Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chinese and Sumerian by Charles J. Ball

Taken from:

INITIAL AND FINAL SOUNDS— THEIR CORRESPONDENCE AND PARALLEL CHANGES That Chinese is related to the old Sumerian language of Babylonia is a con- clusion which appears inevitable, when we notice the great similarity of the two vocabularies. This may perhaps be best exhibited in tabular form. The following list does not, of course, pretend to be exhaustive. Its purpose is merely to weaken any presumption of antecedent improbability ; and so to bespeak an unprejudiced consideration for the arguments and comparisons to follow. CHINESE an, ang, yen, a clear sky. ang, high. pa, pat, pal, to draw water, pan, ban, comrade ; p'eng, pen, bang, friend ; pair, pi, p^t, pit, but, writing-brush ; pen. pit, pieh, p'et, biet, to separate ; to part, p'ien, p"in, bin, carriage (for women), ping, bing, disease ; sick, ping, pen, bing, pin, ice ; cold ; frost. p'ang, p'ong, bang, a heavy fall, of snow or rain. See also m^ng. han, ein, kan, gan, cold ; han-tung, id. yin-tung, to freeze, hei, he, h^k, hik, koku, black ; dark, hien, keing, gan, salt ; bitter, hien, ham, kan, gan, all. ho, ha, ka, ga, to bear ; to carry, hing, kiang, ying, gio, walk ; kien, kfn, id. hiien, ngien, gen, black, huk, hu, uk, koku, dawn ; sunrise, kai, ka, kie, street, k'ai, hoi, k'ae, kai, to open, kan, kon, kiie, stem ; rod ; cane ; pole, &c. kwan, kun, kon, kiie, kou, reed ; bamboo tube, k'an, kan, look at ; see ; examine, k'i, the earth {personified). SUMERIAN AN, AM, EN, the sky; heaven. AN, high. BAL, to draw water. MAN, comrade ; friend ; two. MU ATI, PATI,PA(?), stylus or writing- reed. BAD, to remove ; distant. D UB- BIN, covered car ; litter. PIG (also SIG), weak; weakness. 6aL-BI(N) ; 6aL-BA(N), id. MAM (A-MAM), cold weather. MAM, MAMMI, storm of snow or cold rain. EN-TEN, cold weather. GE, GIG, KUKKU, night; black. GIN, bitter (C. T. xii. 30). GAN A, all. GA, to lift, bear, carry. GIN, to walk; G\y[Jd. GIN, black (C. T. xii. 30) ; KAN, id. UG, day (C. T. xii. 6) : from GUG. KAS-KAL, road. GAL, to open. GIN, GI, reed; stem, &c. IGI-GAN, to see ; behold ; inspect. KI, the earth. PRELIMINARY LIST OF SIMILAR WORDS CHINESE k'i, this. (2) Precaiive Particle. kin, an axe. (2) a pound weight. kin, metal ; gold. kien, kfn, ken, kon, to establish. kien, kfn, k'en, a donkey. k'ien, hfn, k'en, ken, to send. k'ien, k'fm, k'em, kin, ken, black. kien, kfn, ken, to see. kiin, kuen, kwan, ken, to love ; ngen, en, ang, eng, in, on, un, en, kindness ; affection ; ngdn-ngai, affection (of the sexes), kou, mouth, k'ou, milk, k'un, kwen, kon, kun, elder brother ; hiung, hing, kei, id. kung, tribute, kung, work. kwan, kun, kon, ruler ; mandarin, kwo, kwok, kuk, country ; nation, k'wo, kwat, kwal, broad ; wide, k'iit, ket, kiiet, cut off; decide, lai, rai, to come, lik, li, strength. Ifm, lien, kiam, ken, the face. 1ft, Heh, yol, gust ; squall. lut, lii, a law ; rule ; fa-lu, fat-lut, fap-lut, laws and statutes, len, lin, ning, dei, peace, ma, weights, — of commerce. ma, twins (Chalmers 91). man, full ; kan, fullness ; overflow. m^k, mai, muk, mik, black. min, people. min, men, ming, merciful; compassionate ; wen, un, kind, ming, brightness, ming, meng, mei, a