I used to think Tangut

5865 1soq1 'three' (Tibetan transcriptions gsoH x 14, gso x 4, so x 2)

was from *k-sum (cf. Japhug rGyalrong χsɯm and Written Tibetan gsum) with a *k- that weakened to *x- and assimilated to the following *s- which conditioned vowel tension (written as -q):

*k-s- > *xs- > *ss- > s-q

The Tibetan transcriptions with g- may reflect a dialect retaining preinitial *k-.

Guillaume Jacques (2014: 197) proposed a pre-Tangut form *sə-svm (whose *v = any vowel but *i) with reduplication like Tagalog ta-tlo < Proto-Austronesian *telu.

(Might the retroflexion of Tangut

2005 21lyr' < *rliXH 'four'

be from a reduplicated *l- that merged with the preinitial *r- that conditioned vowel retroflexion written as -r? Retroflex vowels are so common in Tangut that I suspect they had sources other than *r-.)

But if *k-s- became s- + tension - and *k-obstruent sequences which became aspirates - then how can I account for the aspirate in

3465 1chhi3 'meat' (Tibetan transcription: chi)

whose root had initial *sj- (cf. Written Tibetan sha, Written Burmese sāḥ)?

Maybe *k-s- and *k-sj- had different reflexes:

*k-s > *x-s- > *s-s- > s-q

*k-sj- > *kʂʰ- > chh- [tʂʰ-]

But I doubt that was the case. There is no external support for *k- in 'meat'.

Perhaps the preinitial of 'meat' was *t- (cf. Japhug tɯ-ɕa), and *t-sj- fused into aspirated chh-. That proposal is not without problems, as we'lll see next time.

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