The Proto-Kra language is the reconstructed ancestor of the Kra languages. It was reconstructed in 2000 by Weera Ostapirat in his Ph.D. dissertation.
Ostapirat (2000) provided preliminary phonological reconstructions for several lower-level groupings before attempting a reconstruction of Proto-Kra.
- Proto-South-Western Kra
- Proto-Western Kra (Gelao, Lachi)
- Proto-Southern Kra (Laha)
- Proto-Central-East Kra
- Proto-Central Kra (Paha)
- Proto-Eastern Kra (Buyang, Qabiao)
Proto-Kra has a total of 32 consonants, seven of which (marked in green) can occur as syllable finals (Ostapirat 2000:224, 236).
Marc Miyake (2008) proposes alternative reconstructions for Ostapirat's (2000) Proto-Kra retroflex consonants, suggesting that many of them were actually non-retroflexes that had been influenced by pre-syllables. Some examples of Miyake's (2008) revised Proto-Kra reconstructions are provided below.
- *ts?m 'one' (Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *tm C)
- *tsun 'teach' (Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *t?un A)
- *N-tsu 'pillar' (Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *m-t?u A)
- *nok 'bird' (Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *?ok D)
- *nui 'snow' (Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *?ui A)
- *n?l 'fat' (Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *(m-)l A)
- *CV-nh 'salty' (Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *?- B)
- *na 'thick' (Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *C-na A)
- *nak 'give' (Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *nak D)
- *klep 'fingernail' (Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *?-lep D)
- *(k/tV-)lo? 'vegetable' (Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *?-lo? A)
Additionally, Miyake (2008) revises Ostapirat's Proto-Kra *pwl- as *CV-pl-, *bwl- as *CV-bl-, *m-pl- as *pl-, *(p/d/k)-l- as *(p/d/k)V-l-, *?-l- as k-l-, and *?-l- as *(k/tV)-l-.
Proto-Kra has a total of 6 vowels (Ostapirat 2000:235).
Proto-Kra has 4 diphthongs, which are not found in closed syllables.
Proto-Kra had an A-B-C-D tonal system typical of other Tai-Kadai languages (see Proto-Tai language#Tones). The tonal descriptions below are from Ostapirat (2000:237).
- *A: *A is one of the most common tones.
- *B: *B and *D are phonetically similar, as reflexes of tone *D are often the same as those of *B. This regularly occurs in all Kra languages except for Qabiao.
- *C: *C is usually accompanied by glottal constriction and may have originally had a creaky or tense laryngeal quality. Some Gelao varieties and Yalang Buyang display the same reflex for *B and *C.
- *D: *D is the only tone to occur exclusively in closed syllables.
The following table of phonetic characteristics of Proto-Kra tones was adapted from Ostapirat (2000:237).
Proto-Kra Tonal Characteristics
|Type of final
||lax larynx (?)
Below are reconstructed Proto-Kra forms from Ostapirat (2000).
- Chen, Y.-L. (2018). Proto-Ong-Be (Doctoral dissertation). University of Hawai?i at M?noa.
- Hsiu, Andrew. 2017. Potential loanwords in Kra.
- Miyake, Marc. 2018. Chu and Kra-Dai.
- Miyake, Marc. 2013. The other Kra-Dai numerals (Parts 1, 2).
- Miyake, Marc. 2013. Proto-Kra 'seven'.
- Miyake, Marc. 2013. Retroflexion or lenition?: Kra-Dai 'eye'.
- Miyake, Marc. 2013. Thurgood's "Tai-Kadai and Austronesian: the nature of the historical relationship" (1994).
- Miyake, Marc. 2012. t for *p in Vietnamese.
- Miyake, Marc. 2011. Dating Proto-Kra-Dai: the clue of the old chicken.
- Miyake, Marc. 2008. Did Proto-Kra have retroflex initials? (Parts 1, 2-6, 7-9, 10, 11)
- Miyake, Marc. 2008. Correspondences between Proto-Kra and Proto-Tai implosives.
- Miyake, Marc. 2008. From presyllables to Proto-Kra clusters?
- Miyake, Marc. 2008. Proto-Kra presyllables and clusters with labial stops
- Miyake, Marc. 2008. Were Kra words for 'chopsticks' borrowed from Chinese?
- Miyake, Marc. 2008. Cloth center consonants.
- Miyake, Marc. 2008. Limited knowledge only gets you *so far.
- Miyake, Marc. 2008. What's *so funny about knowledge?
- Ostapirat, Weera. 2000. "Proto-Kra." Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 23 (1): 1-251.
- Ostapirat, Weera. (2009). Proto-Tai and Kra-Dai Finals *-l and *-c. Journal of Language and Culture, 28(2), 41-56.
- Pittayaporn, Pittayawat. (2009). The Phonology of Proto-Tai (Doctoral dissertation). Cornell University.