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33. Language

Language gives us facts for forming an idea as to the mentality. I will not here go into the details of the Tungus language, which would require too much space, but I shall point out some characters which may give some light as to the Tungus mentality [219]. In the previous exposition, as well as in my previous work on the social organization, we might see that the Tungus language is very rich in special terms. As to the geographical and topographical terminology I have pointed out that the Tungus dictionary is rich in those terms because the Tungus need them for their economic activity, migrations, etc. This may hold good for other sections of the dictionary. It is difficult to say how voluminous is the Tungus dictionary in different dialects. Such statistical observations would be beyond our present possibilities. Of course, in so far as I can see from my own material, a Tungus dialect includes at least several tens of thousands of words, produced from at least several thousands of stems. So that from the point of view of volume of the dictionary one must leave to the Tungus language a position which cannot be considered as inferior to that of other languages. Indeed, the Manchu language which possesses some literature is also very rich. Of course, the number of words (sounding starters) of a language (or dialect) is not yet indicative whether this language generally is rich or not in starters, for the same sounding starter may be used as starter of different chains in dependence upon the complex starters (combination of several sounding starters). Here it must also be considered whether the language is a written one or only spoken. In written languages the increase of starters and the secondary semantic variations are met with as well. Moreover, the longer the language is used, the richer the cultural complex is, the richer the starter content becomes. Owing to this, inferences made from a simple statistical calculation of number of «words» are quite risky.

The dictionary naturally is rich in the words used for designation of the phenomena important from the Tungus point of view. These elements may be lacking in other languages. Here I may quote, for instance, special terms for all ages and sexes of some wild and domesticated animals, very rich topographical terminology, extensive group of «verbs» for designation of different special forms and methods of hunting, in some dialects detailed classificatory system of relationship terms etc. On the other hand, as shown, for some phenomena which remain unnoticed there may be no terms. As compared with other languages for instance, of the ethnical groups living on industry of modern type based upon the modern science, the Tungus language will show a lack of special terminology of this type.

All Tungus languages possess a well developed section of terms for the abstract notions [220], which they may have. Again the number of these words will be more limited than in the languages amongst the ethnical groups which possess particular inclination for formation of this group of notions. This may be conditioned by the special ways of ethnical adaptation, and sometimes incidental growth of particular branches of knowledge. However, in so far as the theory of spirits and regulation of the spirits' activity is concerned the Tungus language is richer than many other languages [221]. Perhaps the process of logical thinking may be better seen in the analysis of the etymology of words which represent abstract notions. Let us take an example: aja (all dialects) is a starter (vide Aspects, p. 39) for «particular property of the object (things and relations) which produces positive reaction in the subject.» This starter may be used alone when the Tungus mind is interested in defining the attitude in general, which ought to be shown to the hearer, or to oneself (in the case of monologue). The expansion of the stem with specific starters (suffixes) may permit the formation of a series of new and particular relations of aja.

aja+suff. personal — «to like»

ajaba+suff. Personal — «to be good, prosperous, healthy, «etc.

aja+(suff. instrumentalis)/ — (in) «good» (manner, way) (suff. ji may be substituted by its equivalent, t.)

ajaka+suff. personal — «to perform something» (in reference to the children and to the dogs when they are asked to show some of their amusing tricks, cf. «faire le beau».)

ajakan 'Ji- the farewell greeting

ajama-«good» (possessing the property «good»)

ajama+suff. personal — «to recover, to proceed from 'bad' to 'good'.

ajat+suff. personal — «to want, to desire, to envy».

ajav-«to love, to like in such a manner that the liking will affect the object of liking.»

ajarin- «good (actions), the property of producing 'good'».

With the increase of suffixes of diminutive and others for showing degree of aja, e.g. ajakan «slightly good, pretty», etc.; ajakakan — further diminution; ajakun — highly good, etc. one may give shades of aja in its intensity, e.g. ajatkul-kakun — «the best of all». With the agglutination of suffixes of relation in space and time, one may produce a still longer series of new starters.

