Annotated Swadesh wordlists for the Tujia group (Sino-Tibetan family).

Languages included: Tasha (Qixin) Tujia [tuj-qix], Duogu Tujia [tuj-duo], Dianfang Tujia [tuj-dia], Boluo (Luxi) Tujia [tuj-lux], Tanxi Tujia [tuj-tan].


I. Tasha (Qixin) Tujia

Brassett et al. 2006 = Brassett, Cecilia; Brassett, Philip; Lu, Meiyan. The Tujia Language. LINCOM Europa. // A grammatical sketch of Northern Tujia, accompanied with a detailed semantically classified vocabulary. Based on the speech of Lu Meiyan from Qixin village in Tasha Rural Township.

II. Duogu Tujia; Boluo (Luxi) Tujia

Zhang 2006 = Zhang Jun. A Phonological Study of the Tujia Language. Ph. D. thesis, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. // A detailed description of the phonological system of Tujia, including comparative analysis of the Northern language, represented by the Duogu subdialect, and the Southern language, represented by the Boluo subdialect. Includes a huge comparative vocabulary for both subdialects.

III. Dianfang Tujia; Tanxi Tujia

Tian 1986 = Tian Desheng, He Tianzhen, Chen Kang et al. Tǔjiā yǔ jiǎnzhì [A brief description of the Tujia language]. Minzu chubanshe. // A phonetical and grammatical description of Northern and Southern Tujia, represented by Dianfang and Tanxi subdialects respectively. Accompanied with a large vocabulary.

Additional sources

Chen 2006 = Chen Kang. Tǔjiā yǔ yánjiū [Research on the Tujia language]. // A phonetical and grammatical description of Northern and Southern Tujia. Accompanied with a large vocabulary. This is essentially a reworked variant of Tian 1986, but some of the data are marginally different.

Zhang Weiquan 2006 = Zhang Weiquan. Hàn yǔ tǔjiā yǔ cídiǎn [Chinese-Tujia dictionary]. Guizhou minzu chubanshe. // A dictionary of Northern (Longshan) Tujia.


1. General.

The term "Tǔjiā" (土家) comprises no less than two completely distinct, mutually unintelligible languages, today referred to as either "Northern Tujia" and "Southern Tujia" or "Longshan Tujia" and "Luxi Tujia" (by the names of the two principal counties in Hunan Province where the corresponding languages are represented, although the Tujia-speaking area is not exclusively limited to these counties). Consequently, Tujia is not a "language isolate" within Sino-Tibetan, but rather a small family represented by two languages, each of them further separated into several subdialects. This also makes a "Proto-Tujia" reconstruction formally possible, although the only known systematic attempt to set up some regular correspondences between the two languages was made in [Zhang 2006], and included no reconstructions.

Existing descriptions are detailed enough for us to offer wordlists for no less than three different Northern Tujia and two different Southern Tujia subdialects. Lexicostatistical discrepancies between Northern and Southern Tujia are huge (around 50% mismatches), but the distance between individual subdialects is quite small, and percentage matches between, e. g., Tasha, Duogu, and Dianfang should not be regarded as completely secure because of potential glossing inaccuracies in some of the sources. Nevertheless, it makes sense to generate five different fields for all the subdialects, in order to be able to better assess some of the phonetic differences between them (not just lexical).

Information on regular correspondences between dialects will be posted in this description together with the addition of a provisionally reconstructed 100-wordlist for "Common Tujia" (forthcoming).

2. Transcription.

All of the Chinese sources that were consulted employ IPA transcription system to render Tujia items, so the discrepancies between printed sources and UTS transliteration are generally the same as the standard discrepancies between UTS and IPA. An exception is [Brassett et al. 2006], where a special experimental orthography system is employed, transliterated as follows:

Brassett et al. 2006 UTS
b- p-
c- cʰ-
d- t-
g- k-
h- x-
hh- ɣ-
j- ɕ-
k- kʰ-
l- l-
m- m-
n- n-
ng- ŋ-
p- pʰ-
q- ɕʰ-
r- z-
s- s-
t- tʰ-
w- w-
x- ʆ-
y- y-
z- c-
-a -a
-ai -ay
-an -ɛn
-ang -aŋ
-ao -aw
-ei -ey
-eng -ɤŋ
-i -i
-ia -i̯a
-ian -i̯ɛn
-iao -i̯aw
-ie -i̯ɛ
-ing -iŋ
-iong -i̯ɔŋ
-iu -i̯u
-ong -ɔŋ
-ou -ow
-u -u
-ua -u̯a
-uai -u̯ay
-uan -u̯ɛn
-ui -u̯ey
-un -un
-uo -u̯ɔ

All Tujia dialects are tonal, with somewhat complicated rules determining the mutual correlation of tones between dialects. Both of the Southern subdialects have five phonological tones; Northern subdialects fluctuate between three and four tones. Source by source, the situation is as follows:

(A) Tasha subdialect [Brassett et al. 2006]: 4 tones - 55 (high level) = Tone 1 in Brassett's notation; 24 (low rising) = Tone 2 in Brassett's notation; 21 (low falling) = Tone 3 in Brassett's notation; 51 (high falling) = Tone 4 in Brassett's notation.

(B) Duogu subdialect [Zhang 2006]: 4 tones - 53 (high falling), 44 (high level), 24 (low rising), 21 (low falling).

(C) Dianfang subdialect [Tian 1986]: 3 tones - 55 (high level), 35 (mid rising), 21 (low falling).

(D) Boluo subdialect [Zhang 2006]: 5 tones - 53 (high falling), 45 (high level), 33 (mid level), 13 (low rising), 21 (low falling).

(E) Tanxi subdialect [Tian 1986]: 5 tones - 55 (high level), 33 (mid level), 35 (mid rising), 13 (low rising), 21 (low falling).

Database compiled and annotated by: G. Starostin (October 2013).