World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Tungusic languages


Tungusic languages

Siberia, Manchuria
Linguistic classification: One of the world's primary language families
  • Northern
  • Southern
ISO 639-5: tuw
Glottolog: tung1282[1]
Geographic distribution

The Tungusic languages (also known as Manchu-Tungus, Tungus) form a language family spoken in Eastern Siberia and Manchuria by Tungusic peoples. Many Tungusic languages are endangered, and the long-term future of the family is uncertain. There are approximately 75,000 native speakers of the dozen living languages of the Tungusic language family. Some linguists consider Tungusic to be part of the Altaic language family, along with Turkic, Mongolic, and sometimes Koreanic and Japonic. However, there is no consensus that Altaic is a linguistically genetic group and not a sprachbund.


  • Classification 1
  • Common characteristics 2
  • Relationships with other languages 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
    • Notes 5.1
    • General references 5.2
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Linguists working on Tungusic have proposed a number of different classifications based on different criteria, including morphological, lexical, and phonological characteristics. One classification which seems favoured over others is that the Tungusic languages can be divided into a northern branch and a southern branch (Georg 2004):

Northern Tungusic
Southern Tungusic

Jurchen–Manchu (Jurchen and Manchu are simply different stages of the same language; in fact, the ethnonym "Manchu" did not come about until 1636 when Emperor Hong Taiji decreed that the term would replace "Jurchen") is the only Tungusic language with a literary form (in Jurchen script and later the Manchu alphabet) which dates back to at least the mid- to late-12th century; as such it is a very important language for the reconstruction of Proto-Tungusic.

The earliest and one of the most important extant texts in Jurchen is the inscription on the back of "the Jin Victory Memorial Stele" (Da Jin deshengtuo songbei), which was erected in 1185, during the Dading period (1161–1189). It is apparently an abbreviated translation of the Chinese text on the front of the stele.[2]

Other ancient Tungusic languages include that of the Mohe.

Common characteristics

The Tungusic languages are of an agglutinative morphological type, and some of them have complex case systems and elaborate patterns of tense and aspect marking. They also exhibit a complex pattern of vowel harmony, based on the parameters of vowel roundedness and vowel tenseness.

Relationships with other languages

Tungusic has traditionally been linked with Turkic and Mongolic languages in the Altaic language family. Others have suggested that the Tungusic languages might be related (perhaps as a paraphyletic outgroup) to the Koreanic, Japonic, or Ainu languages as well.

See also



  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Tungusic".  
  2. ^ Tillman, Hoyt Cleveland, and Stephen H. West. China Under Jurchen Rule: Essays on Chin Intellectual and Cultural History. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995, pp. 228–229. ISBN 0-7914-2274-7. Partial text on Google Books.

General references

  • Kane, Daniel. The Sino-Jurchen Vocabulary of the Bureau of Interpreters. Indiana University Uralic and Altaic Series, Volume 153. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, 1989. ISBN 0-933070-23-3.
  • Miller, Roy Andrew. Japanese and the Other Altaic Languages. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1971.
  • Poppe, Nicholas. Vergleichende Grammatik der Altaischen Sprachen [A Comparative Grammar of the Altaic Languages]. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1960.
  • Tsintsius, Vera I. Sravnitel'naya Fonetika Tunguso-Man'chzhurskikh Yazïkov [Comparative Phonetics of the Manchu-Tungus Languages]. Leningrad, 1949.
  • Stefan Georg. "Unreclassifying Tungusic", in: Carsten Naeher (ed.): Proceedings of the First International Conference on Manchu-Tungus Studies (Bonn, August 28 – September 1, 2000), Volume 2: Trends in Tungusic and Siberian Linguistics, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 45-57

Further reading


External links

  • Monumenta Altaica—Altaic Linguistics. Grammars, Texts, Dictionaries, Bibliographies of Mongolian and other Altaic languages
  • Tungusic Research Group at Dartmouth College
  • (Spanish) Tungusic languages
  • Vergleich der Reziproken des Ewenischen mit verwandten Sprachen
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.