Khitan

Native toNortheastern China, southeastern Mongolia, eastern Siberia
RegionNorthern
Extinctc. 1243 (Yelü Chucai, last person known who could speak and write Khitan)
Khitan large script and Khitan small script
Language codes
ISO 639-3zkt
zkt
Glottologkita1247

Khitan or Kitan (

in large script or
in small, Khitai;[2] Chinese: 契丹語, Qìdānyǔ), also known as Liao, is a now-extinct language once spoken in northeast Asia by the Khitan people (4th to 13th century). It was the official language of the Liao Empire (907–1125) and the Qara Khitai (1124–1218).

Classification

Khitan appears to have been related to the Mongolic languages;[3] Juha Janhunen states, "[T]he conception is gaining support that Khitan was a language in some respects radically different from the historically known Mongolic languages. If this view proves to be correct, Khitan is, indeed, best classified as a Para-Mongolic language."[1]

Alexander Vovin (2017) argues that Khitan has several Koreanic loanwords.[4] Since both of the Korean Goryeo dynasty and Khitan Liao dynasty claimed to be successors of Goguryeo, it is possible that the Koreanic words in Khitan were borrowed from the language of Goguryeo.[4]

Script

Khitan was written using two mutually exclusive writing systems known as the Khitan large script and the Khitan small script.[1] The small script, which was a syllabary, was used until the Jurchen-speaking Jin dynasty (1115–1234) replaced it[clarification needed] in 1191.[5] The large script was logographic like Chinese.

Records

The History of Liao contains a volume of Khitan words transcribed in Chinese characters titled "Glossary of National Language" (國語解). It is found in Chapter 116.[6][7][8][9]

The Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty erroneously identified the Khitan people and their language with the Solons, leading him to use the Solon language to "correct" Chinese character transcriptions of Khitan names in the History of Liao in his Imperial Liao-Jin-Yuan Three Histories National Language Explanation (欽定遼金元三史國語解) project.

The Liao dynasty referred to the Khitan language with the term Guoyu (國語, "National language"), which was also used by other non-Han Chinese dynasties in China to refer to their languages like Manchu of the Qing, Classical Mongolian during the Yuan dynasty, Jurchen during the Jin, and Xianbei during the Northern Wei. Even today, Mandarin is referred to in Taiwan as Guoyu.

Vocabulary

There are several closed systems of Khitan lexical items for which systematic information is available.[10] The following is a list of words in these closed systems that are similar to Mongolic. Mongolian and Daur equivalents are given after the English translation:

Seasons

Khitan Translation Mongolian script modern Mongolian pronunciation Daur
heu.ur spring qabur havar haor
ju.un summer jun zun najir
n.am.ur autumn namur namar namar
u.ul winter ebül övöl uwul

Numerals

Khitan Translation Mongolian script modern Mongolian pronunciation Daur
*omc one onca 'unique' onts (unique) enqu
j.ur.er second jirin 'two' jirin (two), jiremsen (double/pregnant) jieeq
hu.ur.er third gurba 'three' gurav, gurvan, guramsan (triple) guarab
durer/duren fourth dörben döröv, dörvön durub
tau five tabun tav, tavan taawu
t.ad.o.ho fifth tabu-daki tav dahi taawudar
*nil six jirgugan zurgaa (innovation "jir'gur" or 2x3) jirwoo
da.lo.er seventh dologa 'seven' doloo doloo
n.ie.em eight nayim 'eight' naim naim
*is nine yesü yüs, yüsön is
par (p.ar) ten arban arav harbin
jau hundred jagun zuu, zuun jao
ming thousand minggan myanga, myangan mianga

Compared with Khitan, The Tungusic numerals of the Jurchen language differ significantly: three=ilan, five=shunja, seven=nadan, nine=uyun, hundred=tangu.

