Home TWO SIX-<T> (PART 2)

In part 1, I proposed that Khitan small script 260 character as a standalone word was a variant of <t>. Here are both instances of <t> as a standalone word.

1. 蕭仲恭 (preceded by a space after <ong> 'prince'; see Qidan xiaozi yanjiu, p. 616 for full context)

Line.block Khitan small script Transliteration Gloss QXY Frequency Notes
Written once in a Qingling mural caption (see below).

Short form of 'four' counting the following noun?

If this word were more frequent, I'd guess it was a demonstrative cognate to Mongolian tere 'that' - perhaps 'this' since Khitan 'that' was <qi>.

affair-PL or pig-PL
Related to Mongolian üile and Manchu weile ~ uile 'matter' and  Jurchen uliyan ~ u(l)giya and Manchu ulgiyan 'pig'.

Kane (2009: 106) reconstructed Khitan u(i)l though I know of no Khitan-internal evidence for a final -l. <ui> was used to transcribe Liao Chinese *-ui. Jurchen/Manchu may have borrowed from a relative of Khitan that retained an -l lost in Khitan itself.

Borrowing from Liao Chinese 州 *čəu.

20 including  ⿰ layout
Was stem simply c-, or was there an unwritten vowel: e.g., Kane's (2009) ci?

I am baffled by that line, and not just because meaning of the first word is unknown. I would expect a subject and/or object before <c.er>, but neither 'affairs/pigs' nor 'prefecture' make sense in those roles, and neither has the accusative suffix <er>.

2. Qingling mural caption (see Qidan xiaozi yanjiu, p. 618-619 for all captions)

Line.block Khitan small script Transliteration Gloss QXY Frequency Notes
Written once in isolation in 蕭仲恭 (see above).

Only written in isolation in Qingling mural captions.

Written once in isolation in 蕭仲恭 and twice in Qingling mural captions.

Only written in isolation in Qingling mural captions.

Although one might think that four-character caption was a four-word phrase, Khitan was not a language like Chinese or Tangut with a lot of monosyllabic words, and it is suspicious that the last three characters appear in isolation only in Qingling mural captions with a single exception. I think some of the captions were written in a style with less or no clustering. Hence the four characters above might represent a single word which would normally be written in a single block as


But without seeing the mural accompanying the caption, I cannot guess what the word might mean. No such word is in the lexicon of Qidan xiaozi yanjiu. TWO SIX-<T> (PART 1)

When I opened Kane (2009) at random on Tuesday, the entry for Khitan small script character 260

caught my eye. According to Kane (2009: 66), "[t]his graph is only found in

<260.ur> 'fourth'." (6.7.1:08: Kane 2009: 98 also defined this word as 'four'.)

However, I cannot find <260.ur> in the corpus of Khitan small script texts in Qidan xiaozi yanjiu (1985). Was that word discovered in a text found during the last thirty years? The only instance of 260 in that book is as an isolated word at the end of line 10 of 蕭仲恭 (see the whole context on p.599 of Qidan xiaozi yanjiu):

Line.block Khitan small script Transliteration Gloss QXY Frequency Notes

No similar-looking words known. <lí> is not a known suffix.

Genitive of a noun <j>? Is it possible for a genitive to precede a verb (cf. Japanese)? If Khitan is like Japanese, subjects of participles (nominalized verbs) can be in the genitive, but the next word looks like a finite verb.

End of sentence? Imperfective finite verb with zero ending? Other forms are <a.án.ún> (perfective participle), <a.án.úr> (?), and <a.án.er> (masculine perfective verb [but I would expect -ar, not -er] or accusative noun?).

6.7.0:47: Copula <a> with perfective participle suffix <án>? (But I wouldn't expect a copula to have a perfective form.)

Subject of following verb? See below.

End of sentence? Imperfective finite verb with zero ending? Other forms have participial suffixes: ś.en.ún (蕭令公 7.23) and ś.en.ń (興宗 30.13). Cannot be genitive of a noun <ś> since <ś> does not occur in isolation.

Start of a new sentence? Borrowing of Liao Chinese 儀 *ŋi 'etiquette' according to Qidan xiaozi yanjiu. In any case, initial <ng> is not in native Khitan words and indicates a Chinese loan.

Could 260 be a variant of the word


which appears elsewhere in the same inscription (46.13) and in a Qingling mural caption (XII.1)? I'll look at those passages in part 2. IREH-TURN

It has been seven days since I last blogged. By coincidence, I recently learned about a Korean restaurant named Ireh whose name sounds like Korean 이레 ire 'seven days' but is actually from Hebrew יִרְאֶה yirʔe. That got me thinking about Korean terms for amounts of days. They have puzzled me since I first learned 하루 haru 'one day' a quarter century ago. Nearly all of them are obviously related to the cardinal numerals, but the details of their derivations are unclear. (Korean forms in bold violate vowel harmony*.)

Numeral Cardinal Amount of days Type
Late Middle Korean Modern Korean Late Middle Korean Modern Korean
one hʌnah hana hʌrʌ haru A (B3?)
two turh tul ithɯr ithŭl B1
three səyh set saʌr sahŭl B2 > B1
four nəyh net naʌr nahŭl
five tasʌs tasŏt tassway tatsae C1
six yəsɯs yŏsŏt yəssway yŏtsae
seven nirkup ilgop nirɣwəy ire C2
eight yətɯrp yŏdŏl yətʌray yŏdŭre C3
nine ahop ahop ahʌray ahŭre
ten yərh yŏl yərhɯr yŏrhŭl B1

Here is my quick attempt to explain the words for counting days:

One day: I used to assume hʌrʌ was sui generis. Hence it's the only type A day-counting word. But I could follow Lee and Ramsey (2011: 176), regard it as a type B word (an *-r-dropping third subtype?), and derive it from *hʌt- 'one' and -ʌr 'day'.

