A Preliminary Survey on Linguistic Areas in East Asia Based on Phonological Features

Ian Joo, Yu-yin Hsu

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


Previous studies of linguistic areas have often adopted a mainly top-down approach, by first hypothesizing the existence of a linguistic area and then seeking the common linguistic features of that hypothetical area in order to justify its existence. In order to identify linguistic areas in East Asia in a different way, we adopt a mainly bottom-up approach by first investigating the values of the linguistic feature parameters of languages spoken in East Asia and then calculating those values to locate geographical clusters of languages sharing a certain degree of cross-family similarity. Based on 19 phonological features as binary parameters of 52 sample languages of East Asia, we visualize their within-family and cross-family similarities. Many of these similarities confirm the previous theories concerning linguistic areas, such as the Mainland Southeast Asia or the Qinghai-Gansu linguistic area. However, we also demonstrate some similarities that have received less attention thus far, namely between Ryukyuan and southern Sinitic languages.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBuckeye East Asian Linguistics 5 (BEAL 5)
EditorsWei William Zhou, John Bundschuh, Mineharu Nakayama, Zhiguo Xie
PublisherOhio State University Libraries
ISBN (Electronic)2378-9387
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Linguistic area
  • East Asia
  • phonology


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