05th Meeting Bloomington, Indiana 1962

(From: Aspects of Altaic Civilization. Edited by Denis Sinor. Indiana University Uralic and Altaic Series vol. 23 (1963), 263 pp. Reprinted by Curzon Press, London)

The Fifth Meeting of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference

The holding of the fifth meeting of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference (PIAC) was made possible by a contract entered into by the United States Office of Education with Indiana University. The meeting was held in the Union Building of Indiana University from June 4 to 9, 1962. The following scholars attended:

There were also a number of Student Associates, Indiana University students working in the Altaic field, who attended most of the meetings and were generally helpful with the organization:

  • Mrs. Marianne Esztergár
  • Miss Meri Lehtinen
  • Lawrence W. Murphy
  • Nicholas Poppe, Jr.
  • Sang Chan Rhee
  • Betty Jo Winchester

There were thus thirty-four participants, representing the following countries: (figures in brackets indicate the number of participants from each of the countries mentioned)

  • Australia                  (1)
  • Denmark                    (1)
  • Finland                    (1)
  • Germany (Federal Republic) (4)
  • Great Britain              (2)
  • Holland                    (1)
  • Hungary                    (2)
  • Italy                      (1)
  • Japan                      (3)
  • Poland                     (1)
  • Turkey                     (1)
  • U. S.A.                    (16)

The following American Universities were represented:

  • University of California
  • Columbia University
  • Harvard University
  • Indiana University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of St. Louis
  • University of Texas
  • University of Washington

General Program

The Conference was held in the Indiana University Memorial Union, where all the foreign and some of the American participants were accomodated. All the working sessions (every day 9:30 to 12:30 and 3:00 to 5:00) were held in the Distinguished Alumni Room, in the same building. All the meals were taken together by all the participants of the Conference, mostly in the Cafeteria, once in the Tudor Room and once in the Federal Room.
On three evenings, after 8 p. m. all the participants were invited to attend an Open House in the homes of, respectively, Professor John Ashton, Vice-President and Dean of the Graduate School, Professor Driver and Professor Sinor.
On Monday, June 4, a formal dinner was served at the Federal Room. Participants were welcomed by the Dean of the Graduate School, Professor and Mrs. John Ashton. During the dinner the Dean announced the creation of an Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies. (cf. pp. 12-13).
On Wednesday, June 6, all the participants were the guests for breakfast of the President of Indiana University, Herman B Wells.
On Thursday, June 7, Vice-President and Dean for Undergraduate Development, Samuel E. Braden received the participants who were asked to sign the Distinguished Visitors’ Book.
On Friday, June 8, at the farewell dinner given at the Van Orman-Graham Hotel, Professor Frank T. Gucker, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and many other faculty members represented Indiana University.
All these gatherings, and the fact that all the participants lived under the same roof and shared all the meals were conducive to a lively exchange of ideas and offered ample opportunity to make contacts. This informal-social aspect of the PIAC meetings is one of their chief attractions, and it is fortunate that this tradition could be upheld, and perhaps, even developed at this meeting.
To mark the occasion of the first United States meeting of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference the Indiana University Publications, Uralic and Altaic Series produced a volume (No. 13) edited by Professor Nicholas Poppe and entitled American Studies in Altaic Linguistics, a copy of which was given to each of the participants of the meeting.

Summary of the discussions on the present needs and on the development of Altaic Studies

The development of Altaic Studies being within the terms of reference of the Conference, the subject was discussed not only during two full working sessions but also in innumerable private talks.
It is obviously impossible to give an adequate summary of these discussions, but on the following points seems to have been general agreement:
A.       Altaic Studies are international, not only because they deal with a great variety of peoples, but also because they cannot be properly viewed without efficient international collaboration. The latter part of this statement has a particular validity for the nations of Western Europe and of the United States which, by nature of things, must depend on the “raw material” provided by countries with an Altaic population. Altaic Studies cut off from the Soviet Union, Turkey, Mongolia, and of some countries of Eastern Europe, would in a relatively short period be reduced to a bookish Science unconnected with reality. This does not mean, however, that American and Western European Altaic Studies cannot bring their own constructive contribution to Altaic Studies. There, of a long tradition, they have evolved their own methods, now adopted by all. They also possess in their libraries treasures, the exploration of which must continue to be one of the main tasks of Altaic Studies.
B.       It was generally felt that Altaic Studies should continue to include historical, ethnological and other — not strictly linguistic — studies. Most of the participants expressed vigorous opinions on this matter and some of them even took the trouble to confirm in writing their views. Professor Heissig (Bonn), the first Secretary-General of the PIAC, who was unable to attend the Bloomington meeting, wrote from Bombay:

