Vowel Purity and Rhyme Evidence in Old Chinese Reconstruction

Vowel Purity and Rhyme Evidence in Old Chinese Reconstruction

Talk held at the 29th Meeting on East Asian Linguistics (2016-07-04, Paris)

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Johann-Mattis List

July 04, 2016
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  1. Vowel Purity and Rhyme Evidence in Old Chinese Reconstruction Johann-Mattis

    List (CRLAO)
  2. Introduction

  3. Rhyme Evidence in Old Chinese Reconstruction • the morpheme-syllabic character

    of the Chinese writing system does not give us many clues regarding the exact pronunciation of Chinese during its oldest stages • rhyme patterns in old Chinese poetry, like the Shījīng 詩經 (1050 - 600 BC), are therefore important for Old Chinese reconstruction • rhyme pattern analysis has a long tradition in Chinese traditional scholarship, but it has never been thoroughly systematized
  4. Traditional Rhyme Pattern Analysis • traditional rhyme pattern analysis (sīguàn

    shéngqiān fǎ 絲 貫繩牽法 follows a greedy approach ◦ start from words which could be shown to rhyme with each other in one poem ◦ cluster words greedily into clusters by looking for words which occur across poems
  5. Traditional Rhyme Pattern Analysis

  6. Traditional Rhyme Pattern Analysis

  7. Traditional Rhyme Pattern Analysis

  8. Traditional Rhyme Pattern Analysis

  9. Traditional Rhyme Pattern Analysis

  10. Traditional Rhyme Pattern Analysis

  11. Traditional Rhyme Pattern Analysis • unfortunately, the traditional rhyme analysis

    favors lumping of rhyme categories over splitting • no more than about 30 categories were identified by the traditional rhyme analysis up to the middle of the 20th century • only later, Baxter’s (1992) hypotheses-testing approach to quantitative rhyme data made it possible to postulate more distinct (52) categories
  12. Vowel Purity and Rhyme Evidence

  13. Vowel Purity and Rhyme Evidence • Ho (2016) criticises Baxter

    and Sagart’s (2014) reconstruction of Old Chinese by pointing to many rhymes in which words with different main vowels rhyme • this principle, that says that old Chinese poetry was strictly avoiding the rhyming of words with different vowels could be called the principle of “vowel purity” in rhymes
  14. Vowel Purity and Rhyme Evidence • Ho’s (2016) argument rests

    on two fundamental assumptions a. Baxter and Sagart’s (2014) Old Chinese reconstruction is in strong conflict with the principle of vowel purity b. vowel purity was a key principle in Old Chinese rhyming
  15. Vowel Purity and Rhyme Evidence • assumption b. is very

    difficult to check, and we find many counter-examples both in Chinese rhyme traditions and in a cross-linguistic comparison of rhyme traditions • assumption a. can be easily checked, but unlike Ho (2016), we need to check it quantitatively and comparatively for different OC reconstruction systems
  16. Vowel Purity and Rhyme Evidence • Ho’s (2016) argument against

    Baxter and Sagart (2014): ◦ lacks any concrete examples ◦ confuses conflicts between traditional rhyme categories and the rhyme categories by Baxter and Sagart (2014) with actual conflicts with vowel purity
  17. Vowel Purity and Rhyme Evidence • Ho’s (2016) argument against

    Baxter and Sagart (2014): ◦ lacks any concrete examples ◦ confuses conflicts between traditional rhyme categories and the rhyme categories by Baxter and Sagart (2014) with actual conflicts with vowel purity “It is a firm linguistic fact that rhyming should be based on identity of vowels. Interpretation should, of course, be based upon facts. Facts precede and matter more than interpretation.” (Ho 2016: 183)
  18. Vowel Purity and Rhyme Evidence • Ho’s (2016) argument against

    Baxter and Sagart (2014): ◦ lacks any concrete examples ◦ confuses conflicts between traditional rhyme categories and the rhyme categories by Baxter and Sagart (2014) with actual conflicts with vowel purity “It is a firm linguistic fact that rhyming should be based on identity of vowels. Interpretation should, of course, be based upon facts. Facts precede and matter more than interpretation.” (Ho 2016: 183) → yes, let’s work with pure facts!
  19. Evaluating Vowel Purity in Reconstruction

  20. Materials: Rhyme Network The Shījīng Browser • rhyme data from

    the Shījīng following Baxter (1992) • digitized and converted to machine-readable format in List (under review) • data online available in form of a Shījīng Browser (http: //digling.org/shijing/)
  21. Materials: Rhyme Network DEMO of http://digling.org/shijing/

  22. Materials: Rhyme Network The Shījīng Rhyme Network • a network

    of all words rhyming in the Shījīng (List under review) • rhyme words are nodes in the networks (1996 nodes in total) • links between nodes reflect instances in which two words rhyme in the Shījīng according to Baxter’s (1992) analysis • an automatic analysis of the patterns, in which community-detection algorithms were used to search for potential rhyme groups is available at http://digling.org/shijing/infomap.html
  23. Materials: Rhyme Network DEMO of http://digling.org/shijing/infomap.html

