Does the Manchu language matter?


Do you still remember the text in the standard Manchu language, which is Ping Ding Hai Kou Fang Lui (The Book about Defeating Piracy, 平定海寇方略)? In this blog, I propose to briefly explain the background of editing this book, and I analyze and compare within this book. The most importantly, I analyze and compare the version of this book in two languages, Chinese and the Manchu language. By understanding this analysis, I argue that the Manchu language texts and Chinese texts are different and equally important to know.

During the Qing China (1644-1911), the Qing Empire had a tradition on editing book for detailing victory, and the form of this kind of books is “Fang Lue” in Chinese and “necihiyeme toktobuha bodogon i bithe” in the Manchu language. The main function of Fang Lue was for proclaiming how powerful and successful the Qing Empire was. In order to widely spread the success of the Qing Empire, Fang Lue usually edited in the Manchu language and Chinese, sometimes in other languages, such as the Mongolian.

Ping Ding Hai Kou Fang Lue was edited for recording the battle between the Qing Empire and the Zheng Regime in Taiwan, which was regarded as pirate for the Qing. The Zheng Regime was formally created by Zheng Chenggong, as known as Koxinga, during Ming Qing transition. However, Koxinga’s father, Zheng Zhilong, was the substantial founder of this regime in the later Ming Dynasty. Zhilong was originally a pirate as well as a trader, but he was recruited by the Ming government as an official general in Fujian, a southeastern province of China, so as to help the Ming Court to suppress other pirate in 1627.

After few years, in 1635, Zhilong successfully defeated the last resister. Due to Zhilong’s contribution during these years, Zhilong had been appointed as the commander of Fujian. Zhilong became the practical controller in Fujian. During Ming Qing transition, although Zhilong supported the Ming Court at the beginning, Zhilong eventually decided to surrender to the Qing Empire, but he did not bring all troops and property with him to Beijing.

Instead, Zhilong’s brothers and sons were still in Fujian with holding unbelievably powerful army and navy. Koxinga, Zhilong’s eldest son, was not the most powerful general in the Zheng Regime at this time, but, as a half Japanese and trained as a Japanese samurai and a Chinese Confucianist, Koxinga gradually nibbled up his relative’s troops and annexed their territory to enhance his power. Around 1650s, Koxinga had not only dominated the Zheng Regime but also become the most influential and powerful anti-Qing power in China.

However, in 1660, Koxinga misapprehended his capacity, so he attacked Nanjing City beside Yangzi River. Undoubtedly, he failed because of Koxinga’s arrogance and misstep. Next year, he led his navy and army to Taiwan. After one-year battle with the Dutch East India Company, Koxinga accepted Dutch’s surrender, and the Zheng Regime began to reign Taiwan as an anti-Qing basis. From 1661 to 1683, the Qing Empire and the Zheng Regime negotiated with each other to intend to find a balance to keep peaceful sphere. However, they never reached an agreement.

In 1683, Shi Lang, the former general of the Zheng Regime and the navy marshal of the Qing Empire at this time, defeated the Zheng Regime. As a result, Zheng Keshuang, the last king of the Zheng Regime, surrendered to the Qing Empire. This event was extremely important for the Qing Empire. First, the last anti-Qing power eventually vanished. Second, the Qing Empire occupied a new territory as its colony. Third, the Qing Empire could focus on the threat from the Inner Asia. This was the reason why this battle was worth to record as a Fang Lue.

The Ping Ding Hai Kou Fang Lue’s Manchu language version

There are 25 Fang Lues officially edited by the Qing Empire, and the form of Fang Lue is edited by chronological. However, among them, the Ping Ding Hai Kou Fang Lue was the only one which was not found the formal version in Chinese. In other words, it was a draft. For the past century, this version was the only one recognized, which had four volumes. In 2011, I’m the first person to discover the draft in the Manchu language although there were only first three volumes remaining.

