REVIVING MANCHU.

A couple of years ago, in this post, I linked to a NY Times story about an “isolated village in northeastern China” with eighteen residents, “all over 80 years old, who, according to Chinese linguists and historians, are the last native speakers of Manchu”; now Ian Johnson at the Wall Street Journal has “In China, the Forgotten Manchu Seek to Rekindle Their Glory,” about Hasutai, who “along with a band of like-minded young people in half a dozen Chinese cities” is trying to reconnect with his Manchu heritage by gathering materials and running classes. He’s heading to the far west of China to try to solve this problem:

Indeed, with virtually no native speakers left, it isn’t always clear how to speak the words. In the Qing dynasty, a textbook had been developed for Chinese wanting to learn their rulers’ languages, with Chinese characters to suggest how to pronounce Manchu letters. That helped, as did a system of transcribing Manchu script into Roman letters devised by European missionaries and academics. But even today, Manchus can’t agree on how to pronounce one of the vowels, let alone how to make the language flow naturally.
Hasutai decided the answer lay in a remote corner of China: Qapqal, a county on the Kazakh border. In the 18th century, one of China’s most famous emperors, Qianlong, sent members of the Xibe tribe to the newly conquered steppes of Central Asia. Close Manchu allies, the Xibe spoke what essentially was a dialect of Manchu. Isolated from the currents that wiped out Manchu speakers in their heartland, the Xibe kept the language in this remote region.

Thanks for the heads-up, MV!
Also, I’d like to extend hearty congratulations and a warm thank-you to Mark Woods, whose wood s lot is nine years old today. Keep up the good work, and thanks for all the hats!

Comments

  1. John Emerson says:

    This book suggests that the Manchus survive in China as a Chinese-speaking ethnic group, like American Jews. The Manchus were destroyed mostly by Sinification. The Jurchen (related to the Manchus) were being Sinified around 1100 AD; the Jin Emperors were ethnic Jurchen, but most of them discouraged Jurchen ethnic identity.
    The last Manchu emperor refused to learn the language. He’s the one whose cousin came to class with him, to be beaten if the crown prince misbehaved.

  2. You might also want to check out Randy Alexander’s Echoes of Manchu blog, spun off from Beijing Sounds last year. Introductory post here.

  3. “Wiped out” is definitely misleading, as it seemed to the first commenter. The Manchu language was a victim of its speakers’ success, not its speakers’ extermination.
    According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_China “The major minority ethnic groups are Zhuang (16.1 million), Manchu (10.6 million), Hui (9.8 million), Miao (8.9 million), Uyghur (8.3 million), Tujia (8 million), Yi (7.7 million), Mongol (5.8 million), Tibetan (5.4 million), Buyei (2.9 million), Dong (2.9 million), Yao (2.6 million), Korean (1.9 million), Bai (1.8 million), Hani (1.4 million), Kazakh (1.2 million), Li (1.2 million), and Dai (1.1 million)” out of 105 million total.
    The Manchu, Hui, and some of the groups further down are almost completely Chinese-speaking, while Zhuang, Mongol and some others persist in the countryside but quickly give way to Chinese among educated and urban speakers, in spite of the well-known presence of Traditional Mongolian and Latin Zhuang text on Chinese money. The only languages whose growth I would bet money on are Uyghur and Korean.

  4. Allan Millar says:

    This article is very interesting.

  5. Manchu is something of a Far Eastern counterpart to Frankish: the language of a conquering ethnic group which gave way to the language of its subjects, because the cultural prestige of the latter was such that even the military-political supremacy of the conquerors could not compensate for the lack of prestige of their language.
    If anything the Manchu case is more remarkable than that of Frankish: after all, whereas Northern Gallo-Romance (a.k.a. French) emerged supreme in Northern France, it was heavily influenced by Frankish. As I understand it, Northern Mandarin, on the other hand, has been little affected by Manchu (any sinologists out there who can confirm this?).

  6. Etienne,
    I know there have been some areal effects involving Mongolian, but I don’t knwo if Manchu was involved as well. In both Mandarin and Mongolian k went to h in some environemnts. I don’t know if the pattern really fits for both languages; just something I have noticed. It wasn’t something Chinese linguists were likely to talk about much back when I noticed it.
    Also there has been a verb-final teend over the centuries in northern Chinese. That may eflect influence from surrounding languages.

  7. John Emerson says:

    Just going a little further, language survival and culture survival aren’t identical. Irish culture today is pretty recognizably Irish, even though 97% of the Irish are primarily English speakers, only 14% use it daily, and 50%+ never speak Irish and probably don’t know it.
    FOREIGN INVADERS AND RULERS
    Frankish: language lost
    Bulgarian (a Turkish language ca. 1000 AD): language lost
    Anglo-Saxon: mostly replaced native languages
    Hungarian: replaced native languages
    Latin: often replaced native languages
    Arabic: replaced native languages in large areas, but not Persia
    Anatolian Turkish: encroached on native languages without replacing them
    Swedish: replaced Finnish in parts of Finland, but the tide has turned
    Persian: a language of conquest 2500 years ago, gradually became a national language. But Aramaic was the administrative language for a long period.
    Russian: some tendency to replace native languages, but slowly
    Chinese: gradually replaced most of the languages of the South; absorbed many conqueror languages, but not Mongol. Tibetan and Uighur seem resistant.
    English in India: became a national second language.
    That’s off the top of my head and additions and corrections are welcome.

