Vietic languages

The Vietic languages are a branch of the Austroasiatic language family. (Also referred to by the older terms Việt-Mường, Annam-Muong, Vietnamuong, but these are commonly understood to refer to a sub-branch of Vietic restricted to Vietnamese and Mường.)

Vietnamese was identified as an Austroasiatic language in the mid nineteenth century, and there is now evidence for this classification. Vietnamese has also large stocks of borrowed Chinese and Tai vocabulary, and is today a monosyllabic tonal language like Cantonese or Tai rather than a prototypical Austroasiatic language. For these reasons there continues to be resistance to the idea that Vietnamese could be more closely related to Khmer than to Chinese or the Tai languages. However, these typological similarities are considered superficial, the result of language contact, and can be traced back to a much more typical Austroasiatic pattern. Many of the Vietic languages have tonal or phonational systems intermediate between that of Viet-Muong and other branches of Austroasiatic, for example.


*Arem: This language lacks the breathy phonation common to most Vietic languages, but does have glottalized final consonants.
*Cuôi: Hung in Laos, and Thô in Vietnam
*Aheu (Thavung): This language makes a four-way distinction between clear and breathy phonation combined with glottalized final consonants. This is very similar to the situation in the Pearic languages in which, however, the glottalization is in the vowel.
*Ruc, Sach, May, and Chưt: A dialect cluster; the register system is the four-way contrast of Aheu augmented with pitch.
*Maleng (Bo, Pakatan): Tones as in Ruc-Sach.
*Pong, Hung, Tum, Khong-Kheng
*Viêt-Mương: Vietnamese and Mương. These two dialect chains share 75% of their vocabulary, and have similar systems of 5-6 contour tones. These are regular reflexes of other Vietic languages: The three low and three high tones correspond to voiced and voiceless initial consonants in the ancestral language; these then split depending on the original final consonants: Level tones correspond to open syllables or final nasal consonants; high rising and low falling tones correspond to final stops, which have since disappeared; dipping tones to final fricatives, which have also disappeared; and glottalized tones to final glottalized consonants, which have deglottalized.

Further reading

*Barker, M. E. (1977). "Articles on Proto-Viet-Muong". Vietnam publications microfiche series, no. VP70-62. Huntington Beach, Calif: Summer Institute of Linguistics.

ee also

*Mon-Khmer languages


* [ SEAlang Project: Mon-Khmer languages. The Vietic Branch]
* [ Sidwell (2003)]
* [ Ethnologue]

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