Chinese Influence on Oral tradition in Mongolia: bensen üliger

Chinese Influence on Oral tradition in Mongolia: bensen üliger

Earlier research

In 1984 and 1986, Professor Walther Heissig attended several bensen üliger performances and recorded them to produce a record of this kind of oral tradition. After his death in 2005, Heissig left 245 tapes and 87 books of handwritten transcriptions of the Mongolian folklore in the Uiguro-Mongolian script. Most of these have not been translated. Heissig seldom wrote summaries of the performances. His work on epics and bensen üliger did not include these tapes, which were transcribed only after his death. Their analyses, carried out so far only by Mongolian Literates have not found their way into the comparative study of literature. Further research was made in 1986 by G. Buyanbatu, Hai Longbao und Liu Wenxiang . A comparative analysis was written by Bai Yurong (百玉荣) in  „五传“比较研究“, 2007.  Kaare Grönbech (1901-1957) records in the  Tsakhar region 26 tales of  bensen üliger  and published ten of them with summaries. Other summaries of bensen üliger have also been made by  B. Riftin, N. Hasbatar, D. Čerengsodnom  and A.G. Scholz.

Aim of the project

There are many interesting subjects to explore in this corpus of texts because the material is very rich and not sufficiently analyzed – neither by Mongolists nor by scholars in related disciplines. No translations into European languages exist to date. The material has not yet flowed into research in fields of comparative literature, religious studies, social anthropology, sociology, sinology or linguistics. My aim is to make a transcription, translation and commentary of a selected booklet story, which may form the basis for further study. Moreover the Chinese terms in the text need to be analyzed. Therefore I compiled a glossary of the Chinese- Mongolian terms. Additional to that I analyze the data of my field research in Inner Mongolia: the code-switching situation in Inner Mongolia needs to be studied in detail: what is the motivation for the code-switching? Do demographic variables like age or place play a role? What is the relation between language influence and cultural change in situations of language and cultural contact in Inner Mongolia? What effect does the sinification process have in terms of using Mongolian and Chinese Language in Inner Mongolia?  Is the literary genre bensen üliger an indicator for Chinese language influence on oral tradition in Mongolia or even an indicator for an possible ongoing language change  in that region?


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