The *-t- was reflected in the Old Korean spelling 一等 <ONE.təŋˀ> and foreign transcriptions of Middle Korean (Middle Japanese katana and Song Chinese 河屯 *xɔtʰun for *hʌt-ʌn 'one'). The *-t- lenited to *-r- in intervocalic position, and the final *-r was lost due to dissimilation (?):

*hʌt-ʌr > *hʌrʌr > hʌrʌ

Later ʌ developed in two different ways, becoming a in the first syllable and u in the second syllable. (The first shift is regular; the second is not. ʌ in noninitial syllables normally becomes ŭ. However, native nouns rarely end in -ŭ, so perhaps ʌ rounded in hʌro [正俗諺解, 1518] and haru to avoid becoming -ŭ.)

Lee and Ramsey (2011: 74) regarded -ʌr 'day' and its yin variant -ɯr (see below) as reduced forms of ir 'day', but that Sino-Korean borrowing was zir in Late Middle Korean. So I think -ʌr and -ɯr are native bound morphemes rather than alterations of a borrowing. The native free morpheme was nar (cf. Khitan naiir 'day').

Two days: The bound morpheme ith- is also in ithʌy 'two years' (cf. hʌy 'year'). -ɯr is the yin variant of the 'day' suffix.

Three and four days: The Old Japanese plant name sakikusa 'three grasses' contains a bound morpheme saki- that is a loan from some Koreanic language. Perhaps the first vowel of Old Korean *saki raised to harmonize with the second vowel:

*sak-i > *səki > *səhi > səyh

'Four' may have gone through similar changes, though there is no loan in Japanese confirming *naki:

*nak-i > *nəki > *nəhi > nəyh

The original roots of 'three' and 'four' may have ended in -k like the modern bound forms sŏk- and nŏk- used in counting.

The yang variant of the 'day' suffix had a low vowel which did not condition raising:

*sak-ʌr > *saɣʌr > saʌr
*nak-ʌr > *naɣʌr > naʌr

The monosyllabic forms *sak and *nak became sək and nək by analogy with the free forms. The rising tones of the short forms might also be by analogy with the free forms from disyllabic *sàk-í and *nàk-í with low-high tone sequences.

The -h- of the modern forms is either an alternate reflex of *-ɣ- or by analogy with ithŭl 'two days' and yŏrhŭl 'ten days'.

Five and six days: C-type words contain a suffix -əy (yin)/-ay (yang). Could this be the locative suffix? Did 'in five' come to mean 'five days'?

tass- and yəss- are shortened forms of tasʌs 'five' and yəsɯs 'six'. So why aren't the words for 'five days' and 'six days' *tassay and *yəssəy? Why do they have an intrusive -w-, and why does 'six days' combine a yin stem yəss- with a yang suffix -ay?

I think the -w- is by analogy with 'seven days' (see below).

I reconstruct an earlier yang vowel *e as the source of some yə. Perhaps 'six' was originally *esɯs before Korean developed vowel harmony and broke *e to yə. If vowel harmony developed before breaking, *ess-(w)ay would have been harmonic until yang *e became yin yə.

Seven days: I used to think that ire was from 'seven' reduced to its first syllable plus -e. But now I think nirɣw- is a reduction of an earlier *nirkup:

*nirkup-əy > *nirkubəy > *nirkuβəy > *nirɣβəy > nirɣwəy

The stem-final -w was reanalyzed as the beginning of a suffix -wəy, and it spread to 'five days' and 'six days' (see above).

Eight days: The ʌ of Cheju yʌdəp 'eight' and the yang vowels of the second and third syllables of yətʌray lead me to reconstruct *yʌtʌrp 'eight'. *yʌ became in the prestige dialect of Late Middle Korean. I would expect Late Middle Korean *yətʌrpay or *yətʌrβay, but the actual form is yətʌray. Perhaps *-rβ- was simplified to -r-.

Nine days: The ʌ of ahʌray is a reduction of o. I would expect *ahʌpay or *ahʌβay, but there is no trace of *-p in the actual form. Perhaps -ray is by analogy with yətʌray 'eight days'.

Ten days: yərhɯr is a straightforward combination of yərh 'ten' and -ɯr 'day'. Both have yin vowels, so there is no need to explain a lack of vowel harmony by positing an earlier yang *e in the root.

*6.6.21:24: Korean vowel harmony classes:

Yin/higher i ə/ŏ ɯ/ŭ u
Yang/lower (*e) a ʌ/- o

*e is a hypothetical earlier vowel that became a that may still co-occur with yang vowels.

Late Middle Korean vowels are on the left side of slashes when I write them differently from modern Korean vowels on the right.

The yang vowel ʌ has no single modern equivalent in the standard language; as explained above, it normally became the yang vowel a in the first syllable and the yin vowel ŭ in the second syllable. There are also cases of ʌ becoming ŏ, o, and u:

pʌrssyə > pŏlssŏ 'already'

sʌmay > somae 'sleeve'

kaβʌntʌy > kaunde 'middle'

The last change occurs after word-medial labials; contrast 'middle' with mʌr > mal 'horse' whose labial is word-initial.

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