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20.1.4.23:54: YELLOW PIG 12/10

songgiyan uliya aniya

juwa juwe biya ice juwa inenggi

'yellow pig year, ten two month, new ten day'

1. Why was δρόμων 'dromon' borrowed as dromond in Middle English and as dromont in Old French if its stem ends in -n (the ge`nitive singular is δρόμωνος, not δρόμωντος)?

2. I have no idea what to make of this mirror thought to have a "high probability" of being one of the hundred mirrors given to 卑彌呼 Himiko by the 魏 Wei emperor in China. I know nothing about archaeology, and even if I knew something ... this whole blog exemplifies the danger of knowing a little about something.

The mirror has the inscription 長冝□孫. The missing third character is thought to be 子. The 「中國古鏡の研究」班 Ancient Chinese Mirror Study Group (2012) translates that phrase in other mirrors as

長く子孫に宜しく

naga-ku shison ni yoroshiku

long-ADV descendants DAT good

'[may one be] long suitable for descendants'

i.e., 'may one have descendants for a long time'?

3. While looking for common kanji pronounced so in Wikipedia's list of jōyo kanji last night, I was a bit surprised to find 塑 <MODEL> which isn't that common (though it's not rare either). Here are its Shpika stats:

塑 is well below the cutoff point of #2000 that I'd suggest for required (i.e., jōyō 'common use') kanji. I'm not surprised that Gakken's A New Dictionary of Kanji Usage (1982) lists it among infrequent 47 jōyō kanji without their own entries. (Below those 47 is a list of the 102 kanji that weren't in the 1981 jōyō list but were frequent enough to have their own entries.)

塑 turns out to be a carryover from the 1946 当用漢字 tōyō 'current use' kanji list.

I just discovered Jun Da's hanzi frequency site has a single-character search feature (but there are no rankings in the results). So I have to look for characters in each list to find its ranking: e.g., 塑 is #2038 in the modern list (really?).

1.5.1:33: 塑 is not in any of the 15,000 most common Japanese words on this page.

1.5.1:45: 塑 is in just one word in this list of 45,000 Japanese words ordered by frequency: 可塑 kaso (#42,376).

1.5.10:59: The top 塑 word in this list of 2,610,776 Japanese 'words' (including a lot of 'noise' toward the end) is 可塑 kaso (#37,425).

デジタル大辞泉 Digital Daijisen defines 可塑 kaso as

思うように物の形をつくれること。塑造ができること。

'The ability to make the shape of a thing in the manner one thinks. The ability to mold [塑造 sozō 'model-make'.'

Google and Weblio searches show that 塑造 is almost always accompanied by another morpheme. No wonder my Kadokawa pocket monolingual dictionary doesn't have an entry for it (but does have an entry for suffixed 可塑性 kasosei 'plasticity'). I assume the frequency lists contain 可塑 kaso because it was stripped of common affixes like -性 -sei '-ity'.

This medical article has a lot of 可塑 kaso by itself: e.g., in the title of the site

加齢:適応と可塑

Karei: tekiō to kaso

'Aging: Adaptation and Plasticity'

and in lines like

[...] 神経細胞は [...] 可塑の強い細胞です。

[...] shinkei saibō wa [...] kaso no tsuyoi saibō desu.

nervous-system cell TOP [...] can.model ATTR strong cell be.

'neurons .... are high in plasticity.'

But I would be hesitant to use kaso by itself.

1.5.12:18: The fact that asahi.com sometimes supplies a hiragana reading of 可塑 as a root of other words in parentheses  (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) tells me that not all writers expect readers to recognize 塑 so even though in theory all school graduates should know it. (The readings of 可 ka and affixes like -性 -sei are trivial; only the youngest children would not know them.)

4. I was surprised to see unpaired single quotation marks before the foreign names in a Japanese trailer for Message from Space (1978):

Once as a typo, maybe, but twice?

5. I like the orthographic notes at the top of the Wikisource edition of the Japanese constitution.


20.1.3.23:53: YELLOW PIG 12/9

songgiyan uliya aniya

juwa emu biya ice uyewun inenggi

'yellow pig year, ten two month, new nine day'

Last week I thought I had saved my 12.26 entry, but it was gone when I opened it, so I had to recreate it.

Tonight I discovered that half my 1.2 entry was gone when I opened it, so I'll recreate the second half later.

I thought I was constantly pressing the save button in KompoZer on 12.26 and 1.2, but either I wasn't or the button doesn't work. I'm guessing the latter, because when I closed KompoZer, I didn't get the "Save changes ... before closing" message that I get when I exit without saving. Now I'm checking to see if the latest version is in the directory after saving it. Tedious.

I've never had this problem before, possibly because in the old days I uploaded entries right after finishing them, whereas lately I've been uploading them in batches. And to upload an entry I would have to have that entry saved.

