10.5.22.23:59: THE GOLDEN GUIDE: LINES 5-6: TANGRAPHS 21-30
I fell asleep early last night, so you get ten tangraphs - a complete couplet - in this installment instead of five.
|Li Fanwen number||5932||0981||2218||0113||2620|
|My reconstructed pronunciation||2mə||2ʔwaʳ||1lɨẹ||1ʃɨẽ||2nwi|
|Tangraph gloss||kind; sort; type; various; multitude||thing; wealth; property||seedling; second Heavenly Stem||to accomplish; to achieve; to become||can; be able to|
|Translation||Various things can become seedling[s].|
21-22. Tangut normally has noun-adjective order, but here has what appears to be adjective-noun order. Nishida (1966: 274) views cases like 21-22 as compound nouns. Adjectival clauses precede nouns (Gong 2003: 618), so perhaps 2mə can be interpreted as a one-word adjectival clause: 'that are various' modifying 'thing'.
22. Li Fanwen (2008: 165) identified 2vaʳ as a loanword from Chinese 物 (something like *wu in northwestern Tangut period Chinese?) but the vowels don't match and the glottal stop and retroflexion have no sources in Chinese.
23-25. Auxiliary verbs (25) follow verbs (24), and objects (23) precede verbs (24). Hence 'seedling become can' = 'can become seedlings'. The plural of 'seedling' in the translation is inferred from (21) 'various'.
24. A loanword from Chinese 成, which was nearly homophonous with Chinese 聖 'sage' in the northwestern dialect at the time. Hence Tangut
a nearly homophonous borrowing from Chinese 聖, is phonetic at the bottom right.
5.23.1:08: The fourth stroke of 'sage' is vertical in the independent tangraph (left) but tilted \ as a component (right):
5.23.1:00: 25 2nwi could be from pre-Tangut *p-ni-H, which has an *n like Chinese 能 *ndəŋ, transcribed in Tibetan as Hding, Hdïng, Hning, Hneng, ning. But Hd = *nd-, not *n-, and i and e = *ə, not *i. I would expect a Chinese *ndəŋ to be borrowed into Tangut as dẽ (there is no -ə̃ rhyme). However, Chinese 能 *ndəŋ was transcribed with nine (!) rhymes other than rhyme (R) 11 -i in the bilingual Tangut-Chinese glossary Pearl in the Palm (Gong 2002: 318-319; Pearl line numbers in parentheses):
R28 -ə (303)
R30 -ɨə (246)
R31 -iə (291)
R32 -əə (112)
R33 -iəə (354)
R71 -ə̣ (283)
R72 -iə̣ (213)
R82 -eʳ (142)
R90 -əʳ (192)
The numbers of the rhymes are taken from the Tangut monolingual dictionary Tangraphic Sea.
Why was 能 transcribed so inconsistently? Had some of these rhymes merged in the dialect of the Pearl which was written over a century after Tangraphic Sea?
|Li Fanwen number||2894||4739||5379||0433||3784|
|My reconstructed pronunciation||2ləu||1tseʳw||1tʃɨə||1biu||1bɔ|
|Tangraph gloss||season||joint; division; intimates; layer; number||order; sequence||in accordance with||line; ranks|
|Translation||[The] seasons [and] divisions line [up] in order.|
26-27. Referring to
1lɨəəʳ 2ləu 1jaʳ 1tseʳw
'the four seasons and the eight divisions' (of the year) (Pearl 093)
27. Li Fanwen (2008: 751) identified this as a loanword from Chinese 節, but it probably came from pre-Tangut *r-tsek or *rʌ-tsik, whereas the Chinese form had no *r- or *-k during the period of contact with Tangut.
I think *r-tsek or *rʌ-tsik is a native Tangut word cognate to 節 Old Chinese *tsik > *tsit > Middle Chinese *tset.
28-29. Tangut postpositions correspond to English prepositions: 'order in' = 'in order'.30. Li Fanwen (2008: 610) regarded this as a noun, but I interpret it here as a verb modified by 28-29 with 26-27 as its subject.
