This book offers students a tool to gain a good grounding in the Manchu language. Instead of having to depend on a formal Manchu class -- Manchu courses are only rarely taught at universities anywhere -- students are able study Manchu on their own time and at their own speed. If studied in its entirety, the material in this book represents the approximate equivalent of a three-semester course (one year and a half). This updated second edition includes online access to audio files.
Paperback: 442 pages
Publisher: National Foreign Language Resource Center; 2 edition (February 12, 2010)
Product Dimensions: 7 x 10 x 0.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
This is text is a very good example of how a textbook teaching a dead written language should be written. It gives very detailed explanation on the script, concise explanation on grammar (the Manchu grammar is relatively simple and straight forward comparing to many other languages) and texts for reading exercise of ascending difficulty. The texts included in the book are of great range of various genres from different historical periods, from very early form lacking diacritics to modern Sibe language (can be regarded as a dialect of Manchu, the only living descendent of the Manchu language). Each text is presented in Manchu script, transliteration and English translation --ideal for self-study! And there is also a comprehensive glossary in the end of the book, plus this new edition has even added sound files on the Internet to aid study--every bit of the book is written with independent Manchu language learner's need in mind, since Manchu language teacher is very hard to come by. This is precisely how a language textbook should be written. Does the book have drawbacks? Yes, it does--from time to time, you may find the grammatical explanations are not into good detail, and if one follows only this book alone can find the use of different grammatical forms confusing. Yet, since the author is a historian, not a linguist, and Manchu is primarily a dead language, most people learn it for reading texts with passive language knowledge, this pitfall is very much forgivable. I have used this book in conjunction with classes in a US university, I found it an indispensable tool for any one who wishes to have some exposure to the Manchu language.
The previous reviewer gave the book three star, solely based on the fact this book does not address "adequately" Mongolian influence on Manchu, and attributed this to the Chinese bias against Mongols (since the author is a Chinese American) is simply irrational and laughable -- he needs to know that the so-called Mongol script was not invented by a Mongol, but by a Uighur based on the Uighur script. This book is not a scholarly book on Manchu-Mongol comparative studies, it is simply does one job and does it very well--teaching people without previous knowledge of Manchu seeking working reading knowledge of the language.
This text book is very will written. Unfortunately the author intentionally downgraded the role and influence of Mongolian language among Manchus. The Manchu script is based on the Mongolian Uighur styled script and Manchu language is also the semi-Mongolian Language. Manchu historic documents are basically bi-lingual in Manchu-Mongolians. Manchu collections in Mongolia is the second biggest resource, which should be mentioned in this book. The author failed to give credits to Mongolians even she is an ethnic Chinese in the USA. Today's Chinese attitude and mind set are to suppress other Asian cultures as much as possible and include them into the minority group of China. This book is one of great examples of the Chinese modern policies. It could be that the author got pressure from the Chinese side.