My power is out, so I can't get online to access the links I need to finish this entry. Maybe tomorrow. No, tonight - the power came back on after an hour. Here goes ...

1a. The Albanian Caucasian alphabet credited to Mesrop Mashtots (better known as the creator of the Armenian alphabet) doesn't look much like Greek, but I assume it is derived from Greek. Its ABG order certainly is. Is the order taken from this 15th century manuscript?

The Albanian Caucasian letter 'bet' (see the whole chart here) resembles Cyrillic Б, at least in its modern form. Cyrillic was created centuries after the Albanian Caucasian alphabet in the fifth century. Was there a Б-shaped variant of beta in Greek as written in the fifth century? Wikipedia likens fourth and fifth century Greek 'b-d uncial' to 'half-uncial' in which Latin

⟨b⟩ and ⟨d⟩ have vertical stems, identical to the modern letters

Was Greek b-d uncial beta like Б? I haven't been able to find an image.

Don't let 'bet' get your hopes up - Τ-like Caucasian Albanian letters are 'lyit' and 'cayn'. And what looks like Σ is 'kar'. I'd like to see derivations for eachCaucasian Albanian letter.

I know most scripts only through their modern typeset forms. (I can't even read Fraktur or Sütterlin - the latter said to have been "taught in some German schools until the 1970s, but no longer as the primary script"!) So seeing Greek minuscule was a revelation.

1b. How would Korean speakers perceive the lenis and fortis consonants of Udi? Do they sound like Korean plain and reinforced consonants? What is the origin of the two series in Udi?

1c. This 90s alphabet for Udi is a Latin/Cyrillic hybrid. I assume vowel-hard sign digraphs like iъ represent pharyngealized vowels. I wish I had a key.

2. Having mentioned Fraktur, here are my first glimpses of

3. Kyrgyz' 'left-right' vowel system looks like a height -based system. Kirchner (1998: 346) explains that Kyrgyz has

a low archiphoneme /A/, represented by /a/, /e/, /o/, /ö/, and a high /I/, represented by /ï/, /i/, /u/, /ü/. The choice of the representatives is determined by features of the preceding syllable, e.g.

I wonder if the low *A and high *I that I reconstruct for Early Old Chinese and pre-Tangut presyllables harmonized with nonheight attributes of main syllables. If so, then harmony worked in both directions! In the scenario below, Early Old Chinese has nonheight attribute harmony for presyllabic vowels, whereas Middle Old Chinese has partial height harmony for main syllable vowels.

sinograph
gloss
Early Old Chinese
Middle Old Chinese
Late Old Chinese
phonemics
phonetics

move
*/CApan/
[Capan]
*Capan
*pan

fragrant
*/CAPit/
[CePit]
*CePeit
*bet

precious thing
*/CApuʔ/ [Copuʔ]
*Copo
*pauʔ

collapse
*/CApəŋ/ [Capəŋ]
*Capaəŋ *pəŋ

house wall
*/CApek/ [Cepek]
*Cepek
*pek

neck
*/kAdoks/ [kodoks]
*kodoh
*doh

patch
*/CIpaʔ/ [Cɨpaʔ] *Cɨpɨ *pɨaʔ

smell (v.t.)
*/CIbits/ [Cibits]
*Cibis
*bis

boil (v.)
*/NIputs/ [Nuputs]
*Nupus
*pus

ear
*/CInəʔ/ [Cɨnəʔ] *Cɨnɨəʔ *ɲɨəʔ

low
*/CIpe/ [Cipe]
*Cipie
*pie
ornate
*/CIpors/ [Cupors]
*Cupuorh
*puojh

(1.4.22:24: Added Late Old Chinese. Changed *b in Early and Middle Old Chinese 'fragrant' to *P since Late Old Chinese *b may either be from an original *-b- or a compression of *Nep- > *Np- > *mp- > *mb- > *b-.)

(1.5.20:35: Shortly after finishing this post, I realized that perhaps labiovelars conditioned rounded allophones of *A and *I: e.g.,

I forgot about labiouvulars until now:

Last night I wondered if labials might have had the same effect: e.g.,

Could there have been a simple rule to copy the presyllabic vowel in the main syllable?

I used to reconstruct a rounding of after labials between Late Old Chinese and Early Middle Chinese:

But maybe now I don't have to bother.)

4. Tonight it occurred to me that the Jurchen phonogram

<ma> (left to right: variants from the 大金得勝陀頌碑 Great Jin Victory Hill stele [1185], the Berlin copy of the Bureau of Translators vocabulary, and the form written by 山路廣明 Yamaji Hiroaki - is that last variant just an artifact of his handwriting, or is it in orignal Jurchen texts?)

might originate from a graph for <HEAD> in a pre-Jurchen (Parhae?) script, as its Chinese near-lookalike 元 <ORIGIN> is two lines (二) representing a head atop two legs (儿). If so, its reading might be derived from a Koreanic word cognate to early Korean *məti 'head'. But ... if that were the case, why isn't the Jurchen graph read me [mə]?