5.23.3:00: In Tangraphic Sea, 30 is derived from a 'mirror' tangraph which is turn derived from it:
1bɔ 'line; ranks' = left of 2kiəə 'line; ranks' + left of 1tshiəə 'line; ranks; read; chant; name'
1tshiəə 'line; ranks; read; chant; name' = right of 1bɔ 'line; ranks' + left of 2kiəə 'line; ranks'
Which was created first, 1bɔ or 1tshiəə?
Why do the tangraphs for all three 'line' words have
Because people line up?
Nishida (1966: 242) identified the other shared element of 1bɔ or 1tshiəə
as 轉換 'conversion'. What does that have to do with lines? Is that element short for something else? It is only in eight other tangraphs:
|4011||2biee||line||Another synonym for 'line'! The left component is only in three other tangraphs.*|
|4968||2kʌ||-||first half of reduplicated word 2kʌ-2kɛ < *krəH-kreH 'cervical vertebra'|
|5832||1tshiə||-||first half of reduplicated word 1tshiə-1tshiu 'rainbow' with the same Cə-CV pattern as 'cervical vertebra'|
|5909||1tshiə||evening; night||shares a phonetic with 5832 1tshiə and 5870 1tshiəə|
|5934||2gie||dark; gloomy?||second half of 2ləi-2gie ''; although 2ləi is 'fog', can 2gie stand by itself?|
|5937||2ʃʌ||to rotate; to alternate||2ʃʌ-2dʒɛ 'saṃsaara' with 'horned hats' added represents 2kʌ-2kɛ 'cervical vertebra' (see 4968 above) which has the same rhymes - a remnant of a Tangut word game?|
|5938||2gie||scripture||homophonous with 5934; sharing a phonetic?
from Tangut period northwestern Chinese 經 *kjẽ 'scripture' with a nasal prefix: *N-k- > *ŋg- > g-?; but why no nasal vowel -iẽ?
also first half of 2gie-1niạ 'warp' (textile)
|5975||1niạ||-||second half of 2gie-1niạ 'warp' (textile)|
How did Nishida conclude that their shared element meant 'conversion'?
*Here are the three other tangraphs with the left element of 2biee 'line':
|2625||1vɨi||visitor; guest||with 'person' on left; probably not loanword from Tangut period northwestern Chinese 位 *wi 'polite measure word for people'?|
|3889||2biee||a surname||has elements of 2625 in reverse order but homophonous with 4011 and 4015; their shared left element is a phonetic 2biee|
|4015||roadside stop; to travel||see below|
5.23.3:36: The right element of 4015 only occurs in three other tangraphs:
|0073||1tʃɨə̣||branch of a road||the top is from 1tʃɨa 'road' but
the function of 5830 (see below) is unknown
derived from 1tʃɨa 'road' via vowel alternation and *S-prefixation conditioning a tense vowel?
|3803||1piẽ||border||borrowing from Chinese 邊; right side is phonetic (cf. 4015, 5830)|
|5830||1biee||disobey||phonetic on left shared with 3803, 4015
right from 1dʒɨe 'to go'
10.5.20.23:59: THE GOLDEN GUIDE: LINE 4: TANGRAPHS 16-20
Thanks to Andrew West for giving me the Li Fanwen numbers of the entire Golden Guide. He's saved me a lot of time.
|Li Fanwen number||0618||4052||2612||3791||1507|
|My reconstructed pronunciation||1tsia||2dạ||2phiu||2bi||2ŋwe|
|Tangraph gloss||hot||cold; frigid||up; above; over; superior; high||below; down||harmonious; mild|
|Translation||Hot [and] cold, up [and] down [in] harmony.|
16-19 are two pairs of antonyms.
16 'hot' is written as 'fire' + 'sun':
The Tangraphic Sea dictionary derives 'hot' from the 'fire' element at the bottom left of the full tangraph for 'fire' plus all of 'sun':
17 'cold' has the element identified by Nishida (1966: 243) as 'snow; ice' (< Chinese 冫 'ice' + 十?)
18 'up' and 19 'down' are far more complex than their Chinese equivalents 上 (pointing up) and 下 (pointing down).
