« PreviousContinue »
really entered into the inflectional phase. The vocalic harmony prevails throughout.
Tungusic Class. The Tungusic branch extends from China northward to Siberia and westward to 113°, where the river Tunguska partly marks its frontier. The Tungusic tribes in Eastern Siberia are under Russian sway. They consist of about 70,000 souls; some are called Tchapogires, some Orotongs. Other Tungusic tribes belong to the Chinese empire, and are known by the name of Mandshu, a name taken after they had conquered China in 1644, and founded the present imperial dynasty. Their country is called Mandshuria.
Mongolic Class. The original seats of the people who speak Mongolic dialects lie near the Lake Baikal and in the eastern parts of Siberia, where we find them as early as the ninth century after Christ. They were divided into three classes, the Mongols proper, the Buriäts, and the Ölöts or Kalmüks. Chingis-Khan (1227) united them into a nation and founded the Mongolian empire, which included, however, not only Mongolic, but likewise Tungusic and Turkic (commonly, though wrongly, called Tataric) tribes.
The name of Tatar soon became the terror of Asia and Europe, and, changed into Tartar, as if derived from Tartarus, it was applied promiscuously to all the nomadic warriors whom Asia then poured forth over Europe. Originally Tatar was a name of the Mongolic races, but through their political ascendancy in Asia after Chingis-Khan, it became usual to call all the tribes which were under Mongolian sway by
the name of Tatar. In linguistic works Tataric is now used in two several senses. Following the example of writers of the Middle Ages, Tataric, like Scythian in Greek, has been fixed upon as the general term comprising all languages spoken by the nomadic tribes of Asia. Secondly, Tataric, by a strange freak, has become the name of that class of languages of which the Turkish is the most prominent member. While the Mongolic class—that which in fact has the greatest claims to the name of Tataric-is never so called, it has become an almost universal custom to apply this name to the third or Turkic branch of the Ural-Altaic division; and the races belonging to this branch have in many instances themselves adopted the name.
The conquests of the Mongols, or the descendants of Chingis-Khan, were not confined, however, to these Turkish tribes. They conquered China in the East, where they founded the Mongolic dynasty of Yuan, and in the West, after subduing the Khalifs of Bagdad and the Sultans of Iconium, they conquered Moscow, and devastated the greater part of Russia. In 1240 they invaded Poland, in 1241 Silesia. Here they recoiled before the united armies of Germany, Poland, and Silesia. They retired into Moravia, and, having exhausted that country, occupied Hungary.
At that time they had to choose a new Khan, which could only be done at Karakorum, the old capital of their empire. Thither they withdrew to elect an emperor to govern an empire which then extended from China to Poland, from India to Siberia. But a realm of such vast proportions could not be long held together, and towards the end of the thirteenth century it broke up into several independent states, all under Mongolian princes, but no longer under one Khan of Khans. Thus new independent Mongolic empires arose in China, Turkestan, Siberia, Southern Russia, and Persia. In 1360 the Mongolian dynasty was driven out of China ; in the fifteenth century they lost their hold on Russia. In Central Asia they rallied once more under Timur (1369), whose sway was again acknowledged from Karakorum to Persia and Anatolia. But, in 1468, this empire also fell by its own weight, and for want of powerful rulers like Chingis Khan or Timur. In Jagatai alone—the country extending from the Aral Lake to the Hindu-Kush between the rivers Oxus and Yaxartes (Jihon and Sihon), and once governed by Jagatai, the son of Chingis-Khan-the Mongolian dynasty maintained itself, and thence it was that Baber, a descendant of Timur, conquered India, and founded there a Mongolian dynasty, surviving up to our own times in the Great Moguls of Delhi. Most Mongolic tribes are now under the sway of the nations whom they once had conquered, the Tungusic sovereigns of China, the Russian Czars, and the Turkish Sultans.
The Mongolic language, although spoken (but not continuously) from China as far as the Volga, has given rise to but few dialects. Next to the Tungusic, the Mongolic is the poorest language of the UralAltaic family, and the scantiness of grammatical terminations accounts for the fact that, as a language, it has remained very much unchanged. There is, however, a distinction between the language as spoken by the Eastern, Western, and Northern tribes; and incipient
traces of grammatical life have lately been discovered by Castrén, the great Swedish traveller and Turanian philologist, in the spoken dialect of the Buriäts. In it the persons of the verb are distinguished by affixes, while, according to the rules of Mongolic grammar, no other dialect distinguishes in the verb between amo, amas, amat.
Much more important are the Turkic languages, most prominent among which is the Turkish itself, or the Osmanli of Constantinople. The different Turkic dialects, of which the Osmanli is one, occupy one of the largest linguistic areas, extending from the Lena and the Polar Sea down to the Adriatic.
Turkish Grammar. It is a real pleasure to read a Turkish grammar, even though one may have no wish to acquire it practically. The ingenious manner in which the numerous grammatical forms are brought out, the regularity which pervades the system of declension and conjugation, the transparency and intelligibility of the whole structure, must strike all who have a sense for that wonderful power of the human mind which is displayed in language. Given so small a number of graphic and demonstrative roots as would hardly suffice to express the commonest wants of human beings, to produce an instrument that shall render the faintest shades of feeling and thought; given a vague infinitive or a stern imperative, to derive from it such moods as an optative or subjunctive, and tenses such as an aorist or paulo-post future ; given incoherent utterances, to arrange them into a
system where all is uniform and regular, all combined and harmonious,—such is the work of the human mind which we see realised in language. But in most languages nothing of this early process remains visible. They stand before us like solid rocks, and the microscope of the philologist alone can reveal the remains of organic life with which they are built up.
In the grammar of the Turkic languages, on the contrary, we have before us a language of perfectly transparent structure, and a grammar the inner workings of which we can study, as if watching the building of cells in a crystal beehive. An eminent Orientalist remarked, 'We might imagine Turkish to be the result of the deliberations of some eminent society of learned men;' but no such society could have devised what the mind of man produced, left to itself in the steppes of Tartary, and guided only by its innate laws, or by an instinctive power as wonderful as any within the realm of nature.
Finno-Ugric Class. We now proceed to the Finnic class, which, according to Castrén, is divided into four branches.
(1) The Ugric, comprising Ostjakian, Vogulian, and Hungarian.
(2) The Bulgarici, comprising Tcheremissian and Mordvinian.
| The name Bulgaric is not borrowed from Bulgaria, on the Danube ; Bulgaria, on the contrary, received its name (replacing Moesia) from Bulgaric armies by whom it was conquered in the seventh century. Bulgarian tribes marched from the Volga to the Don, and after remaining for a time under the sovereignty of the Avars on the Don and Dnieper, they advanced to the Danube in 635, and founded there the Bulgarian kingdom. This has retained its name to the present day, though the original Bulgarians have long been absorbed and replaced by Slavonic inhabitants, and both brought under Turkish sway since 1392.