First of all, I propose to compare the first and second volumes. As can be seen in Table 1, I list the frequent words in the volume 1 but not in the volume 2. Obviously, almost all frequent words in the volume 1 but not in the volume 2 are name of people or place. For example, the first is Fujian, which was the name of a province in southeastern China. Moreover, the second frequent word is wang, which refers to king. In other words, kings were not important in the volume 2. Additionally, ceng and gung refer to the same person, who is Koxinga, and jy and lung refer to Koxinga’s father, Zhilong. In other words, these two important people are not important in the volume two. The reason of less frequent names and places is because this Fang Lue was edited chronologically, so these places or people in the period described in the volume 2 are no longer essential.

Additionally, another noticeable difference between two volumes is that there are a lot of terms regarding the emperor, such as hese, dergi, hesei, and wasimbuhagge. Does this indicate that emperor is less important in the volume 2? Yes, it does. In fact, this perhaps addresses that the content of the volume 1 records the emperor’s orders, but the content of the volume 2 mainly records the discussion between ministers and generals as well as the battle between the Qing and the Zheng.

Table 1: comparing the difference in the first and second volume.

Order Words English meaning Frequency in Vol. 1 Frequency in Vol. 2
1 fugiyan Fujian 38 8
2 wang king/surname 36 3
3 ni of 34 7
4 gung (name of a person) 33 0
5 ceng (name of a person) 27 4
6 hese emperor’s order 23 7
7 manggi when… 23 7
8 aniya year 22 2
9 jy (name of a person) 22 0
10 lung (name of a person) 20 0
11 hebei discussion’s 19 1
12 sede speak 17 0
13 dergi east/up/Majesty 16 6
14 hesei of the emperor’s order 16 5
15 wasimbuhangge the order from emperor 16 3

Next, I compare the frequent words in the volume 1 and also in the volume 2.  As can been seen in Table 2. Besides the most frequent auxiliary words, the most frequent words usually referred to certain important people or place in both volumes, such as Wan Zhengse (wan, jeng, and še in the Manchu language), the most important general (tidu) during this period, and Quanzhou (cuwan jeo in the Manchu language), the most important area in Fujian.

Table 2: comparing the similarity in the first and second volume.

Order Words English meaning Frequency in Vol. 1 Frequency in Vol. 2
1 be be 242 126
2 de at 131 59
3 i of 127 67
4 jeng (surname) 81 23
5 cooha military/army 80 53
6 cuwan (name of a place) 49 21
7 mederi ocean 44 11
8 seme so/although 41 21
9 jeo prefecture 38 11
10 hūlha bandit 36 19
11 sehe spoke 28 14
12 wan (surname) 27 28
13 men (name of places) 25 19
14 tidu commander 25 24
15 fu (administrative level) 24 19
16 amba big 23 12
17 gin (name of a place) 22 11
18 še (name of a person) 22 19
19 dzungdu viceroy 21 16
20 dahame therefore 20 14

Table 3 suggests that the most frequent words in the volume 2 but not in the volume 3. Apparently, besides numbers (minggan, emu, juwe, and ilan) and gaimbi in different forms (gaifi and gaiha), the rest words are related to name of people or place. The question here is why gaimbi, referring to “get” in English, appears frequently. According to the content of the second volume, it primarily accounts the battle between two regimes, so it makes sense because gaimbi also refers to “occupy city” in English. As a result, the volume 2 in fact discusses how the cities in Fujian were occupied by turns.

Table 3: comparing the difference in the second and third volume

Order Words English meaning Frequency in Vol. 2 Frequency in Vol. 3
1 hai (name of a place) 26 1
2 men (name of places) 19 6
3 še (name of a person) 19 3
4 minggan thousand 15 0
5 tan (name of a place) 15 0
6 gaifi gotten 14 7
7 juwe Two 14 4
8 ilan three 13 3
9 emu one 12 6
10 gaiha got 11 0
11 gin (name of a place) 11 7
12 jeo prefecture 11 0
13 hafan officials 10 4
14 hiya guard 10 3
15 se etc. 10 7

Table 4 suggests the most similar words. Besides the auxiliary words, over half of the most frequent words in both volumes refers to name of place or people. However, noticeably, the surname, such as jeng and u is often the most frequent in both volumes. This actually indicates that in the Manchu language version, the author preferred to write entire name instead of only first name. This is in fact very different from the Chinese version, whose author preferred to write only first name.