The same vocalic mismatch problem arises if I claim that the Jurchen reading ma is derived from a peninsular para-Japonic reading cognate to Old Japanese mətə 'origin'.

Moreover, neither the Koreanic nor para-Japonic hypotheses account for the absence of a second syllable in the Jurchen reading. A highly speculative workaround: the Koreanic or para-Japonic source reading was something like *mət with apocope, and the character was used to write a Jurchen open syllable since native Jurchen words could not end in -t. That still doesn't solve the vocalic mismatch problem, though.

A really crazy hypothesis: what if the reading ma is Chinese in origin?

1.5.22:45: Let's see if I can make the ma-hypothesis 'work' (note the scare quotes). When a crazy idea occurs to me, I like to follow it through to see just how much absurdity results before I give it up.

元 can be reconstructed with *ŋ- in Old Chinese. That nasal might come from an even earlier cluster, but there is almost no support for a cluster within Chinese except for the fact that 元 is phonetic in 院 'courtyard wall' which has been reconstructed with *w- (Schuessler 2007: 593) or *ɢʷ- (Baxter and Sagart 2014). I reconstruct *I-presyllables in both words to account for their later vocalism:

元 fused its presyllable with the initial, whereas 院 lost its presyllable (which could have been *mI- like that of 元).

Suppose *mɢʷɨan was reduced to something like *mɨan in some northeastern Chinese dialect. (But there is no evidence for that ever happening! Nor are there any other known cases of *mɢʷ- becoming *m-.)

What if a 元-like graph pronounced *mɨan served as a phonogram for ma in some precursor of the Jurchen script: e.g., the Parhae script?

The use of a Chinese *mɨan-graph as a phonogram for a foreign ma is parallel to the use of 萬 Early Middle Chinese *mua̤n < Old Chinese *mɨanh as a phonogram for Old Japanese ma. 

5. Why is <CURSE> read as ju in Japanese? Theoretically it should be shu (from Early Middle Chinese *ɕṳ) or shū < *siu (from Late Middle Chinese *ɕìw) and there is no ju-character that would serve as an analogical model. The most common character with the same phonetic is 祝 shuku (not juku).

呪 <CURSE> wasn't in the Japanese required character list until 2010, but I learned it anyway in third grade from exposure. I assum most Japanese students encounter characters long before they are formally taught them in school.

The second half of the synonym compound 呪詛 <CURSE CURSE> juso 'curse' still isn't in the required list, but people can easily read 詛 since it shares a so-phonetic with required character that are all read so: 狙阻祖租粗組.


20.1.2.20:45: YELLOW PIG 12/8

Yesterday was yellow pig 12/7 despite the title of yesterday's post.

I'm going back to putting the Jurchen date at the top.

songgiyan uliya aniya

juwa juwe biya ice jakun inenggi

'yellow pig year, ten two month, new eight day'

From on I'm going to split the date on two lines to display better in my browser.

1. I had meant to start the year by announcing that I had uploaded a week of posts (19.12.26-20.1.1) but my blog was down, so I didn't get around to uploading the posts until after I got my blog running again today. The posts should be on my front page for at least a month if not longer depending on when I decide to start deleting the oldest posts again.

2. Today while copying the Bureau of Translators Jurchen vocabulary, I came across the word

for 'sparrow-GEN' transcribed in Ming Mandarin as 失赤黑 *ʂi tʂʰi xəj.

In the Bureau of Interpreters vocabulary, the word appears solely in Ming Mandarin transcription as

舍徹 *ʂɛ tʂʰɛ

Kane interprets that as sece(he) (why not she-?). My guess is shec(ih)e.

One might expect the standard Manchu cognate of those words to be sicihe or shecihe, but the actual word is ... cecike.

Kane (1989: 115) gives other examples of J s(h) : M c and J h : M k:

I would add cases like

in which the Chinese transcription might not indicate a Jurchen -h-.

Those correspondences deserve further study. All I can say for now is that


20.1.1.23:56: HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020

It's still the year of the pig in traditional East Asian calendars, but it's the year of the rat (2020) if one coordinates the Chinese animal cycle with the Gregorian calendar:


Last night I realized that Khitan small script character 216 might be a derivative of 118 <qu>:

<?

Let's assume 216 was <qu*> with <*> indicating 'different from <qu> in some way'. Then

<216.151> 'rat'

would be read <qu*ghu> which is close to Written Mongol qulughana 'rat'.

What if <qu*> were <qul>? <qul.ghu> is close to qulughana, but I wouldn't expect Khitan u to correspond to Written Mongol a.

