Given that Mandarin 九 jiu means 'nine' and 日 ri means 'sun' or 'day', what does Mandarin


mean and how is it pronounced? Select the blank space below for the answers:

gala 'corner'

also 旮旯兒 galar with the noun suffix 兒 -r

jiu 'nine' and 日 ri 'sun/day' are neither semantic nor phonetic in 旮旯. I have no idea why 'corner' is written as (nine + sun) (sun + nine).

旮旮旯旯兒 gagalalar 'all corners' is an AABB reduplication of galar.

What I don't know is where the word came from.

Next: Did horns fall into nine suns? THE S(H)UN INITIAL IN KHITAN

Juha Janhunen's article on Para-Mongolic in his 2003 anthology The Mongolic Languages has a table of reconstructed Para-Mongolic consonants:

*p *t (no *ch!) *k
*b *d *j *g
*f *s *sh *x
*m *n *ny *ng
*w *l, *r *y

Since Khitan is a variety of Para-Mongolic (i.e., a Mongolic language related to Proto-Mongolic; see diagram below), that table may also contain all the consonants in Khitan.

Khitan as a Para-Mongolic sister of Proto-Mongolic

Para-Mongolic languages (including Khitan) Proto-Mongolic
(Para-Mongolic has no descendants) Modern Mongolic languages

The absence of Para-Mongolic *ch caught my eye. If a language has j, I usually expect it to also have ch. Voiced obstruents in a language tend to imply the presence of their voiceless counterparts. Offhand the only language I could think of with j but not ch was Classical Arabic, whose j is from an earlier *g. Para-Mongolic has *g, so its *j cannot have an origin like that of Arabic j.

On the other hand, Proto-Mongolic has both *ch and *j. Genghis Khan is ultimately from Chinggis Qaghan with ch-.

Janhuhen proposed that Pre-Proto-Mongolic *ch- became Para-Mongolic sh-.

If Khitan lacked *ch-, that might explain why the Khitan Large Script character resembling 将 represented loanwords derived from Late Middle Chinese 将 *tsjaŋ 'general' and 相 *saŋ 'minister'. I presume 将 was pronounced with *s- in Khitan. (György Kara reconstructs its Khitan reading as *siaŋ.) Khitan had no *ts- or *ch-, so *s- was the closest equivalent of LMC *ts- as well as LMC *s-. Perhaps Khitan who were illiterate in Chinese thought of *siaŋ 'general' (< Chn 将) and *siaŋ 'minister' (< Chn 相) as a single word 'leader'. The use of a single Large Script character for both loanwords might have reinforced such a perception.

Kara reconstructed the Khitan word for 'lady' as *pushin which he regarded as a loan from Chinese 婦人, literally 'wife-person'.

婦 'wife' had *f- in Late Middle Chinese, so Khitan *p- instead of *f- implies that Khitan may have lacked *f. However, Janhunen thought Khitan might have had such a "secondary (initially perhaps marginal)" phoneme "due to Chinese influence" and perhaps even internal developments. If so, this word must have been borrowed prior to the development of *f in Khitan.

人 'person' had the very interesting Middle Chinese consonant known as 日 'sun' because it was the initial of 'sun' which has a variety of reflexes in modern Chinese languages: r-, l-, n-, ɲ-, y-, ʐ-, z-, dz-. But none of these reflexes are voiceless, implying that 'sun' was voiced in Middle Chinese. So why was 婦人 borrowed as Khitan *pushin instead of *pujin? The 'sun' initial was borrowed from northern Late Middle Chinese into early Korean as *z- and was transcribed in Tibetan as zh-. This indicates that 'sun' was *zh- in northern LMC. The Khitan had no *zh, and presumably decided to borrow NLMC *zh as *sh because *sh was a fricative like *zh whereas *j matched NLMC *zh in voicing but was an affricate. Hence the 'sun' initial of Chinese became a 'shun' consonant in Khitan.