“I would feel very much depressed if my absence should bring about an overwhelming majority of the pure linguistic studies, and I urge you to put a certain weight also on the historical, literary-historical and bibliographical line…. ”

According to Professor Bombaci (Naples, Italy):

“Non fe in questo, perb, a nostro credere, la maggiore limitazione della definizione del Poppe, ma nel fatto di ridurre l’altaistica alla sola linguistica comparativa. A nostro credere gli studi altaici comprendono anche l’indagine sulla storia politica e culturale dei popoli che parlano tali lingue … In conclusione mi sembra proficuo che negli studi altaici le ricerche degli aspetti linguistici, storici e culturali siano armonicamente sviluppate. Osservo infine che il dominio dell’ altaistica, cosl intesa, fe molto vasto e di notevole importanza nel quadro della storia universale …”

Dorothy Libby (Indiana University):

“I do feel very strongly that cultural studies (historical, ethnographic, and so on) of speakers of the languages should be an integral part of any program for the development of Altaic Studies in the United States, and that such a program should not be limited to the learning of linguistic study of the Altaic languages. ”

C.       Some of the participants expressed the view that research-posts, to be held for a limited number of years.be multiplied, allowing young scholars to prove their worth in research. There was no doubt in the minds of the participants that Altaic Studies are essentially a field of research, in which there should be no place for people who can with greater or lesser accuracy transmit to students the results of research undertaken by others or who can teach a language with which they have but a nodding acquaintance. Altaic Studies call for specialists in the Altaic field and not for people who take up this subject as a “profitable side-line”.
It is not surprising that those who favored research being given a priority were greatly impressed by the results achieved within the framework of the “Program in Uralic and Altaic Languages” of the American Council of Learned Societies, directed by Professor John Lotz, and hopes were expressed for the Program to continue and — having successfully achieved the primary ends of providing elementary teaching material — to include more ambitious and not primarily linguistic research projects.
D.      Participants were unanimous in their opinion that every available means be sought to foster international collaboration. With this end in view, participants of the Conference decided to give the PIAC a more permanent framework. On a proposal of Professor A. Zajączkowski (Warszawa), Vice-President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, they unanimously elected Professor Denis Sinor Secretary-General of the PIAC, for a period of five years, instead of the usual one-year term. They did so in the hope, that by fixing the seat of the PIAC for five years in the U. S. A. , they would give the newly elected Secretary-General the possibility of carrying out some concrete plans likely to give a new impetus to Altaic Studies both in the U. S. A. and in the world.

The projects the PIAC would wish to see realized were defined as follows:

1.      Closer collaboration with Japan and Korea: Greatly impressed by accounts given by Professors Hattori and Murayama on recent Japanese achievements in the field of Altaic studies, the PIAC would like to see some Japanese and Korean articles and books on the subjects, either abstracted (within the scheme advocated in the following recommendations), or translated into English.
2.      Establishment of an Abstracting Service for Altaistic publications. This proposal was put forward by Professor W. Eberhard (University of California) in the following way:

Introduction: While in former times, publications in the Altaistic field were published in about four languages only, today, important articles are published in a great number of languages, in fact, more languages than a single person could handle. Also, the circle of persons who are not specializing in Altaic Studies, but who, for one reason or another, want to get information about problems discussed by Altaists, has grown greatly. There is, therefore, a need to make available the content of Altaistic publications in foreign languages to colleagues and to a wider public. This could be achieved by an “Abstracting Service” similar to such services already available for the Natural and Social Sciences.
Operation of the Service: All the serious articles and books dealing with the field should be “abstracted”, i. e. , the main points of the content should be mentioned. The source of the materials and the methods used by the author should also be mentioned. The abstract should attempt to reproduce the ideas of the author; it should not be critical. Articles of purely political type should be excluded.
The length of the abstract should normally not exceed one type-written page, except for books. In the case of books, the title of each chapter and the basic content of each chapter should be given.
Main attention should at first be given to publications in such languages as Japanese, Chinese, Turkish, Persian, Korean, Polish, Finnish, Hungarian; but possibly articles in Russian, German, French and English should also be included as early as possible.
It would be most desirable to have the abstracts done in the country of the writer, wherever possible. Abstracts should be in English with the exclusion of articles written in English; in German, with the exclusion of articles written in German.
At a later date, the inclusion of other languages might be considered if there is enough interest in further languages.
Form of Publication: Two forms of publication are possible: a) a modern way, b) a traditional way. In the traditional way, the abstracts would be published regularly, perhaps as a permanent section of a journal. Abstracts would be classified according to ethnic groups and within the groups according to the name of the author.
The modern form of publication would be on IBM, or better, on punch cards. The original type-written manuscript could be photographically reproduced in diminished size by the Xerox system directly on the cards. Each subscriber can order his cards and punch them according to his own punch card code, so that he can most quickly find what he needs. Possibly, individuals can subscribe to one section of the materials only, for instance to Turkish studies only, or to Mongolian studies only.
As each abstract will mention the name of the abstracter, the reader also knows in whose hands a particular book or article is and can contact the abstracter, if he needs the book or article for translation or research.