  8. Well we write a kind of Danish, but it sounds totally different and the culture is very different.

  9. Well we write a kind of Danish, but it sounds totally different and the culture is very different.

  10. language survival and culture survival aren’t identical
    The militarily superior Akkadians overran the Sumerians (“history begins at Sumer”) who were the first to develop a written language, among other things, but the Akkadians were unable to cope with the bureaucracy created by their conquest and had to turn to the Sumerians for both the running of the empire and a system of writing for recording their own (unrelated) language.

  11. John,
    You ignored our own continent – maybe too obvious:
    Spanish mostly replaced indigenous languages in Central and Western South America, and the trend continues.
    English replaced the indigenous languages in most of North America among most indigenous groups.
    French may have replaced indigenous languages originally in some areas of North America but I would guess most indigenous people in Canada, even Quebec, speak English better than French, happy to be corrected.

  12. marie-lucie says:

    Similarly Portuguese in Brazil.

  13. Jim: I recall that Jerry Norman wrote that some features of Mandarin do seem to have as their cause the influence of neighboring “Altaic” languages (they are typologically similar, and whether this similarity is due to areal influence or common ancestry or some combination thereof is immaterial here), but Manchu itself, which after all is well-documented, seems not to have deeply influenced Chinese the way Frankish influenced Gallo-Romance.
    Vanya: you’re quite correct, there are more Native Canadians in Quebec speaking English than French as a second language (a majority of them do speak an indigenous language as their L1). The Abenaki (in Quebec) and the Huron only speak French, however. In Louisiana an unrecognized tribe, the Houma, whose original language was Muskogean, now speak Cajun French. Those three languages are the only indigenous languages in the Americas whose speakers have all shifted to French, to my knowledge (in the case of Abenaki speakers in Maine shifted to English, so I guess French “only” eliminated two and a half native languages in North America).
    Outside of Quebec, also, there are French L2 and L1 speakers among many (mostly older) natives in Ontario and the Prairie provinces: the younger generation has mostly shifted to English.
    And it seems to me that the case of English in North America and Australia is somewhat SUI GENERIS, inasmuch as speakers of Native languages quickly became a demographic minority: elsewhere the encroaching language (this includes Spanish and Portuguese in most of the Americas) remained a minority language for a long time and expanded through large-scale shift (which is similar to the expansion of Turkish, Latin, Arabic and most other such imperial languages, whose native speakers initially were a numerical minority): hence Americans of European ancestry heavily outnumber Americans of Native ancestry today, whereas in Mexico, for example, there are far more Mexicans of Native than of European ancestry, despite the country being predominantly Spanish-speaking.

  14. Yet another story of language reclamation/renewal/rebirth, or the attempts thereat. Even the most pessimistic Yiddishist must be glad, however, when considering where they might well be, but for the grace of Got.

  15. Anatolian Turkish: encroached on native languages without replacing them
    Dude. The native language of most of Anatolia was Greek before the Turks came along. Even before 1921 there were very few Greek-speakers left.

  16. I have just got back from a three-day trip to Hohhot, my first to the city. It was depressing. The city is overwhelmingly Chinese, and the Chinese have no knowledge of or interest in Mongolian. Mongolian appears to be obligatory on shop signs, but only for the main sign itself (e.g. “Bank of China”), not for “living” material such as advertisements. I found only three decent-sized bookshops carrying Mongolian books. One of these, the State-run Xinhua bookshop, was pathetic, with three deserted shelves of Mongolian books in a bustling Chinese environment. Apparently it’s not profitable to publish in Mongolian, despite State subsidies. I saw no Mongolian-language newspapers.
    I bought some souvenirs from a Mongol woman who said Mongolian was useless and her children refuse to speak it. Moreover, many of the “Mongols” in Inner Mongolia are fake Mongols — Chinese who have switched to Mongol ethnicity to take advantage of the government’s affirmative action policies. The figure quoted to me was something like 30% of the Mongols may be fake.
    Inner Mongolia is thriving economically because it is coal country. Fortunes are being made. Hohhot is thriving and rapidly expanding with whole new development zones. The government offices and the beautiful new Museum of Inner Mongolia are all in new areas of the city. But since the vast majority of people in Inner Mongolia are ethnic Chinese (normally called “Han Chinese”), and since it is economically far more beneficial to learn Chinese, the prosperity of Inner Mongolia is not going to benefit the Mongol identity. My personal feeling is that the Mongolian language is going to largely disappear in Inner Mongolia, except perhaps for pastoral areas away from the cities. The situation is unlike Mongolia itself, where the maintenance of national independence means that the language thrives in both the countryside and the cities. Eventually it will be up to the Mongols of Mongolia to carry on the Mongolian language because Inner Mongolia is so swamped with ethnic Chinese that the Mongolian language there is gradually shrinking into insignificance.