That's where I left off last night. Today I realized that <ghu> might be read <ugh> after a consonant. So maybe <216.151> was read <qul.ugh> which is even closer to Written Mongol qulughana and requires no vocalic gymnastics.

The low frequency of 216 (7 times in the 契丹小字研究 Qidan xiaozi yanjiu corpus and 0 times in initial position in Wu and Janhunen 2011 [whose index is organized by initial graphs]) suggests that it probably did not represent a simple CV syllable. If it didn't represent the CVC syllable qul, it may have represented a CVCV sequence qulu, and <qulu.ugh> was read qulugh.

The <qul(u)> hypothesis could be confirmed if 216 alternated with <qu.l>, <qu.ul> (= <qu.lu>?), etc.

As far as I know, 216 appears only in initial position with one exception: this block


<119.216> <dau.?>

from line 3 of the second inscription in the 萬部華嚴經塔 Wanbu Avataṁsakasūtra Pagoda in Hohhot.

2. I still practice writing Tangut, Khitan, and Jurchen (TJK) every day. Recently I added Manchu to my regimen and today I started writing Mongolian (in the traditional script - I still don't know how to handwrite Ө and Ү in Cyrillic).

All my TJK exercises begin with the date. I'm still going to date these blog entries in Jurchen since it's the thousandth anniversary of the Jurchen large script or close to it (see Kiyose [1977: 22] for three possible dates: 1119, 1121, and 1123; Kane [1989: 3] gives the date 1120, though Kane [2009: 3] gives the date 1119). Today's date in Jurchen is:

songgiyan uliya aniya juwa juwe biya ice nadan inenggi

'yellow pig year, ten one month, new seven day'.

3. Last night I learned about prothesis in Bashkir:

The prothesis is mostly unsurprising, but these correspondences are:

1.2.11:00: I forgot to mention these cases of prothesis in native words:

Without more Bashkir data, I can't test my guesses for motivations: e.g., avoiding initial l- and making monosyllables disyllabic.

The Bashkir letter ҡ <q> surprised me since I'm accustomed to қ <q> from Kazakh, etc. Why do Bashkir and Siberian Tatar have their own special ҡ <q>? Siberian Tatars were educated in (Volga) Tatar which has к <k> for /k/ (including a [q] allophone) and  къ <k"> for /q/.

4. Today I learned about the Caucasian Albanian script used to write a (near?-)ancestor of the Udi language.

I've thought Old Chinese might have had pharyngealized vowels, so I'm interested in the phonetics of Udi's pharyngealized vowels.

5. What is the etymology of Persian شمشیر <šmšyr> shamshir, first (?) attested in Middle Persian as <šmšyl>? It doesn't look Indo-European. Is it an areal word?

6. Why does the Persian word/name فرشته <frsth> fereshte < firishta sometimes appear as Farishta(h), e.g., in this 1958 Bollywood film title (फरिश्ता Phraiśtā; cf. Urdu فرشته Firishta) and this list of Pashto (not Persian, I know) names?


19.12.31.23:56: YELLOW PIG 12/6

songgiyan uliya aniya juwa juwe biya ice ninggu inenggi

'yellow pig year, ten one month, new six day'

1. Last night I looked up 'hip bone' and discovered it could also be called the innominate bone. Why 'nameless'?

2. Are 清樂 Shingaku 'Qing music' lyrics an overlooked source of data for premodern Mandarin reconstruction? In this sample from 月琴樂譜  Gekkin gakufu (Moon Guitar Sheet Music, 1877), 兒 (now ér [aɚ˧˥] in modern standard Mandarin) has the furigana ルウ <ruu>. That seems to indicate that the kana transcription is based on a dialect in which 兒 was pronounced like [ɻ̩]. (Other evidence rules out the most obvious interpretation [ruː]: e.g., no Mandarin dialect has [u] in 兒.)

The date of the text does not necessarily indicate that the [ɻ̩] pronunciation still existed in the source dialect as of 1878. The kana spelling ルウ <ruu> could have been copied from some earlier source.

ルウ <ruu> bears no resemblance to ジ <zi> [dʑi], the usual Japanese reading of 兒. Strictly speaking, the two Japanese borrowings are not from the same dialect in two different periods: <zi> is from a 7th century northwestern Chinese dialect, whereas <ruu> is from a Qing (perhaps 18th century?) Mandarin dialect. Nonetheless the latter probably underwent more or less the same changes as the former, so as a convenient fiction, here's how the sources of <zi> and <ruu> could be bridged:

Modern standard [aɚ] is from a stage 5-type form that developed a prothetic vowel:

*ɻ̩ > *əɻ > > [aɚ]

In some Mandarin varieties, only the prothetic vowel  has survived without any trace of retroflexion: e.g.,  壽縣 Shouxian [ə] and 鳳陽 Fengyang [a] for 兒.

