Khasic languages

The Khasic or Khasian languages are a family of Austroasiatic languages spoken in the northeastern Indian state Meghalaya and neighbouring areas of Bangladesh.

Khasic
Geographic
distribution
India, Bangladesh
Linguistic classificationAustroasiatic
Proto-languageProto-Khasic
Glottologkhas1268

Languages

Sidwell (2018: 27–31) classifies the Khasian languages as follows.

Proto-Khasian
  • War (Amwi, Mnar)
  • Proto–Pnar-Khasi-Lyngngam

Varieties called Bhoi are dialects of both Pnar and Khasi.

External relationships

Paul Sidwell (2011) suggests that Khasian is closely related to Palaungic, forming a Khasi–Palaungic branch.

The following eight Khasian-Palaungic isoglosses have been identified by Sidwell (2018: 32).

GlossProto-Khasian
(Sidwell 2018)
Proto-Palaungic
(Sidwell 2015)[1]
blood*snaːm*snaːm
claw/nail*trʧʰiːm*rənsiːm
hair*sɲuʔ*ɲuk
man/husbandtrmɛ (Amwi)*-meʔ
rain*slap;
slɛ (Amwi)
*clɛʔ
swim*ɟŋiː*ŋɔj
two*ʔaːr*ləʔaːr
water*ʔum*ʔoːm

Lexical innovations

Sidwell (2018: 23) lists the following Khasian lexical innovations (i.e., defining lexical forms) that are found exclusively in the Khasian branch, but not in other Austroasiatic branches).

English glossProto-KhasianLyngngamMaramKhasiPnarMnarWar
cooked rice *ʤaːʥaʤaja /ʤaː/ʤaciʧi
moon *bnəːjbnibnebnai /bnaːi/bnajpnipnʊ
to sing *rwəːjrəŋwirwejrwái /rwaːi/rwajrvʊ
four *saːwsawsawsáw /saːw/sosɔuria
river *waʔwaɁwah /waːʔ/waɁwaɁwaɁ
all *barɔɁprokbarɔʔbaroh /barɔːʔ/warɔʔbərɒʔ
pig *sniaŋsɲaŋsniaŋsniang /sniaŋ/sniaŋcʰɲaŋrniŋ
sand *ʧʔiapʥʔepʧiʔɛpshyiap /ʃʔiap/ʧʔiapʃʔipʃʔiap
to drink *di:ʔ/cdecdɔcdih /diːʔ/diʔdeʔdeʔ
flower/star *kʰloːrkʰlorkʰlɔrkhlúr /kʰloːr/kʰlorkhlʊə
tongue *tʰnləːctəloctʰl̩letthyllied /tʰɨlleːc/tʰl̩leɟkʰlutkʰlit
ice/freeze *tʰaʔtʰaʔtʰaʔthah /tʰaːʔ/tʰaʔtʰaʔtʰaʔ

Reconstruction

Proto-Khasian and Proto-Pnar-Khasi-Lyngngam have been reconstructed by Paul Sidwell (2018). Proto-Khasian is estimated to have originated about 2,000-2,500 years ago, with War splitting from other Khasian linguistic varieties about 1,500 years ago (Sidwell 2018: 20).

Proto-Khasian morphology includes a causative *pN- prefix and verbalizing *-r- infix (Sidwell 2018: 66-67).

The following reconstructed paradigmatic and closed class morphemes in Proto-Khasian are from Sidwell (2018: 51-67).

Personal pronouns
MasculineFemininePlural
1st person *ŋa (topic/oblique);
*ʔɔ (default)
*ŋa (topic/oblique);
*ʔɔ (default)
*ʔi
2nd person *me*pʰa*pʰi
3rd person
(animate)
*ʔu*ka*ki
3rd person
(inanimate ~ diminutive)
*ʔi*ʔi*ʔi
Demonstratives
  • *ni 'proximal'
  • *tu 'mesiodistal'
  • *taj 'distal (visible)'
  • *te 'mesioproximal'
  • *tɛ 'distal (non-visible)'
Negators
  • *ʔǝm 'not'
  • *ham 'do not'
  • *ta 'not'
Prepositions/case markers
  • *ha 'locative/oblique'
  • *ʤɔŋ 'to possess'
  • *da 'instrumental'
  • *ba (?) 'and/with'
  • *tV 'oblique'
Tense/aspect morphemes
  • *la:j 'to go'
  • *dɛp 'finish'
  • *diʔ 'to go'
  • *daː 'have'
  • *ʤuʔ 'same'
Morphological affixes
  • *pN- 'prefix'
  • *-r- 'verbalizer'
Numerals
GlossProto-KhasianProto-Pnar-
Khasi-Lyngngam
one*wiː~*miː
one*ʧiː
two*ʔaːr
three*laːj
four*saːw
five*san
six*tʰruː
seven*ʰnɲəw
eight*pʰraː
nine*kʰndaːj
ten*pʰəw

Sound changes

Sidwell (2018) lists the following sound changes from Pre-Khasian (i.e., the ancestral stage of Khasian that preceded Proto-Khasian) to Proto-Khasian.

  • Pre-Khasian *b- > *p-, *ɓ- > *b- chain shift
    • Proto-Austroasiatic *b- > proto-Khasian *p-
    • Proto-Austroasiatic *ɓ- > proto-Khasian *b-
  • Pre-Khasian *d- > *t-, * ɗ- > *d- chain shift
    • Proto-Austroasiatic *d- > proto-Khasian *t-
    • Proto-Austroasiatic *ɗ- > proto-Khasian *d-
  • Pre-Khasian *-l > *-n/*-Ø
  • Pre-Khasian *-h > *-s > *-t
  • Pre-Khasian *-ʔ > *-Ø >, *-k > *-ʔ chain shift
  • Pre-Khasian *g- > *k-

See also

References

  • Sidwell, Paul. 2011. Proto-Khasian and Khasi-Palaungic. Journal of the South East Asia linguistics society, Vol. 4.2, pages 144-168, December 2011.
  • Sidwell, Paul. 2011b. Proto-Khasian (or -War-Khasi); reconstruction and classification. Presented at SEALS 21, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Sidwell, Paul. 2018. The Khasian Languages: Classification, Reconstruction, and Comparative Lexicon. Languages of the World 58. Munich: Lincom Europa. ISBN 9783862889143
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