So far, I have been using 'labial flight' to refer to the loss of labiality in pre-Tangut syllables with labial onsets and codas such as *mbjvm 'to fly'. The labial codas in my examples - actual or hypothetical - have been either *-m or *-w (< *-k, *-ŋ). But pre-Tangut had one more labial coda: *-p. Did it also condition labial flight?

Here is the fate of pre-Tangut *-p according to Guillaume Jacques (2014: 206)

1. *-ap > -a (lost completely)

2. *-ip, *-up > (*-əp?) > (= my -y; lost completely; I propose an merged intermediate stage *-əp)

3. *-op > -ew (lenited to -w; labial *o dissimilated to e before a labial - a vocalic variety of labial flight)

Both Guillaume and I reconstruct the same six vowels (*u *i *a *ə *e *o) for pre-Tangut. In theory, one might expect *-ep and an *-əp (that merged with *-ip and *-up?), but Guillaume only reconstructed three possible codas for *e (*-ej, *-en, *-eŋ; see p. 207) and no codas for *-ə. The unbalanced distribution of vowels and codas in his pre-Tangut deserve further study. (I never worked out all the possible combinations of vowels and codas in my pre-Tangut.)

If labial flight - of the consonantal type - is real, I would expect *Pop to become Pe1 (cf. *mew > 1me1 'eye'). *Pjop might merge with *Pjaŋ and become Cwo3 (cf. *mbjvm > 1jwon3 'to fly').

Guillaume identified only one example of *-op:

3299 1lwew1 < *P-lop 'vapor'; cf. Japhug tɤ-jlɤβ, Situ ta-jlôp < *jlɔp

The pre-Tangut prefix and onset are mine; Guillaume only reconstructed the rhyme *-op. My pre-Tangut *P- conditions Tangut medial -w-.

Next: Did syllables like *P(j)op exist in pre-Tangut? A CHRONOLOGY OF LABIAL FLIGHT IN TANGUT

In my previous post, I made a few references to the order of changes that Guillaume Jacques (2014: 199) and I proposed. Perhaps a table would be easier to understand:

Type of 'labial flight' *Pj-m ('to fly') *P-w < *P-k ('eye') *Pjaŋ (examples?) *PV-jvm (examples?) *PV-jaŋ (examples?)
Stage 1: early pre-Tangut *mbjvm *mek *Pjaŋ *PV-jvm *PV-jaŋ
Stage 2: velar coda lenition *meɣ > *meɰ *Pjaɰ *PV-jaɰ
Stage 3: labialization of glide *mew *Pjaw *PV-jaw
Stage 4: labial initial-coda dissimilation *ǰwvm *mej *Cwaw
Stage 5: presyllable-initial fusion *Pjvm *Pjaw
Stage 6: Tangut 1jwon3 1me1 Cwo3 Pon4 Po4


The five types: So far I only know of one example each for the first two ('to fly' and 'eye'). The other three are theoretical. *P represents any labial consonant.

Stage 1: *v is Guillaume's notation for a non-*i-vowel. Japhug has o and Proto-Lolo-Burmese has *a in 'to fly', so I think the pre-Tangut word might have been *mbjom or *mbjam.

Stages 2-3: The weakening of velar codas may have also occurred in the northwestern Chinese dialect known to the Tangut.

The rare velar glide (only in 2.66% of UPSID's languages) which was only in coda shifted to the more common labial glide *w which could also occur in other positions.

Stage 4: Dissimilation only occurred within the same syllable. Presyllabic labial onsets followed by syllables ending in labials remained intact.

I use the symbol to represent a pre-Tangut affricate that could have been [dʑ], [dʒ], or [dʐ]. I think pre-Tangut palatals became retroflexes at some point before stage 6. *C represents the consonants *č, *čh, and that became Class VII initials in Tangut.

The glide in *Cw- from *Pj- could have been phonetically [ɥ] if preceded by a palatal onset.

Stage 5: *PV-j- fused into *Pj-, filling the void left by *Pj- that dissimilated to *Cw-.

Stage 6: *-m nasalized the preceding vowel before being lost. *-m also conditioned the rounding of nonlabial vowels preceding it: e.g., *-am > *-om > -on [õ].

1me1 might have still ended in a glide [j].

The monophongization of *-aw has partial parallels in the northwestern Chinese dialect known to the Tangut. See Gong (2002: 374-376) for details.