18-20 contain the most common tangraphic component:
5.21.0:21: 18 'up' consists of
the left of 1ɣʊ 'head' +
the middle of 1nwə 'to know; to realize' +
the phonetic 1phiu 'feast; banquet' (up is 2phiu with a 'rising tone')
I have examined the structure of 19 in "Tangut Search V. 3".
20 'harmony' has an initial ŋ- (pronounced 'ng').
Its graph consists of 'person' flanked by left- and right-hand variants of 'word' (< Chinese 讠'word'):
The bottom V-shape of 'word' becomes フ when at the bottom right of a tangraph.
10.5.19.23:57: THE GOLDEN GUIDE: LINE 3: TANGRAPHS 11-15
|Li Fanwen number||5120||2491||2920||2547||0762|
|My reconstructed pronunciation||1swew||1na||1ʒɨə̣||1tʃɛʳ||2dʒɛ|
|Tangraph gloss||bright; brilliant; light; celestial body (< 'light thing'?)||night; darkness||left side||right side||wheel; revolve; turn|
|Translation||Light [and] dark, left [and] right turn,|
I've added Li Fanwen (LFW) numbers to all 15 tangraphs so far. Each of the 6,074 tangraphic entries in Li Fanwen's (2008) dictionary has a number.
11-14 are two pairs of antonyms. The tangraphs for each pair do not contain any common elements.
11 'light' contains an element identified as 'night' (Kychanov 1964: 142) and 'before' (Nishida 1964: 244):
I have examined the structure of 12 'night' in "The Best Article on Tangut Writing Ever".The ʒ of 13 'left' is pronounced like the -s- of vision.
The left of 13 'left' is
The left of 14 'right' contains 'sage', last seen in 6 'sun' and 7 'moon':
The dʒ of 15 'turn' is English j, so 2dʒɛ is like 'jeh'. I analyzed its tangraph in "What Rotates Skillfully?".
10.5.18.23:56: THE GOLDEN GUIDE: LINE 2: TANGRAPHS 6-10
|Li Fanwen number||2449||2814||1374||4861||4184|
|My reconstructed pronunciation||2bəi||2lhiẹ||1tʃɨə||2ziọ||2ʃɨa|
|Tangraph gloss||sun||moon||that||time||to appear; to show; to sparkle; to praise; to exclaim|
|Translation||[The] sun [and the] moon appear [at] that time.|
6-10. Each tangraph happens to represent a word. This is not always the case, because Tangut has many polysyllabic words written with more than one tangraph: e.g.,
from line 1.
None of the tangraphs in this line are pictures of anything.
6 'sun' and 7 'moon' do not resemble a sun or a moon, whereas the corresponding Chinese characters 日 and 月 are stylized drawings of a sun and a moon. These characters share an element
which appears slightly differently in 'sun' in the Mojikyo font I'm using. Can you guess what it means? Answer: 'sage'.
The left side of 'sun' looks like the tangraph
5.19.23:33: The lh- of 7 'moon' may have been like Welsh ll [ɬ].
8 'that' is an abstract concept that is difficult to visualize. The native Tangut dictionary Tangraphic Sea says 'that' is composed of the left side of a near-homophone 1tʃhɨə 'to seek; to encourage oneself' and the center of 1tʃhɨw 'that; other; another':
But it's more likely that 1tʃhɨw 'that; other; another' is 'that' plus an extra element
on the right. The word 1tʃhɨw may be from 1tʃhɨə plus a suffix.
The letter ʃ in 1tʃɨə 'that' represents the sound 'sh'. So t + ʃ = tʃ = 't-sh' = 'ch'. A h after tʃ represents aspiration. tʃh is like 'ch' plus 'h'.
9. I have no idea what the origin of the character for 'time' is.
10. Tangut verbs appear at the ends of sentences. Hence 1tʃɨə 2zɔ̣ 'that time'cannot appear after the verb:
English: The sun and the moon appear at that time. (verb in the middle)
Tangut: Sun moon that time appear. (verb at the end)
Tangut is terse and has no words for 'the' or 'a(n)'. The 'and' and 'at' in the translation also have no Tangut equivalents.
The tangraph for 'appear' looks like 'wood' + 'water' + ? + 'person':
= + + +
The functions of these elements are unknown.
