After my last two posts discussing words for ‘200’ and for nose-cutting in the context of vowel ablaut, Ma Kun 马坤 sent me a private message inquiring about 刖 *[ŋ]ʷˤ<r>at > ngwaet > yuè ‘amputate the feet’ 0306h, which I had overlooked in my discussion of words of the shape *ŋˤVt having ‘cut off’ semantics. This word turns out to be another example of the spreading process described in my two last post, though only as far as vowel spreading goes. The pharyngealization specification does not spread.
Like 劓 , 刖 refers to the punishment of criminals: it consists of cutting off a criminal’s 跪, OC *[g](r)ojʔ. The verb phrase 刖跪 occurs several times in 《韓非子·內儲說下》and in《說苑. 正諫》, meaning ‘to cut off the 跪’. 跪 is not so much ‘foot’ (Karlgren) as ‘lower leg, leg below the knee’, so 跪 as the verb ‘to kneel’ is derived from the noun ‘leg below the knee’. Proto-Hmong-Mien (Ratliff) borrowed the noun 跪 as *ɟu̯əiH ‘knee’.
Independently from this, we have to modify the vowel of 刖. Bill Baxter observed in 2018 that 刖 seems to rhyme as *-ot in 周易 hexagram 47 ䷮ 困: “九五：劓刖，困于赤紱，乃徐有說，利用祭祀。Accordingly we should now reconstruct 刖 *ŋˤ<r>ot > ngwaet > yuè ‘amputate the leg(s) below the knee’ 0306h.
Thus, like 二 and 皕 (*i), and like 鼻 and 劓 (*i), 刖 and 跪 have the same vowel, *o. Under my hypothesis, there must have existed a nominal compound ‘cutting off the lowel leg’, perhaps the name of the punishment, consisting of the bodypart name plus the verb *ŋˤVt ‘to cut off’ whose vowel could be *a or *u, but neither of *i or *o. Thus:
cutting off the nose *m-bi[t]-s + ŋˤVt > ŋit
cutting off the lower legs *[g](r)ojʔ + ŋˤVt > ŋˤ<r>ot
In both cases the first member’s vowel replaced the second’s. However in the last example the pharyngealization feature did not spread. The <r> infix in its ‘distributed action’ meaning makes perfect sense in a verb for ‘to cut both legs below the knee’.