Qing Imperial Multilingualism.

Alexander Golikov has what looks like an interesting paper at Academia: Translating through the Cultural Barriers: the Qing Imperial Multilingualism. Here’s the abstract:

The Qing Empire, from its establishment in the Manchu homeland, followed with the con-quest of Ming China, and dramatic expansion towards Inner Asia, became one of the largest imperial states in the history of China. By 1800s it encompassed proper China, Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet, and Eastern Turkistan. Bringing such different (ethnically, culturally and historically) regions under the sole Son of Heaven inevitably led to development of various political practices to deal with the challenge of complexity.

The Qing dynasty practiced various administrative modes (the civil bureaucracy, the Eight banners, Jasagh, Beg) to govern separate categories of the populace. Also important was building the all-encompassing concept of Emperorship, which was able to address simultaneously to the distinct political cultures of, e.g. post-imperial Mongolian törö/ulus, Tibetan concept of mchod-yon or the Turkic-Muslim combination of the Islamic, post-Qarahanid, and Chinggisid elements.

Another manifestation of the Qing multicultural approach may be found in the multilingual glossaries, composed during the last half of the 1700s, notably the Manchu-Han-Mongol-Tibetan-Turki Pentaglot or six-lingual Description of the Western Region or the Glossary of the Six Boards.

Particularly interesting is the variety of translation of the institutional (e.g. the Court of the Outer Dependencies), ethnic (Korean, Russian, Muslim, etc.) and geographical (especially in contemporary Xinjiang) names. Occasionally they reflect unique historical background, in other situations the translation tend to emphasize different cultural perceptions (from ummah-al-islamiya to sedentary/nomadic dichotomy). We may find the concepts which (through translation) were imposed on the conquered population or, alternatively, imported from one linguistic milieu to another.

Broadening the approach, we may encounter similar phenomena in the cultural practices of both con-temporary world (e.g. in the so-called Gunpowder Empires, that are the Ottoman Turkey, Safavid-Qajar Iran and Mughal India) and in modernity. For example the non-Han translation of the Chinese political vocabulary manifests the careful manipulation of the terms and concepts.

It’s full of interesting bits, like:

The very translation of the title of Emperor was reflecting different cultural norms. The Manchu version is identical to Chinese, while Mongol and Tibetan are representing indigenous concepts of power. Interestingly, the Turki translation is identical to the Mongol. The Manchus faced here the transition from Chinggisid legitimacy to one based on the descent from the Prophet Muḥammad. The fierce opponents of the Qing rule were the kʰwājagān (sing. kʰwāja), leaders of Sufi Brethren and seyid (the descendants of the Prophet). Since the Manchus were not Muslim, they could only claim political authority on the basis that they be-longed to the clan of Chinggis […].

Thanks, Bathrobe!

Comments

  1. I was interested in his comparisons with other empires. For example, the “Gunpowder Empires”:

    Ottomans:

    The Ottoman (‘oṭ mānli) Sultans ruled the mosaic of the Turks, Arabs, Greeks (millet-i rūm), Jews and Armenians (ərmenler) through combining Muslim and post-Byzantine cultural practices. The Greeks, for example, were extensively employed as diplomats and administrator. Pax ottomanica ended with growth of ethnic nationalism, which destroyed Armenian community and purged off the Greek one.

    Iranian dynasties

    The succeeding Iranian dynasties of Safavid (silsalah ṣ afaviyān), Afshar and Qājār were based on military Azeri Turkic élite and civilian bureaucrats of Persian (tājik) origin with respective languages (Turki and Farsi) widely used within Iranian officialdom. The conversion of both groups to the Shi’ah Islam led to formation of the modern nation of Iran.

    India (discussed fairly recently at LH)

    The Mughal conquerors and native Indians (of Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu faith) established, for the short period in 1500-1600s, the Persian-Urdu bilingualism, which collapsed following the Hindu Marathi advance and eventual coming of the Raj. Still India remains largest truly multilingual state with almost two dozens of official and regional languages.

    And of course, Russia:

    The case of the Romanov’s Russian Empire is an interesting object for comparison. At one hand, Russia acquired, from 1500 onwards, the vast territories with highly culturally divergent population. The administrative system displays certain similarities with the Qing Empire. Until 1800s Siberia, for example, was ruled separately from the rest of empire via the so called Siberian Bureau (formerly known as Kazan Bureau), before being put under the control of centrally-appointed Governor-general in Irkutsk.

