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: *s-nis (Chou, 1972); *sn̥jis (Coblin, 1986)
    • Proto-Tibeto-Burman: *s-ni-s (Matisoff, STEDT); *s-nis (Benedict, 1972; Chou, 1972; LaPolla, 1987)

Apparently formed from the same root *ni(-s) as Proto-Sino-Tibetan *g/s-ni-s (two), showing the vestige of a quinary numeral system at some stage (probably much earlier than Proto-Sino-Tibetan), so that SEVEN was expressed as "5 + 2". However attempts to relate any part of this proto-form to the root for "five" (*l/b-ŋa‎) have been unsuccessful, and there is no evidence in other numerals (e.g. 6 and 1, or 8 and 3) to suggest the same quinary relationship.

Burmese has a prefix khu’ which as a separate morpheme means "unit, individual thing". Matisoff has argued that this component is cognate with *k(r)ut (hand, arm), the connection being via the five fingers used in counting. Tibetan བདུན (bdun, seven) is unrelated to this root and its etymology has been something of a mystery.

Preemption of the nasal root initial by prefix is seen in Chinese (if the Old Chinese reconstruction by Zhengzhang is valid) and Lolo-Burmese. Many Kuki-Chin-Naga languages have r-, ɣ- or g- as the root initial. Matisoff believes this resulted from "rhotacism", or liquefaction of the nasal.



  1. seven


  • Old Chinese: /*sn̥id/ (Zhengzhang Shangfang); /*tsʰit/ (Baxter–Sagart)
    • Middle Chinese: /t͡sʰiɪt/
      • Mandarin:
        Standard: () /t͡ɕʰi⁵⁵/
        Sichuanese: (qi2) /t͡ɕʰi²¹/
        Dungan: чи (či) /t͡ɕʰiː²⁴/
      • Cantonese:
        Guangzhou: (cat1) /t͡sʰɐt̚⁵/
        Taishan: /tʰit̚⁵⁵/
      • Gan: /t͡ɕʰiʔ⁵/
      • Hakka:
        Sixian: (chhit) /t͡ɕʰit̚²/
      • Huizhou: /t͡sʰiʔ²¹/, /t͡sʰi⁵/
      • Jin: /t͡ɕʰiəʔ²/, /t͡ɕʰiʌʔ¹³/, /t͡ɕʰiəʔ⁴³/
      • Min Bei:
        Jian'ou: (chĭ) /t͡sʰi²⁴/
      • Min Dong:
        Fuzhounese: (chék) /t͡sʰɛiʔ²⁴/
      • Min Nan:
        Xiamen, Zhangzhou: (chhit) /t͡ɕʰit̚³²/
        Quanzhou: (chhiak, chhit) /t͡ɕʰiak̚⁵/ (colloquial), /t͡ɕʰit̚⁵/ (literary)
        Teochew: (cig4, cêg4) /t͡sʰik̚²/, /t͡sʰek̚²/
      • Xiang: /t͡sʰi²⁴/
      • Wu:
        • Shanghainese: (qiq4) /t͡ɕʰiɪ̆ʔ⁵⁵/
      • Ai-Cham: sit⁷
      • Japanese: (shichi, shitsu)
      • Korean: (chil)
      • Tai: *cetᴰ (see there for further descendants)
      • Vietnamese: thất
  • Tibeto-Burman:
  • Karen: *Ɂnweᴬ, *Ɂnwetᴰ (Luangthongkum, 2013)

See alsoEdit