Super color Doppler, part 2

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[This is a guest post by Greg Pringle, in response to questions I posed regarding the photograph at the top of this post from yesterday, mainly: 

What does the Mongolian script say?  Does it match the Chinese*?  Are there any mistakes in it?

*The Chinese is short for "in color with Doppler ultrasound".]

The Mongolian says önggöt – het dolgion – zurag (ᠥᠩᠭᠡᠲᠦ ᠬᠡᠲᠦ ᠳᠣᠯᠭᠢᠶᠠᠨ ᠵᠢᠷᠤᠭ). It literally means "coloured ultra-wave picture" or, as Google Translate has it, "colour ultrasound imaging”. My Inner Mongolian dictionaries confirm that önggöt het dolgion zurag means literally “彩色超声波图” in Chinese and it is found on the Internet with that meaning.

You quote Diana Shuheng Zhang as saying the Chinese means "Color Doppler Ultrasound". I did find önggöt doppler zuraglal (Өнгөт Допплер зураглал) "coloured Doppler sketch” in Mongolian-language pages on the Russian Internet, and Jichang Lulu found a couple of sources from Mongolia.

Rather than continue confirming what you already know, I think it fair to bring up the issue of terminology.

You ask what the Mongolian says. Well, yes, it says “coloured ultra-wave picture". Het dolgion (ᠬᠡᠲᠦ ᠳᠣᠯᠭᠢᠶᠠᠨ “ultra-wave") is the standard Inner Mongolian translation of Chinese chāoshēng 超声 “ultrasound” in the medical sense (which is abbreviated from chāoshēngbō 超声波 “ultrasound wave”). The Mongolian is, indeed, a calque on chāoshēngbō 超声波, as others have pointed out.

In Mongolia, ultrasound is het avian (хэт авиан) “ultra sound” (attributive form), or more usually eho (ЭХО), which is presumably from English “echo”. (Avia and duu both mean “sound”, with slightly different nuances.)

Het dolgion “ultra wave” written in Cyrillic as хэт долгион (rather than Mongolian traditional script ᠬᠡᠲᠦ ᠳᠣᠯᠭᠢᠶᠠᠨ) is found only on a number of Russian Mongolian-language websites. I am not sure why this is, since Russian uses ul’trazvuk (ультразвук) "ultra-sound" for this concept. A direct translation from the Russian seems to be ruled out.

The other meaning of chāoshēng 超声 is "supersonic", in which case the standard Inner Mongolian translation is het duu (ᠬᠡᠲᠦ ᠳᠠᠭᠤ) “super / ultra sound”.

* There are actually two terms for a supersonic plane in Chinese: chāoshēngsù fēijī 超声速飞机 “supersound-speed plane” and chāoyīnsù fēijī 超音速飞机, also “supersound-speed plane”. The dictionary I have translates these both as het duun hurdacht nisgel (ᠬᠡᠲᠦ ᠳᠠᠭᠤᠨ ᠬᠤᠷᠳᠤᠴᠠᠲᠤ ᠨᠢᠰᠬᠡᠯ) “supersound speed plane”, with the additional translation duunaas türgen hurdacht nisgel (ᠳᠠᠭᠤᠨ ᠡᠴᠡ ᠲᠦᠷᠭᠡᠨ ᠬᠤᠷᠳᠤᠴᠠᠲᠤ ᠨᠢᠰᠬᠡᠯ) “speed-faster-than-sound plane” for the second. In Mongolia, “supersonic plane” is duunaas hurdan ongots (дуунаас хурдан онгоц), i.e. “plane faster than sound”.

Why the divergence in terminology between Mongolia and Inner Mongolia? The answer is simple: Inner Mongolian terminology for modern concepts is almost always a direct translation from Chinese, whereas Mongolia has been influenced by Russian and more recently English. There are, of course, numerous dialect differences between Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, but most of the differences in modern terminology are due to different sources in coining new vocabulary.

In the first decade of this century there was something of an explosion in dictionaries in Inner Mongolia, including dictionaries of new terminology, technical terminology, and even English-Mongolian-Chinese dictionaries for school students. Most of this was funded the State. Conspicuously, all of the modern Mongolian terminology in these dictionaries was quite obviously a direct translation from the Chinese. Moreover, different dictionaries often translated the same Chinese term in different ways, indicating that each was an individual effort with no attempt at coordination of vocabulary. It is likely that the actual work of coming up with translation equivalents was farmed out to hacks or students.