    When, from 1772-1815 Russia annexed eastern half of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Wschodnie kresy), the Czar’s government preserved the domination of the Polish-Catholic landlords and former Polish legislature (this took two 19th century’s rebellions to make St. Petersburg to start the Russification of what is known now as Ukraine and Belarus.

    The Russian policy in the Muslim Central Asia (Western Turkestan, modern Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan) displayed considerable adaptation to the local customs and habits, and even win the heart of certain Muslim clergy and leaders.

    To continue the similarities, the dictionaries and glossaries for the various languages were also composed, e.g. one for the indigenous languages of the eastern part of Russia.

    This may be claimed, with definite caution and reservations, that on local and regional levels, the Russian imperial modus operandi was based on understanding of cultural diversity and allowing, de facto if not de jure, certain level of multilingualism. But, contrary to the Qing example, Russian regional/local multilingualism had little impact on the central level of bureaucracy and imperial court. One can easily imagine Western European languages, e.g. French, German or English widely spoken by the upper level of the Russian imperial administrators. But the languages of the subjects of the Empire (even those having long established literary tradition, like Tartar, Persian or Chaghatay) were definitely out of considerations. Only exception, that should be mention hereby, is Polish during the reign of Alexander I (1801- 1825), who attempted establishing mutual understanding with recently subjugated Poles and brought Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryiski to the Foreign Ministry. But again, the Polish was a European language.

    The Soviet experiment proved to be more multilingualism-friendly, especially prior to the Russification policy of 1930s that reversed the trend. Nowadays Russian Federation finds it hard to allow even symbolical switch from Cyrillic to Latin to its Turkic-speaking citizens.

    I don’t think I’ve seen a similar summing up of the policies of premodern multilingual empires, and especially not the Russian and Soviet empires.

  2. I think I missed that thread. Some commenters at the earlier thread expressed puzzlement over why some languages were Cyrillicised but not others.

    Golikov sees a general cultural Russian tendency to prefer European languages, suggesting racial or cultural prejudices, but that doesn’t work properly for Cyrillisation. Greek, Hebrew, Georgian, Armenian, and Latin (in the Baltic States) scripts were kept but not scripts right across Central Asia. Given that Cyrillicisation was decreed by one man, did this reflect his own cultural preferences?

  3. I find it interesting that whether Russia is included among the “gunpowder empires” seems to be so idiosyncratic. In practical terms, the conquest of northern and north-central Asia by the tsarist regime really had a lot of commonalities to the three canonical gunpowder empires based in Turkey, Iran, and India. Those three examples are canonical because they were the ones that Marshall Hodgson, who coined the term, wrote about. However, it does not seem that intended the list to be exhaustive; it was simply that he was writing a history or Islam, and so he focused on those three Islamic gunpowder empires. (Also, I had not previously realized that Hodgson’s three-volme The Venture of Islam was actually not published until well after his death; I am unclear on how much of the final versions had to be re-edited by his colleague William McNeill.)

  4. Golikov didn’t actually iinclude Russia among the Gunpowder empires. (That was misleading on my part.) He classed the Ottomans, Iranians, and Indians as “Gunpowder Empires”. Perhaps Russians don’t like being lumped with Asians 🙂

  5. David Marjanović says:

    Given that Cyrillicisation was decreed by one man, did this reflect his own cultural preferences?

    Or was he paranoid about the Turkic-speaking peoples finding themselves drawn to Turkey (Latin-writing since 1928) and thus out of the USSR?

  6. @Bathrobe: Yes, I could see that Golikov did not include Russia, and yet you did. Wikipedia, I see, does not include Russia, but plenty of other sources do. It’s just a strangely contingent phenomenon that the Russian Empire might or might not be counted among those gunpowder empires. (I have no idea how Russians—historians or otherwise—feel about the question.)

  7. Or was he paranoid about the Turkic-speaking peoples finding themselves drawn to Turkey (Latin-writing since 1928) and thus out of the USSR?

    Then why did he do it to Mongolian?

