Almost two weeks ago, I realized that

1483 2ne4 'compassion'

in the Tangut text

3457 0478 1483 2323 5404 4625 5302 1siw4 1sho'3 2ne4 1vy1 1la1 2me'4 0L?

'new collect compassion piety record final volume'

sounds almost exactly like

2518 2ne'4 'heart' (Tibetan transcriptions from Tai 2008: 215: gne x 4, ne x 1, nye x 1, gnyeH x 1)

The only difference between the two is the presence of the unknown phonetic quality 'prime' (transcribed as -') in 'heart'.

Are the two words are related? In other words, did they have similar forms in pre-Tangut?

Before I can answer those questions, I should survey the phonetic details of 'heart' in Tangut:

- According to Arakawa's hypothesis, Tibetan preinitial g- indicates tone 1, but 'heart' has tone 2

- For twenty years I have suspected, contra everyone else, that the Tibetan preinitials might be taken literally rather than as orthographic devices for tones. Could the transcribed dialect preserve a preinitial *k- (written as g- following Tibetan spelling conventions; kn- is un-Tibetan) lost in standard Tangut? Perhaps preinitials in the transcribed dialect normally corresponded to tone 1 in standard Tangut, but 'heart' developed tone 2 in standard Tangut because it had lost its preinitial before tonogenesis.

- If Tangut grades were like Chinese grades as I interpret them, Grade IV was the most palatal. But exactly how this palatality was expressed is unclear. Did Tibetan nye ~ ne transcribe [ɲe], [nʲe], [nie], etc.?

- What Tangut sound did Tibetan final -H transcribe? The mysterious 'prime'?

On to pre-Tangut:

-e'4 with 'prime' has six sources:

*Cɯ-...-aŋX, *Cɯ-...-eŋX, *Cɯ-...-enX

*(Cɯ-)...-jaŋX, *(Cɯ-)...-jeŋX, *(Cɯ-)...-jenX

-e4 without 'prime' has only two sources (and yet is more common!):

*Cɯ-...-aŋ and *(Cɯ-)...-jaŋ

I no longer think *Cɯ-...-an(X) is a source of -e(')4.

- Exterior cognates of 'heart' point to a front vowel and *-ŋ e.g., Tibetan snying.

- But they also point to *s- and not *k-.

- STEDT's Proto-Tibeto-Burman roots #251, #689, and #1385 have *s/k-, but the data on the site don't seem to support *k-.

- And if pre-Tangut had *s- in 'heart', that consonant would condition tension absent from 2ne'4 (i.e.., 'heart' would be *2neq4).

Taking all of the above into account, the pre-Tangut word for 'heart' was

*kɯ-neŋXH or *k(ɯ)-njeŋXH

with a front vowel like Tibetan snying. (*-H conditioned tone 2.)

But 'conscience' could not be

*kɯ-neŋH or *k(ɯ)-njeŋH

because those forms would have developed into *2ni4, not 2ne4. (Whatever *X was blocked the raising of *e in *eŋX.)

Moreover, it is improbable that a nonbasic word 'conscience' would be derived from a basic word 'heart' via subtraction.

It is more probable that 'conscience' is an unrelated word with a different rhyme 

*Cɯ-naŋX or *(Cɯ)-njaŋX

that came to sound like 'heart'.

Tangut fonts by Mojikyo.org
Tangut radical and Khitan fonts by Andrew West
Jurchen font by Jason Glavy
All other content copyright © 2002-2015 Amritavision