This book is a basic textbook for those who wish to learn the Manchu language. The book consists of 24 lessons, and can be divided into three sections:
Section 1: Introduction to Manchu grammar and the Manchu script
This section includes 12 lessons, each of which includes a short text or dialogue followed by a vocabulary list and then an introduction to a particular grammatical feature of the language.
- Lesson 11 is a summary of all the grammatical features from lessons 1-10 and can be used for revision or can be printed out to be used as a basic Manchu grammar.
- The Manchu script is not taught until lesson 12 (contrary to most textbooks) due to the difficult nature of the script and the fact that it is much easier to learn the script once you possess a basic vocabulary and understanding of the phonetic features of the Manchu language.
Section 2: Readings in the Manchu Language
This section includes 12 readings in the Manchu Language. Each reading includes a vocabulary list, as well as a translation and explanation of the text.
Section 3: Other information on the Manchu Language
This section includes a vocabulary list, further vocabulary as well as some general information on Tungusic languages and a brief introduction to the Jurchen language and script.
At the bottom of the page there is also a link to the Online Library of Manchu Language Texts which is currently part of this Wikibook. The library is in development.
Manchu is a Manchu-Tungusic language spoken in Northeast China; it used to be the language of the Manchus, and the official language of the Qing dynasty. Nowdays most Manchus speak Chinese and there are far fewer than 60 native speakers of Manchu out of a total of more than 10 million ethnic Manchus. Most native speakers now live in Sanjiazi (三家子) which is a small village about 40km north of Qiqihar (齐齐哈尔) in Heilongjiang province. Although the spoken language is nearly extinct in North East China, the Manchu language lives on in the form of Sibe, which still has 30,000 speakers most of which live in Cabcal Sibe Autonomous County (察布查尔錫伯自治县) near Ili in Xinjiang province, Western China.
Manchu is a member of the Manchu-Tungusic language family which is believed by some scholars to be a branch of the Altaic language family (along with Mongolic and Turkic). Manchu is an agglutinative language that features both vowel harmony and a Subject-Object-Verb sentence structure. Although it is not particularly hard to learn (especially in comparison to Chinese) many would wonder why you would bother learning a language that is spoken by so few people and whose future does not look that promising. Some reasons could include:
- An interest in Manchu-Tungusic languages
- An interest in Qing dynasty history, especially considering the amount of archival material in Manchu
- General intellectual curiosity
- To gain a deeper understanding of Manchu culture
- The script is pretty
- It is an easy way to read the Chinese classics (most of them were translated into Manchu)
Online Library of Manchu Language TextsEdit
The Online Library of Manchu Language Texts aims to provide a one stop collection of Manchu texts that are no longer subject to copyright laws. All texts use the Mollendorff transliteration method, which will mean that any user that wants to download the text can just cut and paste the content straight from the page. As this is a wiki users will be able to make corrections and monitor changes in the texts to ensure accuracy. The Online Library is currently part of this Wikibook but may end up being moved to Wikisource in the future. To visit the online library Click Here!
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