  8. Siberian Bureau, Kazan Bureau and Irkutsk doesn’t sound quite right. Приказ Казанского дворца is poorly characterized for near-complete loss of its archives to fires, but it seems to have been based in Moscow for administering a wide range of borderlands. Kingdom of Siberia (Russian ruled) soon followed, and then Governorate of Siberia, based in Tobolsk (with a subordinated Governor General based in Irkutsk).

    Russian wiki doesn’t even have an entry for Gunpowder Empires. Gunpowder in general, and cannons in particular, weren’t of much use in the conquest of Siberia. And most of the wars Russia waged were in Europe, with archenemies Sweden and Poland, and with allies Austria and Prussia against Poland – that’s where the imperial interests centered, not in the territories out East.

    Polish administration didn’t exist in “Ukraine and Belarussia” either – Polish law and administration were only being preserved in Congress Poland after Napoleonic Wars, and not for long. Polish landlords in “Ukraine and Belorussia” were left in place; the uprisings resulted in confiscation of some rebel estates and in withdrawal of recognition of some landless nobility titles, but it was quite limited in scope.

  9. My favorite Chinese dynastic multilingual fact has always been that 哥 (gē, brother) is a clipping of 阿哥 (āgē), from the Turkic aqa/aka/aga (p13). This replaced the prior term 兄 (xiōng, brother) in the Tang dynasty. Anecdotally, I heard that it is because this is what the children of the emperor called An Lushan – himself of Turkic extraction – prior to his titular rebellion.

  10. That’s great! But I thought An Lushan (Rokhshan) was of Iranian extraction.

  11. A few years ago I wondered about unusually developed sailing and maritime terminology in Mongolian. Being landlocked nomadic country it was quite puzzling.

    Later I understood that this was mostly a result of the enormous translation and printing program for Mongolian undertaken by the Qing imperial government.

    Chinese obviously had maritime terminology in abundance having dominated South Seas for centuries (including the Mongol rule period).

    While compiling multilingual glossaries, all of Chinese terminology had to be translated into Mongolian and Manchu and Tibetan necessitating invention of lacking terminology by translators.

    Similar introduction (and invention) of new terminology no doubt occurred during translation of the enormous Tibetan Buddhist canon (several hundred volumes, over four thousand texts) into Mongolian in the same period.

  12. At least according to Wikipedia, An Lushan was (probably) Göktürk by his mother and Sogdian by his father.

  13. Ah, so I was thinking of his paternal line. Thanks.

  14. I always wondered why English imported “Tsar” instead of using “Emperor”, other than a preference for the exoticizing effect similar to “Shah” or “Sultan”. At least in BCS the Ottomans, the Romans, and the Russians all had a “tsar” but in English we use different words for each.

  15. why English imported “Tsar” instead of using “Emperor”
    ditto Kaiser

  16. I always wondered why English imported “Tsar” instead of using “Emperor”

    For one thing, they are two different words in Russian (царь, император).

  17. January First-of-May says:

    I always wondered why English imported “Tsar” instead of using “Emperor”

    Post-1721, this would in any case have been sensible, because “Emperor” became a separate Russian title (император).

    Pre-1721, I dunno. Never really looked into it.

  18. I love the word samodržac which is (I think) one of the Tsar’s titles or at the very least often used in association with the Russian Tsar, it’s sort of perfectly pompous and banal at the same time. I understand it’s a calque of autokrator but in translation it comes across not so much as”self-ruler” as “self-holder”.

  19. January First-of-May says:

    the word samodržac which is (I think) one of the Tsar’s titles

    It is – самодержец.

    I never really thought of it as “self-holder”, but now that I think of it, that is what it means – funny!

    (Admittedly, it’s not exactly this – that would be *самодержатель – which is probably why I never thought of it that way.)

  20. samodržac – it’s a calque from Greek “Autocrat”

    (the adoption of the title happened under Ivan III in the 1400s and was linked to his marriage to Zoe-Sophia Palaiologina, and the respective vague claim to the Byzantine throne)

  21. Trond Engen says:

    Brett: canonical gunpowder empires

    Quoted in appreciation.

  22. Ha, I missed that the first time around!

  23. I’m glad somebody noticed.

  24. David Marjanović says:

    哥 (gē, brother)

    Today 哥哥 (gēge, older brother). “Younger brother” is dìdi, and I won’t look up the character now.