In so far as one may logically give new shades of meaning by using a primary starter with addition of specific starters the increase of new shades of meanings is possible. The limitations come from the logical impossibility of combining a primary starter with other starters. Yet, the position of the starter may also be used for giving it a new function. Thus, one may see that the process of formation of the new starters is strictly logical.

The sources of the new starters are different. The Tungus as well as any other ethnical unit in this particular form of cultural adaptation do not hesitate to borrow from the existing milieus [222] and sometimes they may invent some new starters by using the old starters and again they may substitute new starters for their old ones borrowing these new starters from the neighbours should these prove to be better in any respect, e.g. in «sharpening» the meaning, in shortening the process, etc.

The analysis of the Tungus dictionary shows that the Tungus groups use various methods of increase of the lexical contents. The number of «words» borrowed from different ethnical sources is very large as in other languages. The chief sources of words are the people, in the neighbourhood of which the Tungus are living. The borrowing of isolated «words»may thus proceed from one group to another without any direct contact by the particular group investigated.

It is not easy to restore the complex of starters which existed amongst the Tungus before their last migrations, for the substitution of some starters might take place at different periods and in different degree amongst the groups. Yet, such a restoration cannot help us to restore the psychomental complex which existed at that time, and from this point of view this question is beyond the scope of the present work.

* * *

For showing how the mental process goes on in Tungus system of thinking let us take some instances: b'i s'in'jun geneldilcaf b'iradulavi ollovan butam 'i -I thou with started together to go to the river fish to harpoon, or «you and I went to the river for fishing». s'injun iss'in («thou») and suffix of comitativus which may be rendered «together»or «with»; geneldilcaf is gene - stem «going»; since we went together it is indicated by the suffix -Idi — used in the action undertaken collectively with respective influence of one on another person (here «going together»); there is indicated the time when this event took place — ca — in the past, an accomplished action, and this action took place, was started — suffix-/ — before the act of «going» had place; suffix /depends upon bi for showing that geneldilca is referred to bi («I»). Thus, there is no ambiguity in this form, but a clear and logical description of the act of «going». B’iradulavi is still more expressive; it may be dissected into bira (stem) «river»; du the suffix by which there may be designated the idea of «dativus» and «locativus», e.g. sindu — to thou (e.g. to give), and y'w-du — at home; la is the suffix of «directivus», so that combined with du it will give a more definite idea of direction towards the river for the purpose of staying; yet we have the suffix vi which is the suffix of «transitiveness» and thus when the river is reached it will be affected here by the speaker and his companion (s'i); so altogether it will mean the direction to the river in view of remaining in it. This is clear but the purpose of remaining in the river is explained ollovan butam'i. Olio is the fish; wa is the same suffix as v'i i.e. here designating the object olio; the suffix n shows that the fish belongs to the river; thus it may be translated »(to act on) its (river) fish»; butam'i — is buta, the idea of «harpoon», — which is increased with the suffix m 'i for rendering the idea of action with the harpoon, although neither the time nor the persons and conditions of the action are designated [223].

The order of words may be changed within certain limits so that the sense will not be affected. The limits are defined by the rhythm of speech, musical contents of the sentence and sequence of logical moments. The whole sentence is built up in such a manner that there may be no other meaning even in the case of inaccuracy in the sequence of «words». Every suffix has its strict function designating the complex relations between the actors objects, actions with the emphasis as to the time and mode of actions. Thus a sentence is like a complex mathematical formula. Indeed, such a structure of language requires a strong analysis of relations at every given moment, for otherwise the functions of the starters would never be established and speech would become impossible. The Tungus languages thus have been gradually formed, being based upon the minute determination and designation of relations and starters for various ideas, so that the formal parts of the language have reached the highest possible degree of specialization, and at the same time they possess a perfect flexibility.