name, meng, moung, maong, dream, meng, mung, bong, drizzling rain ; ming, men, id. mi, not ; mei, id. ; wu, mou, mu, id. mft, met, mieh, blood, mu, male, mu, muk, wood ; a tree. {Phon. also KU-T: P. 278.) SUMEKIAN GE, this. (2) Precative Particle. GIN, an axe. (2) a shekel (GE). GUSH-KIN, gold. GIN, to establish. SHA-KAN; (G)AN-SHU. KIN, to send. GIN; KAN, black. KIN, to look to ; see to. KIN-GAD, to love. {Also read YA-hVi, KI-EM, KI-AG = ki-ang.) KA, mouth. GA, milk. U-RUN, U-RIN {character also read GIN : C. T. xii. 30), brother. GUN, tribute. KIN, charge; commission; work, GUN, U-GUN. lord. UG {from GUG) : C. T. xii. 27. DA-GAL, broad ; wide. KUD, cut off; decide. RA, LA 6, to walk, go, &c. LIG, strong. A-LAM,A-LAN, image; likeness; GIM, DIM, zfl'. LIL, storm-wind. BIL-LUD (BAL-LUD; BAB-LUD?), divine commands ; laws. SI-LIM {also read DI), peace. MA, MA-NA, the mina or standard weight. MASH, MASH-MASH, twin(s). MAL {from MAN), to be full ; GAN, abundant. MI;SU-MUG. (F/fl'.hei, black.) MULU (MUL = MUN), man. MUNU, goodness; kindness. MUNU, MUL ( = MUN), flame. MUN, MU, a name. MAMU, dream. MAMMI, shower of rain or snow. ME, NAM-ME ; MU. not. MUD, blood. MU, male. MU, wood ; a tree. {Also read GU : C. T. xii. 30.) PRELIMINARY LIST OF SIMILAR WORDS CHINESE mu [from mu-k), mother. mu, muk, tend cattle ; shepherd. mu, mou, wu, sorcerer. nga, ngwa, wa, tiles ; glazed bricks. ngan,^ I ; ngo, wo, nga, ga ; wu, ngu, ngou, ngo, I, me ; my. ngi, i, er (ur), the ear. ni, li, yi, t'i, grease ; fat. niang, niong, nong, woman ; lady. nfm, nien, nydm, niom, to repeat or recite, e.g. charms, liturgies, &c. nfn, nien, nieng, nen, a year. ngu, niu, giu, ox. san, swan, a box ; a basket. shak, shek, shi, sik, zi, zah, t'ak, stone. sheng, a sage ; a Prophet, san, swan, slin, son, to reckon, seng, a priest, shik, shit, shih, to eat ; food. shi [from shik), si, swine. shou, su, the hands. shu, writing ; book. sik, si, to split ; divide. sik, si, J. seki, formerly; of old. sin, sien, sen, before ; ancient. sfn, sien, si, hsien, to wash. sin, sien, sen, tien, sleet. sing, seng, hsing, smell ; odorous ; rank. sing, a name. sing, form ; figure. sing, a star. sung, pines, firs, &c. sung, to give. suk, su, J. soku, shoku, grain. siit, set, siok, hswik, sheh, snow ; ice. T'ai-poh, the planet Venus ; T'e-bah. tan, only ; single. te, tek, tik, toku, to get. ting, adult male. t'ien, t'fn, t'ieng, ten, heaven. t'ien, t'fn, diefi, tieng, ten, a field. tien, tin, tieng, ten, mad ; raving. SUMERIAN MUG, parent of either sex; U-MU,- mother. MU, shepherd (S-^ 308) [?]. MU, charm ; spell ; incantation. GA-R, MA-R ( = WA-R), flat bricks. GAL (=GAN); GIN; GAE, MAE ; GA, MA ; MU, I, me; my. GE ; BUR ( = MUR, WUR) ; the ear. NI, LI, I, lA, oil; fat; anoint. {Also read DIG.) NIN, lady. I-NIM, E-NEM, utterance, prayer, spell or incantation. LIM, a year, — of office [?]; As. limmu, limu. GU, GUD, ox. PI-SAN, a box ; a coffer, &c. DAG, DIG, SI, ZA, values of the char, for stone. GA-SHAM, wise, — in oracles, &c. SAM, SAN, reckoning ; price. SANGU, a priest. SHUKU.food; SUG-SUG,SUD-SUD, to eat (Br. 6058). SHAG, SIg, swine. SHU, thehand(s). SHU, writing; the scribe's art. SIG, SI, to split; divide. SIG, SI, old. SUN, old. SH UN-SHUN, pure. TEN in EN-TEN A, cold. IR-SIM, fragrance ; sweet odour. SIM, to call ; to name. SIG ( = SING), form; figure. SIG, bright; light. SHIM (cDet. GISH, tree), scented trees. SUM, SUN, SIG, SI, to give. SHUG, SHE, grain. SHED, SID, SHEG, SHE, frost; snow; ice (C.T. xii. 11); IM-SHESH, id.; A-SHUGI, frost. DIL-BAD ; JeAf^ar {Hesych). TAN, Del. after Numerals. TUG, TUKU, to get. TIN, MU-TIN, a male; a man. I-DIM; (I-D IN), heaven. E-DIN, the field, steppe, &c. I-DIM, mad ; raging. B 2 PRELIMINARY LIST OF SIMILAR WORDS CHINESE tip, tiap, tie, tablets ; documents. ts'e, tsah, chak, chaik, shoku, the side. ts'i, zi, dzi, ch'i, even ; correct ; regular. ts'iin, ch'iian, sen, zen, all. tung, winter ; tung, to freeze. t'ung, tong, dung, copper ; brass. tung, to move ; motion. t'ung, dung, a boy. tzu, chu, ti, a child. lit, yiie, moon ; month. wu, u, uk, house ; chamber. wei, vi, to do ; to make. wen, m€n, written characters. yet, ngyit, nyit, the sun. yu. "gii. gio, fish. yii, ngu, to talk ; speech. yiian, yen {from gon), a garden. SUMERIAN DUB, a clay tablet ; inscribed document. ZAG, the side ; TIG, id. ZI, ZIG, ZID, right. Z UN, all; Sign of Plur. TEN, in EN-TEN, cold. SHUN, SHEN, copper (skinnu). TUM, to walk ; to go. DUMU, DAMU, achild. DU, child. ITU, ITI, id. {AISS,, Hesych) MU (C. T. xii. 8); U, house. ME (C. T. xii. lo), to do ; to make. DIM-MEN, foundation-inscription ; (2) foundation (Turkish temel). UD, UTU, id. {from GUD). ku, a fish (C. T. xii. 27). GU, to say; speak ; speech. GAN, garden; field. INITIAL AND FINAL SOUNDS— THEIR CORRESPONDENCE AND PARALLEL CHANGES It is evident that the preceding list presents at a glance sufficient similarity between the material of the two languages to suggest at once the hypothesis of relationship. But if we look below the surface, as Philology justifies us in doing, we shall discover in Chinese a large number of vocables which, although they have become dissimilar in the natural course of phonetic change, were originally either identical with the corresponding sounds of the primitive Sumerian speech, or at all events manifestly akin to them. In fact, much as Philology justifies us in connecting the Latin aqua with the French eau, so it may justify us in connecting the Chinese ho, river, with the Sumerian ID, I, river, and CjAL, to flow ; although the three terms possess not a letter in common. When it is pointed out that the character ^ ho is still read ka or ga in the traditional Japanese pronunciation, which is more faithful to the ancient sounds of the Chinese, and that the kindred Mongol word for river is gol, Manchau hoi ; we see at once that the Chinese initial h represents, as indeed is usual, an older k (from a yet earlier g), and that the lost final of the root is 1 or a related sound. It thus appears likely that the Chinese ho, river, is akin to the Sumerian GAL, to flow. But, further, the Sumerian ID, I, river, which occurs in the name I.DIGNA, Assyrian Idiglat, the Tigris, is really a worn form of GID, as is shown by the Hebrew transcription Vpin Khiddeqel ; and this earlier GID suggests a primary GAD, cognate with GAL, to flow, and identical with the old Chinese kat, gat, river (cf P. 145). INITIAL AND FINAL SOUNDS, ETC. ^ Take another instance, ^ ho, fire, was formerly ka, as we learn again from the Japanese