    Then why did he do it to Mongolian?

    Probably so it wouldn’t stand out from Russian and from its neighbors.

  25. Tibetan Buddhist canon

    What a blast!

  26. I always wondered why English imported “Tsar” instead of using “Emperor”

    For the same reason they imported Kaiser.

  27. nemanja says: At least in BCS the Ottomans, the Romans, and the Russians all had a “tsar” but in English we use different words for each.

    In Croatian before 1919, the word “ćesar” or “cesar” was the normal word for the Austrian emperor and the word “car” for the Russian emperor. Of course, in his function as the King of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia, the Habsburg ruler was referred to as “kralj” (king) and not as an emperor.

    On one occasion, the local Serbs sparked a diplomatic incident when they addressed Franz Joseph as the emperor during a state visit to Zagreb.

    After 1919, due to the intense Serbianisation of the “B and C” components of so-called “BCS”, and the tabooing of all things Habsburg, words such as “ćesar”, “cesar”, “cesarovina” and “monarkija” (“monarchy”, with a K rather than H) were suppressed and fell out of use.

  28. Russian version of autokrator meant originally “an independent ruler” and then changed into “absolute monarch”. That said, Ivan IV who liked to think of himself as autokrator would be very surprised that there is a difference.

  29. The meaning is actually the same.

    True autocrator doesn’t share his power with anyone – inside or outside the country.

  30. Here I think I find the source of my confusion, previously chronicled here. The Byzantine emperor was “emperor and autocrat of all the Romans*.” So how did the Russian imitation of this title get to be “… autocrat of all the Russias,” rather than “Russians”?

    *The meaning of “Romans” in Asia Minor seems to have become very confused by around 1000 C.E. Witness the “Seljuk Sultanate of Rum,” and later references to the Ottoman Empire as “Roman” by the other Muslim states further east

  31. @zyxt
    The local Croatian Serbs spoke in a dialect from Serbia, leading to a breach of etiquette regarding Emperor vs. King, am I understanding you correctly?

    And surely FJ was still ćesar in Dalmatia as it was a Cisleithanian crownland? Of course, bei uns im Bosnien he was the car, as we were sui generis and not submerged into the Hungarian portion of the monarchy. I’m most familiar with ćesar from Jesus’ famous “dajte ćesaru ćesarevo” which gives it a very archaic feel and also a very Dalmatian feel. Anyway, whatever he was called, at least in my own family lore Austrian rule was fondly remembered and its loss deeply regretted.

    The term BCS(M) is clunky but it’s a convenient shorthand that reconciles tender nationalist feelings with observable linguistic reality, even though I speak B the CSM has no trouble understanding me or I them. They cannot be meaningfully analyzed in isolation from each other. I don’t find your explanation for the disappearance of those words convincing, given the meagre administrative capacities of the SHS Kingdom. How were these terms repressed while Croatian cultural institutions such as JAZU operated freely? And in any case some of those words like ćesar didn’t disappear; and if “monarkija” was skunked for its K&K associations why did “anarkija” become anarhija? Croatian is forever purging itself of perceived Serbisms, so it imagines a corresponding counter-tendency in Serbian which isn’t there; Serbian delights in perceiving Croatian as aiming for purity even as it expunges Turkish words. What would they do without each other?

  32. Brett, I would argue that the confusion about the meaning of “Roman” is a modern one rather than something that existed at the time. Western Historiography invented the post facto (and pejorative) term Byzantine Empire in order to imply some kind of drastic break or change in form from the Roman Empire when the story is really one of continuity. There was no confusion about who lived in Asia Minor circa 1000 CE – it was Romans (Rhomaioi). It wasn’t until after the Ottoman conquest that the Rhomaioi renamed themselves Hellenes – or named, depending on how you look at it. Mehmed the Conqueror certainly had no doubt who he vanquished in 1451, taking the title Kayser-i-Rum.

  33. So how did the Russian imitation of this title get to be “… autocrat of all the Russias,” rather than “Russians”?

    No idea how it happened from a linguistic point of view, but Russian tzardom was really related to the land, not the people. Princes of Moscow and then Russian tzars believed that they own their whole country as their property, their demesne. Other people lived there only on sufferance. As an illustration, Nicholas II answered the census question about his occupation with “the owner of the Russian land”.