In the Khitan Small Script, the character for the *shi of *pushin 'lady' is also used to write the Khitan word for 'nine' which was presumably *shi. One might hope that the mainstream Mongolic word for 'nine' is something like chi retaining a Pre-Proto-Mongolic affricate, but in fact 'nine' is yisün in Classical Mongolian and ес yes in modern Khalkha (standard Mongolian). I wonder if there are other cases of Khitan *sh- : mainstream Mongolian y-.


Tonight I read the accessible parts of Juha Janhunen's article on Para-Mongolic in his 2003 anthology The Mongolic Languages. As of six years ago, he still thought that the Khitan Large Script and jurchegraphy were not descended from mainstream sinography:

It is therefore obvious that the Khitan Large Script and the Jurchen Script ultimately reflect the same local (Southern Manchurian) tradition of writing. The written symbols in both of these scripts are clearly based on the Chinese characters, with some symbols being even completely identical with their Chinese counterparts, while others represent modifications of the regular Chinese characters [and others seem wholly alien -A]. Thus, both the Khitan Large Script and the Jurchen Script should be seen as the results of gradual evolution, rather than unique invention. The Khitan Small Script, by contrast, seems to have involved an element of conscious innovation.

In 1994, he suggested that this script might have originated in Bohai:

An obvious candidate for a concretely identifiable historical entity that had the potential to create a writen language in pre-Liao [= pre-Khitan Empire] Manchuria is the Bohai [a.k.a. Parhae or Balhae] 渤海 kingdom (698-926). Many important institutions of the Liao and Jin [= Jurchen] empires, such as the five-capital principle of administrative division, were originally Bohai innovations, and the Bohai people, not necessarily a single ethnic group, continued to play a political and cultural role long after their kingdom had ceased to exist. It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that the Bohai heritage also comprised a tradition of writing. As a matter of fact, there are indications that the Bohai people, in addition to the regular Chinese script, as preserved in a small number of epigraphic texts from the Bohai period, used another Sinitic script, as well as, possibly, a variety of the Turkic runes [!? -A]. It was the other Sinitic script that, due to its firm local roots, was later transmitted first to the Khitan, and then to the Jurchen. All of this means that the conventional view, according to which the Jurchen script was successive to the Khitan 'large' script, cannot be correct. As graphic systems, and heirs to the Bohai script, the Khitan and Jurchen 'large' scripts should be viewed as parallel, rather than successive, developments.

It may be added that scripts, in general, are rarely 'invented'. In the normal case, a script emerges gradually out of previous scripts. Deliberate interference can change the course of evolution, but it cannot change the inherited identity of a script. The Chinese script itself originally comprised a multitude of local variants, each of which represented an evolutionary branch of its own. The script that emerged when these variants were unifed has, from the structural point of view, been called an "entirely" "new system of writing", but its material identity was nevertheless unmistakably anchored in the previous tradition. The Khitan and Jurchen 'large' scripts were likewise not true 'inventions' but, rather, natural stages in an evolutionary process that extended backwards through the Bohai script to some early northern variety of the Chinese script. Just how and when the Bohai script had become independent of the regular Chinese script, remains unknown, though the ancient antagonism between Manchuria and China proper must have been of relevance here. There is also the possibility that the Korean state of Koguryeo [= Koguryo] 高句麗 (-668), often regarded as the direct precursor of Bohai, was somehow involved. The influence of United Shilla 新羅 (668-918), a contemporary of Bohai, appears somewhat less likely, but cannot be completely ruled out.

Compared with the Khitan 'large' script, the corresponding 'small' script certainly contains a more significant amount of deliberate creative effort, in that it incorporates structural innovations, added to the earlier tradition of writing. Similar innovations were possibly present in the Jurchen 'small' script. However, it is natural to assume that the graphic material for the 'small' scripts was still taken directly from the 'large' scripts, and not from some external source, meaning that the decipherment of all the Khitan and Jurchen scripts forms ultimately a single complex of problems.

There is one huge problem with this hypothesis: there is no known trace of a Manchurian variant of sinography predating the Khitan Large Script. As Janhunen (1994: 9) gently put it, the Bohai script has "documentational problems".