In the above analysed instance of aja we may see that the stem with the increase of some suffixes may play the part of subject, object, action, property, etc. The same is true of the stem buta which depending on suffixes, may become any logical conception connected with the idea «harpoon». The analysis of the Tungus «words» show that a Tungus actually operates with the mere hints to the ideas. The case of suffix vi II va (with variations) is used with different degrees of emphasis as to the transitiveness. The same suffix used in starters can be used for designation of actions when one needs to give transitive meaning to the starter of action, e.g. kara the idea to «look out», etc. but karavu — «to look out for», the idea «to watch after»; mu ujuren — «the water is boiling»; muva ujuvren — »(he or she) is boiling the water». The suffixes used for designation of the relations between the actors, objects and subjects, and the suffixes used for developing in the particular meanings of actions may be supplied with the same phonetic contents and these will be the same suffixes, - specific starters. The number of suffixes which are potentially used in both senses is not small, but there are also some suffixes which may be used only with the starters for subjects and those which may be used only in the starters for actions. These facts, however, do not suffice for tracing a sharp dividing line between the categories of the Latin grammar which distinguishes nomen, adjectivus, verbum etc. These categories would entirely distort the actual structure of the Tungus language. The Tungus operate with the original starters for ideas and directing starters (suffixes) in which system the «nouns», «adjec-tives»and «verbs» are formed only for the moment of their function in the given complex. Therefore we cannot approach the Tungus language with the formal categories which would mean the application to the Tungus psychomental complex the scheme of the European complex which cannot cover the contents of the Tungus complex [224]. Owing to this the approach to the Tungus language with the frame-work of European grammar will lead to the most elementary blunders and the «spirit» of the language will not be understood. To the persons incompetent in the nature of language, the Tungus language may appear as «strange» and «primitive», this time owing to its complexity [225].

Construction of sentences opens new possibilities to the Tungus for perfecting their method of the exact expression of relations. I shall give, in addition to the above case (vide supra, footnote) a simple case of such a construction. The sentence is s'i geneksa m'inova omoca unakan(a) oji, which means literally: «you (thou) when being in the process of going me have come to speak do not» or «when you go don't say that I have come». Here it is interesting to note that m'inova is m'in («me») + va (transitiveness). Yet, there would be no mistake and more sharpness to say instead of omoca, omocava. I meet with some cases when the long sentences are out into indirect form. More than this, if the directing action requires the idea of giving or directing, the whole sentence including «verbs» which depends on it may be turned into «locativus-dativus». In a simple case it will run as s'i m'indu goro buyaduk bojedu omocadu ullavas bukol — «you (thou) to me far plate from to man to whom has come thy meat give»; in this sentence bukol — «give» has implied the use of the suffix of «dativus» not only in m 'indu but also in the whole sentence. In the Tungus mind goro buyaduk bojo is a complex the particular elements of which, except the last one, do not naturally need du. These sentences are as logical as mathematical formulae and they leave no place for misunderstanding. This is achieved through the preferential use of the directing starters. It reveals keen analytical ability and skill of the Tungus in putting their ideas into a clear, although difficult, form.

Indeed, when Tungus children begin to speak they have to go from simple to complex constructions. In their speech, as well as in that of some adult people, especially the women when they speak to the children, we meet with simple constructions and rather limited use of suffixes. In my records I find that the style of women's stories is much simpler than that of the authors of stories told to the adult persons. Yet, the complexity of expression greatly depends upon the person, — some people like complexity, so they would build up a series of linked sentences of the above shown type. In using the directing starters they accumulate them and produce more and more relations and «interactions» of the original starters. On the other hand, there are persons whose speech is simple. Naturally the persons who cannot use and understand all the possibilities of the operation with the original and directing starters are considered as mentally inferior. The Tungus are very sensitive to the errors of the thought which their grammar with its original and directing starters demonstrates perhaps better that the grammar of a language poor in these elements and especially of those languages which have symbolized too far the complex of meanings consciously or unconsciously classified in formal categories.