It is tempting to derive Sino-Korean 아 a for 兒 from a Fengyang-like form, but that would be anachronistic. Fengyang [a] is probably a very recent development from *ar, whereas the earliest attested ancestor of 아 a is ᅀᆞ borrowed from a form like stage 4 *ʐɻ̩. became ʌ in the 16th century, and ʌ then became a in the 18th century.

3. I don't understand how Korean z vanished without a trace. Lee and Ramsey (2011: 142) state that "early examples of the elision of z are all restricted to the environment _i, y, which suggests that the process of change started there." They give these examples:

In those particular cases, I can imagine /z/ being phonetically something like [ʑ] that lenited to [j] and then disappeared before /i/. But what were the intermediate stages between /z/ and zero in initial position before /ʌ/ as in 15th century /zʌ/ > 16th century /ʌ/?

I thought [ɦ] might be a possible intermediate stage by analogy with Sanskrit:

Proto-Indo-Iranian *ĵʱ > Sanskrit h [ɦ] but Avestan z

I assume there was a stage like *ʑʱ underlying both  the Sanskrit and Avestan reflexes. (No, see topic 4 below.) That stage would be like Middle Korean /z/. In some modern Indic languages, Sanskrit initial h- has disappeared in reflexes of hima- 'winter'. I don't know if that's a regular change.

4. I've been trying to work out the phonetics of Proto-Indo-Iranic¹ (PII) reflexes of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) velars.

4.1. The PIE starting point:

*kʲ
*k
*kʷ
*gʲ
*g
*gʷ
*gʲʱ
*gʱ
*gʷʱ

4.2. The first palatalization in PII

*c
*k
*kʷ

*g
*gʷ
*ɟʱ
*gʱ
*gʷʱ

4.3. Affrication in PII (cf. the alveolar affricate reflexes of Sanskrit palatals in some modern Indic languages)

*ts
*k
*kʷ
*dz
*g
*gʷ
*dzʱ
*gʱ
*gʷʱ

4.4. The merger of plain velars and labiovelars

*ts
*k
*dz
*g
*dzʱ
*gʱ

4.5. The second palatalization in PII

*ts
*c
*k
*dz

*g
*dzʱ
*ɟʱ *gʱ

Velars palatalized in certain environments. Compare:

4.6. The merger of *e and *o into *a made the second palatalization phonemic:

It was no longer possible to regard *c as an allophone of /k/ before /e/, since /e/ no longer existed. (The e of later Indo-Iranic languages is not from the earlier *e that merged with *a: e.g., Sanskrit e is from PII *ai which could be from PIE *ei or *oi but not PIE *e.)

1.1.0:59: The following sections deal with post-PII developments.

4.7. Pre-Sanskrit (Proto-Indic²) stage 1

*tɕ
*c
*k
*dʑ

*g
*dʑʱ
*ɟʱ *gʱ

The affricate series palatalized. I thought the absence of *ts-type affricates in Proto-Dravidian might have pressured a shift away from alveolar affricates, but the traces of Indic in the Near East - far from Dravidian - underwent stage 2 (4.8 below): e.g., the name Paršasatar from praśāstar- 'director' with ś < PII *ts-.

4.8. Pre-Sanskrit (Proto-Indic) stage 2


*c
*k

*g
*ɟʱ
*gʱ

Voiceless *tɕ simplified to *ɕ.

The voiced affricates merged with the voiced palatals.

I don't know the order of those two changes, so I show the results of both changes in the same table instead of arbitarily showing one change at a time in two tables.

4.9. Sanskrit (Proto-Indic)

ś [ɕ]
c
k
j [ɟ]
g
h [ɦ]
gh [gʱ]

*ɟʱ weakened to h [ɦ].

4.10. Proto-Iranic (continuing from 4.6)

*ts
*c
*k
*dz

*g

The voiced aspirate series merged with the plain voiced series.

4.11. Avestan

s
c
k
z
j [ɟ] g

The affricates deaffricated. The change of *ts to s is roughly parallel to the change of *tɕ to ś in Sanskrit. But note that Proto-Iranic *dz became Avestan z, whereas pre-Sanskrit *dz did not become Sanskrit ź [ʑ], a sound that does not exist in Sanskrit.

The exact phonetics of c and j are unknown. They were palatal unlike s and z, so I have projected palatal stops forward into Avestan. But maybe Avestan c and j were actually affricates.

4.12. Summing up

PIE
2nd palatalization
PII
Sanskrit
Proto-Iranic
Avestan
*kʲ n/a
*ts
ś
*ts
s
*gʲ n/a
*dz
j [ɟ]
*dz
z
*gʲʱ/*gʱ n/a
*dzʱ h [ɦ]
*k/*kʷ +
*c
c
*c
c
*g/*gʷ +
j [ɟ]

j [ɟ]
*gʱ/*gʷʱ +
*ɟʱ h [ɦ]
*k/*kʷ -
*k
k
*k
k
*g/*gʷ -
*g
g
*g g
*gʱ/*gʷʱ -
*gʱ gh [gʱ]

¹1.1.0:40: I favor the term Iranic by analogy with Turkic, Mongolic, etc. to avoid confusion with the country of Iran.

