OLAC Record

Title:Nisu dialect geography

Nisu, a Burmic language spoken in Yunnan, China, is traditionally divided into three dialects: Yuan-jin, E-xin, and Shi-jian (Chen et al., 1985; Zhu, 2005). However, little evidence has been presented to justify this grouping, and the degrees of difference between dialects have been left unexplored. In this research paper, I re-examine Nisu dialect clusters using several complementary methodologies: comparative dialectology, intelligibility testing, and a recently developed quantitative measure of pronunciation differences known as Levenshtein distance (Heeringa, 2004). I propose a basic division between Northern and Southern Nisu, with a subordinate isogloss dividing Northern into Northwestern and North Central. This classification is similar to, but not identical with, the one originally proposed by Chen et al. 1985: Southern is roughly equivalent to Yuanjin, while Northern encompasses E-xin (Northwestern) and Shi-jian (North Central). The primary differences between the two analyses lie in the supporting evidence and clustering hierarchy. Beyond clarifying the main divisions in Nisu, this research also represents the first application of Levenshtein distance to a tonal language in the Sinosphere, with results to suggest it as a useful tool for future work in Burmic-dialect geography.

Contributor (author):Fine, Cathryn
Date (W3CDTF):2009
Description (URI):http://www.sil.org/resources/archives/9112
Extent:40 pages
Identifier (URI):http://www.sil.org/resources/archives/9112
Is Part Of:SIL Electronic Survey Reports 2009-007
Language (ISO639):eng
Spatial Coverage (ISO3166):KM
Subject:Eastern Nisu language
Southern Nisu language
Southwestern Nisu language
Northern Nisu language
Language surveys
Subject (ISO639):nos
Type (DCMI):Text


Archive:  SIL Language and Culture Archives
Description:  http://www.language-archives.org/archive/sil.org
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OaiIdentifier:  oai:sil.org:9112
DateStamp:  2013-04-27
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Search Info

Citation: Fine, Cathryn. 2009. SIL Electronic Survey Reports 2009-007.
Terms: area_Asia area_Europe country_CN country_GB dcmi_Text iso639_eng iso639_nos iso639_nsd iso639_nsv iso639_yiv

Inferred Metadata

Country: China
Area: Asia

Up-to-date as of: Mon Jun 15 4:53:35 EDT 2015