Home YELLOW PIG 11/19

<so nggiyan uliya aniya juwa emu biya oniohon inenggi>

'yellow pig year, ten one month, nineteen day'

1. Jurchen oniohon 'nineteen' is unlike either Manchu  juwan uyun 'ten nine' or Written Mongolian arban yisün 'ten nine'. It is a loan from some para-Mongolic language (presumably a nonstandard variety of Khitan) whose morpheme for '-teen' was something like *-hon (or *-kon if the Jurchen word was borrowed before the weakening of *-k- to -h- in Jurchen); yesterday's day number niuhun 'eighteen' has a high vowel harmonic variant of '-teen'. Janhunen (2003: 399) believes the Jurchen words for 'eighteen' and 'nineteen' have the same root before '-teen':

Could *o be related to Proto-Mongolic *onca 'unique'? If the root of unique is 'one', perhaps *o is 'one'.

What's not clear to me is why *a(y)i correspond to u and o in Jurchen. Did *a(y)i reduce to a single vowel that assimilated to surrounding vowels (the *u of '-teen' and *o- 'one')?

2. I got interested in Southern American English vowels a year before I fell in love with Tangut in 1996. It's taken me 24 years to wonder if complex  'drawled' diphthongs like [æ̠ɛæ̠] in Southern American English might have parallels in Tangut. If they do, there would probably be no way to reconstruct them since no fine phonetic notation for Tangut has survived. A simple-looking Tibetan transcription of a Tangut rhyme like <e> might conceal something like[æ̠ɛæ̠] or even ဇိုင်ဂူ <zuiṅ gū> Mon [ʌ ei̯a] (Diffloth 1984: 53¹, 226).

Southern American English [æ̠ɛæ̠] goes back to *æ (and before that, *a) and <zuiṅ gū> Mon [ʌei̯a] goes back to Proto-Monic *-iəw (Diffloth 1984: 226). So I presume that similarly complex Tangut vowels also had simpler origins. I still reconstruct only six vowels in pre-Tangut: *u *i *a *ə *e *o.

¹Diffloth (1984: 53) uses an underscore to indicate "that portion of the vowel which is loudest", whereas I presume the underscore inSouthern American English [æ̠ɛæ̠] is the IPA retraction symbol.

3. What kind of name is Onreitt? Onreitt Murtagh's name was so unlike those of her sisters Jean and Kate (the latter on the cover of Supertramp's Breakfast in America).

4. I just realized that methinks

Also found two other similar defective verbs: meseems and the pseudoarchaic (and obsolete) mehopes. YELLOW PIG 11/18

<so nggiyan uliya aniya juwa emu biya niuhun inenggi>

'yellow pig year, ten one month, eighteen day'

1. Tonight Stephen Colbert made a joke about the new Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin using the pseudo-Finnish phrase Okey Bøömer.

That phrase is so un-Finnish - even un-Scandinavian:

I doubt a more pseudo-Finnish Okej Buumer would have amused as many English speakers, though.

2. How is a violin like a prison?

Votre Nicolas est au violon de la ville

'Your Nicolas is at the violin [i.e., in the prison] of the town'

- Erckmann-Chatrian, Histoire d'un paysan, 1789-1815

3. Some interesting Cantonese characters:

3a. Cantonese me1 'to carry on the back'

has several spellings:

3b. Cantonese mau1 'to squat' is spelled YELLOW PIG 11/17

<so nggiyan uliya aniya juwa emu biya darhon inenggi>

'yellow pig year, ten one month, seventeen day'

1. Why isn't ambush embush?

2. Today I realized that Sanskrit and Okinawan represent two opposing approaches to mid vowel elimination:

Sanskrit has neutralization in two senses:

Okinawan vowels were polarized in the sense that they moved toward the points of the vowel triangle and away from the neutral center.

Both Sanskrit and Okinawan then developed new long vowels from vowel sequences:

(Normally, length in Sanskrit e and o are left unmarked because those vowels are always long, but I have marked their length here and below for clarity.)

Even later, Pali and modern Okinawan developed short e and o:

Pali shortened long and in closed syllables to avoid overlong syllables (long vowels followed by codas).

Okinawan borrowed Japanese short e and o without modification in 'English'.

