Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
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: *(s-)ba(-t) (Benedict, n.d.), *bat ~ *b(j)et (Bauer, 1991)
    • Proto-Tibeto-Burman: *b(y)et (Matisoff, 2003), *b(y)at (Matisoff, STEDT)

Mentioning the taboo word was avoided in ancient Chinese literature (rhyme books included), resulting in a paucity of attestations and an elevated difficulty in reconstructing the Old Chinese pronunciation. Using modern dialectal data, Benedict (1988, circulated manuscript at ICSTLL #21) reconstructed the Old Chinese word as /bʼiĕt/. However, a closed-open syllable variation should probably be posited in the proto-form: *pe and *pet, as many conservative dialects show forms without a final consonant (e.g. Amoy).

This taboo word caused many originally homophonic characters to undergo irregular sound changes, e.g. , , such that there was almost no other common word with the same pronunciation. The development from Middle Chinese to modern Beijing Mandarin, in particular the process of syllable coda loss, however generated an additional homophone , which is now basically the only commonly used word homophonic with in Beijing Mandarin. It is therefore used as an euphemism for in circumstances where the vulgar nature of this word needs to be toned down. This taboo word is still very productive in compound formation; many neologisms in Chinese are based on this taboo word, e.g. 傻屄 ("idiot"), 牛屄 ("awesome, cool"), 裝屄 ("pretentious"), 苦屄 ("miserable, pathetic").

Some Yue Chinese dialects have hai-shaped words meaning "vagina", e.g. Guangzhou /hɐi⁵⁵/. These are probably Tai-Kadai loanwords, compare Proto-Tai *hiːᴬ (vagina) (Thai หี (hǐi), Lao ຫີ ()), although some Tibeto-Burman languages also have phonetic parallels.

Benedict (1991) hypothesised that this PST etymon came from the root *be ("hidden"), e.g. Tibetan སྦེད་པ (sbed pa), སྦས (sbas), སྦ (sba, to hide, to conceal; also genitals) (though the vowels may be difficult to reconcile); Chinese . Schuessler (2007) postulated that Chinese was formed from a root *pe meaning "to open" (e.g. , ), with a suffix *-t to denote natural objects.

Benedict (1990) hypothesised a "Proto-Austro-Kadai" binome *tu‑pi containing this etymon; the first component in that binome is ~ PST *s-tu (vagina, vulva). Bauer (1991), on the other hand, treated this etymon as part of a binome *dzu(k)‑byet (with PST *dzjuk ~ tsjuk (vulva)), and adduced parallels in Hmong-Mien languages and Chinese.

Using pVt- for words denoting "vagina, vulva" appears to be somewhat common in other languages as well; compare: Proto-Indo-European *písdeh₂ (vulva), *pout ("cunnus") (Russian пизда (pizda), Albanian pidhi, Scots fud, Latin praeputium, Latvian peža, Lithuanian putė), Finnish pillu, Hungarian punci, pina, Proto-Kartvelian bud-, Proto-North-Caucasian *pūṭi ~ būṭi, Tagalog puday, puke (~?), Proto-Austronesian *palaq, *bediq ~ *betiq (Malagasy fala), Korean 보지 (boji). See also Proto-Human language#Vocabulary on Wikipedia.



  1. vagina, vulva; female genitalia


  • Old Chinese: (probably *pe ~ *pet, see note above) ("vagina")
    • Middle Chinese: /*pi/ (unrecorded in major rhyme books)
      • Modern Mandarin
        • Beijing: (, /pi⁵⁵/)
        • Chengdu: /pʰi⁵⁵/
      • Cantonese
        • Guangzhou: /pei⁵⁵/ (not used in colloquial speech)
      • Gan
        • Nanchang: /piɛt̚⁵/
      • Hakka
        • Meixian: /piɛt̚¹/, /t͡sz̩⁴⁴⁻³⁵ piɛt̚¹/, /t͡sz̩⁴⁴⁻³⁵ paɪ¹¹/, /t͡sz̩⁴⁴⁻³⁵ pʰaɪ¹¹/
        • Miaoli: /piet̚² e³¹/, /t͡sɨ²⁴ piet̚²/, /t͡sɨ²⁴ pai¹¹/
      • Jin
        • Taiyuan: /pi¹¹/
      • Min
        • Min Nan: /pi⁴⁴/ (literary reading)
      • Wu
        • Shanghai: /pi⁵³/
        • Wenzhou: /pei³³/
      • Xiang
        • Changsha: /pie²⁴/
    • Min
      • Min Bei
        • Jian'ou: /piɛ²⁴/
      • Min Dong
        • Fuzhou: /t͡si⁵⁵ pɛ³³/, [t͡si⁵³ βɛ³³]
        • Fuqing: /t͡si⁵³⁻⁵⁵ pe³³⁻⁵³/
      • Puxian Min
        • Xianyou: /t͡si²² pai⁵⁴/
      • Min Nan
        • Taiwan: /t͡ɕi⁴⁴⁻³³ bai⁴⁴/ ("vagina") (colloquial reading)
        • Zhangzhou: /t͡ɕi⁴⁴⁻²² bai⁴⁴/, /t͡sʰam⁴⁴⁻²² pe⁴⁴/ (colloquial reading)
  • Lolo-Burmese-Naxi
    • Lolo-Burmese
      *b(y)etᴸ (Matisoff, 1972)
      • Burmish
      • Loloish
        *batᴸ (Bradley, 1979)
        • Northern Loloish
          • Yi (Liangshan): (py, vagina) /pz̩/
        • Central Loloish

See also[edit]