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This Proto-Sino-Tibetan entry contains reconstructed words and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.



  • Proto-Sino-Tibetan: *mjaɣ (Coblin, 1986)
    • Proto-Tibeto-Burman: *ma (Matisoff, STEDT; LaPolla, 1987)

Possible derivative: *ba-j ~ ma-j (what).


  1. no, not, negative, not have, none


  • Old Chinese:
    /*ma/ (B-S; ZS) ("not have")
    /*məj/ (B-S); /*mɯl/ (ZS) ("not, no")
    /*mo/ (B-S); /*ma/ (ZS) ("do not")
    /*mut/ (B-S); /*mɯd/ (ZS) ("not, don't")
    /*mət-s/ (B-S); /*mɯds/ (ZS) ("not yet, haven't")
    /*majʔ/ (B-S); /*mralʔ/ (ZS) ("not, no")
    /*maŋ/ (B-S; ZS) ("not have; to flee, to disappear, to die")
    /*maŋʔ/ ("no, not"), /*m̥ˁaŋ/ ("to waste (a land)"), /*s-mˁaŋ, *s-mˁaŋ-s/ ("to lose, to die"), /*maŋ, *maŋ-s/ ("to lose, to abandon, to forget")
    /*mɯːd/ (ZS) ("to end, to disappear, to drown")
    /*mˁak/ (B-S); /*maːg/ (ZS) ("none, nobody, nothing; do not; can not")
    • Middle Chinese: /mɨo/, /mʉi/, /mɨo/, /mɨut/, /mʉiH/, /mɣiᴇX/, /mʉɐŋ/, /mʉɐŋX/, /hwɑŋ/, /sɑŋ, sɑŋH/, /mʉɐŋH/, /muət/, /mɑk/
      • Modern Mandarin
        • Beijing: all of the above, in particular:
          (méi, /meɪ̯³⁵/, "not, haven't, none, nothing")
          (, /u³⁵/, "not have, un-")
          and perhaps (ma, /ma/, "interrogative particle")
          (shénme, /ʂən³⁵ mə³/, "what")
      • Cantonese
        • Guangzhou: all of the above, also:
          /m̩²¹/ ("not")
          /mei²²/ ("not yet")
          /mɐt̚⁵/ ("what")
      • Wu
        • Shanghai: all of the above, also:
          (obsolete) /ɦm̩²³/, 嘸沒 /ɦm̩²² mə̆ʔ⁴⁴/ ("not have, not, no")
          /v̻ə̆ʔ¹²/ ("not, no")
          /v̻iɔ²³/ ("do not"), 勿會 /v̻ᴇ²³/ ("can not")
    • Min
      • Min Nan
        • Taiwan: all of the above, in particular:
          /be³³, bue³³/ ("not, no") (colloquial)
  • Himalayish
  • Lolo-Burmese-Naxi
    • Lolo-Burmese
      • Burmish
        • Written Burmese: (ma., not)
      • Loloish
        • Northern Loloish
          • Yi (Liangshan): (map, no, not, none (literary))

See also[edit]

  • *ta (negative imperative)