This does not necessarily mean that he is obviously wrong. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Perhaps texts in the Bohai script might be discovered someday. But until then, I'd like to propose a different explanation for the origins of khitagraphy and jurchegraphy.

Next: Revisiting the mainstream origin story for the Manchurian scripts. JURCHEGRAPHY: SON OR SISTER OF KHITAGRAPHY?

In 1120, Wanyan Xiyin created the Jurchen Large Script (JLS) for the first Jurchen emperor Wanyan Aguda.

In 1138, the third emperor Wanyan Dan created the Jurchen Small Script (JSS) which was not officially used until 1145 (why the delay?).

Since the Jurchen had been ruled by the Khitan, one might expect JLS and JSS to be modified versions of the Khitan Large Script (KLS) and the Khitan Small Script (KSS). However, all extant Jurchen writing is in the same script with KLS-like characters with the exception of a few cases in which Jurchen characters are written in KSS-like clusters. I assume that normal Jurchen writing is JLS and that clustered Jurchen writing is JSS, but perhaps someday we may find Jurchen texts in a JSS that is distinct from all known texts. I use the term jurchegraphy to refer to the script(s) in extant texts and to avoid the question of whether they are in one script or two.

Juha Janhunen (1994: 7) questioned the often assumed link between KLS and jurchegraphy:

The fact that the Jurchen (presumably) 'large' script, in spite of its many idiosyncracies, basically resembles the Khitan 'large' script is historically extremely surprising and calls for an explanation. It is well known that the Jurchen, from the beginning of the imperial period [in 1115], felt greater political and cultural affinity with the Chinese than with the Khitan. Due to this affinity the Jurchen, unlike the Khitan, were ultimately doomed to undergo a process of massive sinicization. Why, then, did the Jurchen not accept the Chinese script for their language [like the Koreans and Japanese before the development of hangul and kana]? On the other hand, if they wished to emphasize their role as the rightful heirs to the [Khitan] Liao empire and for this reason chose to adopt a script from their worst enemies the Khitan, why did they not prefer the Khitan 'small' script, with its relatively simple syllabic structure [that could phonetically also represent Jurchen or any other language with modifications]? There is only one rational answer to these question, viz that the Jurchen did not actually adopt the Khitan 'large' script. What they did, was simply to employ the same old local system of writing that had also served as the basis for the Khitan 'large' script.

Janhunen viewed jurchegraphy as a sister rather than as a son of KLS.

The conventional view: jurchegraphy as a derivative of KLS

Early sinography
10th century sinography
Khitan Large Script
Khitan Small Script Jurchegraphy

Janhunen's view: jurchegraphy and KLS descending from a common ancestor

Early sinography
10th century sinography Northeastern variant of sinography
Khitan Large Script Jurchegraphy
Khitan Small Script

According to Janhunen (1994: 7),

Due to its logographic nature, this [northeastern variant of sinography] was equally suitable for writing both Khitan and Jurchen, and any text written in it could, in principle, be read in either language, possibly even in Chinese.

That last part is doubtful because Chinese word order differs from Khitan and Jurchen word order:



One would have to read K/J characters out of order to read K/J texts as if they were Chinese, and vice versa.

Moreover, Chinese lacks equivalents of those languages' postpositions. For instance, the Khitan Duoliben langjun muzhi bei inscription has the KLS phrase


'in the time of the emperor'

The character for the Khitan postposition IN would have to be ignored if one were to try to read the phrase in Chinese. Conversely, K/J readers would have to insert unwritten postpositions when reading an originally Chinese text.

Lastly, all of the above assumes a one-to-one correspondence between Khitan and Jurchen similar to that between Korean and Japanese, but no pair of languages has absolute matching, so even reading a KLS text in Jurchen or a purely logographic jurchegraphic text* in Khitan would be difficult at times.

Next: Did a northeastern variant of sinography really exist?

