Cornell University

Linguistics and Southeast Asia Program Speaker: Marc Brunelle

Friday, April 20, 2018 at 12:20pm

Morrill Hall, 106
Cornell University Dept, 159 Central Avenue, Morrill Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4701, USA

The Department of LInguistics and the Southeast Asia Program invite you to a lecture by Marc Brunelle of the University of Ottawa, "Revisiting the expansion of the Chamic language family."


Two Chamic languages are spoken outside the Indochinese Peninsula.  The first one, Tsat, is spoken by a few thousand speakers in Hainan. The second, Acehnese, whose status as a Chamic language is still debated, is the main language of northern Sumatra. A few scenarios for the establishment of these linguistic communities outside the Cham homeland have been proposed. Most of the evidence upon which they are based is of a linguistic rather than archeological or historical. In this talk, I will revisit this linguistic evidence and try to assert the historical plausibility of the proposed migration routes.

The first hypothesis I will deconstruct is the claim that the linguistic proximity between Acehnese and Chamic languages can be accounted for by a migration after the fall of Vijaya (Thurgood, 1999; 2007). I will review the linguistic evidence (Thurgood, 1999; Blust, 2000; Dyen, 2001; Sidwell, 2008) and show that Acehnese and Chamic, although obviously related, might have split much earlier than the 15th century. I will also argue that a possible alternative scenario is a settlement directly from Borneo, simultaneous with the Cham arrival in Indochina (Blust, 2010) and propose that genetic evidence should be used to complement linguistic comparison (Peng et al., 2010).    


I will then revisit the claim that the Utsat of Hainan are descendants of Cham refugees who settled on the island after the fall of Indrapura in 982 (Thurgood, 1993; 1999; 2000; Thurgood and Li, 2003). While the general claim seems well supported, the linguistic evidence in favor of a close connection between Northern Raglai and Tsat is controversial. The two sound changes alleged to be shared by Northern Raglai and Tsat, the loss of -s after a- and partial denasalization of codas, are less regular than previously proposed (Thurgood, 1999). I will also question the historical scenario according to which Indrapura merchants fled to Hainan and became the Utsat, while non-merchants fled south and became the Northern Raglai (Thurgood, 2000; 2007). 


Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Linguistics, Southeast Asia Program


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Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

James Nagy

Contact Phone



Marc Brunelle

Speaker Affiliation

Department of Linguistics, University of Ottowa

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