Reconstruction:Proto-Sino-Tibetan/lak ~ C-jak

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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: *lək (Coblin, 1986)
    • Proto-Tibeto-Burman: *lak ~ C-jak (Matisoff, STEDT); *lak (Benedict, 1972; Coblin, 1986; Michailovsky, 1991); *g-lɑk (Chou, 1972); *g-lak ~ lak (Weidert, 1987)

This root is widely attested in Sino-Tibetan languages, and exhibits considerable morphophonemic and lexemical variation. The basic form of the root seems to be *lak, and in some languages the initial has changed into a yod *jak, which may further fricatise into z- or ʑ-. To the yodated form can various prefixes be added.

With *d- this prefixation gives *d-jak, another common allofam, which can undergo affricatisation to yield dʑ- or prefix preemption to yield *dak. Note that *dak may as well result from delateralisation of *l-, presumably through an intermediate stage *ʎ- < *lj-. Some languages show forms which seem to have arisen from *ld-, either through reprefixation *lə- on *d- prefixed allofams or metathesis of the *d- prefixed allofam *ld- < *d-l-.

With *g- prefixation gives *g-jak, with secondary meanings such as "cubit, armpit".

With *p- prefixation gives *p-jak, represented mainly by Written Tibetan ཕྱག (phyag, "hand (honorific)").

Note that this root bears some interesting resemblance to *la ~ ja (leg, foot), *p(l)a (palm, sole) and *s-la(p) ~ laj (leaf).

The following allofams are listed in STEDT:

  • 1 #377 *lak ⪤ C-jak ("arm, hand, wing")
    • 1a #695 *lak ("hand, limb")
    • 1b #696 *jak ("arm, hand, armpit, tickle")
    • 1c #699 *d-jak ("hand, arm, leaf")
    • 1d #700 *dak ("arm, hand")
    • 1e #702 *g-jak ("arm, hand, cubit")
    • 1f #705 *p-jak ("arm")
    • 1g #350 *la ("leg, foot")
    • 1h #375 *ja ("leg, foot")
    • 1i #888 *d-ja OR g-ja ("foot")

The Chinese word for "hand" is unrelated.


*lak ~ C-jak

  1. hand
  2. arm, limb
  3. wing
  4. cubit, armpit


  • Old Chinese:
    (*ɢrək < **ɢrəp (Baxter-Sagart); *lɯɡ (Zhengzhang Shangfang), wing; to support with hand; to help)
    , (*m-qak (Baxter-Sagart); *laːɡ (Zhengzhang Shangfang), armpit)
    (*laːɡ (Zhengzhang Shangfang), to support somebody with hand; armpit)
    (*klaːɡ (Zhengzhang Shangfang), armpit)
    (*klaːɡ (Zhengzhang Shangfang), sleeve suture)
    • Middle Chinese: (jɨk); , , (jiᴇk); , (kɑk)
      • Modern Mandarin
        • Beijing:
          (yì, /i⁵¹/, wing)
          (yì, /i⁵¹/, armpit)
          (yè, /i̯ɛ⁵¹/, armpit)
          (yè, /i̯ɛ⁵¹/, to support somebody with hand; armpit); (yē, /i̯ɛ⁵⁵/, to tuck in)
          (gē, /kɤ⁵⁵/, armpit, to tickle); (colloquial in 咯吱窩) (gā, /ka⁵⁵/)
          (gē, /kɤ⁵⁵/, sleeve suture)
  • Himalayish
    • Tibeto-Kanauri
  • Tangut-Qiang
    • Northern Tangut
      • Tangut: 𗁅 (lạ, /*lɑ⁵⁵/, hand)
    • rGyalrongic
  • Lolo-Burmese-Naxi
    • Lolo-Burmese
      • Burmish
        • Written Burmese: လက် (lak, hand, arm)
      • Loloish
        • Northern Loloish
          • Yi (Liangshan): (lot, hand)

See also[edit]