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Qingwenjian 清文鑒 and Wuti qingwen jian 五體清文鑒

Jun 13, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Qingwenjian 清文鑒 "Mirror to the national language", officially called Yuzhi qingwen jian 御制清文鑒, is a series of multi-lingual dictionaries from the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) compiled on imperial order. "National language" (literally: "the language of the Qing") means Manchurian.

The oldest version, the Qingwen jian, was compiled during the years 1673 to 1708. During the Qianlong reign-period 乾隆 (1736-1795), some extensions to it were written, the Man-Meng wen jian 滿蒙文鑒 (Manchu-Mongol dictionary), Liangti qingwen jian 兩體清文鑒 (idem), Santi qingwen jian 三體清文鑒 (including Manchurian, Mongolian, and Tibetan), the Zengding qingwen jian 增訂清文鑒 (finished in 1771), Manzhu-Menggu-Hanzi sanhe qieyin qingwen jian 滿珠蒙古漢字三合切音清文鑒, Siti qingwen jian 四體清文鑒 (Manchurian, Mongolian, Chinese, and Tibetan), and the most famous of the series, the Wuti qingwen jian 五體清文鑒 (Manchurian title Han-i araha sunja hacin-i hergen kamciha manju gisun-i buleku bithe "Mirror of the Manchu language with an overview of five different languages, compiled by the Emperor").

The Qingwenjian is 46-juan long, with a supplement of 4 juan, a general introduction (zonggang 總綱) of 8 juan and a supplement to the latter (bu zonggang 補總綱), in 2 juan. It was an attempt to compile a handbook for old Manchurian, which was written in a different way than after the script reform of 1632 (wu juandian Manwen 無圈點滿文 "Manchurian without diacritic dots", tongki fuka akū hergen, in contrast to you juandian Manwen 有圈點滿文, tongki fuka hergen).

This book, finished in 1708, included 280 different themes with more than 12,000 words and terms. The lemmata were arranged alphabetically. The Qianlong emperor first ordered to add phonetic comments to this version, and the dictionary was revised to an enlarged version, the Zengding qingwen jian, with 35 chapters and 292 themes. Each lemma was written in the modern Manchurian script, and translated into Chinese. The Manchurian text was transcribed phonetically into Chinese, and the Chinese explanation of the word was transcribed phonetically into Manchurian. The Qingwenjian and the Sanhe qieyin qingwen jian are included as manuscripts in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, the first also in the reprint series Qinzaotang Siku quanshu huiyao 摛藻堂四庫全書荟要.

The Wuti qingwen jian was an extension of the Zengding and the Siti versions and is a five-language dictionary, representing words in Manchurian, Tibetan, Mongolian, Chinese, as well as Turki (Uyghurian). The content was also considerably enlarged. The Wuti qingwen jian is 32-juan long and arranged the vocabulary in 36 encyclopaedic fields of meaning, with 292 categories and 556 sub-categories, and a total vocabulary of 17,052 words. There is a supplement of 4 juan length, with 26 more categories and 1,619 additional words, making a total of 36 categories and 18,671 lemmata.

For each word, 8 entries are provided: first the Manchurian word, then its Tibetan counterpart, enriched by a literal transcription (qieyin 切音) and a phonetic transcription (duiyin 對音) into Manchurian, then the Mongolian counterpart and the Turki counterpart, supplemented with a phonetic transcription into Manchurian, and finally, the Chinese counterpart of the word or term.

The Wuti qingwen jian has, of course, its value as a dictionary, expecially for the multi-language administrative terminology of the Qing period, but also in respect to linguistic studies of the five languages, especially Tibetan, a language whose modern pronunciation differs extremely from the archaic written form, and also for Turki and its dialects.

The Wuti qingwen jian was finished around the year 1790, but the exact date of compilation is not known because there is no preface. It was brought into book form not before 1805. In 1957, the Minzu Press 民族出版社 published a facsimile of a manuscript version of the palace library, in three volumes. In 1966, the Japanese scholar Tamura Jitsuzō 田村実造 (1904-1999) from the Tōkyō University published a version with a transcription into Latin letters, with the title of Gotai shinbunkan yakukai 五體清文鑒訳解, in two volumes. Another specimen of the original is stored in the British Museum.

In 2013 Oliver Corff published an annotated latinized version (albeit in German) of the dictionary, Auf kaiserlichen Befehl erstelltes Wörterbuch des Manjurischen in fünf Sprachen ("Fünfsprachenspiegel"): Systematisch angeordneter Wortschatz auf Manjurisch, Tibetisch, Mongolisch, Turki und Chinesisch, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Table 1. Contents of the Wuti qingwen jian 五體清文鑒
1. Abka 天部 Heaven
2. Erin jurgan 時令部 Seasons and time
3. Na 地部 The earth
4. Han 君部 Rulers
5. Hese 諭旨部 Edicts
6. Hafan sindara 設官部 Offices
7. Dasan 政部 Reigning
8. Dorolon 禮部 Rites
9. Kumun 樂部 Ritual music
10. Šu tacin 文學部 Literature
11. Cooha-i gungge 武功部 War
12. Niyalma 人部 Man
13. Hūwašan doose 僧道部 Buddhism and Daoism
14. Ferguwecuke aldungga 奇異部 Strange things
15. Oktosi saman 醫巫部 Medicine and magic
16. Faksi muten 技藝部 Arts and skills
17. Dere tomoro 居處部 Houses and buildings
18. Boigon hethe 產業部 Products
19. Tuwa šanggiyan 火部 Fire
20. Suje boso 布帛部 Textiles
21. Etuku miyamigan 衣飾部 Clothing and adornment
22. Tetun jaka 器皿部 Tools
23. Fejilere arara 營造部 Construction
24. Jahūdai 船部 Ships and boats
25. Sejen kiyoo 車轎部 Carts and chariots
26. Jetere jaka 食物部 Eating
27. Hacingge jeku 雜糧部 Miscellaneous agrarian products
28. Hacingge tubihe 雜果部 Miscellaneous fruits
29. Orho 草部 Grasses and herbs
30. Moo 樹木部 Trees
31. Ilha 花部 Flowers
32. Gasha cecike 鳥雀部 Birds
33. Gurgu 獸部 Beasts
34. Ulha ujima 牲畜部 Cattle
35. Esihengge hurungge 鱗甲部 Fishes and scaly animals
36. Umiyaha 蟲部 Insects and worms
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