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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: *s-nis (Chou, 1972); *sn̥jis (Coblin, 1986)
    • Proto-Tibeto-Burman: *s-ni-s (Matisoff, STEDT); *s-nis (Benedict, 1972; Chou, 1972; LaPolla, 1987)

Apparently formed from the same root *ni(-s) as Proto-Sino-Tibetan *g/s-ni-s (two), showing the vestige of a quinary numeral system at some stage (probably much earlier than Proto-Sino-Tibetan), so that SEVEN was expressed as "5 + 2". However attempts to relate any part of this proto-form to the root for "five" (*l/b-ŋa‎) have been unsuccessful, and there is no evidence in other numerals (e.g. 6 and 1, or 8 and 3) to suggest the same quinary relationship.

Burmese has a prefix khu’ which as a separate morpheme means "unit, individual thing". Matisoff has argued that this component is cognate with *k(r)ut (hand, arm), the connection being via the five fingers used in counting. Tibetan བདུན (bdun, seven) is unrelated to this root and its etymology has been something of a mystery.

Preemption of the nasal root initial by prefix is seen in Chinese (if the Old Chinese reconstruction by Zhengzhang is valid) and Lolo-Burmese. Many Kuki-Chin-Naga languages have r-, ɣ- or g- as the root initial. Matisoff believes this resulted from "rhotacism", or liquefaction of the nasal.



  1. seven


  • Old Chinese: /*sn̥id/ (by Zhengzhang Shangfang); /*tsʰit/ (by Baxter-Sagart)
    • Middle Chinese: /t͡sʰiɪt/

         Japanese:   (しち, ​shichi)
            Korean:   (, chil)
            Vietnamese:  thất

      • Modern Mandarin
        • Beijing: (, /t͡ɕʰi⁵⁵/)
      • Cantonese
        • Guangzhou: /t͡sʰɐt̚⁵/
      • Wu
        • Shanghai: /t͡ɕʰiɪ̆ʔ⁵⁵/
  • Tangut-Qiang
    • Northern Tangut
      • Tangut: 𗒹 (śjạ, /*ɕʲa⁵⁵/, seven)
    • rGyalrongic
  • Jingpho-Asakian
    • Jingpho
      • Jingpho [Kachin]: sanit (seven)
  • Lolo-Burmese-Naxi
    • Lolo-Burmese
      • Burmish
      • Loloish
        • Northern Loloish
          • Yi (Liangshan): (shyp, seven)
  • Karen: *Ɂnweᴬ, Ɂnwetᴰ (Luangthongkum, 2013)

See also[edit]