Table 4: comparing the similarity in the second and third volume

Order Words English meaning Frequency in Vol. 2 Frequency in Vol. 3
1 be be 126 139
2 i of 67 54
3 de at 59 60
4 cooha military/army 53 38
5 wan (surname) 28 23
6 tidu commander 24 22
7 jeng (surname) 23 8
8 cuwan (name of a place) 21 14
9 seme so/although 21 22
10 amban minister 19 13
11 fu (administrative level) 19 16
12 hūlha bandit 19 16
13 u (surname) 19 8
14 siyūn governor 17 16
15 dzungdu viceroy 16 26
16 hing (name of a person) 15 9
17 dahame therefore 14 18
18 dzu (name of a person) 14 8
19 sehe spoke 14 22
20 gemu together 13 9

The comparison within this book suggests that each volume has its own emphasis because this book was edited chronologically. Especially, the similarity was usually about grammar and certain important places or people. Since the content of this book was edited chronologically, the difference implied where is much more important, who is much more important, and what is much more important for different periods.

The Comparison of the same text in the different language

As mentioned, for over one century, the Chinese version was the only recognized one. Since the new version in the Manchu language has been discovered, it is important to compare two versions.

However, noticeably, Chinese is hard to analyze as a systematical language. Since Chinese is an alphabetic system of writing, each Chinese character might have multiple meanings and multiple Chinese combined together will generate different meanings. Due to these features of Chinese characters, I would like to use a different way to analyze and compare two texts. First, I analyze the text in the Manchu language to recognize the frequency of each words. Then, I search the top 20 frequent words in Chinese version to see whether the frequency is similar. As a result, let’s search the most frequent words in Volume 1, 2, and 3 in the Manchu language version, and check out the frequency in the Chinese text.

Table 7: the comparison of the frequency of words in the volume 1

order Words Frequency English Chinese Frequency in Chinese version
1 be 242 be
2 de 131 at
3 i 127 of
4 jeng 81 (surname) 3
5 cooha 80 military/army 軍/兵 軍25/兵51
6 cuwan 49 (name of a place) 2
7 mederi 44 ocean 46
8 seme 41 so/ although
9 fugiyan 38 Fujian 福建 20
10 jeo 38 Prefecture 12
11 hūlha 36 bandit 賊/寇 賊17/寇20
12 wang 36 king 22
13 ni 34 of
14 gung 33 (name of a person) 14
15 sehe 28 spoke


Graph 1: The comparison of the frequency of words in the volume 1 as a line graph


As can be seen, besides the terms which could not be found in Chinese, such as be, de, and i, in Manchu language, jeng, which was the surname referring to Zheng (鄭) in Chinese, rarely appeared in the Manchu text. Meanwhile, in the Manchu text, cuwan, referring to Quanzhou (泉州) in Chinese,  frequently appeared, but this word only appeared twice in the Chinese text. Also, in the Manchu text, fugiuan, referring to Fujian (福建) in Chinese, was almost double times more than this term in Chinese.

