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A GIS-Assisted Study of The Origins of Tai Irrigated Rice Technology and Culture In Southern China from a Linguistics Perspective John Hartmann Department.

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Presentation on theme: "A GIS-Assisted Study of The Origins of Tai Irrigated Rice Technology and Culture In Southern China from a Linguistics Perspective John Hartmann Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 A GIS-Assisted Study of The Origins of Tai Irrigated Rice Technology and Culture In Southern China from a Linguistics Perspective John Hartmann Department of Foreign Languages and Literature Northern Illinois University A Presentation at The University of Hawaii-Manoa October 5, 2007

2 Team Members: U.S. John HartmannNorthern Illinois University Jerold EdmondsonUniversity of Texas Vinya SysamouthUniversity of Wisconsin Chinese Zhang GonjinCentral University of Nationalities Yang QuanCentral University of Nationalities Li JinfangCentral University of Nationalities Zhou GuoyanCentral University of Nationalities Liu JianxunCentral University of Nationalities Huang PingwenCentral University of Nationalities




6 Objective: To gather dialect data on rice agriculture for comparative- historical reconstruction of the Tai homeland in Southern China Methodology: 1. Audio recordings of 400-500 words were made involving more than 30 speakers of Tai dialects for later analysis. 2. Video and still photos capture indigenous agriculture practices, general culture, and aspects of the environment. Time Frame: May 24-July 17, 2000 and March 2002


8 Significant Regional Divisions of China Linguistic Geography China Precipitation Agricultural Regions

9 Linguistic Groups in China

10 China Precipitation

11 Agricultural Regions


13 Three Provinces with Large Tai Populations in China

14 2. Wuming 1. Longan 3. Ningmin    4. Taxing Fieldwork May 26-July 2, 2000 5. Jingxi 6. Donglan  7. Liuzhou 8. Sandu  9. Guiyang  10. Kunming   11. Jinghong 12. Mengla  

15 Who are the Tai? The ethno-linguistic grouping known as the “Tai” originated in Southern China in the border region between Guangxi Province and Northern Vietnam about 2000 years ago. Tai groups are now found in modern Thailand, where they are called Thai, in Laos, where they are known as Lao, in Burma, where they are called Shan, and in Assam, India.

16 TAI Name of the parent or proto- language. Tai dates back to more than 2000 years BP. Some of its 100+ daughter language include: THAI - Thailand, the largest group (60 million) SHAN – Burma LAO – Laos TAI DAM, TAI DON – Vietnam TAI (DAI) LUE – Sipsongpanna,Yunnan, China ZHUANG – Guangxi, Yunnan, the largest minority in China AHOM – Assam, India LI – Hainan Island The next slide shows the relationships among the different groups in the form of a “tree” diagram.


18 The Tai As Early Rice Agriculturalists Implications from O’Connor, Richard A., 1995 “Agricultural Change and Ethnic Succession in Southeast Asian States.” Diamond, Jared, 1997 Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.

19 From Wild Rice to Domesticated Rice Wild rice is found throughout Southern China and parts of India. The areas where it is has been unearthed have moderate seasonal precipitation and heat, the natural environment in which rice flourishes. Yields are increased and assured with irrigation. Evidence of the earliest domestication of rice from about 8000 years ago has been excavated at several sites in the Middle and Lower Yangtze River Basin.

20 Wild Rice Distribution in Southern China

21 Tai as People of the Naa Historically, the Tai peoples have been associated with growing irrigated rice in bunded fields called naa. To achieve this, they have lived along rivers on which they construct diversion dams or dikes called fai and channel the water into rice fields through a system of canals or smaller channels or ditches called meuang. This type of agriculture is called “wet rice” or irrigated rice farming.