  34. The adjective is Всероссійскій which I think means “of all Russia” rather than “of all the Russias” which comes across as a flourish added by some translator, I guess if you count Belorussia there are at least two Russias and probably more that I don’t know about.

    But even that title looks relatively modest compared to the 14th century Serbian Tsar Dušan, “Emperor and Autocrat of the Serbs and Greeks, the Bulgarians and Albanians, basileus and autokrator of Serbia and Romania” (Romania here being used to mean “land of the Romans”).

    Moreover, Dušan pulled this shit while there was still an Emperor in Constantinople (however decimated his territory), and the medieval notion to translatio imperii did not allow for the possibility of more than one. In any event, this was apparently regarded as a dick move even by his contemporaries and courtiers as he is the only medieval ruler of Serbia that has not been canonized. Fortunately for Dušan, later generations were less fussy about how many emperors was too many, and also they saw his conquests not so much as reckless adventurism, but as a sensible blueprint for a modern political program that the newly created Serbian state should follow.

  35. it was Romans (Rhomaioi). It wasn’t until after the Ottoman conquest that the Rhomaioi renamed themselves Hellenes

    I think they still call themselves Romans.

    Eímai Romiá (I am a Greek) by Melina Mercouri, 1974.

    Istoríes, fasaríes, poú `saste, moré paidiá,
    tí mou léne, ti mou léne, pos den eímai pia Romiá,
    írthan oi karavanádes kai mou píran ta chartiá
    kai mou féran ta mantáta, pos den eímai pia Romiá,
    kai mou féran ta mantáta, pos den eímai pia Romiá.

    Stories, troubles, where are you, guys?
    What are they telling me, telling me, I’m no longer Greek?
    Officers came and took my papers away
    and they told me the news, that I’m no longer a Greek!
    And they told me the news, that I’m no longer a Greek!

    Mamá mou, ísoun frónimi, to xéro egó kalá
    kai o bampás mou to `lege pos ísouna Romiá.

    My mother, you had been prudent, I know that well,
    And daddy used to tell me that you were Greek indeed!

    Na vriskómouna stin Tíno kai n’ anápso éna kerí,
    na milíso, na dakrýso, na rotíso to giatí,
    pes mou, pes mou, Panagiá mou, ti eínai toúta ta stoicheiá
    pou mas válane sto gýpso kai mas píran ta chartiá,
    pou mas válane sto gýpso kai mas píran ta chartiá.

    If only I were at Tinos island to light a candle,
    to speak, to cry, to ask “why”
    tell me, tell me, Holy Mother, what are these ghosts,
    that put us in the plaster cast and took our papers away!
    That put us in the plaster cast and took our papers away!

    Mamá mou, ísoun frónimi, to xéro egó kalá
    kai o bampás mou to `lege pos ísouna Romiá.

    My mother, you had been prudent, I know that well,
    And daddy used to tell me that you were Greek indeed!

    Ach, ragiádes, galonádes, Amerikanón padiá,
    pós to léte, pós to léte, pos den eímai egó Romiá,
    tha sas pároun to kefáli, tha `rthoun píso ta paidiá,
    tha mou dósoun ta chartiá mou kai tha zíso sa Romiá,
    tha mou dósoun ta chartiá mou kai tha zíso sa Romiá.

    Ah, enslaved ones, brass, American children,
    how can you say, can you say, that I’m no longer a Greek?
    They will have your heads, the boys will be back.
    they will give me my papers back and I will live as a Greek!
    They will give me my papers back and I will live as a Greek!

    I istoría téleiose, ta zoa sta klouviá,
    i thálassa apéranti ki egó páli Romiá.

    The tale is over, the animals are in the cages,
    the sea is vast and I am a Greek!

  36. The song refers to events in Melina Mercouri’s life when

    At the time of the coup d’état in Greece by a group of colonels of the Greek military on 21 April 1967, she was in the United States, playing in Illya Darling. She immediately joined the struggle against the Greek Military Junta and started an international campaign, travelling all over the world to inform the public and contribute to the isolation and fall of the colonels. As a result, the dictatorial regime revoked her Greek citizenship and confiscated her property.[6]

    When her citizenship was taken away, she said: “I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek. Those bastards were born fascists and they will die fascists”.

