3. Diphthongs and Triphthongs.
In these the rules of vowel harmony are not perceptible:
a may be followed by i, o: ai, ao; e by i, o: ei, eo; i by a, e, i, o, u: ia, ie, ii, io, iu; o by i, o: oi, oo; u by a, e, i, o: ua, ue, ui, uo; ū by a, e, i, o: ūa, ūe, ūi, ūo.
Triphthongs are ioa, ioo, io(w)an, io(w)en, ioi, i(y)ao.
Of the above oo stands for ao or ū; ioo for Chinese yao (要); io(w)an, io(w)en for uan, üan; ioi for ü, i(y)oo for iao.
4. Word-changes and Foreign Words.
Vowels are often dropped:
- in the middle of words: tofohon fifteen, pronounced tofhon; ilha flower from ilaha; utha hunt—butaha; hojhon son-in-law—hojihon; ufhi part—ufuhi; gelhun fear—gelehun; narša niggard—naraša; cirku pillow—ciruku from cirumbi; forgon or forhon season—forohon, etc.
- in combination of two words: ertele till here—ere tele, emderi at the same time—emu derei; emuršu simple—emu ursu; erse such—ere se; ergi this side—ere gi; inenggishūn noon—inenggi sahūn; dergi upper—dere gi; baitakū unemployed—baita akū; memema step-father—meme ama; aba where?—ai ba; amargi behind—ama ergi, alimbaharakū inexpressible—alime baraha akū.
A final n, not being part of the root, is dropped in combinations: kumuda musician—kumun da; ilase three years—ilan se; daniyartu a mythological animal—daniyan artu, or transformed in m before b: dulimba middle—dulin ba.
K and h, g and h sometimes interchange: emeke—emhe mother-in-law; julge—julehe formerly.
Foreign words in Manchu are mostly Chinese and Mongol. The latter, like gobi desert, sain good, have been taken over without change and are difficult to recognize as foreign.
In the beginning of Manchu literature Chinese words were:—
- borrowed without change, new words for new idea: ging (京, 經, 更), gung (公, 宮, 功, 工), wang (王), even when an original Manchu word existed: liyo hūwang (硫黃 liu huang sulphur) instead of hurku; funghūwang (鳳凰 fêng huang phœnix) instead of garudai. It has been calculated that one-third of the Manchu dictionary consists of Chinese words thus borrowed.
- with slight change in the termination: ging-gulembi to honour from 敬 (ching).
- with an addition explanatory of the meaning: gin liyan ilha (金蓮 chin lien lotus, ilha flower) lotus; ingturi or ingtoro cherry from 櫻 ying cherry with turi bean or toro (桃 tʽao) peach.
Other similarities seem to point to more ancient loans: fi brush (筆 pi), fafun law (法 fa); dulefun degree (度 tu); kemun measure (刻 kʽe). These may, however, originally spring from the same root (compare e.g. kemun with Jakutic käm measure).
Manchu words cannot begin with r (Buddhist works contain some transliterated Sanscrit words commencing with r) or ū (ūlet is Mongol). They generally terminate in vowels or n. Final r, k, and s is only found in onomatopoetic words like kacar kicir, kafur, kalar kilir, etc., cik cak, tok, katak kitik, kas kis. Words with final m, l, or t, are foreign: serim name of a place, serekul town in Turkestan, mandal Mongol word, a place where scared rites are practiced ūlet is a Mongol name.
Some few words terminate in b: tob right, cob mountain peak, kab kib, cib cab. The ending ng, if not onomatopoetic as in ang, cing cang, cung, etc., shows Chinese origin.