Article on Public Inscriptions and Manchu Language Reform



An article was just published:

"Public Inscriptions and Manchu Language Reform in the Early Qianlong Reign (1740s–60s)," Saksaha 16 (2019--2020): 31--53.


Official signs and steles in the Qing empire were often at least bilingual, with Manchu and Chinese either side by side or on opposite sides. New institutions and renovated buildings necessitated new Manchu words and turns of phrase for the accompanying inscriptions. Under the Qianlong emperor, the text that should go on plaques and steles was carefully scrutinized, especially regarding the use of Manchu vocabulary. Public inscriptions thus involved watchful editing. The emperor was not the only driving force behind the reform. In part, individuals who moved through Beijing and Manchuria saw the words inscribed in the built-up environment around them change because officials in the field had memorialized the throne to draw attention to usages that the initial reform had missed. This paper will discuss this process.