  17. John Emerson says:

    Armenian and Greek have been replaced, but something like 15% of Turkish nationals speak non-Turkish languages. So I’d say they haven’t quite been replaced.
    To me it’s a peculiar story, because it didn’t happen elsewhere in the Ottoman empire, and Turkish was originally neither a cultural language nor an indigenous language. And the expulsions and massacres around WWI only account for a few million of the tens of millions of non-Turkish Anatolians present in 1453.

  18. This book suggests that the Manchus survive in China as a Chinese-speaking ethnic group, like American Jews.
    John, I think you’re confusing the well known fondness of American Jews for Chinese food with language ability. Most American Jews have, at best, a fair to poor command of Mandarin, and rarely know any other dialects.

  19. Turkish did replace Persian, and presumably numerous lesser languages, in large swaths of Central Asia so it’s spread into Asia Minor is not unprecedented. I’d always assumed the spread of Turkish actually was demographic in nature – the heartland of Asia Minor was largely depopulated through plague and war by the time of the battle of Manzikert and Turkish speaking people just moved in.

  20. J.W. Brewer says:

    Contra Vanya, I think of American Ashkenazim of a certain generation as tending more toward Cantonese — although I was still confused by the analogy. Until fairly close to 1912, my understanding is that the children of the “Chinese” imperial family and other elites got some sort of continuing exposure to Manchu perhaps loosely analogous to a modern American bar mitzvah boy’s exposure to Hebrew. The widespread persistence of Hebrew in that fashion despite assimilation is, I think, no less significant a fact than the widespread loss of Yiddish.

  21. Etienne – that makes snese in the case of Manchu. I don’t think previous to the Qing dynasty amny Chinese speakers were ever in any kind of close contact with manchu-speakers, up there in their forests.
    “Anglo-Saxon: mostly replaced native languages”
    Hey room – what’s the latest thinking on this – is Anglo-Saxon 1)one langauge? 2) directly ancestral to actual modern Englsih? or 3) is modern Englsih descended from some other setof Germanic dialects that were in place before the Saxons came ashore?
    “Swedish: replaced Finnish in parts of Finland, but the tide has turned”
    Likewise – which was present in coastal Finalnd first, Swedish or Finnish? I don’t think Swedish has ever been spoken very far inland. And I really wonder if Finnish was ever spoken that much on the coast until recently.

  22. I can’t respond more than to say I found that very interesting, Dressing Gown. I’ve never met anyone who has been to Inner Mongolia. I wonder what read thinks?

  23. I can’t respond more than to say I found that very interesting, Dressing Gown. I’ve never met anyone who has been to Inner Mongolia. I wonder what read thinks?

  24. “The widespread persistence of Hebrew in that fashion despite assimilation is, I think, no less significant a fact than the widespread loss of Yiddish. ”
    The difference is function. Hebrew has and gad a liturgicla function; Yiddish had no obvious function that English wasn’t more useful for in an Ameircan setting.
    I have heard that there is an effort of revive Karuk specifically for religious reasons. Certainly it isn’t going to replace Englsih anytime soon for the daily babble.

  25. I can’t respond more than to say I found that very interesting
    Much of what I said is well known. I have been told that the place to look for Mongol speakers is in yurts out on the grasslands. The cities are the wrong place to look. Still, I was rather shocked by the basic irrelevance of the Mongolian language in Hohhot, located in an area of Inner Mongolia where Mongol populations are still significant. It is even worse in other major cities like Baotou, which has no significant Mongol presence at all. Despite the proud claim of the Chinese that there are more ethnic Mongols in Inner Mongolia than in the state of Mongolia, I cannot see that the two can be compared. The prognosis for the long-term viability of Mongolian in Inner Mongolia seems to me quite poor.

  26. @Bathrobe: I haven’t traveled in Mongolia, not have met anyone from Mongolia who can speak Mongolian, but I do get at least one Mongolian satellite TV channel. On the news, the side-titles* go by very fast; I can’t imagine anyone being able to read Mongolian that fast, but someone must be able to.
    *The script goes top to bottom (same as Manchu, which was derived from Mongolian script).

  27. what i think? well, what lost is lost or as we say ‘odor unasan makh avdaggui’ means ‘don’t pick up the meat which got dropped (maybe from the carriage when people are moving) in the afternoon’
    so if we try to re-unite that would be the beginning of our complete annihilation, so that would never happen
    of course we should try to support the Inner Mongolians, Uigurs and Tibetans in every possible way
    i recalled watching on TV the anti-Japanese demonstrations in China during 2003-2004? i forgot, but it was something scary, such unitedness and that sheer mass of people
    if to provoke them Chinese could try to annex us, a real danger! so we don’t want that, pity of course that half of our former territory is under them, but it’s too long history back, not like two Koreas or Germanys

  28. about our classical script, i think we should try to use it as much as possible, it’s very convenient and quick to write for example lectures they say, if to master it fully
    my late uncle always used to take notes on it
    pity that i can’t, i like to watch just karaoke clips, can follow then the lyrics

  29. read, did you find more about the “triad” type of Mongolian poem? I would be interested to know how it sounds in Mongolian, for instance, the meter and whether it has alliteration or similar sounds at the beginning of words.

