Manchu in Beijing

Welcome in Manchu (eldenjire be urgunjeme okdombi)

Today I came across an article about efforts to save the Manchu language in China. There are currently around 10 million ethnic Manchus in China, but fewer than 100 of them speak Manchu and they are almost all elderly.

Recently a bloke called Wang Shuo, a construction designer in Beijing, started teaching Manchu language classes for free at weekends, after having taught himself the language using this website – a forum in Chinese and Manchu that includes Manchu language lessons.

Most of the students at Wang Shuo’s classes are ethnic Manchus who want to rediscover their historical identity through the language. One the these students also mentions that he would like to teach his children to speak Manchu. There are also two Han Chinese students who are learning the language out of intellectual curiosity.

The image on the right is the Manchu phrase ‘eldenjire be urgunjeme okdombi’, which means ‘welcome’, in the Manchu alphabet. It was sent to me by a Chinese friend who is trying to teach himself Manchu.

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This entry was posted in Endangered languages, Language.

9 Responses to Manchu in Beijing

  1. Bode Sheshom says:

    Hello, first of all I am so glad that I came across this blog and I haven’t even begun to explore it yet but I am really looking forward to it. I thought to just pop in a quick comment here about Manchu language. What was fascinating for me at the first glance was that it looked like arabic script, written vertically instead of from right to left and of course very different in form and how the letters are connected and all. So that’s it.

  2. Polly says:

    @Bode Sheshom:

    I was going to say it looks like Arabic/Aramaic script rotated 90°. It’s a strange coincidence, since I doubt that Manchu is even distantly related.

    Can anyone out there shed light on this striking similarity? Is it mere coincidence, or is there some history?

  3. Simon says:

    The Manchu alphabet was modelled on the Mongolian alphabet, which was adapted from the Old Uyghur alphabet, which was derived from the Sogdian alphabet, which developed from the Aramaic alphabet. Got there in the end!

  4. Polly says:

    Wow, so there IS a connection. Once again the Mongolians provide the connecting link from the far east to the near east.
    Some of the letters still look related, “b”, others have completely morphed.

    Did you know this off the top of your head, or did you go back and trace a path through your site?

  5. Simon says:

    I knew some of the connections, but had to check them on my site to make sure I’d got them in the right order.

  6. Polly says:

    Bravo!
    Omniglot is like a language learners notebook on steroids. Glad you decided to share it. :)

  7. MiGrant says:

    Have you encountered the theory (probably too strong a word — hypothesis? wild unfalsifiable guess?) that the language of the Voynich Manuscript is Manchu?

  8. Raymond Sim says:

    the website which you can self teach Manchu is no longer working. have they changed website address or are they inoperation now

  9. Simon says:

    Raymond – the site has moved to manchusky.qq.topzj.com