7.31.0:41: I forgot to explain the grades:

- Pre-Tangut syllables with *-j- generally became Tangut Grade IV syllables. Exceptions with Grade III had Class VII initials (either primary or secondary).

In the past I have reconstructed Grade IV with a medial -i-, and Gong reconstructed Grade III (equivalent to my Grades III and IV) with a medial -j-. However, Tibetan transcriptions of Tangut do not strongly support a palatal interpretation of Grades III and IV.

- Pre-Tangut syllables with *e developed Grade I unless followed by a high-vowel presyllable. WAS DISSIMILATION THE MOTIVE FOR LABIAL FLIGHT IN TANGUT?

Last night, I forgot to mention why this unusual sound change proposed by Guillaume Jacques (2014: 199)

*mbj- > dʑ- (should this be dʑjw- = my jw-3?)

which could be formulated more generally as

*Pj- > Cw-3 or *Class I-j- > Class VII-w-3

might have occurred before any non-*i-vowel followed by *-m and *-aŋ.

With two exceptions of possible foreign origin below*, labials do not occur before -w in my Tangut reconstruction**:

2313 1pew4 'poor' (only in dictionaries) and 3412 2mew4 'the name Mew; transcription character for Sanskrit myak'

So I suspect that pre-Tangut had a constraint against *PVP syllables with labial onsets and codas.

Such a constraint also exists in modern Cantonese. Earlier *PVP sequences have become PVT: e.g.,

梵 Early Middle Chinese *buam > Cantonese faan

法 Early Middle Chinese *puap > Cantonese faat

In Cantonese, the coda became nonlabial, whereas in Tangut, the coda disappeared entirely (or at least became nonlabial) in

4684 1me1 ([mej]?) < *mew < *mek 'eye'

and the onset became a palatal-labial cluster in

2262 1jwon3 < *mbjvm 'bird/to fly'.

'Eye' indicates that dissimilation postdated the weakening of *-k to *-w.

Guillaume did not provide any examples of labials becoming palatals before *-aŋ. Given that *-aŋ became Tangut -o (Jacques 2014: 193), there might have been an intermediate *-aw phase that predated dissimilation:

Cwo3 < *Cwɔ < *Cwaw < *Cwaɰ < *Cwaŋ

The velar codas *-k (in 'eye') and *-ŋ may have merged into a velar glide *-ɰ that became a labial glide *-w conditioning dissimilation in labial-initial syllables.

*7.29.23:57: 2313 is a rare word without any known etymology. It may have been borrowed from my (hypothetical) substratum 'Tangut B' language after dissimilation (see above).

The name Mew written as 3412 may also be of Tangut B origin.

**7.30.0:18: Guillaume uses Gong's reconstruction which has far more -w than mine. Gong's -w corresponds to my -n (symbolizing nasalization and not a coda [n]) after o in his rhyme group XI (rhymes 56-60 and 97-98):

Rhyme Gong This site
56 -ow -on1
57 -iow -on2
58 -jow -on3/-on4
59 -ioow -on'2
60 -joow -on'3/-on'4
97 -owr -orn1
98 -jowr -orn4

 However, Gong and I agree that his rhyme group IX (rhymes 44-49 and 93-94) had -w:

Rhyme Gong This site
44 -ew -ew1
45 -iew -ew2
46 -jiw -ew3, -ew4
47 -iw3, -iw4
48 -eew -ew'1
49 -jiiw -iw'3, -iw'4
93 -ewr -ewr1
94 -jiwr -iwr4

 2313 and 3412 are the only examples of labial-initial syllables in rhyme group IX. SEVEN FROM ONE?: LABIAL FLIGHT IN TANGUT

In my last entry, I asked which meaning of

2262 1jwon3 'bird/to fly'

was older. It seems that 'to fly' might be older, since Guillaume Jacques (2014: 199) compared  2262 1dʑjow (sic; should be 1dʑjwow) = my 1jwon3 to

(the last syllable of?) Japhug nɯqambɯmbjom 'to fly'

Proto-Lolo-Burmese *(b)-yam 'to fly'

Written Burmese pyaṃ 'to fly'

and reconstructed pre-Tangut *mbjvm (in which *v could be any vowel other than *i). Although *mbj- would normally become bj- (= my b- + Grade IV), Guillaume proposed the sound change

*mbj- > dʑ- (should this be dʑjw- = my jw-3?)

before *-vm and *-aŋ. He noted there was no Tangut *bjow (= my *bon4) and few examples of -jow (= my -on3/-on4) after labials. I know of only two examples:

5954 2porn4 'luxuriant, exuberant' and 0421 2phon4 (mantra transcription character)

0421 is not for native words, so it has no pre-Tangut source.

