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The Secret History of Akos
2005-3-29 10:09:53 CRIENGLISH.com
Akos Apatoczky is a Hungarian scholar with a totally unique area of study. He's been looking at the linguistic links between Chinese and Mongolian - the words that both languages share, and the factors of history that have affected each language in different ways.
Akos has been studying Mongolian and Chinese since his first trip from Hungary to China at the tender age of eighteen.He has since gained MA degrees in both languages and gained a reputation as an eminent scholar of the linguistic links between Chinese and Mongolian.
Akos is also soon to publish a groundbreaking piece of work on an ancient glossary of Chinese and Mongolian words. Essentially a primitive dictionary, the work is a confusing arrangement of Mongolian words phonetically transcribed into Chinese characters. It's only ever been 'decoded' twice before, and no critical studies of the glossary have ever been produced. Akos' version, including translation and criticism, is set to be published in the UK this year.
The links between the two languages can be traced back through the centuries, with words ‘loaned' directly from one language to another, or adapted and incorporated over time. Akos points out that many of these loans are the result of trade between two countries and so can be a useful tool in learning of cultural links between nations:
'In the past Mongolian people often would buy local crafts and produce from Chinese traders. As these products were only available from the Chinese, their names were adopted directly into Mongolian.'
Similarly, a conundrum presented by the Mongolian language also may prove revealing about the past of the people who speak it. In Mongolian, there are literally hundreds of words for fish, despite the fact that Mongolian traditional beliefs held that creatures from water were of the 'netherworld' and should under no circumstances be eaten. This has led many scholars to question whether in fact the Mongolians, previously always thought to have been nomadic pastoral people since time immemorial, were in fact at one stage, hunters.
Geography is clearly a key factor in language links, as Akos illustrates via use of words for 'beer'. While Northern, Buryat people may typically use the Russian word ‘pivo', central Mongolians may use 'sharairag' (or yellow mare's milk) and those in Inner Mongolia will often adopt the Chinese term, 'pijou'.
I'll drink to that!