Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jie Language, Part 1

This article series is dedicated to the genius of Alexander Vovin at the University of Hawaii.  It’s basically a summary of his brilliant paper “Did the Xiong-Nu Speak a Yeniseian Language?”  All of the credit goes to him.  I did nothing.  And also to Georgii Starostin for his 1995 reconstruction of Proto-Yeniseian, as well as Edwin Pulleybank, who first advanced the Yeniseian Jie hypothesis in the 60s.
            351 C.E.—the Later Zhao dynasty of Northern China has risen and fallen.  The ethnic group who ruled the Zhao was a nomadic tribe from the north known as the Jie.  They were a mysterious people with a language and even physical appearance completely foreign to their Chinese subjects.  Unfortunately, the dynasty had a bad habit of deposing and executing emperors who weren’t bloodthirsty psychopaths.  Due to this, their Chinese subjects have a bit of a grudge.  Following the dynasty’s fall, the Jie ethnic group is subjected to near-total genocide.  This ancient bloodbath was so complete that the mystery of who the Jie were will probably never be solved.  Even their language was wiped out…


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