Vol. 49:1 (2022) ► pp.102–132
The Adaptation of Western and Chinese Categories to the Description of Manchu
Frequent contacts between European countries and China during the Qing period kindled interest in the languages spoken in the Qing empire and led to the publication of numerous Western books on Chinese varieties but also on the Manchu language. To describe the features of these distant languages, most of these works adapted Western linguistic categories and terminologies. This was the case of the earliest Western grammar of Manchu, Verbiest’s Elementa linguae tartaricae (1682). However, some Western works progressively integrated elements of the Chinese linguistic tradition. For instance, the grammars of Kaulen (1856) and Harlez (1884) refer to the Chinese categories “full words” (content words) and “empty words” (function words). Other Western works translated or drew on Chinese-Manchu bilingual primers, which in turn adapted the methodology and categories of Chinese philology to the description of Manchu, such as in the textbooks by Shěn (1682) and Wǔ-gé (1730). Their western translations (Domenge n.d.; Wylie 1855; Hoffman 1883) resulted in interesting examples of circulation of linguistic knowledge and amalgamation of descriptive categories.
- 2.The first Western grammar of Manchu and its translations
- 3.The Chinese textbooks of Manchu
- 4.Western translations of Chinese primers
- 5.Chinese categories in Western grammars
- 6.Concluding remarks