First draft is online for circulation and comment. (PDF)
This paper reaffirms Kennedy’s proposal that the particle yān 焉 is, historically, the result of a phonological reduction of a high-frequency PP involving the preposition yú 於 and a 3pp. It further shows that this was part of a more general process which affected high-frequency PPs combining several different prepositions (the discussion will be confined to yú 於, yú 于) and several different 3pps (including zhī 之, shì 是 and hé 何). The MC readings for yān 焉 derive from the PP yúshì 於是. The graph yān 焉 arose from a héwén (合文) writing for the PP yúshì 於是.
The central phonological claim, is that yān < b/qan 焉 derives from the sequence of yú < b/qa 於 and shì < b/deʔ 是, and has attracted some flak from some early readers of the article. I have suggested that the syllable that might be expected, *a/b/qad, which would be prohibited by phonotactic constraints (no voiced stop codas), might have been repaired to the legal b/qan.