  37. nemanja say: The local Croatian Serbs spoke in a dialect from Serbia, leading to a breach of etiquette regarding Emperor vs. King, am I understanding you correctly?

    It was not a dialectal issue, but a political issue. This particular grouping of Serbs viewed themselves as being subject to the emperor, rather than as the subjects of the King of Croatia-Dalmatia-Slavonia.

    From my recollection there was a strong movement by the Serbs in A-H, encouraged by the Hungarians, to attempt to reconstitute a Serb Vojvodina that existed for a while around 1848. This was encouraged by the Hungarians as it suited them well to weaken the Triune Kingdom.

    Regarding the suppression of Croatian words, all you need to do is look at Croatian newspapers and magazines published in 1917 v those published in 1920. The amount of Serbian words and vocabulary is overwhelming.

    Croatians institutions operated “freely” only while they paid tribute to the regime. JAZU was the “Yugoslav” academy. As soon as they got out of line, there were arrests and exile. Press censorship was rampant even before Alexander I instituted his dictatorship and banned the use of the Croatian flag.

  38. David Eddyshaw says:

    I think SFReader is right; the Greeks called themselves Romei right through the Ottoman period: Elines then meant “heathens”, as it had done since long before 1453. The name got reclaimed to mean “Greek” after independence, and even then did not completely oust Romei.

    There’s a curious parallel in Syriac, where “Aramaean” gets to mean “heathen” too. I was taken aback reading the Peshitta to find Timothy’s father apparently described as an Aramaean, until the penny dropped. The translators had understood the “Greek” of the original as “pagan” (which is actually quite natural in context, where T’s father is contrasted with his believing mother.)

  39. David Eddyshaw says:

    I imagine “Greek” basically did duty for “gentile” in Jewish Greek of that time and place, though I don’t know much about it. If so, the shift of meaning from “gentile” to “heathen” when Jewish texts were adopted by (gentile) Christians would be not so much natural as inevitable.

    I suppose it’s also a warning against ahistorically projecting our own very time- and culture-bound concepts of ethnicity onto other cultures. Even in the twentieth century, during the ethnic cleansing after the Greco-Turkish war, you were/became a Greek if you were a Turkish-speaking Orthodox Christian, and a Turk if you were a Greek-speaking Muslim.

  40. On “samodrzac”, from Curta’s fantastic “Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 501-1250”, in reference to Stefan Nemanja:

    Since he referred to himself as “the first-crowned” (Prvovenčani), Stefan is traditionally viewed as the first king of Serbia. However, his official title was autocrat (samodržac), which is the word later used in the inscription from the Church of the Forty Holy Martyrs in Tărnovo in reference to John Asen.

  41. Thanks for the recommendation! I was going to have a sample sent to my Kindle, but: “This title is not supported on Kindle E-readers or Kindle for Windows 8 app.” Bah.

  42. OK, I am curious how Stefan got to be called Nemanja and what exactly does it mean.

    I can only parse this name as Stefan “Have-Nothing”.

    His English colleague and contemporary was called John “Lackland”, as I recall.

  43. His original name was Nemanja, but once he ousted his brothers and received the crown from the Pope, he gained the name Stefan “the crowned one”. It was some sort of a Bosnian and Serbian medieval custom that all kings became “Stephen” upon accession.

  44. zyxt, JAZU was founded by Strossmeyer long before there was a Yugoslavia and continues to exist to this day as the Croatian Academy, so it’s more than a little misleading to portray it as a regime institution.

    And to reiterate, Croatia and Slavonia were entirely separate from Dalmatia in A-H and did not share political institutions. The Sabor was dominated by the Croatian-Serb coalition, who resisted magyarization which was a very real and very active attempt to suppress the Croatian language.

    “Regarding the suppression of Croatian words, all you need to do is look at Croatian newspapers and magazines published in 1917 v those published in 1920. The amount of Serbian words and vocabulary is overwhelming.”

    There is no scientific or historical basis for the view that, e.g., ‘obožavatelj’ is Croatian and ‘obožavalac’ is Serbian or that ’tisuća’ is more Croatian than ‘hiljada’. On this point Croatian linguistics is hopelessly adrift from modern linguistic science.

