On Thursday 24 November at 12.15 Dr. Zikmundová will give a talk "Journey to the West: A history of language contact of Sibe" at Metsätalo, lecture hall 9 (3rd floor).
Journey to the West: A history of language contact of Sibe
Veronika Zikmundová, Charles University
Sibe (Tungusic) is not only the best preserved and best documented of the spoken Manchu varieties, but also one with fairly unique and rather well recorded modern history.
In 1764 a group of predecessors of modern Sibe was transferred by the Qing government to the Ili Valley on the current Sino-Kazakhstan border, almost four thousand kilometers west from their Manchurian homeland. Various circumstances contributed to the preservation of the language, which currently has something between 10 000 and 20 000 speakers.
Sibe may be described as a comparatively standard Manchu variety. However, several conspicuous features in phonetics, morphology and lexicon distinguish modern spoken Sibe from other standard Manchu varieties. Some of these features are clearly of contact origin, while for others different interpretations seem to be possible. All these specific features already appear in the first descriptions of spoken Sibe from the 1980s. Historical sources yield a list of several languages such as Mongolian, Uighur, or Russian, whose speakers had come into close contact with the ancestors of the modern Sibe speakers before this period. While the lexical borrowings from these languages are mostly easy to detect and interpret, possible contact features in morphology and phonetics present many puzzles.
In this presentation I will discuss the features of a likely contact origin, their possible links to the contact languages, and the sociolinguistic factors that may have conditioned the processes of change and maintenance in Sibe.