  24. Materials: Reconstruction Systems • Baxter and Sagart (2014): online available

    for download • Karlgren (1954): provided by Eastling (http://www.eastling.org) • Wáng Lì (1980): provided by Eastling • Pān Wúyùn (2000): provided by Eastling • Zhèngzhāng (2003): provided by Eastling • Starostin (1989): provided by Tower of Babel (http://starling. rinet.ru) • Li (1971): provided by Eastling
  25. Materials: Reconstruction Systems • Not all data is complete, since

    not all sources give reconstructions for all characters in the Shījīng • 1213 character readings occur in all seven datasets • two analyses are carried out: ◦ “complete coverage”: analysis for the character readings which occur in all seven reconstruction systems ◦ “partial coverage”: analysis for all character readings available for a given reconstruction system
  26. Materials: Reconstruction Systems

  27. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks The Problem •

    List (under review) uses community detection algorithms to determine possible rhyme categories in the Shījīng and to compare these with Old Chinese • vowel purity, however, does not exclusively determine which words rhyme with each other, since we know that other aspects, like the coda, also contribute to rhyming • on the other hand, vowel purity should restrict certain rhymes
  28. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks The Problem We

    search for a measure that reflects the tendency of vowel purity in a network model. But vowel purity does only to a certain extent coincide with rhyme categories. We thus do not search for a measure that tells us something about the quality of communities that we determine, but a measure that tells us to which degree the topology of our network is in conflict with the characteristics of the nodes.
  29. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks

  30. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks

  31. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks

  32. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks

  33. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks

  34. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks Conductance as a

    measure of cluster purity? • The conductance of a group of nodes in a network estimates the degree of its isolation or fragmentation (Leskovec et al. 2008). • List (under review) uses conductance to compare the purity of six- vowel systems (Baxter and Sagart 2014) in contrast with Middle Chinese vowel systems in the Shījīng rhyme network. • But conductance has shortcomings when comparing different clusters across graphs: When averaging conductance scores for each cluster (vowel), systems with less vowels are favored.
  35. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks Modularity as a

    measure for cluster purity? • Modularity of a given set of clusters in a network is the fraction of the edges within a cluster subtracted by the number of edges expected at random. (Newman 2006) • Modularity can be positive or negative, with positive values indicating that communities are potentially present. (Newman 2006) • Modularity suffers from a low resolution limits if networks become large or nodes do not share many links.
  36. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks Assortativity • Assortativity

    (Newman 2003) tests whether nodes sharing connections in a graph are also similar regarding other characteristics. • Adapted to our rhyme network, this means that we test whether words that rhyme in the Book of Odes share also the same vowel. • This seems to be exactly what we are looking for: a measure for the degree to which a given reconstruction system reflects the assumption that words with identical vowels tend to rhyme.
  37. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks Assortativity high assortativity

  38. Methods: Testing Vowel Purity in Rhyme Networks Assortativity low assortativity

  39. Results

  40. Results: General Remarks

  41. Results: General Remarks

  42. Results: General Remarks

  43. Results: General Remarks

  44. Results: General Remarks

  45. Results: General Remarks Coding Rhymes by Vowel Quality: ▪ a

    ▪ e ▪ i ▪ o ▪ u ▪ ə
  46. Results: General Remarks Coding Rhymes by Vowel Quality: ▪ a

    ▪ e ▪ i ▪ o ▪ u ▪ ə
  47. Results: General Remarks Coding Rhymes by Vowel Quality: ▪ a

    ▪ e ▪ i ▪ o ▪ u ▪ ə
  48. Results: Detailed Comparison 1213 Nodes 1471 - 1996 nodes

  49. Results: Detailed Comparison 1213 Nodes 1471 - 1996 nodes

  50. Results: Detailed Comparison 1213 Nodes 1471 - 1996 nodes None

    of the systems shows a 100% vowel purity, but apparently, Baxter and Sagart (2014) outperform all other reconstructions regarding vowel purity!
  51. Conclusion and Discussion

  52. Discussion • the reconstruction by Baxter and Sagart (2014) corresponds

    closer to the criterion of vowel purity than the other systems compared • the quantitative investigation shows that the critics by Ho (2016) do not hold • the rather high assortativity scores reported for almost all reconstruction systems shows that vowel purity is a principle that is reflected in all reconstructions (albeit with different rigor)
  53. Discussion: Caveats 1. the comparison lacks full coverage for all

    reconstruction systems, which may have influenced the results (although I expect no larger differences) 2. errors both in the rhyme networks and the reconstruction systems might have further influenced the results 3. we should be careful with the idea of vowel purity itself: it is by no means proven that it was a driving principle for those who created the poems in the Shījīng 4. we should ideally compare our study with an alternative rhyme network, like the one by Wáng (1980)
  54. Conclusion Despite potential errors and further limits of the analysis,

    this study could (hopefully) show that • thorough quantitative comparison can give us new insights into our problems in Old Chinese reconstruction • instead of dismissing theories or reconstructions by spurious or non- existing examples or assumptions, exhaustive evaluations give us a fresh perspective on our problems • In order to tackle our data-problems in the future, collaborative efforts are required and people should try to share all their data as transparently as possible
  55. Many thanks to Philippe Lopez (Team Adaptation, Integration, Reticulation, Evolution,

    UPMC) for providing invaluable help with the network analysis, and to Laurent Sagart (CRLAO) for helpful discussions and for providing the Old Chinese data! Supplementary material with all code and all detailed reconstructions available at: https://gist.github.com/LinguList
  56. Thanks for your attention! Many thanks to Philippe Lopez (Team

    Adaptation, Integration, Reticulation, Evolution, UPMC) for providing invaluable help with the network analysis, and to Laurent Sagart (CRLAO) for helpful discussions and for providing the Old Chinese data! Supplementary material with all code and all detailed reconstructions available at: https://gist.github.com/LinguList