5.19.1:16: Replacing the last element of 'appear' with
'beast' (resembling 'person' with an extra / stroke)
results in the homophonous tangraph
representing a borrowing from Chinese 麝 'musk'. Just as 麝 consists of a semantic component 鹿 'deer' and a phonetic component 射, the tangraph for 'musk' consists of a semantic component 'beast' plus 3/4 of 2ʃɨa 'to appear' as a semantic component.
10.5.17.23:59: THE GOLDEN GUIDE: LINE 1: TANGRAPHS 1-5
Tangut (a.k.a. 西夏 Xixia) was a language spoken in the Tangut Empire (1038-1227) that was destroyed by the Mongols. Tangut is distantly related to Chinese, Tibetan, and Burmese, but its closest living relatives may be the Qiangic languages, possibly including the rGyalrongic languages.
The ancient textbook that I call the Golden Guide was intended to teach one thousand of the approximately six thousand tangraphs (Tangut characters) of tangraphy (the Tangut writing system) to Tangut speakers. Its introduction says that the bright can learn a thousand tangraphs in a month and that even the slow can learn them in less than a year. 小高裕次 Kotaka Yuuji has uploaded an electronic version of the entire Golden Guide at his site. Here's the first line of the Golden Guide:
|Li Fanwen number||3513||2627||4713||4719||1926|
|My reconstructed pronunciation||1mə||2lɨə̣||1riuʳ||2kɛ̣||2nie|
|Tangraph gloss||heaven; sky||earth; land; soil||world; capital city||world; boundary; tide; court||before; long ago|
|Word||world; capital city|
|Translation||Heaven [and] earth, [the] world long ago,|
Each line of the GG consists of five tangraphs. Each tangraph represents a single syllable, so each line is five syllables long.
All Tangut syllables have one of two 'tones'. I follow Arakawa Shintarou and indicate these tones with a number before each syllable:
1: the 'level tone'
2: the 'rising tone'
It is not clear whether these tones were really level or rising pitches, or even tones at all. (Details here.*)
Many Tangut words are only one syllable long and are differentiated by tones. For example, the first word in GG,
2mə 'appearance; spirit'
if tones are disregarded.
There are many homophonous tangraphs: e.g., 1mə 'heaven' sounds just like the tangraphs for the syllable 1mə in these disyllabic words:
1ɣʊ-1mə 'supernatural being' (probably cognate to 2mə 'spirit')
1mə-2biu 'midge (a kind of insect; 蠛蠓)'
1tʃɨa-1mə 'guardian spirit of sheep' (probably cognate to 2mə 'spirit')
Similar or identical syllables are written with different tangraphs which may or may not share a possible phonetic component indicating their pronunciation: e.g.,
(a distortion of the Chinese near-homophone 勿?)
the syllable 1mə
which is the left side of 'heaven'.
The aforementioned tangraphs also contain that element
and are also pronounced 1mə.
The right side of 'heaven' is the semantic component
'lightning' (Grinstead 1972: 55)
1mə 'heaven' = 1mə (phonetic) + 'lightning' (semantic)
Not all tangraphs have a structure like 'heaven'. Many have components which have no obvious phonetic or semantic function.
The upside-down e (ə) in 1mə is 'uh'. mə sounds like the mo- or mother.
The first vowel in tangraph 2
sounds like Russian ы, a sound like an 'oo' but without lip rounding. The dot under the second vowel indicates 'tenseness' which may have been creaky phonation.
The left side of 'earth' is the semantic component
which cannot stand by itself.
Each of the first two tangraphs represented a word, but the next two tangraphs form a compound word:
1riuʳ-2kɛ̣ 'world' < 'world' + 'boundary'
1riuʳ and 2kɛ̣ can also mean 'world' by themselves.
The basic Tangut vowels a, e, i, o ,u are pronounced as in Spanish. Hence iu is 'ee-ooh'.
The raised ʳ indicates that the preceding vowel was pronounced with r-quality (retroflexion). ʳ is not a true final consonant. Tangut syllables cannot end in any consonant other than -j (a y-sound as in German ja 'yah', not English j) or -w.