Table 8: the comparison of the frequency of words in the volume 2

order Words Frequency English Chinese Frequency in Chinese version
1 be 126 be  
2 i 67 of  
3 de 59 at  
4 cooha 53 military 軍/兵 軍19/兵64
5 wan 28 (surname)/Taiwan 萬/灣 萬14/灣19
6 hai 26 (name of a place) 12
7 tidu 24 commander 提督 32
8 jeng 23 (surname) 6
9 cuwan 21 (name of a place) 2
10 seme 21 so/although
11 amban 19 minister 36
12 fu 19 (administrative level) 0
13 hūlha 19 bandit 賊/寇 賊29/寇13
14 men 19 (name of places) 24
15 še 19 (name of a person) 18


Figure 2: The comparison of the frequency of words in the volume 2 as a line graph


According to Table 8 and Graph 2, similarly, jeng in the Manchu text is almost four times more than Zheng in the Chinese text. Also, cuwan, fu, and hai were more frequent in the Manchu text than in the Chinese text.


Table 9: the comparison of the frequency of words in the volume 3

order Words Frequency English Chinese Frequency in Chinese version
1 be 139 be
2 de 60 at
3 i 54 of
4 cooha 38 military/army 軍/兵 軍16/兵68
5 dzungdu 23 viceroy 總督 7
6 ki 23 (name of a person) 10
7 šeng 23 (name of a person) 10
8 wan 23 Taiwan 29
9 yoo 23 (surname) 6
10 sehe 22 spoke
11 seme 22 so/although
12 tidu 22 commander 提督 20
13 ši 19 (surname) 25
14 tai 19 Taiwan 29
15 dahame 18 therefore 3

Graph 3: The comparison of the frequency of words in the volume 3 as a line graph


As can be seen, Table 9 and Graph 3 suggest that name of places or people were more complete in the Manchu text than Chinese text. This is also apparent in the volume 1 and volume 2.

The Manchu language and Chinese are extremely different languages. The Manchu language is belonged to Altaic language and syllabary, just like Japanese. Instead, Chinese (Mandarin) is belonged to Sino-Tibetan language and logogram. Therefore, it is hard to compare the frequency of each word in two texts. However, certain words, especially nouns, are still comparable.

This comparison is meaningful because this comparison is related to a debate between the New Qing History and its opponents. For a long time, Chinese sources have been the dominant sources to study Qing history. For these scholars, primarily the opponents of the New Qing History, the Qing Empire was not an empire; in the lieu of an empire, the Qing was entirely incorporated by Chinese culture and system, so the Qing was actually one of Chinese dynasties. This perspective was called Sinicization. In order to support their idea regarding Sinicization, they claimed that all texts written in the Manchu language was just the copy of the Chinese version, so the versions in the Manchu language were meaningless because scholars could directly read Chinese version.

Is this correct? Let’s look the new graphs, which are modified from Graph 1, 2, and 3. They are Graph 4, 5, and 6. The main difference between Graph 1, 2, 3 and Graph 4, 5, 6 is that I omit the term in the Manchu language but not in Chinese, for example auxiliary words. The reason is not because these terms do not exist in Chinese but they exist in the thousand possibilities in Chinese, so it is difficult to define which words in the Manchu language directly refer the words in Chinese; otherwise, I do a carefully reading.

Graph 4: the terms in both texts in volume 1


Graph 5: the terms in both texts in volume 2

figure_2without-noncharacterGraph 6: the terms in both texts in volume 3


Do you notice anything? The answer is quite obvious. Even though the same nouns, usually place or people’s name, appeared in both texts, their frequencies are still significantly different. Can the opponents of the New Qing History insist to claim that the Manchu language versions were just the copy of the Chinese version? I do not think so.


Admittedly, it is not sure whether this comparison is meaningful, but it does suggest a general idea. The idea is that the Manchu text was usually more precise than the Chinese text. However, in other words, Chinese can be more laconic. As a result, this might imply that the Manchu language was still less mature than Chinese, in some degree.

Apparently, there is a big question waiting for answering. Let’s look at Table 7, 8, and 9. Some terms, such as tidu, fugiyan, dzungdi, and so on, directly referred to a certain place or people. However, why were the number of these terms in the Manchu and Chinese texts different? According to the comparison and graphs, the Manchu language version and Chinese version were in effect different. Neither one was just the copy of another version. They were equally important but addressed to different audience and purpose.