Animals

Khitan Translation Mongolian script modern Mongolian pronunciation Daur
te.qo.a chicken taqiya tahia kakraa
ni.qo dog noqai nohoi nowu
s.au.a bird sibuga shuvuu degii
em.a goat imaga yamaa imaa
tau.li.a rabbit taulai tuulai tauli
mo.ri horse mori mori mori
uni cow üniye ünee unie
mu.ho.o snake mogoi mogoi mowo

Directions

Khitan Translation Mongolian script modern Mongolian pronunciation Daur
ud.ur east doruna dorno garkui
dzi.ge.n left jegün züün solwoi
bo.ra.ian right baragun baruun baran
dau.ur.un middle dumda dund duand
xe.du.un horizontal köndelen höndölön
ja.cen.i border jaqa zasan, zaag jag

Time

Khitan Translation Mongolian script modern Mongolian pronunciation Daur
suni night söni shönö suni
un.n/un.e now, present önö önöö nee

Personal relations

Khitan Translation Mongolian script modern Mongolian pronunciation Daur
c.i.is blood cisu tsus qos
mo ku female eme em emwun
deu younger sibling degü düü deu
n.ai.ci friend nayija naiz guq
na.ha.an uncle nagaca nagats naoq
s.ia/s.en good sayin sain sain
g.en.un sadness, regret genü='to regret' in the letter of Arghun Khan) genen, gem gemxbei
ku person kümün hün, hümün huu

Tribal administration

Khitan Translation Mongolian script Daur
cau.ur war cagur, as in "tsa'urgalan dairakh" quagur
nai/nai.d heads, officials "-d" is a plural suffix=noyan, noyad for plural noyin
t.em- to bestow a title temdeg 'sign' temgeet
k.em decree kem kemjiye 'law/norm' hes
us.gi letter üseg jiexgen
ui matter üile urgil
qudug blessed qutug hireebei
xe.se.ge part, section, province keseg meyen
ming.an military unit of thousand minggan miangan

Basic verbs

Khitan Translation Mongolian script
p.o become bol-
p.o.ju raise(intr.) bos-
on.a.an fall una-
x.ui.ri.ge.ei transfer kür-ge-
u- give ög-
sa- to reside sagu-
a- be a- 'live', as in "aj ahui"

Natural objects

Khitan Translation Mongolian script modern Mongolian pronunciation Daur
eu.ul cloud egüle üül eulen
s.eu.ka dew sigüderi shüüder suider
sair moon sara sar saruul
nair sun nara nar nar
m.em/m.ng silver mönggö möng mungu

The Liaoshi records in Chapter 53:

國語謂是日為「討賽咿兒」。「討」五;「賽咿兒」,月也。

In the national (Khitan) language this day (5th day of the 5th lunar month) is called 'Tao Saiyier'. 'Tao' means five; 'Saiyier' means moon/month.

'Tao Saiyier' corresponds to Mongolian 'tavan sar' (fifth moon/month). The Turkic Kyrgyz equivalent would be 'beshinchi ay' while the Manchu (Tungusic) equivalent would be 'sunja biya'.

References

  1. ^ a b c Janhunen 2006, p. 393.
  2. ^ "Khitan". Omniglot. Retrieved 2021-08-24.
  3. ^ Herbert Franke, John King Fairbank, Denis Crispin Twitchett, Roderick MacFarquhar, Denis Twitchett, Albert Feuerwerker. The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 3: Sui and T'ang China, 589–906. Part 1, p.364
  4. ^ a b Vovin 2017, p. 207.
  5. ^ Janhunen 2006, p. 395.
  6. ^ 遼史/卷116 卷116.
  7. ^ Howorth, H. H. (1881). "The Northern Frontagers of China. Part V. The Khitai or Khitans". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 13 (2): 123–125. doi:10.1017/S0035869X00017780. JSTOR 25196875.
  8. ^ Wilkinson, Endymion Porter (2000). Chinese History: A Manual (illustrated, revised ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center. p. 864. ISBN 0-674-00249-0.
  9. ^ Yong, Heming; Peng, Jing (2008). Chinese Lexicography: A History from 1046 BC to AD 1911. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 382–. ISBN 978-0-19-953982-6.
  10. ^ Kane, Daniel A. (2009). The Kitan Language and Script. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-16829-9.

Bibliography

Further reading