*9.3.0:03: As I'll explain later, jurchegraphy gradually evolved toward a less semantic, somewhat kana-like syllabic system. Janhunen (1994: 7) has speculated that JSS might refer to more phonocentric jurchegraphy. THE KHITAN LARGE SCRIPT: SON OR SISTER OF SINOGRAPHY? (PART 2)

The Khitan Small Script (KSS) was created by Yelü Diela only five years after the Khitan Large Script (KLS) became official. Janhunen (1994: 6) wrote,

... the introduction of the 'small' script nevertheless implies that the 'large' script was in some way, or for some purposes, considered inadequate.

It is as if the Khitan tried out the Large Script for five years, only to find it wanting. Although the historical records do not specify why the KLS was "inadequate", my guess is that a Chinese-style logographic script was a poor match for Khitan. Since Chinese roots are predominantly monosyllabic, it is easy to create new characters for roots by taking an existing character for a (nearly) homophonous root and adding a clarifying radical to it. However, Khitan was an 'Altaic'-type language with many polysyllabic roots. Once a character was created for a polysyllabic word, it might be difficult to reuse as a phonetic element to write other words since longer words have fewer homophones*.

short words > many homophones > more possible recurring phonetic elements

long words > few homophones > fewer possible recurring phonetic elements

(assuming that phonetic elements are logographs representing words regardless of length)

The apparent absence of recurring phonetic elements in KLS made it difficult to learn and use. No successful writing system has ever lacked recurring phonetic elements**. One could not necessarily guess the pronunciation of a KLS character from any of its parts. Even those who were already literate in Chinese would have to remember which Chinese characters were reusable in KLS and which characters did or did not retain Chinese-like readings and/or meanings. Although Chinese loanwords could in theory be written with recycled Chinese characters, new native words would have to be written either with entirely new characters or unfamiliar recyclings of existing nonphonetic character components. Such coinages without phonetic hints are an enormous burden on the memory.

Imagine if Chinese had no recurring phonetic elements and all characters were like 好 hao 'good; like' which does not sound like its components 女 'woman' or 子 zi 'child' (and whose meanings are also not predictable from the sum of its parts). It is far easier to memorize a phonetic like 皇 huang 'emperor' and its many derivatives

徨惶蝗煌凰湟遑隍篁喤艎鍠韹鰉堭偟媓騜崲葟餭瑝揘 etc.

which are all also pronounced huang and contain semantic components specifying which huang each character refers to: e.g., 煌 huang 'brilliant' has the clarifier 火 'fire' (something that is brilliant).

There are only about 1,000 different KLS characters. If KLS is a logographic script without recurring phonetic elements, this means that only 1,000 different Khitan non-compound words*** could be written in KLS. Since no language has only 1,000 non-compound words, KLS was an extremely inadequate tool for writing Khitan, and adding more characters without recurring phonetics to cover the rest of the vocabulary would only compound the problem.

On the other hand, the new Khitan Small Script consisted of 378 (purely?) phonetic symbols that combined into blocks able to represent any Khitan word.

If Japanese were written in KSS, the equivalents of kana would be stacked: e.g., hototogisu ga 'the cuckoo ...' (nominative case) might be written with six elements in a three-tier cluster as

ho to
to gi
su ga

Stacks of phonetic elements were an innovation absent from sinography. KSS superficially resembles sinography since it uses the same stroke types and combinations. However, a typical KSS block consists of two or more phonetic symbols representing consonants, vowels, and/or syllables, whereas a typical sinograph consists of a semantic element combined with a syllabic phonetic element. Janhunen regards KSS as (1) a descendant of KLS and (2) an inspiration for both tangraphy and hangul. If KLS is a 'son' of early sinography, then KSS is its 'grandson' and a 'nephew' to 10th century sinography:

Janhunen's view of the relationships between sinography and khitography

Early sinography
10th century sinography Northeastern variant of sinography
Khitan Large Script
Khitan Small Script

Compare the above diagram with the two below:

The Latin and Cyrillic alphabets as co-descendants of the Greek alphabet

Greek alphabet
Etruscan alphabet Cyrillic alphabet
Latin alphabet

A conventional (non-Janhunen) view of the relationships between sinography and khitography

Early sinography
10th century sinography
Khitan Large Script
Khitan Small Script

The Khitan Empire fell to the Jurchen in 1125, but khitography was initially used by the Jurchen elite, and it was not abolished by the Jurchen until 1191. The Jurchen no longer needed khitography because they had their own script(s) - jurchegraphy.