Consequently, since this comparison had offered a general picture, the next step might be to do a closed reading to come up with the answer for the detail difference between the text in two languages.

How is the difference between the Old and standard Manchu language?

The Origin of the Manchu Language

Before I address the origin of the Manchu language, I must introduce a historiographic approach, which is the New Qing History. The New Qing History emphasizes the importance and element of Manchu in the Qing Empire (1616-1912) through reading non-Han Chinese sources, mainly in the Manchu language, to use the lens of the global history context. In other words, the New Qing historians regard the Qing Empire as an empire in the early modern period, just like the Ottoman Empire, British Empire, and so on. Apparently, in order to conduct study by using the methodology and idea of this historiography, it is necessary to understand the importance and evolution of the Manchu language.

Figure 1. The image of a document in the standard Manchu language (provided by Cheng-Heng Lu)

Zheng, Koxinga

Manchu language was the official language for the Qing Empire. This language was the most common languages for the Qing Empire. As a universal empire, the Qing Empire adapted to use different institutions to efficiently reign different areas, so using local language in the official documents in different areas expresses the essence of the Qing Empire. However, no matter what language was dominant, the Manchu language was written in parallel. For example, the empire used Chinese and Manchu language in China, used Mongolian language and the Manchu language in Mongolia, and used Tibetan and the Manchu language in Tibet. Generally speaking, in order to efficiently govern various regions, the Qing Empire endeavored to translate classics in different languages, such as Confucian classics from China, Buddhist classics from Tibet, and so on, in the Manchu language. Therefore, Manchu language was undoubtedly the most important and universal language in East Asia, just like Chinese, during the Qing period.

Literally, this language was created in 1599 based on the rule and characters of Mongolian language. During this period, this language was called the Old Manchu language because it was not mature and standardized. For example, the Old Manchu language could not spell Han Chinese name because the Old Manchu language had not established a complicated system to spell the sounds, which were not used colloquially. Additionally, the characters of “h,” “k,” and “g” were written exactly the same in the Old Manchu language. Moreover, the grammar was slightly not standardized. Since this regime was gradually growing, this immature language had to be revised. The significant turning point was in 1632 because Dahai, a literal doctor, was ordered to revise the Old Manchu language as the New Manchu language, as known as the Manchu language. After Dahai successfully revised the Old Manchu language as the standard Manchu language, which was widely used later, was mature enough to became the official language for the Court.

The Texts in the Old Manchu language and the Text in the Manchu language

The Old Manchu language was only used from 1599 to 1632, so there were few sources in the Old Manchu language, except Man Wen Lao Dang. Man Wen Lao Dang (滿文老檔, The Old Archive of the Manchu Language) was recorded daily events, including political, ethnic, economic, military, and social, before 1644 when the Manchu troops occupied Beijing to establish the Qing Dynasty, as one of the orthodox Chinese dynasties. Because Man Wen Lao Dang was the most primary source in the Old Manchu language, it becomes the most significant source to recognize the usage of the Old Manchu language.

When the Manchu army occupied Beijing and established the Qing Dynasty in China, increasing number of archives were written in Manchu language, as mentioned above. To be sure, Chinese was still the most important language, but, as mentioned, Manchu language was undoubtedly the official language. As a result, Manchu language was the only choice when the Court proposed to edit certain texts or books.

Ping Ding Hai Kou Fang Lue (平定海寇方略, The Book about Defeating Piracy), another text in this analysis, was edited around 1686. This book recorded how the Qing Empire suppressed and occupied Taiwan, where was reigned by the Zheng Regime (1661-1683). Since this was edited for claiming the victory and sovereignty of the Qing Empire, this was reasonable to compiling in the Manchu language so as to delivery to every corner among the empire. In this sense, the Manchu language version might be appropriate because the Manchu language was the shared language for different ethnicities and races. Meanwhile, the standard Manchu language had been used over half century while Ping Ding Hai Kou Fang Lue was edited. As a result, this book might be proper to analyze the linguistic usage of the Manchu language, comparing with Man Wen Lao Dang.

