22.214.171.124:36: THE SECRET OF JURCHEN BI
The Jurchen (large) script remains opaque even though most of its characters can be more or less read. The problem is that the readings do not seem to correlate with the structure of the characters. Characters with similar components generally do not have similar readings: e.g.,
giru has a variant
su (phonogram; perhaps a simplification of Chinese 蘇, pronounced *su during the Jin dynasty)
giru (first two syllables of girucu 'shame'; originally a standalone logogram girucu?)
and if one alters the right side a bit, the result is
bi (phonogram)which has two further variants
The right hand element of bi is not found in any other characters. What would possess the 'creator' of the Jurchen script to take su and add three strokes to it to write bi?
Those three strokes vaguely resemble the Chinese character 匕 'spoon'
(or the right side of the more common homophonous character 比 'to
compare') whose Jin dynasty reading *pi would have sounded like
bi [pi] to Jurchen ears. So is Jurchen bi a phonetic
compound of su and *pi?
But what is su doing in bi? Su has no known meaning
and doesn't sound like bi.
Today I came up with a solution that explains both halves. I think
Jurchen bi might be somehow related to the Chinese character 秘
~ 祕 'secret' whose Jin dynasty reading was also *pi. The su-like
part on the left corresponds to 禾 ~ 示(also written 礻) and the three
strokes on the right correspond to 必.