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Zograph I.T. Mongolian-Chinese Interference. The Official Language of Yuan China [Монгольско-китайская интерференция (язык монгольской канцелярии в Китае)]. Moscow, Nauka, 1984.


The goal of the book is, first, to present a description of a special variety of Chinese emerging in 1280—1368 AD from the royal chancellery of Yuan dynasty, and, second, to show the ways of linguistic interference which stimulated its-appearance. As the main object of study, a collection of royal grants to the monasteries and various religious groups, obviously translated from Mongolian and presented in stone iscriptions recently published by Ts'ai Meipiao (Peking, 1955) was chosen. Translations of selected documents of this kind presented previously by several scholars and first of all by E. Chavan-nes were taken in account, and new readings based on the thorough comparison of Chinese texts with their Mongolian originals, when available, were proposed.

The book consists of the following sections.

An Introduction (p. 3—6) contains general statements concerning “languages in contact” theory.

A brief analysis of the linguistic situation in Yuan China and of the language policy of its Mongol rulers (p. 7—15).

Characteristics of the source materials (p. 16—33), i. e. of (a) the Chinese inscriptions, and (b) corresponding Mongolian ones, accompanied by (c) a preliminary study of the formal features specifying the texts of each group: the main structural correspondences of several widespread official formulae in Mongolian original documents and thefr Chinese translations being established.

Next section (p. 34-61) deals with the results of interaction of Mongolian and Chinese. Due attention is paid here to the specific features of such an amorphous language as Chinese, that can affect the lines of its borrowing from outer sources. As concerns lexical interference, it is illustrated by the list of Mongolian words used in the documents under study, compared with much more limited one of such Mongolian words which penetrated into original Chinese literature of Yuan period. A list of Chinese words which can be met with in Mongolian is given as well. The grammatical interference, i. e. the typical deviations from standard Chinese word order, beginning with the position of the object, and several other unusual constructions, including the non-standard usage of so-called empty words (i. e. function words), is discussed in details. An outline of grammar (p. 62—90) presents a systematically arranged description of empty words and grammatical constructions with special emphasis on „irregularities" (from the point of view of standard Middle Chinese), which have to be pointed out for the correct reading of the texts in question.

As a specimen of the language, the texts of nine documents are given in the original, accompanied by transcription and Russian translation (p. 91—109) and followed by a commentary (p. 109-130) and a glossary (p. 131-141).

The Bibliography (p. 142-145) contains 95 titles in Russian, Chinese and Western languages.


Аннотация, Введение, Summary, Содержание


Chinese linguistics
“languages in contact” theory
Mongolian influence
Yuan dynasty

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