MANCHU LANGUAGE. Manchu belongs to the Tungus group of languages. The Tungus people probably inhabited the present Manchuria already in the 3rd century B.C. The real founder of Manchu power was Nurhatsi who proclaimed himself emperor in 1616 and established his capital at Mukden in 1625. Under his reign the Manchus adopted for their own use the Mon golian alphabet which they had copied from the Uigurs. In course of time changes were made in order to adapt this writing to the Manchu language and in its final form it became far more elab orate and serviceable than its Mongolian prototype. Books had been printed in Manchu by 1647. The two emperors K'ang-hsi and Ch'ien-lung did most to establish and stereotype this some what artificial language by causing translations to be made of Chinese and Mongolian works and by the publication of numer ous polyglot dictionaries. All officials had to pass an examina tion in Manchu; but in spite of these efforts this language continued to change more and more both in pronunciation and in grammar under the influence of Chinese, and at the death of one of the emperors in 1761 the examinations in Manchu were abolished, although imperial decrees and most official documents continued to be issued in this language in addition to Chinese.
With the abdication of the young Emperor Pu Yi and the proc lamation of the Republic in 1912. Manchu may be said to have disappeared from China Proper. It is, however, still spoken in parts of northern Manchuria and elsewhere. Regarded as a dead language, Manchu has received a considerable amount of atten tion from European scholars because the literal translations made into that language from the Chinese classics have simplified the interpretation of the latter. The vocalic harmony is not so strictly
observed in Manchu as in Mongolian and in the case of gram matical suffixes (postpositions) there are no alternative hard or soft forms. The postpositions are as follows: Accusative, be; genitive instrumental, i or ni; dative locative, de; ablative, chi. The Manchu verb, like the Chinese, does not distinguish either person or number, the tenses are imperfectly expressed and gen eral notions are conveyed by adverbial and participial forms. Manchu has no relative pronoun and expresses a relative prepo sition by means of participles.
Manchu like the other Tatar languages adds affixes to the verbal theme to form derived verbs expressing some extended meaning; thus the syllable bu added to ara, "to write" gives arabu, "to cause to write," and the syllable ja added to wa, "to kill" gives waja, "to kill oneself," and so forth. A peculiarity of Manchu is the indication of masculine and feminine, or strong and weak, by the change of the vowel a into the vowel e. Thus ama "father," and eme "mother." Even foreign words undergo this change, and we find the Turkish arsalan "lion" modified into erselen "lioness," and the Sanskrit garudai "the male phoenix" becomes gerudei for the female of that species; ganggan "strong" becomes genggen "weak," and wasime "to descend" becomes wesime "to climb."