I'm going to interrupt my series on Kensiu to ask a few questions that arose when I looked at the images in this Wikipedia entry.

First, what does the Old Church Slavonic phrase симъ побѣдиши on this coat of arms mean? The literal Russian translation is этим победишь (which is oddly absent from the Wikipedia article on that phrase), but I'm still lost.

The second word побѣдиши is 'thou willst conquer'.

I would expect the first word симъ to be either accusative or instrumental ('with this' being a loose equivalent of the original Latin in hoc signo 'in this sign'). However, it seems to be dative plural according to this paradigm. (Its Russian translation этим can either be dative plural or instrumental singular; although the former corresponds to Old Church Slavonic симъ, the latter corresponds to Old Church Slavonic симь with a different final vowel.) Did Old Church Slavonic побѣдиши take dative objects unlike modern Russian победишь which takes accusative objects? That seems unlikely according to this description of the Old Church Slavonic dative. Or is симъ a later substitute for the instrumental singular симь 'with this'? (No subsitution of jers is mentioned in Wikipedia's description of the Russian recension of Old Church Slavonic.)

Second, the Old Church Slavonic симь 'with this' that I expected has the instrumental ending -мь, the regular reflex of Proto-Slavic *-mĭ. But in Russian, the instrumental ending is hard -м as in Belarusian (which lost /mʲ/ in word-final position) and Ukrainian (which has no /mʲ/ unlike its two sisters). Was there irregular loss of *-ĭ in Russian? Russian 'seven' has the expected reflex of *-ĭ: i.e. palatalization of *m.

Proto-Slavic *sed > Russian семь, Belarusian сем, Ukrainian сім

The Ukrainian vowel і may look irregular at first glance, but it is the regular reflex of *e before *-ĭ.

Third, why does the -и of the Old Church Slavonic second person singular ending -ши in побѣдиши correspond to nothing* in Russian and other modern Slavic languages? Did they completely lose a vowel that Old Church Slavonic retained from Proto-Slavic *-ši?

Fourth - veering off-topic, I know - why does the -и of the Old Church Slavonic infinitive ending -ти (< Proto-Slavic *-ti; e.g., in побѣдити 'to conquer') have yet another set of correspondences?

A. Syllabic

Ukrainian -ти /ty/

Serbo-Croatian and Slovene -ti

B. Mixed: consonantal and syllabic

Russian unaccented** -ть as well as accented -ти

Belarusian -ць as well as -ці (in есці 'to eat') and -чы (in бегчы 'to run'); are all three always unaccented?

C. Consonantal

Czech -t



I was going to go even more off-topic and ask about the divergent developments of Proto-Slavic -ть (ranging from -ть to zero), but I rediscovered Schenker's (2003: 97) answer to that question.

Fifth, what does this standard say? What I see looks like

... И

... Е.С.ТДЪ

The second line looks like a very strange acronym. Are the periods not periods? All I'm really certain about is -ДЪ.

*The -ь in Russian -шь /š/ is currently silent, though it was once /ĭ/. It is obviously a reflex of Proto-Slavic *-i, though it still looks irregular to me.

**Of course a nonsyllabic consonant can't carry an accent. KENSIU 3: NASAL VOWELS

Kensiu has a large vowel inventory. Nearly every oral vowel has a nasal counterpart with the exceptions of /ə/ and retroflex /ɚ/. That reminds me of Tangut which

- also has nasal counterparts of most of its oral plain (nontense, nonretroflex) vowels

- also lacks nasal schwa, though it has nasal diphthongs with schwa

- has only three nasal retroflex vowels

Tangut nasal vowels

Grade \ Cycle Plain Extra* Tense Retroflex
IV: high, more palatal iẽ iã iõ iõõ - iẹ̃ iõʳ
III: high, less palatal ɨĩ ɨẽ ɨã ɨõ ɨõõ - ɨẹ̃ ɨõʳ
I: mid əĩ - əũ - õʳ
II: low - ɛ̃ æ̃ ɔ̃ ɔ̃ɔ̃ - - -

Nasal retroflex vowels are very rare (I only know of Kalash; UPSID has no examples) and I have never seen nasal tense vowels anywhere else, so I suspect that Tangut briefly developed them only to lose nearly all of them: e.g.,

*Cɯ-reNH > *2riẽʳ >  2riẽ (see the eleven tangraphs with this reading here)

*S-soN > *1sọ̃ > 1sọ 'three' (cf. Classical Tibetan gsum 'id.')

The few remaining nasal retroflex and tense vowels at the time of the Tangraphic Sea (the 11th century) might have been long gone when the last known Tangut inscription was made.

