4859 2to1 'to end'

is a relatively simple character that was supposedly derived from more complex characters according to Combined Homophones and Tangraphic Sea 6.231:


0117 2705 5712 0737

2thew1 2ber'4 1jwa3 1chhen3

'(first half of 'finally'?) right to.end bottom'

But surely 0117 and 5712 were derived from 4859 rather than the other way around.

0117 is a particularly odd 'source' as


0117.0048 2thew1 2thwu4 'finally' (?)

is a disyllabic word apparently only in dictionaries. Does it belong to the 'ritual language' (which I think was a substratal language)? It looks like a reduplicative form.

1.19: Li Fanwen (2008: 20) even phonetically glossed 0117.0048 in Chinese as 都都 dudu as if it were a perfect reduplication, though it wasn't; there is no doubt that its two syllables belong to different rhyme categories (2.38 and 2.3). If the word is of native origin or was borrowed very early, it could be mechanically derived from *tʰopH.Pɯ.tʰoH:

*-op > -ew1 (but -ew1 also has other sources; see below)

*-H > tone 2-

*Pɯ- > -w-...4

*-o > -u

Could 2thew1 2thwu4 be a borrowing of something like *tʰop(p)ɯtʰoH? Could a single medial *-p- be the source of both final -w and medial -w-? Could tone 2 have spread from the second syllable? Or was the original medial consonant an aspirated *-pʰ- that was the source of (1) final -w and tone 2 of the first syllable and (2) medial -w- of the second syllable?

One problem with the above scenario is that both halves of 2thew1 2thwu4 are attested apart from each other in the definition for 5712 (Mixed Categories of the Tangraphic Sea 7.133):


5712 3583 4859 5712 0117 5285 ... 0048 5285

1jwa3 1ta4 2to1 1jwa3 2thew1 1ly3 ... 2thwu4 1ly3

'5712 is [as in] 4859 5712 0117 ... is 0048.'

Li Fanwen (2008: 20) translated that definition as 畢者終、竟、畢也...終也 'finish is end, finally, finish, ... is end', interpreting


4859 5712 0117

2to1 1jwa3 2thew1

as separate glosses. However, if that were the author's intent, he could have broken up the three syllables with the phrase-final particle 5285:


5712 3583 4859 5285 5712 5285 0117 5285

1jwa3 1ta4 2to1 1ly3 1jwa3 1ly3 2thew1 1ly3

'5712 is 4859, is 5712, is 0117.' = 畢者終也、竟也、畢也

Although 4859 5712 0117 could be a string of three words (there is no Tangut word for 'and'), I tentatively assume that


4859 5712 0117

2to1 1jwa3 2thew1

is a trisyllabic word ending in a bound morpheme 0117. In any case, 0117 and 0048 are in two separate parts of the definition of 5712 and therefore are probably not borrowed from a single disyllabic word, though it is hypothetically possible for an original disyllabic word to be later reanalyzed as a sequence of two morphemes: cf. Late Old Chinese 獅子*ʂitsəʔ 'lion' (from a form like Tocharian B ṣecake) later reanalyzed as 'lion' + noun suffix.

I thought 0117 2thew1 might be a reduplication of 4859 2to1 in an X Y X' pattern, but they can't be terribly close in pre-Tangut,


4859 5712 0117

2to1 1jwa3 2thew1< *tokH PɯNCaC KtopH?

and it would be weird for X' in such a pattern to then combine with an X'' in another word - namely,


0117.0048 2thew1 2thwu4 < *KtopH Pɯ.KtoH?

Could 4859, 0117, and 0048 share a root *to? Here is a list of possible reconstructions for each morpheme:

4859 2to1 < *taŋH, *tokH, *tojH?

*taŋH resembles Old Chinese 終 *tuŋ 'end', but the vowels don't match.

0117 2thew1 < *tʰopH, *Cʌ.tʰukH, *Cʌ.tʰikH

or *KtopH, *Kʌ.tukH, *Kʌ.tikH?

The *top-like reconstructions resemble Proto-Kuki-Chin *toop 'end', but it's unlikely a o

I reconstruct lower-vowel presyllables *Cʌ- and *Kʌ- to condition Grade I in the higher-vowel rhymes *-ukH and *-ikH; without such presyllables, those rhymes would have retained vowel height and developed into Grade IV -iw rather than Grade I -ew.

If aspiration is not original, then it is from *K-.

0048 2thwu4 < *Pɯ.tʰoH, *PtʰəH, *Pɯ.KtoH, *PKtəH, *Kɯ.PtoH, *KPtəH?

I assume medial -w- is always secondary from *P-, but I could be wrong.

I reconstruct higher-vowel presyllables to condition Grade IV in the lower-vowel rhyme *-oH.

If aspiration is secondary, then it is from *K-, and the order of this *K- relative to *P- is uncertain.

