When encountering unexplained variation in a particular language or subgroup, reconstructed PTB allofams (word families) are a vital tool for determining whether the origin of that variation can be located as far back as PTB.

The Ao languages of Nagaland (Mongsen & Chungli), for example, show intra- and inter-lingual variants of 'seven(ty)' that cannot be explained by regular sound change from a single Proto-Ao form. As it turns out, this variation can be understood as the preservation of two allofams of PTB *s-ni-s SEVEN:


Why Sino-Tibetan?

A correspondent asks:

Why is it that some scholars ... consider Chinese and Tibetan part of the same linguistic family even though Chinese is tonal and Tibetan non-tonal; Chinese is written using Chinese characters and Tibetan is written with a Sanskritic alphabet; Chinese uses sentence structures similar to English and Tibetan uses sentence structures similar to Sanskritic languages; and Chinese uses sentence conjugation instead of verb conjugation and Tibetan uses verb conjugation similar to that of the other Sanskritic languages?


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