I can think of three sources for nasal vowels:

Onsets: 毛 *maw > 大埔元洲仔 Tai Po Yuen Chau Tsai mõ 'hair'

Medials: Latin bonum > Old Portuguese bõo > Portuguese bom [bõ] 'good'

Portuguese orthographic final -m is not a retention of Latin -m

Codas: 名 *meŋ > 大埔元洲仔 Tai Po Yuen Chau Tsai miã 'name'

Given that "the incidence of final nasal consonants is very low" (Bishop 1996), I suspect that Kensiu nasal vowels are from earlier nasal codas: e.g.,

*ʔɛtiNʔ > ʔɛtʔ 'to disobey'

However, I have yet to test that hypothesis with comparative data: i.e., look for cognates that have nasal codas corresponding to Kensiu nasal vowels.

*3.19.0:54: Two diphthongs (rhymes 104 and 105) were placed in a fourth cycle that I call 'extra'. Rhyme 104 (əũ) was only in Chinese loanwords and rhyme 105 (ya) has baffled me for years.

Tangut nasalized u-vowels may have been the first to lose their nasality; other vowels may have followed over the centuries. Words with rhyme 104 were borrowed after native *əũ was lost. KENSIU 2: AUTONYMS, ETHNONYMS, GLOSSONYMS

I'm going to carefully read Bishop (1996) to try to answer the questions I raised in my last post (which counts as "Kensiu 1"). I'll be posting my thoughts as I go along.

Let me start with the name of the language itself. Where does Kensiu (Kensiw) come from? It's not from its speakers' autonym Mani*. It doesn't seem to be either Thai** or Malay in origin. Is it a name from a third language: i.e., one spoken by some minority group near the Mani? Is it a Kensiu word, and if so, what does it mean?

*3.18.2:36: According to Bishop (1996: 233), the Kensiu word is maniʔ 'Negrito'. Hamilton (2003: 82) glossed it as 'human being'.

In Thai, the Mani are มันนิ <manni> manníʔ with an extra -n-. I am surprised the name was not borrowed as มานิ <māni> *maaníʔ  or มะนิ <mḥni> máníʔ. (I have assigned default tones to all of the above strings based on their segments and syllable structure. Loanwords may have irregular tones.)

I do not know if Kensiu word maniʔ contains two major syllables or a minor syllable followed by a major syllable.

**3.18.2:40: Thai กันซิว <kanziw> kansiw 'Kensiu' has an unexpected first vowel. (The <z> is needed for a mid tone in the second syllable.) I expected เก็นซิว <kĕnziw> kensiw or เกินซิว <kənziw> kənsiw since I do not know if the e in Malay Kensiu 'Kensiu' is [e] or [ə].

In Malaysia, Kensiu speakers are called Kensiu. Perhaps Kensiu (Kensiu kensiw?) is the ethnic group's original autonym which was abandoned by members in Thailand who adopted maniʔ as their autonym and only use kensiw as the name of their language.

If there is a Kensiu word kensiw, I do not know if it contains two major syllables or a minor syllable followed by a major syllable. THE AMBIG-/U/-ITY OF KENSIU MINOR SYLLABLES AND PRESYLLABLES

I briefly wrote about Kensiu last year and rediscovered it last week. David Boxenhorn (whose blog is active again!) asked me about the Aslian languages, so it might be time to look at Kensiu again.

If I knew nothing about Kensiu beyond its genetic affiliation, I would guess that it had a large vowel system like other Mon-Khmer languages. And if someone told me that it distinguished between minor syllables and presyllables (two terms that I thought were interchangeable until now), I would guess that

- its minor syllables had a subset of its large major syllable vowel inventory: e.g., /a i u/ (cf. the open presyllables of Pacoh)

- its presyllables had an even more limited set of vowels: e.g., /ə/ and syllabic sonorants (cf. the closed presyllables of Pacoh which only have schwa)

However, according to Bishop (1996),

- Kensiu major syllables have a primary system of 28 vowels (including two diphthongs)

- Kensiu minor syllables have a secondary system of four vowels: /ɪ e a u/

- Kensiu presyllables have a tertiary system of three vowels: /i ə u/

I am surprised becaues the secondary system (in yellow) is not symmetric, and the tertiary system (in purple) is a partial subset of the secondary system (i.e., both share /u/ [in pink]):

/i/ /ɨ/ /u/
/e/ /ə/ /o/

(I included two major syllable-only vowels in green. Kensiu has no /ɨ̞/, /ʊ/, /æ/, or /ɑ/.)

Was the secondary system originally symmetric: e.g., */ɪ e o ʊ/ with the back members respectively moving down and up to /a/ and /u/?

How can one distinguish between open minor syllables and presyllables with /u/? (/CuC/ would have to be a minior syllable because presyllables cannot be closed.) In other worse, is /Cu/ in /Cu.CV(C)/ a minor syllable or a presyllable? Unfortunately I haven't been able to find an example of such a word in Bishop's article.

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Tangut radical and Khitan fonts by Andrew West
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