On the one hand, if *mbj- became j-, wouldn't other *Class I (labial)-j-sequences also become Class VII initials*?

On the other hand, if Class I (labial)-j-sequences became Class VII initials, why does 5954 still have a labial initial?

I propose the following changes  to solve that conundrum:

1. *pj-> chw-3 (2331 2chwon3 'to contribute'?)

2. *(m)bj- > jw-3 (2262 1jwon3 'to fly')

3. *pV-j- > *pj- > p-4 (5954 2porn4 'luxuriant, exuberant'?)

New *Pj-sequences from old *PV-j- sequences replaced old *Pj-sequences that became *Cw-sequences (*C = Class VII initial):

Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3
*Pj- *Cw- Cw-3
*PV-j- *Pj- P-4

*phj- and *mj- would hypothetically become chhw-3 and nw-4 (via *ɲw-), but Tangut has no *chhwon3 or *nwon4.

*(m)bV-j- would hypothetically become b-4, but Tangut has no *bon4 because presyllables probably did not have voiced or prenasalized initials.

7.29.12:19: If 0421 were a native word, I could propose

4. *phV-j- > *phj- >  ph-4

but I doubt that aspirates were permissible in presyllables. I expect presyllables to only have a subset of segments that are permissible in the syllables that follow them.

*Guillaume follows Gong and reconstructs Class VII as palatal, but I prefer to regard it as retroflex. My notation is not IPA and can accomodate either interpretation: e.g., j- may be palatal [dʑ] or retroflex [dʐ]. ENGLISH FLIES FLY; TANGUT BIRDS BIRD

While looking for examples of the Tangut directional perfective prefix 1a0- 'up-', I found this example from volume 10 of the Tangut translation of the Golden Light Sutra in Li Fanwen (2008: 942):

1364 1136 5981 2262 4342 2511 1nga1-2gu1 1a0-1jwon3 2da4-2ryr4

'void-in PERFup-bird/fly PERFaway-go out/arise' = '... flew up and away into the air'

It corresponds to Chinese 空中飛騰而去, lit. 'void-in fly-rise and leave' (see the context here).

2262 1jwon3 can be either a noun 'bird' or a verb 'to fly'. Which meaning is primary? Which meaning is older? (The answer to those two questions may not be the same; a newer usage can outnumber an older one.)

5981 1a0 can also mean 'one' before nouns. Can 5981 2262 1a0 1jwon3 ever mean 'one bird' instead of 'flew'? If we did not have the Chinese edition, would it be possible to translate that line as 'a bird rose into the air'?

I would like to see more examples of PERF-V PERF-V sequences. A COLLECTION OF DESIRABLE DIRECTIONS

Thanks to Andrew West for drawing my attention to 3349 (last seen here) in this line from the preface to the Pearl in the Palm:

1319 3349 5981 4018 1326 0478 1tshi1 2rer4 1a0 2chhi3 1ky4-1sho'2

'? ? one root/basic/book PERF-collect'

Nishida (1964: 187):


hitsuyō-na kotogara wo ikkon ni atsumeta.

'collected important matters into one root.' (my translation of his Japanese)

'All the important aspects have been gathered into this one basic text' (the English translation accompanying his Japanese translation)

The last four words are straightforward: 'collected a book'. 5981 1a0 here is 'one'* (or - by coincidence in English - 'a'!) and not the directional perfective prefix 'up'.

The first two words are more troublesome.

Nishida (and Kychanov and Arakawa (2006: 462) regarded 1319 1tshi1 as an adjective 'important' (though adjectives normally follow rather than precede nouns in Tangut!), whereas Li Fanwen (2008: 220) regarded it as a verb 'to desire, want'.

It doesn't make sense to interpret 3349 2rer4 as 'direction' after 'important' or 'to desire, want'. Nishida translated it as 'aspects' in English and treated it as the object of the verb in his Japanese translation. There is no Tangut postposition corresponding to the Japanese locative postposition ni in his translation.

I would like to see more examples of constructions like this.

*7.27.1:01: It is curious that Tangut shares a 'one' with the Qiang languages but not with Pumi which may be its closest living relative according to Jacques (2014).

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