Since the winter term 2008/09 a reading course in documentary Manchu has been an additional part of the curriculum at the Chair of Chinese History and Society. As the language of the rulers of the Qing empire Manchu was, besides Chinese, the most important language, especially in governmental communication.
Yet Manchu also served as a vehicle of cultural transmission. Jesuit missionaries, for instance, carried out communication also in Manchu during the pre-negotiations to the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689. The Jesuit Joseph Moyriac de Mailla used a Manchu edition of the history (Yupi) Tongjian gangmu (御批)通鑒綱目 (Han-i araha tung giyan g’ang mu bithe) for his Histoire générale de la Chine. While this is known quite well, Manchu translations of novels, such as the Gin Ping Me bithe (Jinpingmei 金瓶梅) or of scientific books attracted far less attention by scholars.
Since summer 2015 we are working on an English translation of the Manchu version of a language guide for Korean merchants, Qingyu Lao Qida 清語老乞大, which has been edited and translated into modern Chinese by Zhuang Jifa 莊吉發 (Qingyu Lao Qida yizhu 清語老乞大譯注, 2nd ed., Taibei: Wenshizhe chubanshe, 2014, Series Manyu congkan 滿語叢刊). We also refer to the English translation of the Chinese version of this Korean language guide which was carried out by Stephen A. Wadley ("A Translation of the 'Lao Qida' and Investigation into Certain of its Syntactic Structures", Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, 1987). The direct translation from Manchu into English will not only contribute to the philological branch of Manchu studies, but will add to a deeper knowledge of the economic, social and cultural circumstances under which people under the Manchu dynasty lived in and outside of the capital, and how they dealt with each other in daily life.
The Manchu language was the official and imperial language of the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), widely used across central Eurasia and China. Due to political variations, this language has been endangered and nowadays few people speak and write it across the globe.
In Tübingen, we have launched programs of Manchu studies to revive this endangered language for academic and actual communication purposes. Welcome to the University of Tübingen. Your participation in the promotion of Manchu studies is very much appreciated!
Recently we began creating videos on reading Manchu documents.