22 Tai Place Names with “NAA” [Ricefield]

23 MEUANG-FAI and NAA The traditional Tai irrigation system was called “Meuang-Fai” or “Ditch- Dike” by the Tai peoples of South China, Northern Vietnam, Northern Thailand/Laos, and Burma. The Tai were known as “people of the naa – wet/irrigated rice fields. meuang *A1 means ‘water channel, ditch’ It appears that theVietnamese and Burmese borrowed the term meuang *A4 means ‘basin, intermountane plane; chiefdom, kingdom’ fai *A1 means‘dam, weir’ naa *A4 means ‘irrigated rice field’

24 Voiceless friction sounds, 1591317 *s, hm, ph, etc. Voiceless unaspirated 26101418 stops, *p, etc. Glottal, * ?, ? b, etc. 37111519 Voiced, * m, j, z, n, etc. 48121620 Chart Showing the Splitting of Three Proto-Tai Tones Conditioned by the Nature of Syllable-Initial Sounds Proto-Tai Tones *A*B *C *D-short/long vowels Initials ( at time of tonal splits) Smooth Syllables Checked Syllables

25 Satellite Map of Muang Sing recorded on Jan. 11, 1989. The plain of Muang Sing covers 60-80 km². The smaller plain of Muang Phong, looking like a person, is in China (NE of Muang Sing) __________________________________________________________________________ Source: For more interesting details on the history of Muang Sing and Muang Khaeng and their relationship to each other and surrounding powers in the region in the past, go to and Muang *A4 ‘basin; plain for growing irrigated rice. The geographic region under study is studded with them.


27 Rice Related 1. 稻类词表 Rice—kinds, parts of 1. 谷物 Grain—general term for grain 1. 粮食 Cereals 1. (一)颗 / 粒(谷子) Grain—as a CLS (classifier) 1. 早稻 Rice early season 1. 中稻 Rice middle season ( once a year only—no early or late planted in this field ) 1. 晚稻 Rice late (season) 1. 米饭(干饭) Rice cooked 1. 糯米 Rice glutinous (sticky) 1. 糙米 Unpolished rice 1. 精米 Polished, round-grained Japonica, non-glutinous rice 1. 粳米 Polished long-grained Indica, non-glutinous rice 1. 稻谷 Rice husked 1. 稻米 Rice polished 1. 稻种 Rice (paddy) 1. 细糠 Rice husk/chaff: soft (pounded long to become powder- like) 1. 粗糠 Rice husk/chaff: hard 1. 稻株 Rice plant 1. (禾)把 Bundle of rice straw Wordlist: Xishuangbanna 2002


29 “Rice” as it is spoken across the Tai-Kadai region: Sui ‘au vs. Lao khaw

30 Table: The word “Rice” Spoken in Different Languages and Location Note: See Figure 4 for a tree diagram of the language group. The language are sorted in the order of decreasing similarity to the proto-Tai word of “rice”- *khau [C3]. In other words, going down the list, you are going in a general direction of a pronunciation most similar to proto-Tai (at periphery) to one most different (at origin). Language Group Language“Rice” Location Spoken SiameseBangkok Isan Roi Et S. Zhuang Lungming LaoVientiane Tai Don Lai Chau Saek Nakhon Phanom Tai Dam Son La Tai Dehong Luxi Tai Lue Jinghong Yay Lao Cai N. Zhuang Wuming BouyeiWangmo SuiLibo S. Kam Rongjiang MaonanHuangjiang MulamLuocheng Tai Kam-Sui

31 This map shows the contour of mean scores for 21 rice culture related words at each location. A score of 1 is assigned to a word that is most close to the proto-Tai pronunciation; 3 to a word that is most different from the proto-Tai pronunciation; to those that fall in between. The lower the mean value, the closer the word is to the proto-Tai form (periphery); the higher the value, the more different the word is from the proto-Tai form (origin). The number next to location point is the mean score value at each location. The contours are interpolated from these mean scores using Arc/Info “topogrid” command. Major streams are incorporated as break lines during the interpolation because they may represent a topographic barrier for population migration. GIS Analysis

32 A traditional Tai fai or dam built on a mountain stream in northern Thailand

33 En Cheng, China, a site where traditional irrigation once dominated

34 Harrowing the field before transplanting
















50 Acknowledgements Funding from the Henry Luce Foundation U.S.-China Cooperative Research Program, 2000-2003. Assistance from the Central University for Nationalities-Beijing and Jerold Edmondson, University of Texas-Arlington. Wei Luo, NIU Dept. of Geography GIS analysis and maps, with Vinya Sysamouth, Center for Lao Studies. Vinya Sysamouth for photos and fieldwork assistance in Sipsongpanna, Yunnan in 2002. Northern Illinois University Office of Sponsored Projects. Dr. Yuphaphann Hoonchamlong and The Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Hawaii-Manoa

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