The Manchu language as to its Tungus characters is different in many respects. First of all this language is not so rich in the directing starters; second, it uses the order of words in the function of directing starters; third, this language uses in a limited manner the accumulation of suffixes. The same is true of the Goldi dialects vide Aspects, Section 32). At the present time it is impossible to say whether the Southern Tungus languages are in a state of reduction of the original morphological complexity, or whether in the Northern Tungus languages we have a relatively recent increase of the morphological elements. It is true that if we examine the Northern Tungus dialects comparing one with another, we may see that some dialects have probably quite recently borrowed new suffixes; e.g. in the Birarchen dialect, there are suffixes borrowed from Manchu, Chinese and Dahur. On the other hand, in the same sense the Buriat language produced its impression on the Transbaikalian Tungus dialects. These facts seem to indicate a continuous and recent process of increase of the directing starters in Northern Tungus. However, it is very difficult to say what was in this respect the pro-Tungus language, i.e. the language which was common to the ancestors of the Northern and Southern Tungus [226].


219. As to the language in general and particularly the Tungus language, its relation to other languages, etc. vide my work Aspects etc.

220. In the published dictionaries, which are not extensive, the percentage of these words is low. The reason is that for the investigator it is much more difficult to collect this group of words than the group of words used for «concrete notions».

221. The attempts at valuing the character of languages and mentality, in this respect will certainly fail in all cases when the investigators do not know the languages about which they speak and in addition have a postulated series of hypotheses.

222. cf. Aspects, p. 64 et seq.

223. The analysis of the suffixes, their history of changes, their origin, in so far the borrowing my be suspected constitute one of difficult tasks of the philologist. As a matter of fact, suffixes which are borrowed from other groups are met with. Yet, the common phonetic variations of the same suffix may give the idea of the existence of independent suffixes. For instance, in some Tungus dialects, the Chinese suffix ja, quite meaningless in Tungus is used merely for emphasis. It is also used (spoken Northern) for keeping the rhythm of the speech. Yet phonetically the samey'a may be a reduced form of va (the suffix of transitiveness), so that for instance Bir. muja may have two meanings, namely, the emphatic mu (the starter is short and very often cannot be rhythmed) and muja-muva. The suffix va may change by the process of assimilation into ma in which form it may be confused with the suffix of possession of property of the one designated by the starter-stem: e.g ulda (meat), uldava («meat» + transitiveness), but we may also have uldan («his, her, its meat»), whence uldanma (ibid + transitiveness»), while uldama will be «possessing the property of meat», and uldanma may become uldanma —> ulda'ma. (Here with the above dots I designate the height of the musical tone, where one dot means low two dots mean higher and so on.) In this case the suffixes ma and ma phonetically may be absolutely identical for the tonality depends on many conditions, and thus theoretically ma and ma may be ma. By these remarks I want to point out that the operation with the suffixes requires very great ability and knowledge on the part of the investigator of Tungus languages, especially when the suffixes of relations are met with in the starters for objects and actions.

224. Here I give an instance when a «verbal» construction is subject to «de-clension». «The „verb“ sa — to „know»; the negative form is osin sara, osin sar 'i («he or she or it does not know»). The speaker wants to express the idea «there is anything to be known». The «there is anything» is ejakat (anything) acin (there is not), the whole expression will be ejakat osijan sar'ija acin in which osin sar'i are supplied with the suffix of transitiveness, for ejakat acin expresses a negative possession (transitiveness) The question is about the insertion of ja between os'i and n; n is a personal suffix, the stem being o, s'i — the suffix (corresponding to si in b'is'in, logically equivalent to r'i) This case is from Bir. dialect «declension».

225. It is true that the framing of languages into the scheme of Latin grammar, which is constructed on the principle of static formalism, is greatly responsible for the difficulties of studying any European language from the books. In spite of great reaction against schematization, no scientific approach is yet found to the grammar, i.e. a general approach which would permit expressing the grammar in short and simple formulae. Indeed, it will be done in the future, when the problem of grammar is not approached from the professionally traditional philological point of view. Since the Tungus language has not yet been put into the frame of Latin grammar that must not now be done. It must be pointed out that in case of «mixed» languages, in which different grammatical system may overlap each other, perhaps no grammar expressed in short and simple formulae is possible. Seemingly, such is a case of some European languages.

226. Here I leave aside the discussion of theories proposed for explaining the existing differences between these two groups of Tungus languages. Most of those theories were implied by the postulates and hypotheses which were the basis of investigation into this complex problem. Therefore they have no importance for the present study. Cf. my Aspects.

 
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