Archive for Language extinction

Manchu film

Xinhua claims “Yīnggē lǐng chuánqí 莺歌岭传奇” (“Legend of Yingge Ridge”) to be the first film in the Manchu language. I could only find this trailer for it on Tudou (Manchu speaking appears to start around 2 minutes in).

The Tudou link doesn’t work well, has too many intrusive ads, and requires Flash.  Use this YouTube version which is much, much better.  But what sort of resurrected Manchu is this?  It sounds oddly like Korean to me, and at least one Korean friend says that — more so than Mongol — it makes him feel as though he should be able to understand it, but of course he cannot.

There are, however, some fundamental problems with this film.

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Dialect death

Reports of the death of languages and the extinction of languages are alarmingly routine, but before a language dies out entirely, when it is endangered, its dialects die off one by one.

Last native speaker of Scots dialect dies” (10/6/12)

Dialect Death:  The case of Brule Spanish (1997)

The list of publications documenting the dead and dying dialects could go on for many pages:  I lament each and every one of them.

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A rebirth for Manchu?

Manchu was the language of the last Chinese dynasty, the Qing, which ruled from 1644-1912, and had two of its emperors (Kangxi, Qianlong) each rule for 60 years or more.

Today, out of nearly ten million ethnic Manchus, fewer than one hundred can still speak the language fluently, and it is generally regarded as being on the brink of extinction.

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