Vowel purity and rhyme evidence in Old Chinese reconstruction

Abstract : Rhyme patterns in Old Chinese poems are important for the reconstruction of Old Chinese pronunciation, as they provide evidence for groups of words which formerly had similar pronunciation. Rhyme patterns can also be used to test Old Chinese reconstruction systems for consistency and plausibility, as reconstruction systems should minimize the conflict with attested rhyme patterns. Here, we build on the idea that rhyming in Old Chinese followed the principle of vowel purity, a tendency to disallow rhymes of words with different vowels, to develop a quantitative test for reconstruction systems of Old Chinese. The test is illustrated by comparing seven different Old Chinese reconstruction systems and by showing that, although the systems differ regarding their degree of vowel purity, the principle seems to hold for Old Chinese rhyme data.
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Johann-Mattis List, Jananan Sylvestre Pathmanathan, Nathan W. Hill, Eric Bapteste, Philippe Lopez. Vowel purity and rhyme evidence in Old Chinese reconstruction. Lingua Sinica, 2017, 3 (1), pp.5. ⟨10.1186/s40655-017-0021-8⟩. ⟨hal-01555483⟩

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