This Proto-Sino-Tibetan entry contains reconstructed words and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.



  • Proto-Sino-Tibetan: ?
    • Proto-Tibeto-Burman: *m-kul (Matisoff, STEDT; Mortensen, 2012); *m-kul ⪤ *kun (Matisoff, 2003; Benedict, 1972); *(m-)kul (Weidert, 1987)

In previous reconstructions the root for the number twenty was thought to be connected with a PTB *kun (“all”), but it was later suggested that the two words could indeed come from the same root. Evidence of this double-meaning association can be found in specific pairs of words in some Sino-Tibetan languages. For instance, in Karbi the pair koi (twenty) and ingkoi (all) is attested. In this example, the two meanings are distinguished by the presence or absence of some nasal element, that could be analyzed as the prefix *m-.

From a semantic point of view, it is possible that the word for twenty and the word for all could in fact be both represented by PTB *(m-)kul ~ *kun, which had a meaning like "such a large number that one has to use all the fingers and toes to count up to it" (Matisoff, STEDT).



  1. twenty



  1. all


  • Old Chinese:
    /*ɡur/ (B-S), /*ɡlun/ (ZS) ("flock, group, all, numerous")
    /kˤun/ (B-S), /*kuːn/ (ZS) ("swarm (of insects)")
    • Middle Chinese: /ɡɨun/; /kuən/

         Japanese:   (くん, ​kun)
            Korean:   (, gun)
            Vietnamese:  quần ()

    •    Japanese:   (こん, ​kon)
            Korean:   (, gon)
            Vietnamese:  con ()

      • Modern Mandarin
        • Beijing: (qún, crowd, group); (kūn, swarm)
      • Cantonese: /kʷʰɐn²¹/; /kʷʰɐn⁵⁵/
  • Himalayish
    • Tibeto-Kanauri
      • Bodic
        • Tibetan: ཀུན་ (kun), ཀུན་པོ (kun po) ("each, all")
  • Kuki-Chin:
    *kul (VanBik, 2009)
    • Lai: /kul/ ("twenty") ⪤ /kwe/ ("all")
    • Central Naga:
      *mu-kju (Bruhn, 2014)
      • Lotha Naga: /mju¹kjuʔ¹/
      • Angami-Pochuri
        • Angami Naga: /me²pfə³/
  • Meitei: কুল্ (kul) or কুন্ (kun) ("twenty")
  • Jingpho-Asakian
    • Jingpho: khul (twenty)
  • Lolo-Burmese-Naxi
    • Lolo-Burmese

See alsoEdit