For a long time I have assumed that


2344 2mi4 'Tangut' (see my last post)

and the first syllable of


3752 2my4 2na'4 < *-k 'Tangut' (borrowed into Tibetan as mi-nyag)

was from *mi, a cognate to Tibetan mi 'person', and that 2na'4 was from *Cɯ-nak-XH, cognate to Tibetan nag 'black' and almost homophonous with


0176 1na4 'black'.

In short, I thought that the Tangut called themselves the '(Black) People'. I thought that 2my4 was phonetically something like [mjə], an unstressed, reduced form of the independent monosyllabic form 2mi4.

Although I still think 2my4 had some sort of nonlow nonpalatal vowel, last night I realized that 2mi4 could not go back to *mi because *i backed to Tangut -y. Tonight I think 2mi4 is from *Cɯ-meH with a mid vowel like the main vowel of Japhug tɯr-me 'person'. Cf.


4469 2shi3 < *Cɯ-sheH 'to go' : Japhug ɕe 'id.'

The final *-H symbolizes the glottal source of the second 'tone' 2- (which may have been phonation rather than a ptich). The presyllable could not have ended with *-r like Japhug tɯr- at the time Tangut developed retroflex vowels because *Cɯr-meH would have become Tangut *2mir4 with a retroflex vowel -ir, not 2mi4 with a nonretroflex vowel -i. Jacques (2014: 24) identified


3818 2mer4 < *Cɯr-mejH 'person; nominalizer'

as a cognate of Japhug tɯr-me with the expected retroflex vowel. (But what is the *-j needed to block the raising of *-e to -i? A suffix? Is *-mejH from *-meH + *-j?)

The alternation of 4469 2shi3 with


4481 1shy3 < *Cɯ-sheH 'to go' : Japhug ɕe 'id.'

is reminiscent of the -i ~-y alternation of

𗼇 ~ 𗼎𗾧

2344 2mi4 ~ 3752 3296 2my4 2na4 'Tangut'

though the former is not part of a disyllabic word.

A monosyllabic member of the m-'people' word family with -y is


4574 1my4 < *mi 'other person'

which Jacques (2014: 145) also identified as a cognate of Japhug tɯr-me. Could this be the true direct cognate of Tibetan mi?

Another such member is


0607 1myr4 < *r-mi 'people, tribe'

I am now inclined to think there was a *-e ~ *-i alternation in the pre-Tangut *m-'people' word family:

*-e-words *-i-words
𗼇 2344 2mi4 < *Cɯ-me-H 'Tangut'
𗇋 3818 2mer4 < *Cɯ-r-me-j-H 'person; nominalizer'
𘈑 0607 1myr4 < *r-mi 'people, tribe'
3752 2my4 < *mi-H- (first syllable of 'Tangut')
𘉑 4574 1my4 < *mi 'other person'

Did that alternation originate as a distinction between, say, a schwa-grade *-əj and a zero-grade *-i? The Sanskrit alternation between guṇa-grade nara- and zero-grade nṛ-, both 'man', comes to mind.

Next: What is the etymology of the most common word for 'person' in Tangut? INSTALLATION-FREE TANGUT

After my initial post using the Tangut Yinchuan font, I was worried about how to tell readers they'd need that font to see Tangut text in subsequent posts. Thanks to Andrew West and David Boxenhorn, you may now be able to see


2344 4797 2403 2mi4 1wyr4 2di4 'Tangut script'

on this blog without installing a font on any device. I've been using images for the past decade to be able to read Tangut on my phone, but now I only need them for Khitan and Jurchen until they're added to Unicode. Unfortunately I can't view the characters online in Chrome even though they're visible in my local copy in Chrome. But they are visible online in Firefox and on my iPhone. I don't know about visibility elsewhere. I don't have time to fix this issue right now. Maybe next week. MIYAKO IN TANGUT

Japanese names are Sinified by reading their Chinese characters (if any) in a Chinese language: e.g., 宮古 Miyako is Mandarin Gonggu, Cantonese Gunggu, etc.

How would Japanese names have been Tangutized? The Tangut only knew of Japan through Chinese written records, so they wouldn't have known how Japanese names were pronounced in Japanese, much less other Japonic languages like Miyako. Thus the Tangut would have phonetically transcribed the Tangut period northwestern Chinese readings for the characters of Japanese names: e.g., 宮古 TPNWC *1kun3 2ku1 would have been Tangutized as


1306 1034 1kon4 1kwo1

using the transcriptions of 宮 and 古 in the Forest of Categories.

Tangut had no rhyme -un3 and generally did not permit Grade III rhymes after velars, so -on4 was the best available match for TPWNC *-un3.

Although Tangut had a rhyme -u1 whose romanization on this site happens to match TPWNC *-u1, my notation is not IPA, and perhaps Tangut -wo was an attempt to approximate a TPWNC final like [ʊ], a vowel partway between [u], the vocalic counterpart of the glide w, and mid o.