  30. Борви нь тэнийсэн гөлөг нэг хөөрхөн
    Босож тэнцэж байгаа ботго нэг хөөрхөн
    Бой нь арилсан хүүхэд нэг хөөрхөн
    (it’s about the three cute from the link i posted before)
    Газар усаар баян
    Тэнгэр одоор баян
    Далай усаар баян
    (three riches)
    Jalgand Urgasan Sukhai neg Ulaan
    Javartai Tengeriin Khaya neg Ulaan
    Jargaltai Khatanii Khatsar neg Ulaan
    (three reds)
    i couldn’t find more, there was a discussion forum, students trying to recall them, maybe should try to find the book (6000?) and try to translate myself :)
    but it’s really very difficult to translate from my language to Russian for example, too different mentalities i think
    Russian to English and vice versa seems not that difficult, pretty straightforward

  31. sorry, in the second triad it should be ‘gazar shoroogoor bayan’

  32. I can’t imagine anyone being able to read Mongolian that fast, but someone must be able to.
    Puzzles Games

  33. I have for some time now wanted to master the Mongolian script. As a lefty with an affection for non-LTR scripts I’ve idly wondered for a while now whether any vertical script could be adapted to good English writing. I am glad to hear that it can be considered particularly efficient and convenient. I suppose, to stay on topic, we must consider Manchu as well.

  34. read, that’s beautiful.
    ~~~~~
    read’s triads in Mongolian put together with transliteration and English (from Mongolia Today?)
    THREE REDS
    Jalgand Urgasan Sukhai neg Ulaan
    Javartai Tengeriin Khaya neg Ulaan
    Jargaltai Khatanii Khatsar neg Ulaan

    Three red
    Red is sunset on a cold winter day
    Red are cheeks of a happy queen
    Red are sukhai flowers in a valley

    (but I think the last verse with sukhai flowers is first in your list–)

    ~~~~~~~

    THREE RICHES
    Газар усаар баян
    Тэнгэр одоор баян
    Далай усаар баян
    (“Russian” pronunciation from Google translate):
    Gazar usaar* bayan
    Tenger odoor bayan
    Dalai usaar bayan
    *read says: in the second triad it should be ‘gazar shoroogoor bayan’
    I think this is the same as “three riches”:

    Three treasures
    Knowledge is supreme treasure
    Children are highest treasures
    Material things are lowest treasures

    ~~~~~~~

    THREE CUTE
    Борви нь тэнийсэн гөлөг нэг хөөрхөн
    Босож тэнцэж байгаа ботго нэг хөөрхөн
    Бой нь арилсан хүүхэд нэг хөөрхөн
    (via google translate-yikes!)
    Borvi Hb teniysen гөлөг Knag хөөрхөн
    Bosozh tentsezh baigaa botgo Knag хөөрхөн
    Fight Hb arilsan хүүхэд Knag хөөрхөн
    This is maybe the “three cute”:

    Three beautiful
    Beautiful is a camel foal struggling to its feet
    Beautiful is a cub just opening its eyes
    Beautiful is a baby recently born

    ~~~~~~~

    Based on the above examples, maybe these are some construction rules for Mongolian triad poems:
    -three lines
    -the last word is the same in all the lines
    -the meter can be anything, but is the same in all lines
    -some lines start with same sound
    -some lines have internal words starting with same sound
    -same consonants and syllables are used in multiple lines

    ~~~~~~~

    (Also I found some Mongolian language resources here.)
    (Just in case we are in on-topic mode, the Manchu resources under “links” on the Mongolian site are dead, but thanks to Wiki, here is the Manchu-Chinese-English lexicon the Mongolian site says is viewable in IE–and the Firefox looks the same to me–click “English”—and here is the Manchu language Gospel of Mark.)

  35. I have tried to learn the Classical Mongolian script. It is indeed a wonderful script to behold. However, it’s not so easy to master unless you know Mongolian. That may sound like a ridiculous statement, but unlike some (so-called) phonetic scripts that you can read out aloud without having any idea what you are saying, the Mongolian script requires that you know the words involved. The hackneyed example is улаан (ulaan) ‘red’, which is written ulagan / olagan. If you know the word улаан you have a fighting chance of guessing that ulagan / olagan is the written form of улаан. Otherwise, you would be floundering and probably end up pronouncing it olagan.
    If you didn’t know Mongolian and came across jirüke in a text, what could you make of it? Knowing the modern word зүүрх züürkh ‘heart’, it would click quickly enough if pointed out. If you didn’t know зүүрх you wouldn’t even know where to start!
    I bought two books of Mongolian calligraphy in Hohhot (Хөх хот). This appears to employ a Chinese-style brush to write traditional Mongolian letters. As you can imagine, given the way that Mongolian writing flows down the page, the result is extremely beautiful.

  36. Have there been any attempts at Mongolian spelling reform? This question is asked under the assumption that the disconnect between Mongolian spelling and transliteration is due to historical drift, rather than some feature of the language or its script.