Overall, most importantly, this two texts are merely digital version in Manchu languages, the old and standard. Therefore, although the comparison of two texts might explore less important idea, this might be the first time that a study uses the methodology of digital humanity to conduct study regarding Manchu language sources.

The Analysis and Comparison of two texts

By using comparative and statistic method, these two texts surprisingly offered considerable interesting details. I individually analyze each text here.

Table 1. The frequency of words in Man Wen Lao Dang

Order Words in Manchu language Frequency Meaning in English
1 i 19374 of
2 de 17149 at
3 be 17115 is
4 emu 5049 one
5 han 4960 khan
6 niyalma 4692 people
7 seme 4568 (expletive)
8 juwe 3328 two
9 cooha 2803 military/army
10 juwan 2260 ten
11 weile 2095 affair
12 tere 2029 that/he/she
13 ilan 1883 three
14 gurun 1877 state/country
15 orin 1739 twenty
16 tanggū 1723 hundred
17 morin 1685 horse/the seventh character of Earth Branch
18 ni 1667 of (the previous word ending with “n”)
19 nikan 1576 Chinese
20 ere 1568 this

As can be seen in Table 1, except numbers, such as emu, juwe, and ilan, and auxiliary word, such as i, de, and be, the most frequent word is han. As said, han refers to khan. This was the official title before Manchu army invaded into China. In other words, during this period, the Qing Empire was slightly like a khanate instead of an empire. In fact, this makes sense because the Qing Empire became an “empire” after the second khan, Hong Taiji, defeated Mongolian army in 1635. In order to deeply understand the essence of the Qing Regime at this time, let’s focus on another term, hūwangdi, which refers to emperor, appears in this text only 38 times, and all of them referred to the emperor of the Ming Dynasty. As a result, the title of the leader of this regime in this period addressed that this regime was a khanate in lieu of an empire. Additionally, although scholars try to interpret that this regime was ruled by a tribal council which was organized by khan and other seven feudatories, belie, the frequency of belie in this text was 1516. Accordingly, for this regime, khan might play a much more important role than these feudatories.

Additionally, in Table 1, the frequencies of niyalma and nikan are hard to ignore. After a closed reading, niyalma is a general term to describe all people under the reign of this regime. However, nikan is particularly identifying Chinese. Why was not there a term about Manchu? In fact, Manchu, which was written as manju in this text, only appeared 131 times. To be sure, Manchu was created for uniting all ethnicities in Manchuria after Hong Taiji controlled Mongolia and came to the throne as an emperor after 1635. However, the frequency of nikan also indicates an important factor: Chinese were still the majority in this region. This might also explain why the Qing Empire had to establish the Hanjun Eight Banners System to assimilate Chinese into its ruling class.

Table 2. The frequency of words in Ping Ding Hai Kou Fang Lue

Order Words in Manchu language Frequency Meaning in English
1 be 499 is
2 i 249 of
3 de 238 at
4 cooha 164 Military/army
5 jeng 111 Zheng (surname)
6 cuwan 83 (referring to Quanzhou, name of a city)
7 seme 80 (expletive)
8 hūlha 76 Bandit/pirate
9 wan 75 Wan(surname)
10 mederi 74 Ocean/sea/marine
11 tidu 64 Commander
12 fu 59 City
13 fugiyan 57 Fujian (name of a province)
14 dzungdu 54 governor
15 ni 53 of (the previous word ending with “n”)
16 wang 50 king
17 men 49 Door (referring to certain name of place with this term, where usually means port)
18 jeo 48 prefecture
19 dahame 46 because
20 sehe 45 (completed tense)

As can be seen in Table 2, as mentioned above, except auxiliary word, such as i, de, and be, this text in fact really overturns present knowledge. Why could I make this argument? The most significant reason is because of the frequency of Wan. Wan is a surname, and this surname only referred to one general during this war: Wan Zhengse. In the past, scholars all acknowledged that Shi Lang was the most important person to defeat the Zheng Regime. However, in this text, Wan Zhengse was much more frequent mentioned because he was actually the general to organize and plan how to defeat the Zheng Regime although all credit was obtained by Shi Lang later.

