Manchu-Sibe Ideophones in Areal and Genetic Perspective

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Ideophones have been a rich topic for cross-linguistic investigation, in both global and East Asian contexts. The present study examines the phonology and morphosyntax of ideophones in Manchu-Sibe (Tungusic, China), using both existing literature (Zakharov 1879, Möllendorf 1892, Stary 1981, Gorelova 2002) and newly elicited data from Sibe-speakers. A preliminary comparison of reduplication in Manchu-Sibe ideophones and those of five other northeast Asian languages (Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Tuvan, Udihe) reveals that Manchu-Sibe ideophones exhibit an exceptionally broad range of reduplicative patterns. An examination of the syntax of ideophones in Manchu-Sibe finds many points of both similarity and contrast with its Tungusic relative Udihe. The most typologically-significant difference is the presence of ideophones in non-“witnessed” contexts in Manchu-Sibe, despite the total absence of Udihe ideophones in comparable environments (Tolskaya 2011). More generally, Manchu-Sibe data demonstrate the potential for fine-grained typological variation in the grammar of ideophones even among close genetic relatives and areal neighbors within a known sprachbund.



ideophones, sound symbolism, Tungusic, Altaic sprachbund


Sharp, Jared, Brian Hayden, and Feixiong Hasutai Liu. "Manchu-Sibe Ideophones in Areal and Genetic Perspective." Buckeye East Asian Linguistics, vol. 7 (August 2023), p. 113-121.