²1.1.0.57: I prefer the term Indic to Indo-Aryan, as the word Aryan is shared by both Indic and Iranic. Ironically, the name Indic is actually Iranic, as it is an Hellenization of Old Persian 𐏃𐎡𐎯𐎢𐏁 <ha i du u sha> [hi(n)duš] 'India', cognate to Sanskrit Sindhus 'Sindhu'. The Old Persian form has two Iranic innovations:

It occurs to me tonight that an Indic name for Indic would be Sindhic, but that's not going to catch on. No one is going to rename the country Sindhia either. And Hindutva advocates are probably not going to change the name of their ideology to Sindhutva.


19.12.30.20:45: YELLOW PIG 12/6

songgiyan uliya aniya juwa juwe biya ice shunja inenggi

'yellow pig year, ten one month, new five day'

1. I checked Jan van Steenbergen's Interslavic page for updates and noticed a new item in the menu:

The Painted Bird (in Czech: Nabarvené Ptáče) a Czech-Slovak-Ukrainian film written, directed and produced by Václav Marhoul. It is based on Jerzy Kosiński’s novel The Painted Bird from 1965.

[...]

The action takes place in some unspecified East-European, Slavic-speaking country. A place that cannot directly be linked to a specific Slavic population requires a language that can instantly be recognised as Slavic but not be linked directly to any specific Slavic population either. That's why Marhoul decided to use Interslavic:

2. I just bought e-access to Vojtěch Merunka's Interslavic zonal constructed language: an introduction for English-speakers. Google says I can check a box to "Make [the book] available offline", but I can't find it.

On page 5, Merunka writes (12.31.14:03: links added),

Interslavic is also an interesting experiment of alternative history: If there was not such strong pressure from the Frankish Latin-oriented church (e.g. Wiching of Nitra and his band) against the Moravian Church in the 9th century, the invasion of the Hungarians into Central Europe and the subsquent collapse of contacts between Moravia (now a territory of both the Czech and Slovak Republics) and Bulgarian, Serbian and Kiev (later Russian) states, it is possible to imagine a hypothetic different evolution of the Slavic early Middle Age language - we have seen a similar phenomenon in the Arabic World: After the end of natural linguistic unity during the Middle Ages, the modernized universal Arabic language based on the religious language of the Qur'an still prevails. It is an artificial language which is close enough to the various contemporary spoken national dialects of Arabic that it is recognized as the standard for communication between Arabic nations and for contact with foreigners and used as an auxiliary language by both state apparatus and the media.

It would be fun to see historical fiction depicting a world where Interslavic - probably simply 'Slavic' - has the same position that modern standard Arabic has.

Page 143 presents a modified Arebica alphabet to write Interslavic.

3. 𗡠 0271 2mer4, representing the second syllable of 𗡢𗡠 0702 0271 1to'4 2mer4  'to seek, find', has a right side (Boxenhorn code: baedar) found nowhere else. I found it in Li (2008: 47) when looking up  𘅊 0273 1le1 for my last entry.

2mer4 sounds like Old and Middle Chinese *mek 'to seek'. If I were to force a relationship between the two, I could trace 2mer4 back to pre-Tangut *RImek-H with labial dissimilation:

*Pek > *Pew > *Pej > Pe

*RImek-H could be related to

𗑉 4684 1me1 < *CAmik or *mek 'eye'

cf. Tibetan mig (archaic dmyig) 'eye' (but Old Chinese has 目 *Cmuk - is *Cmikʷ possible?)

which is the word that made me discover labial dissimilation. Two scenarios:

But there are other possible pre-Tangut sources of 2mer4 that would rule out a connection with the Chinese word:

𗡢 0702 1to'4 'to seek' can appear by itself. That suggests that 𗡠 0271 2mer4 might be a formerly independent verb that only survives as the second half of a synonym compound 'seek-seek'.

4. Li (2008: 120) gives this example of 0702 as an independent verb from The Timely Pearl 292:

𘗜𗡢𗍷𘅤

5098 0702 0760 1715

2ngon4 1to'1 2dzen4 1rar4

'case seek judge ?'

It corresponds to Chinese 案檢判憑 'case examine judge ?'

Nishida (1964: 215) has the translation 'to examine the case and hand down a judgment'. Nishida (1964: xii) says Burton Watson and a ヤンポルスキー (Yampolsky? - I don't know who this is, or what his preferred Anglicization of Ямпольский is) helped him with the English translations.  Later, Nishida (1964: 216) has the translation'deliver a judgment' for 判憑 in Timely Palm 302.