2kɛ̣ 'boundary' is borrowed from Chinese 界.
The letter ɛ represents a vowel between e and a.
The final tangraph in the line
nie 'before; long ago'
has the semantic component
(a distortion of Chinese 前 'before'?)
'before' (Nishida 1966: 243)
on its right side. Reversing its components results in
2ma 'in the past; former times'
The two can combine to form the compound
2ma-2nie 'former times'
(Greatly expanded 5.18.1:39.)
*I suspect 'level tone' and 'rising tone' may actually refer to clear (modal) and breathy phonation. The Tangut terms 'level tone' and 'rising tone' were borrowed from Chinese. These terms are still used in modern Chinese linguistics to describe tone categories regardless of actual tone shapes. The qualities of the Chinese tones that the Tangut heard a thousand years are unknown. By the 11th century, the terms may simply have meant 'tone 1' and 'tone 2'. Hence I prefer to use the neutral notation '1'/'2' instead of using superscript symbols like 'ˉ' and 'ˊ'.
10.5.16.2:50: A RED FOUR-WHEELED BOX
Eric Grinstead's Analysis of the Tangut Script (1972) lists four Tangut translations of 'box'. I've added a fifth at the bottom.
|Tangraph||Pronunciation||Translations in Li Fanwen (2008)|
|khəu||casket; a small box can't find any attestations of 'casket' a note in Homophones text D glosses it as 'book box'|
|jiẽ||bag; sack; envelope; scabbard; cocoon|
|xæ||transcription character for various Chinese words including 匣 'small box'|
Our understanding of the meanings of tangraphs is constantly changing. The appendix of Li Fanwen's 2008 Tangut dictionary lists 62 translations from the 1997 edition that were corrected (pp. 961-963), followed by 130 tangraphs whose definitions were discovered between the two editions. Those 192 translations are roughly 3% of all tangraphs.
I was looking for 'box' because I was trying to translate 'van' into Tangut, and the first thing that came to mind was 'four-wheeled box'. I guess I could render that as a compound noun
since the van I have in mind is more like a bookmobile. (I'm going to overlook the gloss 'casket' unless it's attested. 'Four wheel casket' sounds like a hearse.)
lɨəəʳ dʒɛ khəu
'four wheel (book) box'
In Tangut, adjectives follow nouns, so a red van would be a
lɨəəʳ dʒɛ khəu nie
'four wheel (book) box red'
ADDENDUM: The transcription character xæ has the analysis
left of xæ (homophone; phonetic), first syllable of xæ-phɔ̃ 'a kind of grass' +
right of lɨə̣ 'earth' (why?)
Since transcription characters represent sounds, they should have no semantic components other than something like
which is in the transcription character
from this post. (The right two-thirds of vã resemble xæ without a dot. Is that meaningful?) What is 'earth' doing in xæ?
Can you guess the meaning of the first Tangut character?
lɨəəʳ '?' =
bottom of ŋwəʳ 'fourth' (almost homophonous with ŋwə 'five'!) +
right side of lɨəəʳ, second syllable of the surname
məi-lɨəəʳ (by coincidence I saw the trailer for Molière this afternoon)
The answer is at the end of this post.
The second and third characters are derived from ... the first (in bold)!?
right side of lɨəəʳ, second syllable of a surname =
top of ʃwɨi 'year; age' +
which has a 'horned hat' atop kiw 'year'
all of lɨəəʳ '?' (semantic)
lɨəəʳ, second syllable of a surname =
left of the surname riuʳ (a clan related to the məi-lɨəəʳ?)
right of lɨəəʳ '?' (phonetic)
Note that the right of lɨəəʳ resembles
The vowel of lɨəəʳ implies pre-Tangut *r-ləə with *ə like
Mawo Qiang gʐə
Ronghong Qiang ɣʐə
rather than a front vowel like
Answer (which is obvious to anyone who recognizes one or more of the above Sino-Tibetan forms): Select the space between the single quotes below.
Written Burmese လေး leḥ
Somang kə-wdîbut Zbu kə-vldaʔ!
< all Proto-rGyalrong *pltej?
Written Tibetan bzhi < *blyi
Old Chinese *sli(t)s