  37. Incidentally, I believe that the Classical Mongolian script is supported by Windows 7.
    Unfortunately Mac users are not so fortunate. The Mac OS has a bug that prevents vertical left-to-right scripts from rendering properly and no one has developed a satisfactory input method for it. Apple is too stingy to develop an anything itself and appears to be waiting for independent developers to come up with something — which they haven’t yet.

  38. There have been attempts to rectify some of the shortcomings of traditional Mongol script, which fails to distinguish between certain sounds (including u/o, t/d). There is a script called Todo Bichig (for details, see Wikipedia). The script has been adapted to write Manchu using diacritics to achieve a similar purpose.
    Of course, the greatest spelling reform was the adoption of Cyrillic in Mongolia, which pretty much spells the language as it is pronounced.

  39. Sorry, that should have been зүрх zürkh.

  40. thanks for nice compliments about our old script, i’m ashamed i don’t know it, my father and nieces know, always ask them what it says watching TV together, usually the titles of the programs are written in Uigurjin for ornamental purposes :)
    our generation skipped learning it, i should try harder to learn it
    Nijma, thank you so much, i’m very sorry, it should have been me compiling the triads with its translations, the same old lazy me :(
    the tree riches are different from the treasures
    it says the earth is full (another meaning of bayan) of soil, the sky is full of stars, the sea is full of water
    yes, the sukhai flower line (should be the last one in the three lines – we call these short poems three lines – gurvan mört) and the cub (should be the first one in the translated version)lines are standing at the different places
    your rules described sound as it is, yes, the first letters should be the same – we call it mör xolbox – to connect the heads of the lines, there are no rhymes i think in our poetry, it’s always the head letters of the lines
    the same meter repeated three times and the last word is what is the topic of the triad
    Борви нь тэнийсэн гөлөг нэг хөөрхөн
    Босож тэнцэж байгаа ботго нэг хөөрхөн
    Бой нь арилсан хүүхэд нэг хөөрхөн
    literally it means
    Cute is the cub whose eyebrows got spread (opened his eyes)
    Cute is the baby camel who tries to stand
    Cute is the baby who shed something (i have no idea what’s boi – i guess it’s the scab, stump of the umbilical chord, but about that we say khui n tsöglösön – the navel got healed or maybe it’s something about skin shedding, i don’t know, will ask others)
    so it’s difficult to translate word for word, a lot of untranslateable word meanings, like nuances
    about the spelling, once you memorize the spelling rules they come like automatically they say, so it’s even easier to write, a lot of similar looking letters, but pronounced differently depending on the word, o/u d/t etc
    gotta sleep

  41. Classical Mongolian script has at least two problems: one is that its spelling is as archaic as English spelling (it reflects the Mongolian language as of the seventeenth century or so), as mentioned above. The other is that many of the letters are ambiguous, so you really have to know the language to disambiguate them: u and o are identical, and so are ü and ö, and all four look alike in non-initial syllables (vowol harmono to the rescue, hopefully). The words transliterated ende ‘here’ and ada ‘devil’, for example, look completely identical.
    The versions of Mongolian script used for Kalmyk, Manchu, and Sibe don’t have this problem: they use dots and circles analogous to those used in Arabic script to distinguish ambiguous letters.

  42. read,
    Nice. I especially like the three riches. The meter reminds me of the poetry of the Viking skalds, who matched the first letters of words in different patterns. They didn’t have rhymes either. The skaldic book I have says rhymes were popular much later and were only French jingles that appealed to the uneducated. Maybe I will give the Mongolian poem form to my students as a writing exercise.

  43. @John Cowan: Actually Manchu (and Sibe, I believe too, since it only has slight differences from Manchu) has some of those problems, the words “aci” and “enci” look the same in Manchu. The word “nikan” (Han person) could be misread as “ninka”. See my post here for visual illustrations.

  44. Presumably, of course, ada and ende could be disambiguated with a dot to show the n, but it appears that it is not dotted here under the rule that an n before a consonant is automatic and doesn’t need to be disambiguated.

  45. John Emerson says:

    Another thing Mongol has that’s like Norse is speaking in riddles. There’s at least one place in the Secret History where a figure says something mysterious and everyone else has to figure out what they meant. There are also scattered passages where you get glimpses of the ancient Mongol eloquence, but in general the Secret History flattens that out, and the SH itself is written straightforwardly. Genghis Khan was a modernizer or reformer, the founder of a new state, and not a traditionalist.
    Old Mongol script is beautiful and dramatic, and it’s a pretty nice economical script if you know the language, but it’s not at all phonetically helpful for the modern language, that’s for sure.

  46. marie-lucie says:

    I am from the Philippines and majority of the youth of our tribe members are ignorant of our native language. This might have been brought about by the thought that since we are turning global, why bother learning those old cultures and languages?
    This is a problem typical of all language minorities, especially small minorities in a large state. If these youth are not speaking the traditional languages, it means that their families have not been using these languages for interaction with them, so they did not grow up with these languages. The fault is not the youth’s, and neither is it their parents’ and grandparents’ for speaking to them in a more widespread language.