Out of all the above possibilities, I could pick a set sharing *to as a common denominator and then regard the other elements as affixes:

4859 2to1 < *to-k-H, *to-j-H?

0117 2thew1 < *K-to-p-H?

0048 2thwu4 < *Pɯ-K-to-H, *Kɯ-P-to-H?

But what would those affixes mean? And are there any other alternations of the type -u ~ -ew justifying the reconstruction of an earlier alternation *-Ø ~ *-p?

Putting diachrony aside, the synchronic meanings of 0117 and 0048 are uncertain:

Li Fanwen number
Clauson 2016
Nishida 1966
Grinstead 1972
Kychanov and Arakawa 2006
Li Fanwen 2008
遇い終わる 'to finish meeting'
заканчивать, завершать
finish, end
約束, 完結, 終
completely, finally
完 (adv.)
會見を終わる 'to end a meeting'?
約束, 終
at last, in the end
終 (adv.)

(no polysyllabic words)
заканчивать, завершать finish, end
約束, 完結, 終了, 做完
完畢, 終畢

(1.29.1:27: Filled in Nishida column. 0117 does not have its own entry in Nishida 1966, but its meaning is given in the entry for 0048.)

I think the definitions in modern (i.e., post-Clauson) dictionaries are speculative. Not entirely groundless - the fact 0117, 0048, and 0117-0048 appear in definitions for 'end'-words indicates that they mean something like 'end'. But 'something like' is not the same thing as certainty that they are verbs (according to Kychanov and Arakawa) or adverbs (according to Li Fanwen). It is, however, more than a simple question mark indicating we have no idea what something means.

1.24.16:01: A future Tangut dictionary could distinguish between three categories of words:

1. words whose meanings can be confirmed from context

2. words whose general semantic domain can be determined from dictionary entries

3. words whose meanings are unknown

0117, 0048, and 0017-0048 fall into the middle category. Strictly speaking, 0117 may not even be a word; it  may be a bound morpheme.

A distinction between bound and free morphemes would also be a useful feature of a future Tangut dictionary. Current dictionaries are character-based, and all characters are given definitions, even though not all characters represent free morphemes. Users unfamiliar with Tangut cannot easily determine whether a given nontranscription character represents a word (i.e., a free morpheme) or only part of a word. (Transcription characters are indicated as such and by definition represent sounds, not words.)

To come: Is 0099 another member of the 'final' family? WHAT'S SO MATERNAL ABOUT BROTHERS?

Could character structure elucidate the meaning of


0012.5873 1bu3.2kuq1

which Li Fanwen (2008: 3, 926) defined as 'brothers'?

The first character 0012 has this analysis in Tangraphic Sea 1.7.131:


0092 2750 5415 1602

1ma4 1ghu2 1bu3 2ngorn1

'mother head <bu> all' = top of 'mother' plus all of the homophonous phonetic <bu>

(I use < > to indicate that <bu> is a transliteration - only a loose phonetic approximation and not IPA.)

Of course brothers are born from mothers. But so are sisters. Why not abbreviate 'man' or, better yet, one of these more common characters to create 0012?


2447 0605

2lo3 2toq4

'elder.brother younger.brother'

Could 1bu3.2kuq1 have referred to brothers sharing a mother?

1.18.19:33: But if that was the case, why isn't the top of 'mother' also in 5873? Disyllabic words written with characters sharing the same component are common in both Chinese and Tangut?

Combined Homophones and Tangraphic Sea A 7.203 analyzed 5873 as


5876 3936 5307 2705

2kuq1 1pha1 1ghwi2 2ber'4

'<ku> left power right' = left of the phonetic <ku> + right of 'power'

5876 2kuq1 means 'to tie', so its meaning may also be relevant. Could 0012.5873 be interpreted as


'mother' + <bu> + <ku>/'tie' + 'power'

i.e., powerful (people) with maternal ties called <bu.ku>? Why 'powerful'? Could the right-hand component just signify 'person': 'people with maternal ties called <bu.ku>'? That component appears in three of the characters for m-'people' words. However, I assumed it was self-promoting in the autonyms

𗼇 ~ 𗼎𗾧

2344 2mi4 ~ 3752 3296 2my4 2na4 'Tangut'

since it means 聖 'sage' by itself and corresponds to Sanskrit ārya 'noble' (Clauson 2016: 339). It doesn't seem to have such a function in the character


for the presumably neutral word 0607 1myr4 'people, clan'. Maybe the common denominator of 5873, 2344, 3296, and 0607 is 'kinsman' which would explain why the component



without implications of kinship was not used in 5873.

That component does, however, appear in


2447 2lo3 'elder.brother'

but not


0605 2toq4 'younger.brother'

which has a different component


of unknown origin and function.

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