Next: How is jurchegraphy related to khitography?

*An extreme example: If one created a birdlike drawing to represent Japanese hototogisu 'cuckoo', this drawing could not be reused to write any other Japanese word, since hototogisu has no homophones and there are no other Japanese words containing the five-syllable string hototogisu. It is far more efficient to write hototogisu with five recyclable, nonsemantic syllabic symbols as ほととぎす (ho-to-to-gi-su) than to create a one-function character just for 'cuckoo'.

A writing system with a small number of recurring elements is easier to learn than a writing system with a large number of one-function elements. Chinese writing is actually closer to the former than the latter since it consists of about a thousand recurring phonetic elements plus a few hundred semantic elements (radicals) whereas a 'pure' logographic script without any recurring phonetic elements would need about a hundred thousand different characters (with unpredictable readings!) to cover the vocabulary in a medium-sized English dictionary. Sinography is difficult, but would be even more so if it were as unphonetic as commonly assumed.

**All Chinese characters are phonetic in the trivial sense that they all represent sounds (i.e., they all have readings). However, some Chinese character components (e.g., 龜 gui 'turtle') are rarely or never used as phonetics, whereas others like 皇 huang 'emperor' appear as phonetics in multiple characters. 'Recurring phonetic elements' refer to phonetics like 皇 in a sinographic context. Syllabaries and alphabets consist of nothing but recurring phonetic elements.

9.2.0:16: It turns out that a variant of 龜 gui 'turtle' (kwi in Korean) is phonetic in 櫷 Korean kwi, a made-in-Korea character for a kind of 木 tree. If one looks hard enough, it seems that almost every sinographic element is phonetic in some character.

***The actual number of Khitan words covered by KLS may be fewer than 1,000 if different forms of the same word were written with different characters or if some characters are just variants. It's not clear if the three different KLS graphs for, say, 'eight' really represented distinct words for 'eight'. THE KHITAN LARGE SCRIPT: SON OR SISTER OF SINOGRAPHY? (PART 1)

In the Khitan Khuiz, we saw that the Khitan Large Script contains a mix of Chinese character lookalikes with original components and mixtures of the two. The overlap with sinography (Chinese writing) distinguishes KLS from tangraphy (Tangut writing), which is Chinese-like yet has no overlapping character shapes:

Gloss Chinese character Khitan Large Script Tangraphy
(looks like Chinese 女 'woman')

There is no way to predict whether any given Khitan word was written with

- an exact lookalike of a Chinese character with the same meaning: e.g.., 一 'one'

- a Chinese character shape with some non-Chinese meaning (e.g., 女 'woman' for 'seven')

- a modified Chinese character shape: e.g., 矢 'arrow' with a dot 丶 on the lower right for 'fire'

- a non-Chinese character: e.g., ユ ?*sin

- a combination of any of the above

Similarly, given any Latin letter, its Cyrillic equivalent could be

- an exact lookalike: М for M

- a familiar shape with an unfamiliar pronunciation: Р for R

- a shape not quite like a Latin letter: Б for B

- a wholly non-Latin shape: Ѭ (an Old Church Slavonic letter)

One might think Cyrillic is a son of Latin, but in fact it is a sister, a fellow descendant of the Greek alphabet.

