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Manchu Translations of Chou Dynasty Texts

  • Stephen Durrant (a1)


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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1. The Travels and Controversies of Friar Domingo Navarette, ed. by Cummins, J. S. (Cambridge University Press, 1962) 2:10,168.

2. The Long White Mountain (New York, 1888), 135.

3. The details of this dispute are given in an article currently in preparation.

4. Ssu-shu chi-chu (SPPY ed.) 2:11b.

5. Von Der Gabelentz, Hans Conon, Sse-schu, Schu-king, Schi-king in Mandschuischer Uebersetzung (Leipzig, 1864), 32.

6. Chao, Y. R., A Grammar of Spoken Chinese (Berkeley, 1970), 702.

7. Gabelentz, V. D., Sse-schu, 20.

8. An intriguing example of this is Stanislas Jullen's reference to a complete Manchu translation of Shih-chi. See Bibliographie tartare. Traductions mandchoues d'ouvrages chinois,” Mémoires de la société des études japonaises 8 (1889):519. I have not found this text listed in any more recent catalogues.

9. Fuchs, Walter, Beiträge zur mandjurisehen Bibliographie und Literatur (Tokyo, 1936), 44.

10. Sse-schu, 221-304.

11. Fuchs, , Beiträge, 47.

12. Legge, , The Chinese Classics, 1 (Oxford, 1893):130; and Haenisch, , “Untersuchungen über zwei Sprüche des Konfuzius,” AM 2 (1925):379381.

13. Sse-schu, 151-220.

14. Tsch'un-ts'iu mit den drei Kommentaren Tso-tschuan, Kung-yang-tschuan und Ku-liang-tsfhuan in Mandschuischer Ubersetzung (Wiesbaden, 1959), 1.

15. Fuchs, 126.

16. Le Yi-king traduit d'apres Tes interpretes chi ni os avec la version mandchoue (Paris, 1879), 50214.

17. Fuchs, 44.

18. Section 6 of Li Chi has been transcribed by Teza, Emilio in his “Mangiurica,” Annali delle università toscane 16 (1879):135220.

19. Laufer, Berthold, “Skizze der manjurischen Literatur,” Keleti Szemle 9 (1908):2728.

20. Fuchs, 46-47.

21. For the Harvard-Yenching Library text see the librarian's unpublished handlist. The Peking text is described by Te-ch'i, Li in Man-wen shu-chi lien-ho mu-lu (Peking, 1933), 3.

22. Notices et extraits des manuscripts de la bibliothèque du roi 10:269426.

23. Sse-schu, 1-149.

24. Surveyed by Fuchs, 29.

25. Fuchs, 126.

26. Manchurian Translation of Lao-tzu's Tao-te-ching--Romanized Text,” The China Review 25 (1900):157–161, 228235.

27. ZDMG 65 (1911):759770.

28. A Manchu Version of Sun Tzu,” Hu-t'ien han-yü fanq-chu 6 (Berkeley, 1933).

29. Li, 4.

30. Die kaiserliche Ku-wen-Anthologie von 1685/6. Ku-wen Yuan-chien in mandjurischer Übersetzung, I. Kap. 1-24 (Chou bis Chin Dynastie) (Wiesbaden 1969).

31. Chan-kuo ts'e, tr. by Crump, J. I. Jr. (Oxford, 1970).

32. Li, 35.

33. For several other Ku-wen anthologies, see Gimm, p. lxii.

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Early China
  • ISSN: 0362-5028
  • EISSN: 2325-2324
  • URL: /core/journals/early-china
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