Khitan Large and Small Scripts modelled on Chinese characters were created to record the Khitan language in the 10th century. In June 1922 the thousand-year-old dust-laden Khitan scripts were rediscovered and brought to light again arousing great interest and hot discussions regarding the research of historical nationalities in the terrirory what is now northern China. Up to now approximately seventy pieces of monuments with Khitan inscriptions have been found, mostly epitaphs and eulogies, with a total of 80,000 words. The Epitaph of Changgun Yelü Zhun of Great Liao 大遼國常袞耶律凖墓誌銘, carved in Khitan Large Script in Xianyong the fourth year (1068), was found at the town of Beizifu, Aohan Banner Inner Mongolia. With its exquisite carving and intact content, this epitaph can be regarded as one of the extant top quality monuments in Khitan Large Script. It is the first time that the rubbing, the manuscript and the interpretation of this epitaph are presented to the public. This paper compares the graphemes of the Large Script and the Small Script, in order to deduce the unknown from the known. Understanding the nature of the Khitan Large Script and investigating different Khitan materials, we can state that numerous Large Script graphemes matched with the corresponding Small Script graphemes. Based on the research findings of the Khitan Small Script graphemes and the historical records of the Yaonian clan, this paper attempts to reveal the wording habit, the combination rule of the graphemes of the epitaph text and the context of the words, in order to decipher some Large Script graphemes untouched before and to reconstruct or correct the pronunciation of some graphemes of the Large Script.
This paper investigates how the Khitan Small Script renders labial stops of the Khitan language in the initial position of words and syllables. Furthermore, it deals with the problems of alloglyphs, drawings of similar shape, and denotations of the same phoneme. The paper begins with the use of glyphs in cases where they transcribe Chinese words. Evidence permitting, this is followed by the use of glyphs in cases of Chinese loanwords and names—subjects in which we have a robust background. Finally, it examines words of Khitan origin with initial labial stops. The result of our investigation is that postaspiration was the distinguishing feature in the binary opposition of labial stops. Alternation of <b> ~ <p> writing is common in cases where a word occurs with high frequency. To demonstrate this, we used the Khitan Corpus published in 2017.
In the fourth part of this series of papers the authors investigate the way how the Khitan Small Script rendered the dental stops in initial position. They conclude that the main opposition was between the postaspirated and not postaspirated dental stops.