There are other hypothetical and less likely approaches to Tangutizing Miyako.

One is to translate the Chinese characters 宮古 'palace ancient' into their Tangut equivalents: e.g.,


1623 0429 2vaq1 2nwo4 'palace ancient' (which happens to have Tangut noun-adjective order!).

(Li Fanwen's Chinese-Tangut index has a typo; it lists 0428 as the equivalent of 古 'ancient'.)

Another - the least likely of all - is to phonetically transcribe the Japanese name:


5026 5314 2946 1mi4 2a4 1ko1

I have used the Tangut characters for transcribing the Sanskrit syllables mi, ya, and ko. 5314 was probably phonetically something like [ja].

But how would the Tangut have known that 宮古 was read Miyako?

All of the above assumes the spelling 宮古 existed during the heyday of the Tangut. But I don't know how old it is. JAROSZ ON NEVSKY ON MIYAKO

I was planning to write a follow-up to this post using the Tangut Yinchuan font. But I ran out of time, so I'll merely link to Aleksandra Jarosz' 2015 PhD dissertation Nikolay Nevskiy's Miyakoan Dictionary reconstruction from the manuscript and its ethnolinguistic analysis: Studies on the manuscript (via Bitxəšï-史). Although it is obviously about 宮古 Miyako, its profile of Nevsky is still of interest to Tangutologists. It is no wonder that he "succeeded in deciphering the highly complicated, Chinese-character-inspired and by then largely unintelligible script of the medieval Xixia kingdom, the homeland of Tangut speakers" given that he

... was a very prolific and dedicated scholar, remembered by his colleagues and informants alike as one truly open-minded and able to grasp the cultures and languages of the subjects of his study almost intuitively. He was also a brilliant multilingual speaker, reportedly having mastered as many as sixteen Asiatic languages (apart from Japanese including Tibetan, Mongolian, Manchu, Pali, Korean and Giliak), as well as English, German, French and Latin (Kanna 2008:167). He acquired his first Orient languages as early as in the times of his Rybinsk gymnasium (post-1900), when he learned Tatar from a local family of native speakers, as well as mastered Arabic alphabet through self-study (Katō 2011:18). (p. 19)

And the Tangutologist and Khitanologist Viacheslav Zaytsev appears on page 8 and in the acknowledgements!

Next: How to write 'Miyako' in Tangut. TANGUT AVIAN ANATOMY

About twenty-five years ago I learned the following method to convert base-10 numerals from 1 to 60 into their Chinese sexagenary equivalents.. The coming Chinese new year is the 34th in the 60-year cycle. The first character of the sexagenary term is the Heavenly Stem for the second digit: i.e., 丁 'fourth Heavenly Stem'. The second character is the Earthly Branch for X, a number between 1 and 12:

(X + (Y * 12)) = 34

X turns out to be 10 (and Y is 2), so the second character of the sexagenary term is 酉 'tenth Earthly branch': i.e.., rooster'.

The Tangut adopted the sexagenary cycle and somehow found Tangut equivalents for the Heavenly Stems. Last time I wrote about


0410 1vi1 'fourth Heavenly Stem'.

The reasoning behind choosing 1vi1 eludes me. (I'm assuming the Tangut terms were repurposed existing words rather than just made up.)

On the other hand, the logic behind the Tangut equivalents of the Earthly Branches is transparent: e.g., 酉 'rooster' was simply translated as


2262 1jwon3 'bird'.

(The Japanese did the same thing; they read 酉 as the native word tori 'bird'.)

2262 has three components:


Andrew West has written about the first at length here; it appears in other characters for words for birds (see below) but also has other associations.

The first and second components


appear in the second entry in the Tangraphic Sea:

𘀑 = 𘀏 + 𘤊 (< 𗿼)

3911 1pu1 'a kind of bird' = left and top of 3909 1pu1 'the name Pu' (phonetic) + left of 2262 1jwon3 'bird'.

3911 in turn is part of the analysis of 3909, the first entry in the Tangraphic Sea:

𘀏 = 𘀑 + 𘦑 (< 𗩝)

3909 1pu1 'the name Pu' = left of 3911 1pu1 'a kind of bird' (phonetic) + right of 2653 1penq 'horn'

You can see those two characters in context at Andrew West's site.

𘤏 might also be semantic for 'bird' in 3911 and even 3909 if the Pu were associated with birds and horns.

The third 𘪣 means 'bird', but like most Tangut semantic components (and unlike its possible inspiration, Chinese 鳥 'bird'), it cannot stand by itself. I don't know why some elements can be independent and others can't. In the case of 2260, the elements appended to 𘪣 'bird' are phonetic:

𗿼 = 𘤊𘤏 (< 𗿤) + 𘪣 (< 𘝋)

2262 1jwon3 'bird' = left and center of 2260 1jwon3 'breeding' + left of 1242 2dzwy4 'wing' (with a slight modification of the top element's bottom right corner)

2262 1jwon3 'bird' sounds like 2260 1jwon3 'breeding' and has 1242 2dzwy4 'wings'.