Some native Okinawan words seem to have Pali-style shortening of overlong syllables:

However, unlike Pali, Okinawan does permit overlong syllables: e.g., the yn- of 'slowly' above and yn 'lightly, gently, weakly'. YELLOW PIG 11/16

I can't decide on a title, so I'm bringing back a generic Jurchen date title since 2019 is the 1000th anniversary of the Jurchen large script:

<so nggiyan uliya aniya juwa emu biya nilhun inenggi>

'yellow pig year, ten one month, sixteen day'

1. Yesterday I ran out of time to write about the  ᠣᠯᠬᠣᠨᠣᠳ <ulqunut> Olqonud, the tribe of Genghis Khan's mother Höelün. The Mongolian Wikipedia article about that tribe is titled Олхонууд <Olxonuud> with a long vowelуу <uu>. ууд <uud> looks like a plural ending, so I suppose Olqonud is 'the Olqons'.

How far back does that long vowel go? Janhunen (2003: 5) writes,

In spite of claims made to the contrary, it has been impossible to establish any quantitative correlation for the Proto-Mongolic vowels. While virtually all the Modern Mongolic idioms have distinctive long (double) vowels, these are of a secondary contractive origin. Occasional instances of irregular lengthening are observed in most of the modern languages, and in a small number of cases there would seem to be a correspondence between two peripheral languages, notably Dagur and (Huzhu) Mongghul, as in Dagur mood ‘tree, wood’ = Mongghul moodi id. < *modu/n. In spite of the seemingly perfect match, such cases are too few and involve too many counterexamples to justify any diachronic conclusion other than that of accidental irregular convergence.

Having said that, Janhunen (2003: 45) goes on to reconstruct a long vowel in *-UUd from an even earlier *-U-d. *-U- (later *-UU-) is a linker vowel of unspecified 'phonological gender' inserted between a final consonant and the plural ending *-d. *-U- is *-u- after masculine vowel stems and *-ü- after feminine vowel stems: e.g. (examples added 12.12.2:03),

*nom-ud 'books' (Janhunen 2003: 12); now Khalkha номууд <nomuud>

*cerix-üd 'soldiers' (Janhunen 2003: 64); now Khalkha цэргүүд <cergüüd>

Why would a linker vowel become long?

There is another Written Mongolian plural suffix ᠨᠤᠭᠤᠳ /ᠨᠤᠭᠦᠳ <nughut>/<nugut> which Janhunen reconstructs as *-nUUd (not *-nUgUd!). I guess <gh>/<g> is an orthographic pseudoarchaism: the logic being '-UU- is a long vowel, and long vowels in speech often correspond to <VghV>/<VgV> in writing, so -UU- should be written as <VghV>/<VgV> too: e.g. (examples added 12.12.2:21),

<yaghan nughut> jaghan nugud 'elephants', now Khalkha заанууд <zaanuud>

<cacag nugut> ceceg nügüd 'flowers', now Khalkha цэцэгнүүд <cecegnüüd>

¹Manchu moo 'tree, wood' also has a long vowel. Loanword or cognate? But I digress.

2. On Monday it took me a moment to realize that 홋카이도 <h.o.s kh.a Ø.i t.o> Hotkhaido on a sign in Honolulu stood for 'Hokkaido'. That got me thinking about the many ways kana have been transcribed in hangul. Although Japanese and Korean are typologically similar in many ways and also share a large amount of vocabulary of Chinese origin, they have very different phonological systems: e.g.,

One challenge for Korean transcribers of Japanese is distinguishing between Japanese voiceless and voiced obstruents. Here are several solutions to the problem from Wikipedia. I use /k/ and /g/ as examples:

initial /k/
noninitial /k/
1986 South Korean standard
2001 North Korean standard
Japanese colonial standard
/k/ [g]
Korean Language Society
/k/ [g]
1948 South Korean standard /k/
/k/ [g]
1963 South Korean standard
/kʰ/ /k/ [g]
Chhoe Yŏng-ae and Kim Yong-ok
/kʰ/ /k/ [g]

Japanese noninitial /k/ cannot be precisely replicated in Korean. The majority solution is to Koreanize it as /k/ even though Korean /k/ is voiced [g] in that position. The current South and North Korean standards Koreanize Japanese /k/ as voiceless /kʰ/ and /k͈/. Compare:

/naka/ [naka]  'middle'
/naga/ [naga] ~ [naŋa] 'long'
majority solution
/naka/ [naga]
/naka/ [naga]
South Korea (1986)
/nakʰa/ [nakʰa] /naka/ [naga]
North Korea (2001)
/nak͈a/ [nak͈a] /naka/ [naga]

Japanese initial /g/ also cannot be precisely replicated in Korean.