What is equally interesting is the positioning of such dictionaries, with some explicitly stating that they were produced to aid in ensuring that Chinese terminology is translated correctly into Mongolian. This is likely something of a smokescreen, just as Chinese scholars felt obliged to pay tribute to socialism or the cultural revolution during an earlier period, but the fact that this kind of justification is offered is telling in itself. In China what is most important is ensuring that whatever is written in Mongolian should be a faithful reflection of the Chinese, which is, of course, the language of the central government.

Dotno Pount said at the previous post that “I doubt any Inner Mongolian actually uses this translation for ultrasound”. I suspect that much of this newly-manufactured terminology does have limited application in real life. I once asked an Inner Mongolian acquaintance involved in cross-border trade whether, in talking about trade, he would use the Mongolian term hudaldaa (худалдаа) or the preferred Inner Mongolian term ariljaa (ᠠᠷᠢᠯᠵᠢᠶᠠ). He laughed and said “I would use maoyi”.

I might have mentioned this to you before, but a few years ago I did a webpage comparing the names of international organisations used in Mongolia and Inner Mongolia. The results were highly illuminating. Virtually all the names from Inner Mongolian sources were direct translations from the Chinese, although the translations were far from uniform. They also seemed to be obeying an unwritten rule that terminology used in Mongolia was to be avoided. Mongolian terminology, on the other hand, is generally in line with international norms because it is often directly translated from Russian.

One very obvious example of the difference is the translation of the IMF. In Mongolia this is Olon ulsyn valyutyn san (Олон Улсын Валютын Сан) “international currency fund”, with валюта from Russian, and сан historically derived from Chinese cāng 仓 “warehouse”). In Inner Mongolia IMF is translated as Olon ulsyn zoosny suur’ mönggni zohion baiguulalt (ᠣᠯᠠᠨ ᠤᠯᠤᠰ ᠦᠨ ᠵᠣᠭᠣᠰᠣᠨ ᠦ ᠰᠠᠭᠣᠷᠢ ᠮᠦᠩᠭᠦᠨ ᠦ ᠵᠣᠬᠢᠶᠠᠨ ᠪᠠᠢᠭᠤᠯᠤᠯᠲᠠ), literally “international money base-money organisation”, a direct translation from Chinese guójì huòbì jījīn zǔzhī (国际货币基金组织) “international currency fund (=“base money”) organisation”.

In case you're interested, the URL is here.

At any rate, the question "What does this say in Mongolian?" must always be considered from the angle of "which Mongolian do you mean"? People from Mongolia would find the Inner Mongolian terminology outlandish or laughable if they came across it — which they wouldn't unless they made a habit of reading Inner Mongolian websites, something that 99.9% of Mongolians would never do. If you asked them "Is this Mongolian?", most would say "No, we don't say that. It's weird".

I'd just like to clarify my own personal opinion about this issue:

  1. I'm very sympathetic to the Inner Mongolians developing terminology in Mongolian to express new and emerging concepts. I applaud whatever efforts they make to keep their language up-to-date and expand the expressive powers of their language into new spheres.
  1. It is, however, very difficult for them under Chinese control. The Communist party is a jealous master who demands obedience to the ideology of the centre, which is, of course, in Chinese. Efforts to create their own terminology are often not taken seriously by their own people (who don't use it), and the fact that different dictionaries come up with different translations only underlines the fact that this not "real vocabulary"; it is simply a simulacrum of the Chinese.
  1. I do not, however, subscribe to the views of most Mongolians, who completely pooh-pooh the vocabulary-building exercises of their Inner Mongolian cousins, towards whom they have highly jaundiced attitudes.

I am very sympathetic to the Inner Mongolians, who taught me the traditional Mongolian script. The loss of their dialects, culture, and traditions would be an irreparable loss to the Mongolian-speaking world. However, it is very disappointing that they are hobbled by ideological and linguistic control by China.

1 Comment

  1. Victor Mair said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 6:13 pm

    From Jichang Lulu:

    What an excellent guest post by Bathrobe!

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