  47. John and Jim:
    Depending on how you define “conquering language”, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and Russian have all encroached upon Sami. Of course, to the best of my knowledge there was never much of a military conquest but rather the gradual assertion of the power of the respective Swedish and (Dano-)Norwegian states. One can also note that in the traditionally Finnish-speaking areas that remained with Sweden after 1809, Swedish has to a large extent, but not entirely, supplanted Finnish (or Meänkieli, as the local variant is known) as the main language.
    As for the history of Swedish in Finland, as I understand mainstream archeological opinion, Swedish has probably been spoken in Åland for quite some time (Iron Age onwards), though some Finnish place names indicate that the situation might be somewhat more complex than normally thought. It is a controversial question whether places like Ostrobothnia and Åboland (Turunmaa) were “virgin lands” at the time of Swedish settlement. Swedish has been spoken inland but almost exclusively among the urban elite.

  48. Unfortunately Mac users are not so fortunate. The Mac OS has a bug that prevents vertical left-to-right scripts from rendering properly and no one has developed a satisfactory input method for it. Apple is too stingy to develop an anything itself and appears to be waiting for independent developers to come up with something — which they haven’t yet.

    XenoType has been advertising a Mongolian Language Kit for quite some time (… unfortunately some glitches in Apple’s advanced typography support have made our job even more difficult. Nevertheless, we are attempting to work around the biggest issues and hope to have a solution before long.)

  49. Yes, Xenotype have been working on a Mongolian Language Kit but they’ve been having problems. You can input Mongolian but it is horizontal — if you want it vertical, I understand you basically have to turn the printed output 90 degrees!

  50. You can run text vertically in Photoshop, I’m sure it would work there. Photoshop is the greatest programme in the history of the Universe.

  51. You can run text vertically in Photoshop, I’m sure it would work there. Photoshop is the greatest programme in the history of the Universe.

  52. Photoshop is the greatest programme in the history of the Universe
    For me that honour goes to Dragon Naturally Speaking hands down, so to speak. Not only is it incredibly useful it differs from Photoshop in not requiring fine motor skills to get the best out of it nor does it require me to sell an organ to be able to buy it.

  53. But it’s worth your organs, Stuart.
    Dragon Naturally Speaking sounds like fun to use as well as useful.

  54. But it’s worth your organs, Stuart.
    Dragon Naturally Speaking sounds like fun to use as well as useful.

  55. Sadly, the reason I use Dragon so much is the very reason why the nonpareil that is Photoshop would be a huge waste of money for me. Even using the one hand I do have usable control of, my straightest lines look like seismograph recordings, while my attempts to follow the outlines of curved shapes look like the sort of thing that would give Dali nightmares. When I watch tutorials for Photoshop online I am constantly reminded that the best results come for those who can “colour within the lines”.

  56. Don’t you believe it. Not all good painters are neat, it’s just different craft skills we’re talking about: Dali coloured within the lines, but Kandinsky didn’t. And nor did Rembrandt, for God’s sake, if you’re looking for a good draughtsman. Not to get into a geekiness competition, but I’ve got noticeably shaky hands and bad eyesight. I can’t draw a straight line most of the time. When I want to colour within the lines I just use the lasso tool to capture what I’m colouring and enlarge the object as much as I need to.

  57. Don’t you believe it. Not all good painters are neat, it’s just different craft skills we’re talking about: Dali coloured within the lines, but Kandinsky didn’t. And nor did Rembrandt, for God’s sake, if you’re looking for a good draughtsman. Not to get into a geekiness competition, but I’ve got noticeably shaky hands and bad eyesight. I can’t draw a straight line most of the time. When I want to colour within the lines I just use the lasso tool to capture what I’m colouring and enlarge the object as much as I need to.

  58. Spanish mostly replaced indigenous languages in Central and Western South America, and the trend continues.
    I’m not sure what you mean by “Central and Western South America”: you surely don’t want to exclude Argentina and Uruguay, where I’d think that the replacement of indigenous languages by Spanish is essentially complete.
    However, that’s just a comment, and my question is different, and concerns Guaraní in Paraguay. I’ve read several claims in different books and other sources that Guaraní is thriving in Paraguay, spoken by a large part of the population (from rich to poor), and understood by more. So I wondering if anyone knows if that is really true, or if it is just a romantic myth. If it’s true, I find it hard to understand why it should have survived so well after the tremendous upheavals of the 19th century, whereas languages like Quechua and Aymará are struggling.

  59. marie-lucie says:

    To my knowledge (bolstered by Wikipedia), it is true about Guarani in Paraguay, although not in the neighbouring nations (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia). It seems that the language, which is official along with Spanish, is a symbol of national Paraguayan identity, and most people are bilingual to some extent (but the 25% who are monolingual in Guarani are at a disadvantage). One of the reasons the language survived in Paraguay is that the Jesuits used it in their administration of the “Reductions”, or Indian territories where they were the effective government for 150 years (and they prevented the capture of Indians as slaves, which happened in Brazil), but in the neighbouring countries the use of Guarani and other indigenous languages was discouraged. But the Guarani language in Paraguay must have expanded at the expense of other languages which existed at the time of colonization.