  45. You seem ideally placed to answer SFReader’s question: what is the origin/meaning of the name Nemanja?

  46. OK, I am curious how Stefan got to be called Nemanja and what exactly does it mean.

    I can only parse this name as Stefan “Have-Nothing”.

    I’m often asked this question, and so I was obliged to research it. But there is no definitive answer. You’re not far off from the most common view, that it’s related to the verb “nemati” i.e. “not-having”, so “nemanje” is the state of not-having. Another theory is that it’s from “ne-manji” (not-lesser), as in Stefan Not-Lesser (than the Tsar I guess?). Or it could be derived from “neman”(from nemьn – ie not-think, as in “that which must not be even thought about”), nowadays meaning “monster/demon”, which would fit with the tradition of protective names such as Vuk (wolf). Still another theory is that it means “blond/fair-haired”, by negation from “crnomanja” (“black/dark haired”), and this fits with the known physical descriptions of the Nemanjić rulers. Finally there is the view that it’s a mangled transcription of the name of Nehemiah, some court official or whatever from the Old Testament.

  47. Fascinating — I’m glad we asked! (Also frustrating, of course, but them’s the breaks.)

  48. Trond Engen says:

    nemanja: Still another theory is that it means “blond/fair-haired”, by negation from “crnomanja” (“black/dark haired”)

    Not “bald” (“no-haired”)?

  49. The negation applies to “black”, so it’s “not-black” rather than “no-hair”: “-manja” here comes from “-mastnjast”, and “mast” which nowadays means “grease/fat” is here still used in its older sense of “color/paint”. “Crnomanjast” can mean black eyes, black hair, a dark/olive complexion or some combination of those, and also carries a strong implication of “slightly built/short” ( ie by prevailing Bosnian standards anything under 1.8 m).

    Also a delightful new thing I learned is that it was attested in Croatia earlier than in Serbia, on the island of Krk in the 11th century. So even the name widely perceived to be unique to Serbian turns out to be Croatian as well.

  50. Then why did he do it to Mongolian?

    Probably so it wouldn’t stand out from Russian and from its neighbors.

    That is very lame. Theoretically, at least, Mongolia was an independent country. It would have been easy to make an exception since Mongolia wasn’t actually part of the Soviet Union.

    What I read somewhere was that Stalin got so fed up with reports from the Soviet Union (and its Mongolian vassal) written in a hodge podge of scripts that he basically said: ‘To hell with it: make them all write Cyrillic’. Maybe just someone’s interpretation. Still, he appears to have been more biased against the Asian parts of the empire. Being Georgian himself, maybe he had more tolerance (or respect) for the Caucasian parts.

    Or maybe he just disliked scripts that didn’t go from right to left across the page (Arabic and Mongolian scripts).

    All this is rank speculation, of course. Maybe Hatters from Russia would have a better idea.

  51. Did Mongolia ever have an official Latin script? Or did the reform go directly from Mongolian script to Cyrillic?

  52. David Marjanović says:

    Being Georgian himself, maybe he had more tolerance (or respect) for the Caucasian parts.

    He had all languages of Georgia use the Georgian script, including Abkhaz, which wrote Cyrillic before and after him.

    Did Mongolia ever have an official Latin script?

    Yes, though I don’t think it got used much in the general chaos of the 1920s.

  53. Whoa nemanja, take it easy.
    I never said JAZU was a regime institution. What I said was that it was allowed to exist because it toed the regime line. Any institution in a dictatorship will have a very short existence if it doesnt bow down to the official ideology. In the Yugoslav kingdom the official ideology was that Serbs, Croats and Slovenes are all the same people, speaking the one language. There was no room for Macedonians (who were regarded as inhabitants of a south Serbia), Montenegrins (officially regarded as Serbs, with the Montenegrin statehood brutally put down using the full force of the military , gendarmes, secret police and the state apparatus) and Albanians.
    The fact is that throughout the kingdom period,the Croatian language was regarded as a dialect that needs to be extirpated in favour of something that can be understood by everyone. That something was the Serbian language. This was done not only by the government and Serb academics, but also by b***kissers in Croatia and Bosnia & Hercegovina. It’s undeniable that the language change following 1918 was drastic.
    The partisan movement in WW2 tried to correct this by declaring Croatian and Serbian both to be official languages.

