This volume discusses the nature of variation and change in a number of East, Southeast and South Asian languages, especially of the Sino-Tibetan family, also extending to other languages, even as far afield as English. The papers honour the work of James A. Matisoff, in celebration of his 65th birthday.
There are nineteen papers by twenty authors concerning issues in phonology, morphology, syntax, language contact, orthography and language documentation.
Randy LaPolla provides a paper with broad theoretical implications, ‘Why languages differ: variation in the conventionalisation of constraints on inference’.
Martha Ratliff writes on Hmong secret languages. Graham Thurgood and Fengxiang Li give an account of contact-induced variation and syntactic change in the Austronesian Tsat language of Hainan. Benji Wald’s contribution considers verb compounding in English and East Asian languages.
The other papers in the volume concern Sino-Tibetan languages. Balthasar Bickel writes on prosodic tautomorphemicity in Sino-Tibetan word structure. Robert Bauer discusses the impact of English loanwords on the Hong Kong Cantonese syllabary. Eleven papers are on Tibeto-Burman topics. David Bradley discusses deictic patterns in Lisu and SE Tibeto-Burman. Jackson Sun describes tonal developments in Tibetan, while Michel Ferlus writes on borrowing from Middle Chinese into Proto Tibetan. Yasuhiko Nagano describes negation particles in Gyarong (Sichuan) and David Peterson agreement and grammatical relations in Hyow (Bangladesh). Jerold Edmondson provides data from Phù Lá, Xá Phó, Lô Lô, all located in Vietnam.
Five of the Tibeto-Burman papers concern languages of Nepal. Michael Noonan writes on recent language contact among Tibeto-Burman languages of the Himalaya. Carol Genetti provides some case studies on linguistic variation involving Newar. Boyd Michailovsky describes time-ordinals in Kiranti languages, Aimée Lahaussois ergativity in Thulung Rai , and Martine Mazaudon the discourse/grammar interface in Tamang.
Two papers deal with orthographic issues. R.K. Sprigg describes the Lepcha and Limbu (Tibeto-Burman) scripts of Nepal and Mark Hansell analyses variations in Chinese character choice in writing loanwords in Taiwan.