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Undertaking a broadscale experiment in applied dialectics, the book demonstrates multiple grounds for insisting on a more robust, integrational approach to dialectology while simultaneously demonstrating grounds for defining the Phula languages of China and Vietnam. The Phula languages belong to the Burmic sub-branch of the Tibeto-Burman family and are primarily spoken in southeastern Yunnan Province, China. With origins as early as the ninth century, these language varieties have been left undefined, and largely unresearched, for hundreds of years.
Based on extensive original fieldwork, the book identifies 24 synchronic Phula languages descended from three distinct macro-clades diachronically. This is accomplished by blending typological-descriptive, historical-comparative and socio-cognitive perspectives. Diagnostics include both qualitative and quantitative measurements, and insights from history, geography, ethnology, language contact, sociolinguistics and more are called on for data interpretation. This dialogic approach incorporates complexity by asserting that dialectology itself best flourishes as an interdependent dialectic - a dynamic synthesis of competing perspectives.