I would think then that 𘅤 1715 1rar4 /憑 means 'to hand down' or 'to deliver'. But the basic meaning of 𘅤 1715 1rar4 is 'to write' (Li 2008: 285). So might the Tangut phrase in The Timely Palm mean 'write a judgment'?

憑 can be translated many ways in Chinese, but none of those translations mean 'write' or 'hand down' or 'deliver'. Might it be 'proof': i.e., 'evidence'? If so, then there is only a vague parallel between the Tangut object-verb sequence 𗍷𘅤 'write a judgment' and the Chinese verb-object sequence 判憑 'judge evidence (?)', and mechanically equating 𘅤 with 憑 may be a mistake.

Then again, to say Burton Watson's knowledge of Chinese dwarfs mine would be an understatement, and maybe 判憑 is an idiom 'deliver/hand down a judgment' that I just failed to confirm in other sources.

I always assumed Watson had learned Japanese in the American military in WWII, but in fact he didn't know any Japanese when he arrived in Japan in 1945, and he was actually a Chinese major.

5. My DuckDuckGo search for Yampolsky led me to a video of minerva scientia pronouncing Tangut in Gong's (more or less) and Arakawa's reconstructions.

6. ElitekidMu0 comments on that video:

Fun fact: Thunder Force VI [Wikipedia], a shooting game released in 2008 by SEGA for the PS2, included the Tangut Language as the main language for the protagonist of the series, Galaxy Federation (Vastian). Another language included in the game is the Mongolian Script, used by the antagonist of the series, ORN Empire.

7. Last night I learned that Kara Ben Nemsi was meant to mean 'Carl son German' (though nemsi is really closer to نمساوي‎ namsāwiyy/nimsāwiyy 'Austrian'; 'German' is ألماني 'almāniyy).

Karl May has a way with foreign names. I couldn't have come up with something equivalent to Old Shatterhand or Old Surehand in German.

8. I just noticed that the Old English Wikipedia (Ƿikipǣdia) is

Sēo Frēo Ƿīsdōmbōc

'the free wisdombook' (Ƿ <W> wynn is a rune borrowed into the Old English alphabet)

Are Goidelic forms like Irish seo 'this' the only living reflexes of Proto-Indo-European *só retaining s-? Greek [o] has lost h- < *s-, and English the has a th- that spread from the th-reflexes of the *t-initial oblique forms of *só.

9. I finally got around to rewriting my lost entry for 12.26 from memory. I finished right after I ordered a used hardcover copy of William C. Hannas' The Writing on the Wall: How Asian Orthography Curbs Creativity (2003).

10. Tonight I discovered the variant 槑 for 梅 <PLUM>.

11. Baxter and Sagart (2014) reconstruct 梅 <PLUM>. in Old Chinese as *C.mˤə. I suspect that *C was a voiceless consonant because Vietnamese 'apricot' has a ngang tone pointing to an earlier *m̥- which may be from an even earlier *C̥m- with a voiceless *C̥- that conditioned the devoicing of *m-. I would reconstruct the word in Early Old Chinese as *C̥Amə with a low first vowel that triggered the warping of to *ʌə:

*C̥Amə > *C̥Amʌə > *C̥mʌə > *m̥ʌə > *mʌe > *mʌj > *mɑj > *mwɑj > *muj > *mwəj > *məj > standard Mandarin [mej]

It is possible that *C̥A- was simply completely lost after warping in (many? most? all?) dialects other than the one underlying Vietnamese *C̥m-. I have not yet found any Chinese varieties with a yinping tone pointing to *m̥-.

The *m̥- in the scenario above is of late origin. An earlier *m̥- in Old Chinese became *x- in stage 2 below, whereas newer *m̥- merged with *m-:

example
gloss
stage 1
stage 2
stage 3
Mandarin

sea
*m̥- *x-
*x-
hǎi [xaj˧˩˧]

plum
*C̥m- *m̥- *m-
méi [mej˧˥]

every
*m-
*m-
měi [mej˧˩˧]

The tones above are conditioned by final glottals: final glottal stops conditioned the falling-rising tone [˧˩˧] and stage 3 voiced *m- and the absence of a final glottal conditioned the high rising tone [˧˥].


19.12.29.23:59: YELLOW PIG 12/4

songgiyan uliya aniya juwa juwe biya ice duin inenggi

'yellow pig year, ten one month, new four day'

1. Tonight it occurred to me that the Jurchen and Khitan large script characters for 'four' might be graphic cognates:


One might be rotated - but which one? And did the Parhae script have both rotated and nonrotated variants of <FOUR>?

12.30.0:17: Both <FOUR>s have four strokes, so they may simply be two types of tally marks formalized as characters.

