Reconstruction:Proto-Sino-Tibetan/s-la

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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[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Camellia sinensis, the species from which tea is nowadays usually extracted.
Sonchus oleraceus, one of the bitter taste plants that referred to.
  • Proto-Sino-Tibetan: ?
    • Proto-Tibeto-Burman: *s-la (Matisoff, STEDT)

Cognate with *lap (leaf), *lep ~ ljap (flat, thin, flat object); see there for more cognates.

This root is the eventual source of the words for "tea" in most non-Sino-Tibetan languages of the world, mostly borrowed from Chinese . Two Chinese sources of borrowing are usually distinguished:

  1. the affricativised varieties (e.g. Beijing Mandarin, Guangzhou Cantonese): which pronounce with an affricate initial /t͡sʰ, ʈ͡ʂʰ/.

       English:  chai
          Korean:   (cha, “cha”)
          Japanese:   (ちゃ, cha)
          Vietnamese:  trà, chè

  2. the plosive varieties (e.g. Min Nan) /t/.

       English:  tea
          Korean:   (da, “da”)
          Japanese:   (, da; ta)

The Chinese word might have originally been a loan from Loloish (Tibeto-Burman) *la ("leaf, tea"), as tea may have originated in Sichuan (Lolo area) (Sagart, 1999). Alternatively, Qiu (2000) suggests that it was a semantic extension from the root *la, the name of a bitter plant (Sonchus oleraceus).

A similar-shaped etymon exists in Proto-Mon-Khmer: *slaʔ (leaf) (Modern Mon သၠ (hlaʔ, leaf), Khmer ស្លា (slaa, areca palm), ស្លឹក (slǝk, leaf, sheet), Vietnamese (leaf)).

More at Tea#The word "tea" on Wikipedia.

Noun[edit]

*s-la

  1. leaf
  2. tea
  3. flat object

Descendants[edit]

  • Old Chinese: /*rlaː, laː, ɦlja/ (ZS), /*lˁra, lˁa, l̥a/ (B-S; unlisted, theoretical) ("bitter taste vegetable; weed; white flower; poison, harm; tea")
  • Lolo-Burmese-Naxi

External links[edit]

  • Chapter Tea in the World Atlas of Language Structures