Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/134

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112

PECULIARITIES OF LANGUAGE.

Allowing for the limited intelligence of the Cossack, the stupidity of the Mongol, and the suspicion of the Tangutan, some idea may be formed of our difficulties in studying the language. Now and then, while speaking with a native, an opportunity would present itself of jotting down a few words unobserved; but progress under these circumstances, in a language so entirely strange to Europeans, was almost hopeless. The Tangutans have a way of pronouncing their words very rapidly, and their language is characterised by the following particulars: —

A large number of monosyllabic words pronounced abruptly: e.g. tòk (lightning), ksiù (water), rtsà (grass), ksià (hair).

The union of several consonants: e.g. mdzugéheh (fingers), námrtsah (year), rdzávah (month), lâmrton-lamá (paradise).

Vowels at the end of words are often lengthened out: pchi-i (mule), sha-a (meat), tzia-a (tea), veh-é-é (husband), siya-a (hat); or in the middle of words: sa'azyuyu (earth), dóoa (tobacco.)[1]

The final n is often drawn out and pronounced through the nose : lung(g) (wind), shan(g) (forest), siúbchen(g) (brook); words ending in m have an abrupt sound, as in lam (road), onám (thunder). The letter g at the beginning of a word is pronounced like the Latin h: hóma (milk); k is sometimes aspirated and pronounced as kh: khi'ka (range), diudkhúk (tobacco-pouch); ch like tsch: tscho (dog);

  1. Is this not the Hindi dhua, smoke, showing whence tobacco was introduced into Tibet? — Y.