Since this text concentrated on the war, it does make sense to mention considerable name of place. Among the top twenty frequent mentioned words, at least five words related to name of place. To be specific, Jeo referred to two places, Zhangzhou or Quanzhou. Fu also referred to Zhangzhou and Quanzhou. Unquestionably, cuwan only referred to Quanzhou. In other words, Quanzhou seems the most important place during this period. This is not surprised due to several reasons. First of all, Quanzhou was the most important city in southern Fujian. Second, Quanzhou was garrisoned by Fujian navy marshal, which was tidu. Third, Quanzhou was undoubtedly not only a city but the name of entire region. As a result, it can be concluded that Quanzhou was the most important area/city during this period.

Comparison of two texts

Admittedly, the scale of two texts are extremely different. The digital Man Wen Lao Dang is over 1,500 pages in a word file, but the digital Ping Ding Han Kou Fang Lue is just around 30 pages in a word file. However, according to statistic methodology, the frequency is still significantly remarkable.

As mentioned, these two texts were written in two “languages.” However, according to the statistics, the Old and standard Manchu language were actually similar because the auxiliary words were widely used in both. To be sure, two languages were not very different. Nevertheless, comparing two texts, it is easily to recognize the tense in two texts. In the Ping Ding Hai Kou Fang Lue, sehe, which is completed tense, frequently appeared because this text was edited after Taiwan had been already colonized by the Qing Empire. In contrast, Man Wen Lao Dang was recorded current dialogues or events reported by official immediately. As a result, the completed tense rarely appeared in Man Wen Lao Dang.

Comparing two texts, in fact, the Old Manchu language was not probably immature. In fact, the grammar in both texts were similar. For example, regarding verb, both texts contained past tense (-ha, -he), imperative mood (-kini), final form (-fi), conditional form (-ci), appositive form (-ra, -re, -ro), and perfective form (-habi). These verb forms were all appeared in Ping Ding Hai Kou Fang Lue as well. Therefore, the difference between the Old and standard Manchu language is probably not in grammar.


What could we learn from comparison of two texts? First, the grammar is still the same in either the Old Manchu language or Manchu language. In other words, the Manchu language, either the old or the standard, in fact has been a systematic and logical language. This could fully explain why this language could be widely utilized within the vast territory of the Qing Empire for over three hundred years.

Second, both texts focus on military because cooha was frequently emerging. To be sure, both texts discuss military events, especially Ping Ding Hai Kou Fang Lue. However, even though Man Wen Lao Dang recorded considerable military activities, this book should also describe something regarding administration or bureaucracy. However, it seems that military was still the most significant affair for this regime at that period.

Finally, because of the different purpose and content of two texts, they emphasized different terms. In Man Wen Lao Dang, numbers were everywhere because these numbers were used to record dates, years, and months. Instead, in Ping Ding Hai Kou Fang Lue, name of places was widely recorded because the geography was the essential point for this text.

Admittedly, comparing these two texts is not appropriate, in effect. However, this is due to the reality. Few sources in the Manchu language had been translated or Romanized into digital forms although some institutes have been conducted such works, such as Manchu Studies at Harvard University. Fortunately, these two texts were digitalized, and each of them represented different periods. Consequently, due to the manic tendency of the New Qing History in recent decade, the Manchu language is significantly emphasized. In order to use Manchus’ language to study Manchus’ history, it is necessary to widely use Manchu language as the primary source for studying Qing History. Once the amount of digital Manchu language sources appeared, it could help scholars to conduct Qing History through using digital methodology to offer more meaningful research.