I've received my copy of Jerry Norman's Comprehensive Manchu-English Dictionary dictionary from the publisher. I don't see it on the Harvard site, but here is the Amazon link.
Below is my preface to the dictionary (with one typographical error corrected in 五體清文鑑).
Jerry Lee Norman (1936–2012) was born to Okies — Depression-era refugees from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma, who settled down as farm workers in California. He was fascinated with language from childhood. Denied permission to study Latin in school, he taught himself using an old textbook, and soon knew so much that his school asked him to teach other students. After a stint studying Chinese in the Army Language school, and a year preparing for the priesthood in a Benedictine priory (one recently transplanted to the United States from China), he finally decided his calling was to study Chinese language and so matriculated as an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley. At Berkeley he studied linguistic field methods, Chinese, and Mongolian, continuing into the doctoral program. He also attained a high level of fluency in Russian during those years. Norman was the principal American student of Yuen Ren Chao 趙元任 (1892–1982) in descriptive and historical Chinese linguistics. He spent almost his whole teaching career at the University of Washington, Seattle.
The two years of his Fulbright grant in Taiwan, from 1965–67, were spent largely on Manchu, even though he completed all the work for a ground-breaking dissertation on Mǐn dialects of Chinese at the same time. He told me the story in an interview in 2006:
When I got to Taiwan, they had in the office there a copy of the book by Tulišen 圖理珅 (1667–1741), who was a Manchu official sent by the Kāngxī Emperor to Russia in something like 1725. And he wrote an account of his journey, which is really for intelligence purposes and so forth, and very interesting — very repetitious but very interesting.
I was working on that and I constantly was coming up against this problem that there's no Manchu dictionary in English. So I would use the Japanese Manwa jiten 滿和辭典 (which also has Chinese glosses in it, so that was quite usable). And I also had Erich Hauer's Handwörterbuch der Mandschusprache. But at least half the time I'd look the Manchu up and then I had to go and look up the German words. So at some point I just decided, well, why not — I have all this time, you know — maybe I should compile my own dictionary.
So the first thing I did was cut up the Manchu-Japanese dictionary. Since I had research funds, I had a blueprint copy made of it, printed only on one side. I hired an assistant to cut all the entries out and paste them on cards. At that time in Taiwan you couldn't buy cards; you couldn't go to the stationery store and say "I want four-by-five cards," or any size — you had to have them made. So we had a whole bunch of cards made and pasted all the cut-outs onto the cards. And then we had a great big file cabinet made, with drawers, and so we put all the cards in there — it was in alphabetical order already. I would go into the office, early in the morning, maybe beginning at 6:30 or 7:00, and I just went through the whole thing and translated it. I had a Japanese gloss and a Chinese gloss probably from the Wǔtǐ Qīng wénjiàn 五體清文鑑 or something like that. The Japanese was relatively simple; I could deal with most of that, with a dictionary. And I had Hauer, and Hauer had more entries, so I sometimes added entries that were in Hauer but weren't in the Japanese material. And in working that way I finished the thing in about seven months — went through all the cards in seven months.
Then I got another assistant who typed it up as a manuscript and went through, corrected things, and so forth, and then I made another copy and had it printed in Taiwan — just purely privately; I paid for it.
This was all done on a Fulbright to study Chinese! He added:
But I had so much time, you know. I'd never in my life had a period when nobody told me to do anything.
What he produced in Taiwan was only the foundation of the present book. He spent the next forty-five years refining and expanding it by reading Manchu documents and consulting other materials, including recordings and transcriptions of living Sibe 錫伯 that he made in Taiwan. (He described his teacher in Taiwan, [Kongur] Kuang Lu [孔古爾] 廣祿, 1900–73, as a gifted extempore storyteller in the Sibe tradition.) An initial edition of the dictionary was published in 1978, but the present volume is considerably expanded from that, and also includes a guide to pronunciation as Norman learned it.
In later years, he had much help on this project from the members of a Manchu study group based in Portland, Oregon, whom he names in his own preface. In 2005, he asked me to begin helping him put it in order for publication, which I have done using LaTeX (including the "multicol" package, with gratitude to Frank Mittelbach). I am glad to acknowledge the help of my mother, Shirley Branner — even though she knows no Manchu or Chinese, she patiently read through the entire manuscript twice for sense and correct order of entries. Most of the editing and typesetting work was done in 2011 and 2012, with the very last corrections made to the text on 28 June, 2012. Five days later, Prof. Norman entered the hospital, and a few days after that he was gone.
Jerry Norman was a scholar of rare erudition, though retiring by temperament. His memory for words and expressions, even in tongues he did not know, left people floored. And few linguists I have known possessed his true instinct for the workings of language. Beyond those gifts, he was also a sincere and gentle person, whose willingness to share what he knew touched many people far beyond his rather small circle of students.
Norman's Manchu name was Elbihe, 'raccoon dog'.
|David Prager Branner|
|City College of New York|
|and Columbia University|
|16 July, 2012|