tai-Kadai Languages. Routledge, London / New York 2008, p. 7.
    4. Weera Ostapirat: Kra-Dai and Austronesian. Notes on phonological correspondences and vocabulary distribution. In: The Peopling of East Asia. Putting Together Archeology, Linguistics and Genetics. Routledge Shorton, London / New York 2005, pp. 107-131.
    5. Peter K. Norquest: A Phonological Reconstruction of Proto-Hlai. Dissertation, University of Arizona, 2007.
    6. a b Ostapirat, Weera. (2005). "Kra-Dai and Austronesian: Notes on phonological correspondences and vocabulary distribution", pp. 107-131 in Sagart, Laurent, Blench, Roger & Sanchez-Mazas, Alicia (eds.), The Peopling of East Asia: Putting Together Archeology, Linguistics and Genetics. London / New York: Routledge-Curzon.
    7. ^ Benedict, Paul K. (1942). "Thai, Kadai and Indonesian: a new alignment in south east Asia." American Anthropologist 44,576-601.
    8. Sagart, Laurent. 2004. The higher phylogeny of Austronesian and the position of Tai-Kadai. Oceanic Linguistics 43. 411-440
    9. ^ Gerhard Jäger: Support for linguistic macrofamilies from weighted sequence alignment . In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , Volume 112, No. 41, October 13, 2015, pp. 12752-12757, doi : 10.1073 / pnas.1500331112 , PMID 26403857 , PMC 4611657 (free full text).
    10. ^ Reid, LA (2006). "Austro-Tai Hypotheses". Pp. 740-741 in Keith Brown (editor in chief), The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics , 2nd edition
    11. Blench 2008
    12. Alexander Vovin: Out of Southern China? ( academia.edu [accessed July 26, 2018]).
    13. Weera Ostapirat: Reconstructing Disyllabic Kra-Dai . Paper presented at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, held May 17–19, 2018 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.