pronunciation ; and the Mongol gal, fire, again suggests the loss of a final dental (Mongol 1 = Chinese t). Thus kat, or gat, emerges as the oldest form of the Chinese word for fire. But instead of a guttural initial, the dialects present a labial sound ; Cantonese and Hakka fo, Wenchow fu, implying an earlier pa, ba : others exhibit transitional sounds, Mandarin hwo, Fuchau hwi ; c/. Korean and Annamite hwa (ga = gwa = wa). The Chinese sounds, therefore, appear to suggest gat (gal) and bat (bal) as their biform original. Now the Sumerian character for fire was read IZ (from GIZ, GAZ ; GUZ, c/. USSl), IZI, fire; and BI, to kindle, to flare up; and PIL (from BIL, BAL), to burn. We find also the compounds GI.BIL, burning, light; and GISH.BAR, dialectic MU.BAR, fire. The Fire-god was called BIL.GI (from BAL.GI), later GI.BIL; and GISH.BAR. BAR and BAL in this sense are evidently related to each other, and to BAR, dialectic MASH, to shine ; while GAZ is akin to GAR, light. And it is equally clear that the old Chinese sounds gat, bat, closely correspond to the Sumerian (G)IZ (GAZ), GAR, and BIL (BAL), BAR. With BI, to kindle, cf. the Japanese hi, fire, from bi, pi, and with BAR, Jap. abure, to roast. As regards the interchange of sounds, the transition from a guttural to a labial initial is a common feature of both languages. A good example may be seen in the Sumerian USH (from GUSH), blood, and what we may call its M-form, MUD, blood ; a pair of words which are perfectly represented by, or preserved in, the Chinese hiieh and mieh, blood. That the older sound of hiieh was kut, is inferred from the Jap. ket-si, compared with Cantonese hiit and Hakka het {see G. 4847) ; and kut = GUD, GUSH. As for mieh (G. 7880), it is surely enough to adduce the Cantonese myt, Hakka met, Jap. bet-si or me-chi, Annamite miet, to confirm the suggestion of its close kindred with the Sumerian MUD, blood. There can be little doubt, one would think, that the Sumerian (G)USH and MUD, on the one hand, and their Chinese equivalents hiieh-hut and mieh-myt, on the other, although given in the dictionaries as mutually independent words, are really related to each other in much the same way as GISH and MESH, GU and MU, tree, wood, are related in Sumerian, or as ho and fo, fire, or ngo and wo, I, in Chinese. One is simply a labialized form of the other. The Chinese Phonetics have preserved many vestiges of such philological counterparts. Thus in Sumerian, ^^, the character denoting black and night, had the sounds GA, GE, GIG, and MI (from MIG, MUG). Accordingly, we find that the Chinese M (P. 862) has the Phonetic values kek and mek. By itself, the character is read hei or h^ or ho, C. hak, H. het, W. he, hah, hek, K. hik, J. koku, black {see G. 3899) ; and with the Radical or Determinative j^ earth, it is ^ mo, mek, met, meik, mai, me, muk, me, K. mik, J. boku and moku, A. mak, ink ; black ; obscure (G. 8022). It will be noticed that the vowel-variation resembles that of the values of the Sumerian prototype, GA, GE, GIG, MI, KUKKU. Of course, the sound 6 INITIAL AND FINAL SOUNDS, ETC. belongs to the Phonetic ^. The Radical, added later for distinction's sake, has nothing to do with sound, but only with sense.


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