Mongolian and Manchu translations of Chinese classics

Language Log 2019-09-07

Xinhuanet has a feature article on a "Mongolian sinologist devoted to translating Chinese classic works" (8/31/19).  His name is Menerel Chimedtseye, and he is a professor at the National University of Mongolia in Ulan Bator.  The scholar's Mongolian Cyrillic edition of The Book of Mencius was just published this past Saturday.  With the appearance of his Mencius, Chimedtseye has now completed the translation of all of the Four Books, which also include the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, and the Analects of Confucius, and constitute the foundation of the core belief system of Confucianism.  He has also translated Sun Zi's Art of War and other early Chinese works into Mongolian.

It is well known that the Manchus, starting already in the late 16th century before they established suzerainty over China with the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), had embarked on the large scale translation of Chinese texts into their own language.  These works included the classics, histories, political and philosophical texts, medical and religious treatises, and fiction.  What I do not know is how widespread were premodern translations of Chinese texts into Mongolian and, if there were a substantial body of them, whether they differ significantly from the modern Mongolian translations of Chimedtseye and other contemporary scholars.

[h.t. Geoff Wade]