I was going to write about the Tangut character for 'love' on Valentine's Day, but I discovered that I had already done so back in September 2010. Let me reexamine that character and the word it represents from a different angle below.

The index of Li Fanwen's 2008 dictionary lists eight tangraphs (Tangut characters) glossed as 愛 'love' in Chinese. This does not necessarily mean that Tangut had eight different words for love, since tangraphs can represent both words and parts of words.

Perhaps the main Tangut word for 'love' was the verb

1dzəu 'to love'

whose graph was number 400 in the Golden Guide, a textbook of the thousand most important tangraphs for Tangut learning to read.

The graph looks like two


standing under コ + ㅜ - a drawing of something in a Tangut marriage ceremony? Nah.

The word 1dzəu 'to love' may be from an earlier *N-tsək cognate to

Old Chinese 慈 *dzə 'affectionate, loving, kind' < *N-ts-

Written Tibetan mdzaH-ba 'to love'

Written Burmese caa 'to sympathize with; be considerate to; have consideration for'

A prefix with an unknown consonant *Cɯ- was added to the verb to derive a noun

*Cɯ-N-tsək > *Cɯ-dzɨək > 1dzɨu 'love'

The ə of the root raised to ɨ to match the height of the ɯ of the prefix that was later lost.

There are other pairs of words with unraised and raised vowels which may reflect earlier zero ~ *Cɯ- alternations. Unfortunately, Gong (1988: 798) did not find any semantic difference between the pairs. However, Li Fanwen later glossed Gong's 'to love' as a noun 'love'. I should check to see if Li found more semantic differences in those pairs.

The tangraph for the noun has a

'horned hat'

on top instead of a

One might think that the hat signifies nouns, but Grinstead (1972: 56) thought it "seems often to have a verbal connotation"!

And lest you think that the bottom half

could mean 'love' or 'couple' by itself, see what it means here.

Later: Other 'Lovely' Words and Tangraphs

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