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Manchu: A Textbook for Reading Documents
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Manchu is the most important Tungusic language, a vital resource for all scholars who work on the Altaic language family. Manchu: A Textbook for Reading Documents is the first English-language Manchu textbook in more than a century. It offers students of Chinese history and comparative literature the means to master documentary Manchu and will prove useful for those interested in the various branches of linguistics.
The reading selections provided in this volume were chosen to give students an opportunity to become familiar with various types of documents and a variety of handwriting styles. Those interested in studying Manchu as a tool for reading historical documents related to China's Qing dynasty will find an abundance of texts, ranging from pre-1644 narratives recording the Manchus' rise to power to memorials from the later dynasties. Students of linguistics will find not only examples of the very earliest Manchu writing, but also samples of contemporary Sibe (Xibo), a version of Manchu that is still spoken today by about twenty thousand people in Western China. The wide range of reading samples makes it possible to observe the changes that have taken place in the language since the Manchu script was created four hundred years ago.
Background information on Manchu documentary materials and on the language itself is straightforward and clear. Notes explaining the grammatical forms and structures require only a basic understanding of linguistic concepts. Additional samples and exercises following each reading section help to consolidate knowledge as the student progresses. The extensive summary of grammatical points and the vocabulary index at the back of the book will spare students the frustration of having to hunt for hard-to-find dictionaries and grammars.
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