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Abstract

Joshua Marshman, English Baptist missionary in India, spent the decade between 1805 and 1814 studying the Chinese language. Marshman’s unique vantage point in India makes him stand out among European Sinologists of his time. Marshman’s familiarity with Indian languages and the local traditions of studying them informed his speculative publications on Chinese. Learning Chinese from a native informant was not enough for him. He thought that only through a mastery of both Sanskrit and Mandarin could the Chinese language be really comprehended and put to use by foreign missionaries and scholars alike. This article examines Marsh­man’s course of study and his publications on the Chinese language. It argues that although Marshman’s hope to forge a hybrid, Sanskrit-infused Sinology appeared as a dead end in his time, he was right to focus on the importance of foreign contacts in the formation of the modern Chinese language.

In: T'oung Pao

Abstract

Manchu, the dynastic language of the Qing Empire (1644–1911), quickly fell into oblivion at the establishment of Republican rule in China. Because of its status as a language of government administration, the Manchu language in the Qing period had been studied by officials, clerks, soldiers, and the linguistically curious of various ethnic backgrounds. One of the products of the Chinese encounter with Manchu was an alphabetical order based on the Manchu script. Just like Western alphabetical order, the Manchu system had the notable advantage of being used to organize a great variety of corpora. Although originally applied to Manchu-language material, the system also developed to handle texts written in Mongolian and, eventually, Chinese. In the end, the Manchu system did not develop in the same way as alphabetical order did in Europe, and by the time the dynasty fell, the incentive to study the now politically suspect Manchu script largely disappeared. Yet numerous printed dictionaries and many manuscripts featuring Manchu alphabetical order remain, inviting the study of what we with good reason might call one of the most radically new developments in information management to take place in China during the past several centuries.

In: Rethinking East Asian Languages, Vernaculars, and Literacies, 1000–1919

Abstract

Manchu, the dynastic language of the Qing Empire (1644–1911), quickly fell into oblivion at the establishment of Republican rule in China. Because of its status as a language of government administration, the Manchu language in the Qing period had been studied by officials, clerks, soldiers, and the linguistically curious of various ethnic backgrounds. One of the products of the Chinese encounter with Manchu was an alphabetical order based on the Manchu script. Just like Western alphabetical order, the Manchu system had the notable advantage of being used to organize a great variety of corpora. Although originally applied to Manchu-language material, the system also developed to handle texts written in Mongolian and, eventually, Chinese. In the end, the Manchu system did not develop in the same way as alphabetical order did in Europe, and by the time the dynasty fell, the incentive to study the now politically suspect Manchu script largely disappeared. Yet numerous printed dictionaries and many manuscripts featuring Manchu alphabetical order remain, inviting the study of what we with good reason might call one of the most radically new developments in information management to take place in China during the past several centuries.

In: Rethinking East Asian Languages, Vernaculars, and Literacies, 1000–1919

Abstract

This paper describes and contextualizes Guwan hûwa jy nan, a partial Manchu translation, hitherto unidentified as such, of a Japanese-authored Mandarin primer —Guanhua zhinan—from 1882. In so doing, the paper will highlight certain characteristics of the language primer in Northeast Asia and their consequences for our conceptualization of Mandarin Chinese as China’s national language.

East Asian primers in dialogue form moved between communities of readers and even languages with remarkable ease. Not only did the same Chinese texts reach places far apart, they were also adapted for the teaching of languages entirely different from those of their original composition. The Manchu translation of the Japanese Mandarin primer is one example of this phenomenon. It represents the confluence of a pedagogical tradition of teaching the Qing dynastic language and a growing foreign interest in Beijing Chinese, manifest here through the text’s origin in the Meiji government’s interpreter corps.

In: East Asian Publishing and Society
Was plurilingualism the exception or the norm in traditional Eurasian scholarship? This volume presents a selection of primary sources—in many cases translated into English for the first time—with introductions that provide fascinating historical materials for challenging notions of the ways in which traditional Eurasian scholars dealt with plurilingualism and monolingualism. Comparative in approach, global in scope, and historical in orientation, it engages with the growing discussion of plurilingualism and focuses on fundamental scholarly practices in various premodern and early modern societies—Chinese, Indian, Mesopotamian, Jewish, Islamic, Ancient Greek, and Roman—asking how these were conceived by the agents themselves. The volume will be an indispensable resource for courses on these subjects and on the history of scholarship and reflection on language throughout the world.