In any case, the Khitan large script character is not to be confused with Chinese 卅 <THIRTY> which is a fusion of three 十 <TEN>s.

12.30.12:50: Chinese 卅 <THIRTY> in turn should not be confused with the Jurchen phonogram <sui>:

~/~

Jin (1984: 25, 26, 180) reports the first pair of forms in the 大金得勝陀頌碑 Great Jin Victory Hill stele (1185) and the second 卅-like  pair of forms in the Berlin and Tōyō bunko copies of the Ming dynasty Bureau of Translators vocabulary from c. 1500. Without examining the original texts, I cannot be certain about minor variations such as the presence or absence of a hook in the 1185 stele.

I fear that the Bureau of Translators' forms might be unintentionally 'sinified' in the sense that unfamiliar Jurchen characters were accidentally modified by scribes more familiar with sinography. Perhaps the resemblance of <sui> to Chinese卅 <THIRTY> in the Bureau of Translators vocabulary might be an example of sinification.

12.30.15:33: Jin (1984: 58, 76) derives Jurchen <FOUR> from the phonogram <da> which in turn he derives from Chinese 屠:

<<

In the Jin dynasty, 屠 was pronounced *tʰu. Why base a phonogram <da> on a Chinese character pronounced *tʰu?

I don't think <da> was a Jin dynasty invention. I think its roots go back further to a period when 屠 was pronounced as *da in Late Old Chinese. (屠 was once a transcription character for -ddha in 浮屠 *bu da = Buddha.) In other words, I think <da> is potential evidence for the Jurchen large script being an heir to an old tradition of phonetic writing rather than a 12th century invention.

I don't think there is any relationship between <FOUR> and <da> beyond graphic convergence - the bottom of <da> (known only from two inscriptions) may have been remodelled after the far more common character <FOUR>.

2. Tonight while copying character 236 of the Golden Guide, I miswrote the Tangut character element 𘡛 by placing the dot too low so it intersected the stroke below it.

Nishida (1966: 242) interpreted as 𘡛 a radical for things having to do with 愛惜 aiseki 'cherish'. It just occurred to me that 𘡛 might be derived from the top of 愛 <LOVE> or the top right of 惜 <CHERISH>.

But ... what is 𘡛 doing on the top of 𘓉 0993 1lhew1 'to herd', of all things? Is 𘓉 0993 a semantic compound like <CHERISH.LIVESTOCK>?

But ... the bottom of 𘓉 0993 (Boxenhorn code: baecie) is neither 'livestock' nor short for a character for any animal. The only other character with baecie is 𘅊 0273 1le1, a character for writing surnames.

3. I was surprised by this passage (emphasis mine):

Martin Kümmel similarly proposes, based on observations from diachronic typology, that the consonants traditionally reconstructed as voiced stops were really implosive consonants, and the consonants traditionally reconstructed as aspirated stops were originally plain voiced stops, agreeing with a proposal by Michael Weiss that typologically compares the development of the stop system of the Tày language (Cao Bằng Province, Vietnam).

But then I checked Pittayaporn (2009: 110) who explains that in Cao Bằng,

I can see something similar happening in Proto-Indo-European ... except for this problem:

The ejective hypothesis, on the other hand, correctly predicts that Proto-Indo-European labial *pʼ (corresponding to *ɓ- in the implosive hypothesis) would be rare or absent.

4. I wish there were animated GIFs like the Georgian ones at georgian-language.com for Manchu and traditional Mongolian letters. I've been using Jun Jiang's Manchu app which has animated images for Manchu syllables and words, but it doesn't seem to match the verbal (nonvisual) instructions in Roth Li's Manchu textbook, so I'd like to see a second opinion.

5. I discovered that the Old English Wikipedia has a runic viewing option. Select ᚱᚢᚾ <run> under the article title.

12.30.0:16: Try the ȝƿ and ᵹƿ viewing options too.

6. Why is Gdańsk Gduńsk in Kashubian? Is Polish a : Kashubian u a regular correspondence in some environment(s)? I don't see anything like *a > u in Stone's (1993: 765) sketch of Kashubian vowel history.

7. Another Kashubian surprise: kùńszt [kwuɲʃt] (I think) 'art' < German Kunst. Why [wu]? How did Kashubian develop [wu] in native words? Is [ɲ] instead of [n] due to assimilation with [ʃ]? Was the word borrowed from a German dialect in which 'art' was [kunʃt] instead of [kʊnst]? 'Hyperlabial' [wu] for [ʊ] seems odd to me.

Aha, I see now that Kashubian /u/ becomes [wu] "[i]nitially or after a labial or a velar" (Stone 1993: 762). So [wu] has nothing to do with German.

8. How did Proto-Slavic *sŭnŭ 'sleep' become Lower Sorbian soń with a palatal ń instead of the expected n as in the rest of Slavic: e.g., Upper Sorbian son?


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