  60. David Marjanović says:

    about our classical script, i think we should try to use it as much as possible, it’s very convenient and quick to write for example lectures they say

    Easy to write, but difficult to read…

  61. David Marjanović says:

    The skaldic book I have says rhymes were popular much later and were only French jingles that appealed to the uneducated.

    Rhymes are simply not native to Europe. They are a medieval import from Arabic. Somehow the concept never seems to have occurred to anyone in European antiquity – all Latin sayings that rhyme are medieval.
    BTW, the reason translate.google.com failed so epically was that you specified the input as Russian rather than Mongolian. At least that’s the only explanation I can find for why Бой came out as “fight”.

  62. David Marjanović says:

    …thread drift…

    Armenian and Greek have been replaced, but something like 15% of Turkish nationals speak non-Turkish languages.

    How much of that figure comes from speakers of Northwest Caucasian languages (various and sundry “Circassians”) that fled across the sea when the Russians came for real at the end of the 19th century?
    Never mind the Kurds, obviously…

  63. michael farris says:

    “Easy to write, but difficult to read…”
    Yes, I saw one description of reading Classical Mongolian Script as roughly ‘Arabic with most of the dots left off’.
    The government of Mongolia apparently had plans to revive it as the primary writing system in the country but that plan met with resistance (for good reason imho) and the current status quo is that it’s officially co-official but not much used.
    While it’s prettier than Cyrillic and teaching it and using it for decorative and ceremonial purposes makes sense, I really doubt if it will make serious inroads in Mongolia for most uses of modern literacy, the current Cyrillic orthography (which does have its faults) is a better match for most kinds of modern literacy.

  64. description of reading Classical Mongolian Script as roughly ‘Arabic with most of the dots left off’.
    oh, really? i guess Uigurs now write in Arabic, no?
    i wonder do Arabic o/u look similar to ours, with gedes -’belly’ letter? and which one was developed from which, Uigurjin from Arabic or vice versa, just one is horizontal and another one is vertically written, but maybe they were developed completely independent of each other, should wikiped them :)
    the old script has a dot for the letter n, two dots for g, but sometimes g’s dots are omitted depending what word is that, with the feminine or masculine vowels, iirc, but i could be wrong, it was almost 15 yrs ago when i took a two weeks crash course before graduating, i think that’s the only dots used in it

  65. michael farris says:

    The description ‘Arabic with most of the dots left off’ was mostly a reference to the level of ambiguity of many letters (and secondarily to the difference between spelling and modern pronunciation).

  66. John Emerson says:

    I believe the descent of Mongol script is from Uighur, before that Sogdian (related to Persian), and before that Syriac (related to Aramaic and used by Christian and Manichaean groups). It was the Uighurs who turned it vertical.
    Arabic script is derived from Nabataean Arabic script, and before that Syriac. Syriac is derived from the most ancient proto-Canaanite script via Phoenician. Hebrew is derived from proto-Canaanite directly.
    Proto-Canaanite is ultimately derived from Egyptian; fragments of an intermediate script have been discovered.
    An extraordinary proportion of the writing systems of the world, including those of India, derive ultimately from Proto-Canaanite / Phoenician.
    All this per Wiki, though I knew some of it already.
    Script relationships are independent of language relationships, e.g. the Syriac, Sogdian, and Uighur languages are completely unrelated. There’s not necessarily much cultural similarity either, though the script relationships between Syriac, Sogdian, and Uighur do tell us that at some point in the distant past these three religions practiced either Christian or Manichaean religions.
    The Uighurs of Uighur script are only very distantly related to today’s Uighurs, who use Arabic or sometimes Roman script.

  67. very interesting, i remember looking at the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs,looked like tiny figurines
    Nefertiti’s head i saw when it came to Sapporo, even touched it, sure, just very lightly, just couldn’t resist the temptation, the day when i had a presentation at the conference there, a very memorable day b/c of the ancient Egyptian exhibition
    when i was in Boston only one day with my sister, there was Rembrandt’s paintings’ collection brought from all over the world in the fine arts museum, was so lucky to see it, the feeling was as if it was especially for us, on a very cold day
    the pharaoh’s head mask i touched too i’m sorry to confess, very undisciplined of me compared to the always correct Japanese, i know, luckily they were not shielded by some plexiglass, i touched the moon stone in DC’s space museum for that matter :)
    so the pharaoh looks something asiatic i always thought, his facial features, all the artefacts looked so modern and polished, just so hard to believe some of them are 4 thousand yrs old, or i remember two artefacts laying there side by side and between them two thousand yrs, almost the same looking burial things, the culture didn’t change 2 thousand yrs then!
    from all R’s drawings i remember a small one, almost dark, just very faint light coming out of the smallish window and a man’s figure in the room, but all things in there are almost invisible b/c all dark, so strange, a pity don’t remember its title

  68. the air and space museum, but maybe the stone was displayed specifically for touching

  69. BTW, the reason translate.google.com failed so epically was that you specified the input as Russian rather than Mongolian. At least that’s the only explanation I can find for why Бой came out as “fight”.
    If you put the phrase directly into google tranlate with the “detect language” option, it will tell you “We are not yet able to translate from Mongolian into English.” By telling it to treat the text as Russian, I was able to get something I could read phonetically and find out something about the sound/meter of the poetry form. I couldn’t find any Mongolian translation tools, only the dictionary and tattoo website.