The majority solution is to Koreanize it as /k/ [k].

The most interesting solution is the colonial one: Japanese /g/ is transcribed as <k> with a circular diacritic. I presume <°k> was to be read as [g] even in initial position. There are two interesting things about that diacritic. First, <°> in Japanese indicates a voiceless stop [p], not voiced obstruents. Second, <°> in Japanese is placed to the top right of kana, not the top left. I suspect a circle was chosen because it was a shape that already existed in hangul unlike the Japanese voicing diacritic ゛.

Japanese noninitial /g/ can also be pronounced as [ŋ], but that nasal variant is not reflected in any of the above Koreanizations, even though  Korean  does have /ŋ/ [ŋ] in noninitial position: e.g.,  Japanese [naŋa] 'long' sounds like Korean 낭아 <n.a.Ø Ø.a> /naŋa/ [naŋa]. ANOTHER EMPRESS XUANYI (PART 2)

The Japanese Wikipedia has yet other renderings of the name of Genghis Khan's mother Höelün Üjin 'Lady Hoelun', a.k.a. Empress 宣懿 Xuanyi:

The katakana spelling looks like a transliteration of Höelün sans diacritics.

The Old Mandarin spelling 月也倫 *ɥe je lun has front vowels unlike the Secret History spelling 訶額侖*o o lun. The first spelling seems to represent [øelyn], whereas the second spelling might represent [hoəlun]. Do the spellings represent two different Mongolian dialects: one with Turkic-style palatal harmony and another with height harmony?

vowel class
Written Mongolian
palatal harmony dialect
height harmony dialect

The first character of the Yuan shi transcription is crucial: Old Mandarin 月*ɥe cannot stand for a simple [o] which would have been transcribed as Old Mandarin *o. And Mongolian vowel harmony dictates that vowels within a word must match in terms of 'gender': feminine [ø] must be followed by feminine [e] and [y]. Old Mandarin had no syllable *e, so 也 *je was the best available approximation of [e]. Old Mandarin had no syllable *lyn, so 倫 *lun was the best available approximation of [lyn].

The second character of the Secret History spelling訶額侖 is also crucial: Old Mandarin 額 *o cannot stand for a simple [e] which would have been transcribed as Old Mandarin *je. Old Mandarin had no syllable *ə, so 額 *o was the best available approximation of [ə]. In theory 額 *o could even represent [o] or [ø], but the Written Mongolian spelling <a> for this vowel rules out rounded vowels which would have been spelled as <ui>. The other characters are ambiguous out of context:

The Arabic script transcription is ambiguous: <ʔwlʔwn> could represent either [øelyn] or [oəlun] - or even other possibilities that the Chinese and Mongolian spellings rule out: e.g., [ulun].

The Arabic script transcription <fwjyn> looks like a straightforward transcription of Old Mandarin 夫人 *fu žin 'lady' rather than the Mongolian borrowing of that Chinese word as üjin 'id.'

2. The English Wikipedia article on Höelün says

also had a nephew named Palchuk who married a sister of Genghis Khan (Temülün, whose name is misspelled as "Temulin")

The name Palchuk has an un-Mongolian initial p-. Earlier *p- became h- or zero in Mongolian. If Palchuk isn't Mongolian, what is it? It sounds Ukrainian. But seriously ...

The Japanese Wikipedia, on the other hand, says Genghis Khan's sister 帖木倫 Temülün married 不禿 Butu of the Ikires. Höelün was of the Olqonud, not the Ikires, so a nephew of Höelün would be likely to be of the Olqonud too. ANOTHER EMPRESS XUANYI (PART 1)

When I refer to "Empress 宣懿 Xuanyi" on this blog, I refer to 蕭觀音 Xiao Guanyin (r. 1055-1075) of the First Khitan Empire.