2260 has a circular derivation:

𗿤 = 𘤊𘤏 (< 𗿼) + 𘣑 (< 𘟢)

2260 1jwon3 'breeding' = left and center of 2262 1jwon3 'bird' (phonetic) + right of 0373 2vi1 'to copulate, mate' (semantic)

So does 1242:

𘝋 = 𘪢 (< 𘝁) + 𗟎

1242 2dzwy4 'wing' = left of 0673 2thy1 'wing' (semantic) + bottom right of 4289 2dzwy2 'winding corridor' (phonetic; is that component [Boxenhorn code: caigie] in Unicode?)

4289 is obviously from 1242 as a phonetic plus the semantic component 𘡩 'wood' (a corridor can be a wooden structure). The Tangraphic Sea confirms my guess:

𗟎 = 𘡩 (< 𗞵) + 𘝋

4289 2dzwy2 'winding corridor' = top of 4364 1rur4 'wooden framework' (semantic) + all of 1242 2dzwy4 'wing' (phonetic)

(The Boxenhorn code for the bottom right of 4289 is tok, not caigie, but the two components look alike to me.)

𗟎 4289 must postdate the less complex 𘝋 1242 'wing'. But does 𘝋 1242 'wing' postdate 𗿼 2262 'bird'? And what is the function of the right side of 1242 (stroke code EACCQBE not in N4636) which is unique to that character? If it is derived from two other characters, why weren't those characters mentioned in the Precious Rhymes of the Tangraphic Sea (the corresponding volume of the Tangraphic Sea has been lost)? MY FIRST POST IN TANGUT YINCHUAN

I just used Andrew West's file to convert Li Fanwen numbers for Tangut characters into Unicode for the first time to type the Tangraphic Sea analysis of1vi1 'fourth Heavenly Stem', the first half of the sexagenary term for the Tangut year beginning on 28 January 2017:

𗸃 = 𘣟 (< 𗷰) + 𘧦 (< 𘔁)

0410 1vi1 'fourth Heavenly Stem' = left of 0613 2t-? 'to refuse, remove' + 'fire', left of 4661 1bi4 'third Heavenly Stem'

If you can't see the characters, please install Prof. 景永时 Jing Yongshi's free Tangut font at BabelStone.

It's not surprising that 0410 shares 𘧦 'fire' with 4661 since both the third and fourth Heavenly Stems are associated with fire and were hence called 'red' in Khitan and Jurchen (and ᡠᠯᡤᡳᠶᠠᠨ fulgiyan 'red' and ᡠᠯᠠᡥᡡᠨ fulahūn 'reddish' in Manchu).

But why was 𘧦 'fire' combined with 𘣟from 2t-? 'to refuse, remove' which is neither (nearly) homophonous with 1vi1 'fourth Heavenly Stem' nor obviously semantically relevant to it? 𘣟 is not among the character components that Nishida (1966) was able to gloss.

𗷰 0613 2t-? 'to refuse, remove' is listed in Tangraphic Sea as a component in at least two more characters:

𗅯 = 𘠐 (< 𗅉) + 𘣟 (< 𗷰)

2377 1ky4 'to prohibit' = 'not', left of 1906 1non2 (conjunction) (semantic) + left of 0613 2t-? 'to refuse, remove' (semantic)

𘒐 = 𘧉 (< 𘒖) + 𘣟 (< 𗷰)

1462 1lo1' 'cooperation' = 1535 1lo'1 'to gather, assemble' (semantic/phonetic) + all of 0613 2t-? 'to refuse, remove'

There may have been other derivatives of 0613 in the lost 'rising tone' volume of the Tangraphic Sea.

I can understand why 'to refuse' is in 'to prohibit', but what's it doing in 'cooperation'?

And I might expect 'not' + 'to refuse' to represent a word for 'not refuse', but I presume the character is like a double negative.

Lastly, I have no idea what the etymologies for 𘔁 1bi4 'third Heavenly Stem' and 𗸃 1vi1 'fourth Heavenly Stem' are.


I just installed Prof. 景永时 Jing Yongshi's free Tangut font which can be downloaded from BabelStone. Thanks to Prof. Jing for making it freely available and to Andrew West and Michael Everson for mapping his font onto Unicode and extending it to include more characters and even character components.

銀川 Yinchuan 'Silver River' is the modern Mandarin name for the city now on the site of the former Tangut capital. Yinchuan has a 西夏区 Xixia qu 'Western Xia (i.e., Tangut) District' in name only (population 329,310).

I should eventually add Tangut characters in that font to my database of Tangut character readings (download version 1.3 1 here).

Tangut Yinchuan font copyright © Prof. 景永时 Jing Yongshi
Tangut character image fonts by Mojikyo.org
Tangut radical and Khitan fonts by Andrew West
Jurchen font by Jason Glavy
All other content copyright © 2002-2017 Amritavision