A new proposal for Min subgrouping based on a maximum-parsimony algorithm for generating phylogenetic trees

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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  • Zhijun Zheng

Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-84
Journal / PublicationLingua
Online published14 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


The Min dialect group is easily characterized, in contrast to other dialect groups in China. Min varieties do, however, exhibit a considerable degree of diversity. The internal relationship among these dialects has remained a puzzle, and the study of Min classification is still considered one of the most challenging tasks in Chinese dialectology. The present article applies a new approach, subgrouping, to solve the problem of classifying the 12 representative Min dialects. The study begins with a review of Norman's (1973, 1974, 1981) Proto-Min system and revises this system based on more comprehensive data. The revised Proto-Min system is then compared with the modern Min dialects to arrive at 39 shared innovations that constitute criteria for subgrouping. A phylogenetic tree model processed by the PENNY program (from PHYLIP, a package of computer programs for inferring phylogenies; Phylogeny Inference Package, version 3.695) displays the result of Min subgrouping based on maximum parsimony. The phylogenetic results derived through this method are shown to differ significantly from the traditional classification of Min dialects. The model also pinpoints the position of some controversial dialects within the Min family.

Research Area(s)

  • Min family, Subgrouping, Phylogenetic tree model, Shared innovation, Maximum parsimony