Sanjiazi 03: A bump in the road, and arrival

Previous installments are here and here.

We woke up, went to the lobby, and were met by two women from the Fuyu County government. One was 吴旭英 (Wú Xùyɪ̄ng), the Fuyu County Secretary of Ethnic and Religious Affairs, and the other was 安晓丽 (An Xiǎolì). I didn’t catch her title; maybe she was one of Secretary Wu’s subordinates. We had breakfast in the hotel, and then set off.

Continue reading Sanjiazi 03: A bump in the road, and arrival

Sanjiazi 02: Journey to the … South?

On Monday morning, October 12th, we met at the train station for a 7:40 train.  On Saturday, I had called Mr Guan (the Jilin City Manchu Association’s resident Manchu language expert), and he said he couldn’t go.  This was very unfortunate because that left me as the only one going who was interested in the language.  So only Mrs Guan, Mrs Wu, and Mrs Guan’s 26-year-old daughter, who is a graduate of a Changchun college of Chinese Medicine, were to be my traveling companions.  We boarded the train and set off on our way. Continue reading Sanjiazi 02: Journey to the … South?

Minim confusion

I found my first real case of minim confusion, which I previously said was theoretically possible in Manchu because medial “a”, pre-consonantal “n”, and one form of “k” are all made up of identical strokes.

By my “first real case”, I mean two words that are attested in dictionaries, having the same written form but different pronunciation, i.e. they are homographs.

First of all, the theory behind it.  Initial “a” looks like .  Initial “e” looks like .  Medial “n” when followed by a consonant looks like , so when you have a word that starts with “en” followed by a consonant, the “en” looks like , the same as initial “a” . Continue reading Minim confusion

Wall Mystery Solved!

I went to Wulajie again earlier this week.  A fellow school headmaster had arranged a trip there for his school so the students could learn about Manchu culture and spend part of the afternoon drawing.  His school is an art school, and he said he chose Wulajie partly because he was inspired by my interest in Manchu language and culture, and also that it makes sense for kids to know more about Manchu culture since this area (Northeast China) used to be their country.

He filled up two tour busses and hired two tour guides, one for each bus.  The tour guides talked about the usual things — Manchu people don’t eat dog meat, their chimneys run under their beds to provide a heated surface to sleep on, they are great archers, etc.  Not much linguistic stuff outside of the fact that there is only a handful of mother-tongue speakers left.

Our first stop was the same government outpost that I mentioned in an earlier post, where I saw a strange word in Manchu script on an outside wall.  The word is strange because it spells “kisi”, which is not in any Manchu dictionary that’s available to me.  So what is this word? Continue reading Wall Mystery Solved!