Authored by: Gong Hwang-Cherng

The Sino-Tibetan Languages

Print publication date:  December  2002
Online publication date:  May  2006

Print ISBN: 9780700711291
eBook ISBN: 9780203221051
Adobe ISBN: 9781135797188


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Tangut (also known as the Xixia language) is an extinct Tibeto-Burman language that was spoken in the Xixia empire that existed from 1038 to 1227 in northwestern China. The language was buried in oblivion till 1908 when the Russian geographer P.K. Kozlov discovered the ruins of a Tangut city at Khara Khoto. A large number of books and manuscripts written in the Tangut script were brought to St. Petersburg. Among them were a Tangut-Chinese Glossary, the Fan-Han Ho-shi Zhang-zhong-zhu (‘The Tangut-Chinese timely pearl in the palm’), various kinds of Tangut rhyme books, such as the Tong-yin (‘The homophones’), the Wen-hai (‘The ocean of characters’), the Wen-hai Bao-yun (‘The precious rhymes of the ocean of characters’), and the Wu-yin qie-yun (‘The rhyme tables of five sound categories’), and Tangut literary works, including Tangut translations of Buddist sutras and Chinese classics as well as secular texts. There are also original Tangut texts. These materials have made it possible for us to reconstruct Tangut phonology and study its grammar.

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