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GENGO KENKYU (Journal of the Linguistic Society of Japan)
Vol. 1996 (1996) No. 110 P 177-191



The Tungusic family is comprised of ten small languages which are distributed in China and Russia. In each country, they have suffered a steady decrease in population and are more or less facing a danger of extinction. Historically, they have been affected by several prestige languages: Mongolian, Manchu, and of course Chinese and Russian. As an attempt to exemplify some grammatical changes of minority languages under dominant ones, this paper illustrates (1) Mongolian influences on Manchu, (2) Manchu influences on Hejen (a dialect of Nanai), and (3) Chinese or Russian influences on present-day Tungusic.
As a result of such manifold contacts, especially on the Chinese side, the Tungusic languages in China share some grammatical peculiarities which make them rather different from their relatives in Russia. On the Russian side, meanwhile, the impact of the state language has changed the minority languages in peculiar ways. As an example of Russianization, some Tungusic languages have developed relative pronouns and conjunctions with finite clauses. Recent reports often show much reduced stages of minority languages: in some cases it is no more than a kind of hybrid that manages to survive.
After a brief review of Tungusology in Russia and China, the author recognizes the need to interrelate information from both sides of the national borders and emphasizes expected foreign, especially Japanese, contributions.

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