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András Róna-Tas

Abstract

This paper surveys the Khitan names of the so-called “Five Capitals” of the Liao empire (907–1125). In this connection, the lexemes denoting the compass points (north, south, east, west) and related expressions of orientation (right, left, centre) are examined in the light of the information supplied by the relevant historical context and the extant corpus of Khitan Small Script texts. In addition, the dynastic name of the Liao empire is also discussed. The discussion reveals several previously unobserved details of linguistic, philological, historical, and cultural interest, and allows the Khitan system of orientation to be placed in the general context of comparative Mongolic studies.

Pavel Rykin

Abstract

This paper presents a new approach to reading the Preclassical Mongol inscription on the 1413 Tyr stele, now kept at Primorye State Museum named after V. K. Arsenyev (Vladivostok, Russia). The stele contains texts carved in three languages: Chinese, Jurchen, and Mongol. The Jurchen and Mongol texts are very close to each other in content, as well as in the grammatical structure of words and sentences. For this reason, some missing and previously illegible parts of the Mongol text can be reconstructed and read on the basis of the Jurchen version. Lines 2 and 3 of the Mongol inscription have already been discussed earlier in a separate publication. In the present paper, the same approach, combined with a careful investigation of all the existing photos and rubbings of the inscription, is extended to lines 4 to 9.1

Ian G. Barrere and Juha A. Janhunen

Abstract

The paper discusses the controversy that has arisen concerning the origin and nature of vowel harmony in Mongolian, as well as in a number of other Eurasian languages. In contrast to the conventional understanding according to which Proto-Mongolic had a palatal-velar harmony of the same type as is attested in the Turkic and Uralic languages, it has been claimed recently that the harmony was actually of the tongue root type, involving, in particular, tongue root retraction in the pronunciation of certain vowels. However, while tongue root harmony is indeed prevalent in many modern Mongolic languages, including standard Mongolian, there are several arguments that can be made in support of the conventional reconstruction. There are serious reasons to assume that Mongolic has undergone a process of vowel rotation, which has turned the originally palatal-velar harmony to tongue root harmony. In this process the originally horizontally organized harmonic pairs have become verticalized. A typical result of the verticalization has been the rapid reduction of the original vowel paradigm as well as the development of new palatal vowels to complement the losses.

José Andrés Alonso de la Fuente

Abstract

The paper presents a survey of the generalizing clitical particle documented in Northern Tungusic in the forms -wal, -mal, -gal, -wul, -ul, etc., which, in some languages, is also attested in the function of the disjunctive conjunction ‘either—or’. Focusing on the dialectological and diachronic explanation of the initial alternation of w and g in this particle, the paper brings forth arguments in favour of the hypothesis that these elements are ultimately connected with the verbal root gǝlǝǝ- ‘to want, to please, to look for’. The conclusion is of general typological interest, and well-known parallels for the proposed development can be found in, for instance, several European languages.

Vlada Baranova

Abstract

The goal of this paper is a comprehensive description of the negation particle esǝ, which is the single preverbal indicative negator in Kalmyk, whereas other negation markers are placed after the verb. The particle esǝ is mainly used in subordinate clauses. Judging from corpus data, it also occurs with a small number of finite forms in emphatic contexts such as rhetorical questions. This paper provides an explanation for both of these facts based on historical and typological considerations. More specifically, it will examine the results of the development of the negation system on a synchronic level, focusing on spoken data and corpora. It will also contribute to a broader understanding of negation in subordinate clause. A typological overview of sources for different markers in dependent clause shows that the Kalmyk case is uncommon cross-linguistically. An additional factor that plays a role here is the dichotomy finiteness vs. non-finiteness/nominalization.