    My initial comment was that the Croatian had a separate word for the Austrian emperor: cesar. That word was suppressed and tabooed after 1918. This happened to other Croatian words in favour of “common” ie. Serb words. Thankfully it didnt happen to all Croatian words, so Croatian eg. retained the use of “tisuća” for 1000.

  54. John Cowan says:

    Nemanja: A spirited discussion from 2015 on what kinds of loanwords Standard Croatian does and doesn’t accept (triggered by a misunderstanding of mine, as quite often here), along with a nice comparison between Kajkavian and Scots (also mine).

  55. Wikipedia (Cyrillic alphabet in Mongolian):

    It [Cyrillic] was introduced in the 1940s in the Mongolian People’s Republic under Soviet influence,after two months in 1941 where Latin was used as the official script, while Latinisation in the Soviet Union was in vogue.

    But that simplifies matters (Wikipedia, Mongolian Latin alphabet):

    The Mongolian Latin script … was officially adopted in Mongolia in 1931. In 1939, the second version of the Latin alphabet was introduced but not used widely until it was replaced by the Cyrillic script in 1941.

    In the early 1930s, under the influence of latinisation in the Soviet Union, a draft alphabet on a Latin basis was developed in the Mongolian People’s Republic. This alphabet was used in several articles in the Ynen newspaper, but did not receive official status.

    On February 1, 1941, Mongolia officially switched to a modified Latin alphabet, which was successfully used for some time to print books and newspapers. However, two months later, on March 25, this decision was canceled. According to official explanations, the adopted writing system was not well thought out: it did not cover all the sounds of the Mongolian language and was difficult to use.

    The adoption of the Cyrillic alphabet occurred almost simultaneously with the Cyrillization in the USSR, therefore, the rejection of the Latin alphabet could be due to political considerations.

    ‘due to political considerations’ — delicately put. I don’t think there is any doubt it was imposed by Stalin.

    There is a best-selling Mongolian book, The Green-Eyed Lama, set in the Stalinist era in Mongolia that some Hatters might like to put on their reading list. It was written by a former Minister for Culture, Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, and her American husband Jeffrey Falt. The story is based on reminiscences of Oyungerel’s grandmother, fleshed out with a lot of historical research. Oyungerel wrote the basic notes (in English, I presume), Jeffrey rewrote them filling them out into a vivid narrative, and Oyungerel then translated this into Mongolian. So it is truly a bilingual effort.

    It’s a love story, but at the back of the book is a long list of real people in that particular area who were murdered in Stalin’s late-30s purges. A friend of mine said she cried when she read it. (The green eyes refers to a stigmatised trait carried by many people in northern Mongolia, which appears to be fairly common also among Buryats.)

    For more details, see the link. It’s available on Amazon.

  56. There’s a harrowing description of the Mongolian purges in David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten.

  57. Incidentally, there used to be a museum dedicated to the victims of political persecution in Mongolia containing memorabilia from victims of the late 30s purges. As I remember, all of the personal letters on display were in the Mongolian traditional script.

    The museum was housed in a very old 2-storey wooden house belonging to former Prime Minister Genden, who refused to carry out Stalin’s purges and was executed in the Soviet Union in 1937.

    The museum is supposedly going to be recreated in a tall office building that is slated to be erected on the spot where the old house stood.

  58. The hardest hits by Mongolian purges of 1930s were the Mongolian Buryats. Most of them escaped to Mongolia from Russia’s Transbaikal province fleeing ethnic cleansing (disguised as fight against counter-revolutionaries) during the Russian Civil War, so they were already suspects (often accused of having loyalties to ataman Semyonov, Transbaikal Cossack warlord hiding under protection of the Japanese in Manchuria).

  59. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    Going back to ćesar, IIRC Prota Mateja Nenadović uses it throughout his memoirs to refer to the Austrian emperor, whom he’d met personally. Nenadović was from Western Serbia (i.e. not from the A-H BCS-speaking lands, and certainly not from present day Croatia).

  60. My initial comment was that the Croatian had a separate word for the Austrian emperor: cesar. That word was suppressed and tabooed after 1918. This happened to other Croatian words in favour of “common” ie. Serb words. Thankfully it didnt happen to all Croatian words, so Croatian eg. retained the use of “tisuća” for 1000.

    Prota Mateja was clearly a crypto-Catholic, there’s no other explanation.

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