But it turns out there are two other Empress Xuanyis:

Today the spelling of Höelün Üjin 'Lady Hoelun' in a 1908 edition of the Secret History of the Mongols caught my eye:


Old Mandarin *o o lun u tʂin

Where's the Old Mandarin *x- that should correspond to Middle Mongolian (MM) h-?*o looks like an error for 訶 *xo.

If the Secret History were all that remained of Mongolian, we might have to assume Höelün was Xoolun. How do we know Xoolun stood for Höelun? Even if we didn't have modern Mongolian Өэлүн <Öelün>, we could still get closer to the original via the Written Mongolian (WM) spelling ᠥᠭᠡᠯᠦᠨ <uikalun>:

Putting the MM and WM evidence together, I could reconstruct a Proto-Mongolic name *Högelün. (There is no 'Old Mongol'.) *h- goes back to an even earlier *p-.

The word üjin (WM <uijin>) 'lady' is a borrowing from Late Middle Chinese or Liao Chinese 夫人 *fuʐin 'id.' That word was also borrowed into Khitan as

<pu.is.ny> pusin.

I'm surprised Chinese *f- wasn't similarly borrowed into pre-MM as *p- which would have become MM h-, not zero. Was *fuʐin borrowed into pre-MM as üjin without any initial consonant? THÁNH GIÓNG (PART 2)

1. How was the name 揀 Gióng pronounced in earlier Vietnamese? The vowel is certain. The rest is not:

gi- could be from *kj-, *CVc-, or *pl-
-ng could be from *-ŋ or *-n

Nom spelling variants of Gióng might be able to narrow down the possibilities:

All three types of variants share the semantic element 扌 <HAND> since gióng means 'to beat (a drum'. So does the name Gióng mean 'The Drumbeater', or is it an unrelated homophone written with characters originally devised for gióng 'to beat (a drum)'? (No, see below.)

1a. The initial of Gióng

Trần Quốc Vương's "The Legend of Ông Dóng from the Text to the Field" (1995) has made me rethink everything I just wrote above. Here's what I think happened now:

Trần and Cao Huy Đỉnh (1967) think Dóng is related to dông 'storm', but the vowels and tones do not match, so I think the words are unrelated. I can't find any Vietnamese word dóng other than the name, but I wonder if the name might have cognates in other Vietic languages.

1b. The coda of Gióng

The oldest spelling 扶董 points to *-ŋ. So do 𢫝𢶢. 揀 has an -n-phonetic, but is overruled by 扶董; it must be a later spelling created by someone speaking a nonnorthern dialect in which *-n shifted to [ŋ].

(Note that -on and -ong have not become homophonous in any dialect as far as I know: the distinction between the two in nonsouthern dialects is [ɔŋ] vs. [awŋ͡m] corresponding to [ɔn] vs. [awŋ͡m] in the north.)

1c. A chronology of spellings of Gióng:

Trần (1995: 27) "would like to conclude that the impact of Indra [of the Cham] on the portrayal of Phù Đổng is undeniable. In other words, Phù Đổng Thiên Vương [Heaven King] is, in fact, the Vietnamese metamorphosis of Indra."

I'd like to read an article on the Cham element in Vietnamese culture. Unfortunately recovering similar substratal elements in the Korean and Japanese cultures would seem to be more difficult given the extinction of other cultures on the peninsula and in the islands; we can't say belief or practice X is from Y if we don't even know what Y is like.

Sino-Vietnamese 天 Thiên 'heaven' in 扶董天王 Phù Đổng Thiên Vương 'Heaven King Phù Đổng' sounds like pʰatʰɛ̂ːn 'sky' in the Vietic language Thavung which unlike Vietnamese doesn't have an enormous number of Chinese borrowings. It took me almost three hours to realize that pʰatʰɛ̂ːn is a borrowing from Lao ຟ້າແຖນ [fȃː tʰɛ̆ːn] 'sky' (poetic), a synonym compound of native Lao [fȃː] 'sky' and [tʰɛ̆ːn], a Lao borrowing from Chinese. Were all Thavung words of Chinese origin borrowed recently through Lao?

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