Although KLS is commonly assumed to be a son of sinography, Juha Janhunen (1994: 5) questioned this view:

Assuming that the 'pseudo-Chinese' scripts [of the Khitan, Jurchen, and Tangut] followed the Chinese model as closely as possible, there must still have been one important aspect of the Chinese script that cannot possibly have been imitated: its history. The synchronic characteristics of the Chinese scripts are known to have been formed over a very long and gradual process of basically natural evolution, while the 'pseudo-Chinese' scripts are traditionally claimed to have been 'invented' more or less instantaneously, often by a single individual with imperial connections [e.g., KLS is said to have been created in 920 by imperial decree]. This poses a dual credibility problem. On the one hand, it is difficult to believe that any single person, or even a team of persons, would have been able to effectively simulate the principles of Chinese writing with its complicated but functionally crucial structural coherence, which is, moreover, language-specific. On the other hand, any new 'pseudo-Chinese' script lacking such structural coherence could hardly have been functionally viable. There are two possible solutions to this dilemma: either the 'pseudo-Chinese' scripts were structurally considerably less complicated than the Chinese script, or, then, they also had a history ...

The curious thing about the Khitan 'large' script is that, while many of the symbols used in it have no counterparts in the Chinese script, others do. It seems that, in particular, many trivial and common characters, like those for 'day' and 'month' are identical with the Chinese equivalents. These correspondences are, however, unpredictable, in that other equally trivial and common characters, like that for 'year', show no similiarity with the corresponding Chinese symbols. It is commonly assumed that the Khitan 'large' script was designed by deliberately modifying the Chinese script, preserving some characters, altering others, and adding new ones.

If this were the case, the creator(s) of KLS copied the Chinese characters for 'one' through 'three', created new Chinese characters for 'four' and 'eight', distorted the Chinese characters for 'five' and 'six', used the Chinese character for 'woman' to write 'seven', and then switched back to copying Chinese for 'ten'. What could possibly motivate the Khitan to emulate Chinese characters at random?

If Cyrillic were based on the Latin alphabet and created with similar logic, one could describe the first few letters as follows: A is a copy of A, Б is a distortion of B, В is a recycling of the shape of B for the sound [v], etc. But in fact the first letters are descendants of Greek alpha, Б is a new letter created for [b] because beta came to represent Greek [v] (hence Cyrillic B for [v]), etc. Cyrillic is not the product of random emulation and deformation of the Latin alphabet; it is a parallel outgrowth of the Greek.alphabet.

Not all alphabets in the Christian world necessarily look like the Greek, Latin, or Cyrillic alphabets. The Armenian and Georgian alphabets are quite distinct: e.g.,

Greek Latin Cyrillic Armenian Georgian

Why isn't KLS more like Armenian and Georgian which were inspired by the Greek alphabet but lack the substantial graphic overlap of the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets? Or more like Tangut which is clearly Chinese-inspired but not Chinese-like?

Janhunen (1994: 5-6) continued:

If it was the aim to create a script distinct from the Chinese, why were not all characters consistently replaced or modified? If, by contrast, it was not essential to achieve a difference with regard to the Chinese script, why was the latter not adopted as a whole, as it had even adopted, only slightly earlier, for writing Korean and Japanese [prior to the development of hangul and kana]? All of this suggests that the Khitan 'large' script cannot have been 'invented' with the standard Chinese script as the only model. More probably, there was another historical predecessor: an old local system of writing that had once sprung out of the Chinese script and then coexisted with the latter. The 'creation' of the Khitan 'large' script need not have involved anything more than adapting and normalizing this old local script to the needs of the Khitan language.

In other words, the Khitan small script was a sister (or cousin) of standard sinography rather than a son.

Next: Was the Khitan Small Script another sibling? KHITAN KHUIZ: ANSWERS

Khitan Large Script characters fall into several categories. The first category isn't in the answers to yesterday's quiz:

I. Recycled Chinese character shapes and meanings

一 'one'

二 'two'

三 'three'

日 'day'

月 'month'

王 'king'

皇帝 'emperor'

Some of these may have represented Chinese loanwords and the rest may have had native Khitan readings.

