Authors:Christopher I. Beckwith and Gisaburo N. Kiyose
The morphophonology of Old Chinese has usually been reconstructed as an earlier version of the traditional reconstruction of Middle Chinese, with exclusively monosyllabic morphemes. For Old Chinese some scholars have posited syllabic morphemes with long or short vowels, or even polysyllabic morphemes, and other theories have been proposed, but it is still assumed that by Late Old Chinese any longer morphemes that once existed were already monosyllabic. However, Central Asian loans in Chinese suggest some disyllabic morphemes still existed in Late Old Chinese. They seem to be confirmed by a new study of little-noted Old Japanese transcriptions known as nigōgana. Thus the hitherto problematic Old Chinese and Old Japanese transcriptions of foreign words such as Saka and Buddha, and the monosyllabic theory of Old Chinese morphology, must be reconsidered. This paper’s new reconstructions conform to the data and have great implications for the reconstruction of Old Chinese as well as for the reconstruction of the early Chinese loans into Japanese.