Chinese, the common language of 1.4 billion Chinese sons and daughters
Chinese, the common language of the 1.4 billion Chinese people and one of the six working languages of the United Nations are resounding in every corner of the world. As a language carrying the splendid civilization of China, Chinese is broad and profound, and full of charm. Therefore, the place and time of the origin of Chinese is naturally a hot topic in academic circles.
who is the close relative of the Chinese?
Tibetan is similar to many words in Chinese, such as the number 123456, and Tibetan is pronounced as chik, nyi, sum, shi, nga, druk, which is slightly similar to Putonghua, but closer to Minnan and Hakka dialects. In Tibetan, "Japanese" is pronounced "ni", "killing" is pronounced "bad", "death" is pronounced "shi", "eye" is pronounced "murk", and "Shui" is pronounced as "chu". These Sino-Tibetan near-phonetic words exist in ancient Chinese and ancient Tibetan languages, and the more ancient they are pronounced, they are cognate words, which is different from the situation of learning Chinese pronunciation in Japanese. Thousands of such Sino-Tibetan cognates have been found so far.
Tibetan has the same tone as Chinese but also has four tones. The pronunciation of the Tibetan tone is the same as that of the Chinese, except that the third tone is slightly different. There is no tone in Japanese or English.
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there are many monosyllabic "simple words" in Tibetan. These "simple words" have their independent meanings, and simple words can be superimposed into "compound words". Just like Chinese characters, which have only one syllable and independent meaning, they can be put together to form words. For example, the Tibetan word "Shangri-La", which means "the sun and the moon of the heart", is composed of four monosyllabic words, namely, "seems" (heart), "Kyi" (it), "nyi" (day) and "la" (month), which correspond to the four Chinese characters one by one. In Japanese and English, there are many polysyllabic words, but there are few monosyllabic "simple words".
Tibetan and Chinese have many similarities in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Linguists have also found that Burmese, Thai, Miao, and other languages all have this kind of common characteristics: tone, quantifier, voiced consonant relative, auxiliary words determine sentence meaning, and so on. Therefore, they are classified as the same language family "Sino-Tibetan language family", and it is believed that they all evolved from the original Sino-Tibetan language.
of course, Chinese also has features that other languages of the Sino-Tibetan family do not have. For example, the Sino-Tibetan language family is mostly subject-object predicate word order, while the Chinese word order is subject-predicate-object, there is no tense case change in modern Chinese, and so on. Therefore, Chinese is an independent language family in the Sino-Tibetan language family.
where does Chinese originate?
the Chinese family has been found. The next step is to find out the roots and ask the ancestors. Let's first confirm the Chinese origin. There are two views on this point in academia.
the first point of view is that the Sino-Tibetan language family originated in the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River in northern China. It is well known that the Yellow River is the mother river of the Chinese nation. There were a large number of developed cultures in the prehistoric Yellow River basin, the so-called "capital of Yao" and "seal of Shun". Chinese civilization was born here, and the original Sino-Tibetan language also originated here. Some of the ancestors migrated to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, and even the Indo-China Peninsula in the southwest, and differentiated into Tibetan, Burmese, Thai, Miao, and so on. Those that stayed in the hometown of the Yellow River and spread to the southeast evolved into today's Chinese.
the second point of view is that the Sino-Tibetan language family originated in southwest China. In history, there is a legend that Dayu was born in Xinjiang. The southwest region is the region with the richest variety of Sino-Tibetan languages. There are Tibetan, Qiang, Bai, Miao, Yao, Nu, Dai, Jingpo, Dulong, Lisu, Achang, Lisu, and many other Sino-Tibetan-speaking ethnic groups. Jiarong, the language closest to the original Chinese, is also distributed in the Aba Ganzi region of western Sichuan. Therefore, the southwest mountain area should be the cradle of the Sino-Tibetan language family.
these two viewpoints have their reasons, which are right and which are wrong, and it needs to be judged by modern scientific and technological means. In 2019, Professor Jin Li of Fudan University selected 109 Sino-Tibetan languages, each with 100 homologous words, analyzed by a Bayesian algorithm and combined with molecular biology and archaeological evidence. Finally, it is concluded that the Sino-Tibetan language family originated in the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River in northern China, and is closely related to Yangshao culture in Shaanxi and Majiayao culture in Gansu. Chinese was first differentiated from the original Sino-Tibetan languages, while the rest of the Sino-Tibetan languages gradually migrated to the southwest and differentiated into Tibetan-Burmese and other languages.
coincidentally, a research team led by French sinologist Professor Laurent Chagall in 2019 and composed of German, French and Australian scholars also studied the origin of Chinese. They selected 50 Sino-Tibetan language data and focused on extracting basic words related to agricultural production for big data analysis. The results also show that the original Sino-Tibetan language originated in the Yellow River valley in northern China and was created and used by the ancestors of Cishan culture in Hebei and Yangshao culture in Shaanxi.
Chinese and foreign scholars have different research methods, but the results all point to the first point of view, that is, the Chinese originated in the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River in northern China.
when was the Chinese formed?
according to DNA analysis, the Y chromosome genes of all ethnic groups in the Sino-Tibetan language family belong to the O α -.F5 lineage, and this gene was expanded 8000 years ago, so the history limit of the Chinese and even Sino-Tibetan language family is 8000 years. However, there is no conclusion on when the Chinese language was formed. Professor Jin Li's research team concluded that Chinese was formed 5900 years ago, while Professor Laurent Chagall's team concluded that Chinese has a history of 7,200 years.
the difference is due to differences in algorithm and sampling. The real answer remains to be further studied. However, regardless of the results of the follow-up research, Chinese, a language with a long history of thousands of years, is still full of vitality, which is something that we Chinese people should be proud of.