3.       Continuation of the project initiated at the 3rd Meeting of the PIAC (Burg Liebenstein, West Germany, 1960), and aimed at compiling a Corpus of all the information contained in Latin sources and concerning the Altaic peoples. Work on this project has been going on for two years in Finland, but as not all the Latin sources are available in that country, it is now necessary to continue the work elsewhere. The principal sponsors of this project were Professor Sinor and Professor P. Aalto (Helsinki) under whose supervision the Compilation has hitherto been pursued.
4.       Establishment of a small PIAC center, with files similar to the Human Relations Area Files but exclusively concerned with Altaic Studies and helping in the exchange of data between scholars, research institutes, universities.
Such a center could act as an international Clearing house of information pertaining to the scholarly and to the administrative aspects of Altaic Studies. It could also take care of the Abstracting Service, the establishment of which was recommended under 2.
5.       Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies: As already mentioned, in commemoration of the 5th PIAC Conference, I. U. offered to establish a prize for Altaic Studies, consisting of a medal, to be awarded annually by the PIAC. The following Constitution governing the award of this prize was unanimously adopted:

“The Prize consisting of a medal will be awarded annually by the PIAC to a Scholar who in their opinion has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of Altaic Studies. The prize will not be awarded twice to the same scholar. At each meeting a committee of four, if possible previous holders of the medal, will be elected by those eligible to vote, whose duty it will be to submit to the next meeting at least two and not more than four names of scholars deemed worthy to receive the medal. At that next meeting the electors will choose the prizeman for that year by secret bailot from among the scholars nominated.”
“Those persons eligible to take part in the election will be all bona fide scholars in the Altaic field who have been present at a previous meeting of the PIAC and are present when the election is held. ”
“If two or more candidates receive an equal number of votes, that number being greater than the number of votes received by any other candidate, a second bailot will be held in which the only candidates will be those who in the first ballot received the greatest number of votes. ”
“These regulations may be amended at any subsequent meeting of the PIAC by a majority vote of those qualified to take part in the election.”

Sir Gerard Clauson, Professors W. Heissig, D. Sinor, and A. Zajączkowski were elected to serve as members of the first nominating committee for the Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies.

Formal Resolutions

At the General Meeting held on June 8, the following resolutions were unanimously passed:
The participants of the 5th Meeting of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference, held at Indiana University, June 4 to 9, 1962, wish to express
1)       Their gratitude to the U. S. Office of Education for its generous Subvention for the purpose of this Conference. This enabled them not only to attend the first meeting held on American soil, of the PIAC, but also to become better acquainted with American achievements in their chosen field of studies. They very much appreciate the honor of being asked for their advice on the best way to develop Altaic Studies in the U. S. A. and express their conviction that such development, if guided by the high ideals of real scholarship, can benefit Altaic Studies, not only in the U. S. A. , but also in the whole world. They hope that the work of the PIAC will continue to make its mode st contribution to a better mutual under standing between all nations and will show that international collaboration is the surest way of helping the advancement and dissemination of knowledge.
2)      Their appreciation of the generous offer of Indiana University to establish and Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies, to be administered by the PIAC. They would like to thank Indiana University Faculty, and particularly President Herman B Wells and Vice-President John W. Ashton, Dean of the Graduate School, for their generous hospitality. They very much enjoyed their stay on this fast developing beautiful campus and are pleased to learn that a new Library, more worthy of the University than its present one, will soon be built. They congratulate Indiana University on its extraordinary efforts to develop Altaic Studies, and wish it continuing success.
3)      Their thanks to the Indiana University Conference Bureau and particularly to Mr. Norris W. Wentworth, for the efficient, pleasant and imaginative handling of all the arrangements pertaining to the organization of the Conference.

The place of the next PIAC Meeting

It was found impossible to make definite arrangements for the holding of the next (1963) meeting of the PIAC, although participants from several countries expressed the wish to play host to the Conference.
[During September 1962, a firm invitation from Finland was received and accepted by the Secretary-General. Accordingly, the 6th Meeting of the PIAC will be held in that country, in June 1963.]

Impressions of the Meeting

Stephen Wurm’s wife, Helene Gröger-Wurm, accompanied him to the 05th Annual Meeting of the PIAC. She took a number of pictures which are presented here.