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Pang T. The Manchu script reform of 1632: New data and mew questions // Studia Orientalia 87, Helsinki 1999, pp. 201-206.


Judging from almost all traditional Western and Asian sources, the question concerning the creation and successive reform of the Manchu script has already found an apparently definitive answer. According to these sources, the Manchu script was created in 1599 by Erdeni baksi and Gagai zarguci, who, realising the suggestion of Nurhaci, simply adopted the Mongolian alphabet to correspond to the requirements of the Manchu language. It is also maintained that a reform of this old and inadequate script was carried out in 1632 by Dahai, who introduced the diacritic marks, «dots» and «circles», and invented «in addition a few new signs for the representation of unusual Chinese sounds». This we read, for example, in Dahai's biography published in Hummel's Eminent Chinese, and this has been generally accepted by historiographers writing about the Manchu script reform.

As I shall try to show below, these statements are rather questionable, and the whole history of the Manchu script reform, as well as of its alleged only «reformer» Dahai, must be rewritten, leaving some questions without an answer because of the lack of sources...

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