Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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There are some researches indicating the presence of Tai Yor or Lao Nyo or Nyo speakers in the Aranyaprathet district, Sa Keaw province of Thailand and in Banteay Meanchey province of Cambodia. This is surprising because as it is generally understood the Nyo people are predominantly located in Tha Uthen district, Nakhon Phanom province and in the Kantharawichai district, Maha Sarakham province. In order to investigate this discrepancy in 2012 the Lao Nyo was studied by the author in Banteay Meanchey province and data were gathered on the phonological system and basic words of the so called Lao Nyo dialect. The objectives of this paper are first to prove that the Lao Nyo dialect in Banteay Meanchey is neither Nyo nor Yo, and secondly to investigate some of the reasons underlying the identification of this Tai dialect as Lao Nyo. There are four sets of evidence presented here 1) a comparison of the tone boxes between Nyo, Yo, Lao Nyo and Lao; 2) a comparison of the development of proto Tai *əï,*eï,*oï in these dialects; 3) a comparison of the development of proto Tai *kw,*khw,*xw,*ɣw in these dialects; and 4) a comparison of the lexical items found only in Nyo. The results are 1) the tone box of Lao Nyo is different from both Nyo and Yo but similar to Lao; 2) proto Tai *əï,*eï,*oï become -aj in Lao Nyo, Lao and Yo but become -ə: in Nyo; 3) proto Tai *kw,*khw,*xw,*ɣw become kw, khw, khw, khw in Yo but become k, kh, kh, kh in Nyo, Lao Nyo and Lao; and 4) the lexical items which are found only in Nyo cannot be found in Lao Nyo and Lao. Based on these four sets of evidence it can be concluded that Lao Nyo in Banteay Meanchey is neither Nyo nor Yo but is instead a dialect of Lao. The explanation proposed to account for the identification of this Lao dialect as Nyo or Lao Nyo is that some tone shapes in Nyo and Lao Nyo are very similar and some are even identical to the tone shapes in Nyo. This is likely to explain why these Lao speakers tend to identify themselves as Nyo or Lao Nyo.

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