Manchu language study has played a significant role in the history of Western sinology. The Catholic Fathers who began to study Manchu after the conquest in 1644 often noted the relative ease with which it could be mastered. Unlike Chinese, which Father Domingo Navarette had described as “doubtless the most difficult [language]in the world … dreadful and stupendious (sic),” Manchu possessed a structure readily amenable to the categories and techniques of traditional Western grammatical analysis. An extreme expression of Western infatuation with this “more logical” language can be seen in H.E.M. James statement that if the Manchus “had imposed their language rather than their pigtails on their conquered foes, how much better it would have been.”
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