  70. read: ‘Arabic with most of the dots left off’
    Here is just one example of the medial form of various dotted letters that are formed with a “tooth” and one, two, or three dots, along with the corresponding English sound:
    ـبـ‎ b
    ـتـ‎ t
    ـثـ th
    ـنـ‎ n
    ـيـ‎ y
    If you look at Arabic in Wikipedia, you will see eight other symbols that change depending on the position of the dots. Arabic is already very hard to read because in ordinary writing the vowels are left off. With no dots, it would be very, very, very difficult.

  71. michael farris says:

    “With no dots, it would be very, very, very difficult.”
    I personally think Arabic with no dots would be all but impossible to read except for specially composed texts….
    When I home studied Arabic years ago (before the brutal facts of diglossia and spoken dispersal discouraged me) I actually wrote out the dots as little diamonds (the way they appeared in my textbook) it was only several years later that I discovered that simple dots are okay.
    For Persian, I’ve seen the three dots written in a single stroke as something that looks like the left and bottom sides of a triangle but I don’t know if Arabs do that too.
    I’ve read that Classic Mongolian script comes from script written right-to-left which is why the columns are read left to right. On the other hand horizontal Chinese has always been left to right while columns are read right to left. I have no idea about whether the Chinese case is one of cause or correlation.

  72. Google translate doesn’t care about the input.
    When I translate from English to Chinese, I usually set the parameters as “Japanese –> Chinese (simplified)”; it makes no difference.
    In fact, Google Translate doesn’t translate directly from Japanese to Chinese. It translates the Japanese to English, and then the English to Chinese. I found this out when Japanese words were translated into totally inappropriate Chinese equivalents. The reason was quite clearly that English was intervening. (Sorry, I can’t think of any examples at the moment.)

  73. OK, an example.
    The name 河村惇平 in Japanese is translated as 川村淳平 in Chinese. Why the mysterious substitution of characters? Well, try translating “河村惇平” (Japanese) into English and you’ll get “Kawamura Atsushi平”. Then translate “Kawamura Atsushi平” into Chinese and you’ll get “川村淳平”. In other words, the Chinese is only related to the original Japanese via English.

  74. John Emerson says:

    As I mentioned awhile back, study of the early Mongol Empire is a mess, since neither Mongol script, Chinese script, nor Persian script is properly phonetic. A dot left out caused Genghis Khan’s son Jochi to be called Tushi in some of the Persian literature. The translator J. A. Boyle was known for the delight he took in solving nit-picky problems of that type.
    And then you have the romanization problems — by now they”re fairly routine, but they weren’t a century ago. The only English translation of one major text, Juzjani, is from 1880 or so, and the translator (Raverty) uses what might be his own transliteration system of Persian. In any case many names are unidentifiable.

  75. In the first couple of centuries, Arabic usually was written without dots. (You can see a bunch of examples at http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/ – although they focus mainly on the rare letters that actually did have dots.) And yes, that does make them awfully difficult to interpret – it helps that a lot of them feature stereotypical language.

  76. the dots as little diamonds (the way they appeared in my textbook)
    It’s done with some sort of brush or reed. At the Arab festivals sponsored by the city here, you can usually get someone to do your name with that type of calligraphy.
    For Persian, I’ve seen the three dots written in a single stroke as something that looks like the left and bottom sides of a triangle but I don’t know if Arabs do that too.
    Sort of. In ordinary handwriting, the three dots are written as an upside down v, like a steeply pitched circumflex ˆ . Two dots become a line. They write out the whole word, then go back and put in the marks. There is another curious thing they do with the ﺱ and ﺵ. Ordinarily it would have three teeth and either three dots or no dots. When they write it longhand, it’s just a long swooping line with no teeth, about the length of three or four ordinary characters, then either the circumflex or nothing on top.

  77. David Marjanović says:

    It was the Uighurs who turned it vertical.

    I’ve read that that happened within Syriac.
    There are also people who turn Latin vertical, bottom-to-top, by turning the sheet 90° and pulling the writing hand straight forward. Some people apparently can’t help sticking their elbows out sideways (see also: Microsoft Natural Keyboard®).

  78. “Rhymes are simply not native to Europe. They are a medieval import from Arabic.”
    David, rhymes in Irish poetry predate any influence from Arabic. When is Arabic first attested? – maybe earlier even than any trace of Arabic in the historical record. Rhyme in poetry goes back well before Irish was written, beginning in the fifth century.

  79. David Marjanović says:

    Oooookay. I had no idea about Irish.
    Still, the rest of Europe seems to have lacked rhymes completely. They’re missing from Greek and Latin antiquity, and the Germanic tradition was to use alliterations instead – in German, alliteration is even called a kind of rhyme (Stabreim, which must be somehow connected to Buchstabe “letter”).

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