The first four questions of the quiz also involved lookalikes:

II. Recycled Chinese character shapes (but not meanings)

1. 女:七 'seven' (女 is 'woman' in Chinese)

2. 牙: 家 'family' (牙 is 'tooth' in Chinese)

3. 午:號 'name' (午 is 'seventh Earthly Branch, horse' in Chinese)

4. 来:第 'number' (来 is 'come' in Chinese)

女 'seven' could be a distortion of 七 'seven', but there is no obvious graphic relationship between the three other Khitan characters and their Chinese translation equivalents.

III. Recycled Chinese character shapes plus dots without Chinese meanings

5. 人 with a dot 丶 beneath it: 州 'region' (人 is 'person' in Chinese)

6. 矢 with a dot 丶 on the lower right: 火 'fire' (矢 is 'arrow' in Chinese)

IV. Distorted Chinese character plus dot with Chinese-like meaning

7. ナ atop 土 with a dot 丶 on the lower right: 于 'in' (similar in meaning to 在 which is similar to the Khitan character - did 在 already mean 'in' at this period?)

[ Kane 2009: 182 identified this character as the first syllable of the Khitan title transcribed into Chinese as 于越. This character also appears in  the name [?] transcribed as 于寧. It probably simply sounded like Chinese 于 'in' and means something else or nothing at all (i.e., it is purely phonetic).]

V. Distorted Chinese character with Chinese-like sound and/or meaning

8. 将 (but with a 亅 that doesn't go above the horizontal; could this really be a slight error for a category I graph?): 将 'general' or 相 'minister'

In Late Middle Chinese, 将 'general' was *tsjaŋ and 相 'minister' was *sjaŋ. The use of 将 for both words suggests that the Khitan heard Chinese *ts- as *s-.

VI. Recycled Chinese character shape with meaning of a Chinese homophone

9. 仁: 人 'person' (仁 'benevolence' and 人 are homophones in Chinese)

10. 至: 之 'genitive particle' (至 'arrive' and 之 are homophones in Chinese if tones are disregarded)

VII. Non-Chinese combinations of Chinese elements

11. 火 atop 日: 之 'genitive particle' (looks like Chinese 'fire' atop 'sun')

12. 日 atop 廾 (or 艹?): 之 'genitive particle' (looks like Chinese 'sun' atop 'hands' or 'grass')

Do these multiple characters for the genitive particle represent allomorphs conditioned by vowel harmony?

13. 田 atop 人: 墓 'grave' (a simplification?; looks like Chinese 'field' atop 'person')

14. 尸 atop ホ: 八 'eight' (looks like Chinese 'corpse' atop a distortion of 木 'tree')

There are at least two other Khitan Large Script characters for 'eight'. 尸 atop ホ occurs before 'young man' but another graph occurs after 'ten' in a word for 'eighteen'. Could these represent allomorphs? Cf. English ten and -teen in eighteen (instead of eightten) which might be written with different graphs in a Khitan Large Script-type writing system for English.

[10.1.31: This hypothesis is wrong because the second graph for 'eight' occurs without a preceding 'ten' in line 13 of the Duoluoliben memorial.]

VIII. Non-Chinese shapes, alone or in combinations

15. ユ: a Khitan syllable *sin transcribed in Chinese as 辛? (this element is also in Tangut; its tangraphic function is unknown); 辛 'eighth Heavenly Branch' has a different Khitan translation equivalent

16. ユ atop 山: 君 'gentleman' (did the native Khitan word begin with *sin-, or is ユ just a distortion of the 尹 atop 君?)

Khitan to Chinese eyes is a bit like Cyrillic in the eyes of Latin alphabet users: some characters carry over but others are lookalikes, appear to be distortions of familiar characters, or are wholly alien:

Cyrillic А = Latin A

Cyrillic Н = Latin N (not H!)

Cyrillic И = Latin I (though it looks like a reversed Latin N)

Cyrillic Ж = zh (no Latin equivalent without diacritics)

Cyrillic is not based on the Latin alphabet; it is derived from the Greek alphabet, which in turn is the indirect ancestor of the Latin alphabet (via the extinct Etruscan alphabet).

Next: If Cyrillic isn't based on Latin, then is the Khitan Large Script really based on Chinese?

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