Manchu language

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Manchu is a Tungusic language spoken in Northeast China; it used to be the language of the Manchu, though now most Manchus speak Mandarin Chinese and there are fewer than 70 native speakers of Manchu out of a total of nearly 10 million ethnic Manchus. Although the Xibe language, with 40,000 speakers, is in almost every respect identical to Manchu, Xibe speakers, who live in far western Xinjiang, are ethnically distinct from Manchus.[1]

Manchu is an agglutinative language that demonstrates limited vowel harmony. It has been demonstrated that it is derived mainly from the Jurchen language though there are many loan words from Mongolian and Chinese. Its script is vertically written and taken from the Mongolian alphabet (which in turn derives from Aramaic via Uyghur and Sogdian). Although Manchu does not have the kind of grammatical gender that many Indo-European languages do, some gender-related words in Manchu are distinguished by different stem vowels; in such cases, "a"s are sometimes used to indicate masculine ones, as in ama "father", and "e"s are sometimes used to indicate feminine ones, as in eme "mother".


Writing system

The Manchu language uses the Manchu script, which was derived from the traditional Mongol script, which in turn is based on the vertically written pre-Islamic Uyghur script. Manchu is usually romanized according to the system devised by Paul Georg von Möllendorff in his Manchu grammar. Its ancestor, Jurchen, used the Jurchen script, which is derived from the Khitan script, which in turn was derived from Han characters. There is no relation between the Jurchen script and the Manchu script.

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