31st Meeting Weimar, 1988: Report by Chimeddorji

(Qimeddorji. „Di sanshiyi jie guoji a’ertaixue huiyi jianxun”, Neimenggu daxue xuebao, vol. 4, 1988, p. 84)

(Translation: Oliver Corff)

About the 31st Annual Meeting of the PIAC

by Chimeddorji

The 31st Annual Meeting of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference was held in Weimar, a town famous for its culture, in the GDR, from June 14 to 17, 1988. Over 150 Altaic scholars from many countries such as Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, the German Democratic Republic, Great Britain, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, the People’s Republic of Mongolia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the People’s Republic of China, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, the United States of America and the Soviet Union participated in this huge gathering which was organized by the Humboldt University and the Academy of Sciences of the GDR. The professor for Mongolian Studies at the Humboldt University, Hans-Peter Vietze, presided the meeting.

On June 14 at 9 o’clock a.m. the opening ceremony of the meeting took place in the town hall of Weimar. Prof. G. Engel, Vice minister of higher education of the GDR, and Dr. Baumgärtel, the mayor of Weimar, congratulated the opening of the meeting and offered their warmest welcome. The Secretary General of the PIAC, Prof. D. Sinor from Indiana University, declared in his speech: „Since its foundation, the PIAC as a scholarly organization has been holding its annual meetings in different countries. During these meetings, scholars conduct academic discussions regardless of nationality or race, and free of political interference, thus advancing the field of Altaic studies.” He also thanked the hosts for their cordial support. After the end of the opening ceremony, the first academic papers were read. During this plenary session, D. Sinor presented his „Views on the History of the Xiongnu”, V. M. Solncev spoke about the „Problem of kinship terms in Mongolian”, Hans-Peter Vietze spoke about „Latest Advances in Computer-Processing of the Mongolian Script”. After the plenary session, three individual working groups were formed, the sections on language, history and literature being hosted by different scholars. These meetings continued for four and a half days, with a total of close to 80 papers read in the three sections. No matter whether looked at in terms of quantity or quality, all papers were on an extremely high level.

This meeting was well organized, had a densely packed programme, brought forth fruitful results and left a lasting impression for all participants. With only a few exceptions, virtually all authorities and well-known specialists from Europe and the United States participated in this meeting, like Prof. D. Sinor from the United States, the Academy member V. M. Solncev, mongolist S. I. Neklyudov, the specialist for Mongolian archaeology E. A. Novgorodova from the USSR, the corresponding member of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Horloo, the professor for Mongolian studies from the GDR, H.-P. Vietze, the former President of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and specialist for Song and Jin history, Prof. Herbert Franke, the mongolian studies scholars Prof. K. Sagaster, Dr. V. Veit, Prof. Stary from Italy, professor Hidehiro Okada from Japan, specialists for Qing history, Prof. Chen Jiexian and Xi Zhenduo from Taiwan, turkologists like Prof. Lars Johanson from Sweden, or Bernt Brendemoen from Norway, et al. The lecturer for Mongolian at Inner Mongolia University, Chimeddorji, currently researching in Bonn, FRG, for his doctoral thesis, was also invited to participate in this meeting. As a delegate from China, he joined the history section and presented a paper on „Galdan’s fourteen letters, written in September 1696 to the Fifth Dalai Lama and the Mongolian rulers of Köke Nor.”

One of the most remarkable features of this conference is the rise of Mongolian and Manju studies. Previous Altaistic conferences frequently focussed on turkology. This time however, there were 28 papers directly relating to Mongolian language, history and literature studies, accounting for a fair third of all papers presented. Papers in Manju studies either presented Manju historical materials or emphasized the use of Manju materials for the research of Mongolian history during the Qing dynasty. With his paper „Some Jurchen phrases in 12th century Chinese travelogues” Prof. Herbert Franke underlined the importance of Jurchen language research, while also commending the achievements of Inner Mongolia University in the research of Jurchen and Kitan texts. Especially worth mentioning is the rise of Mongolian studies in the German Democratic Republic. Introducing the Mongolian script, notably the Uighur Mongolian script, to computers is an innovation indeed. Prof. H. P. Vietze from the GDR and Junko Miyawaki from Japan presented the status of their work concerning computer programs capable of processing Mongolian script. Prof. H. P. Vietze praised the program environment developed by the Mongolian script research institute of Inner Mongolia University.

On September 17 forenoon, the closing ceremony of this meeting was held. At that occasion, Solncev from the Soviet Union, G. Stary from Italy and Johanson from Sweden were elected to join the PIAC medal committee. The turkologist from Oslo University, Prof. Bernt Brendemoen, announced that the 32nd annual meeting will take place in Oslo, the capital of Norway, the following year from June 6 to 12, and invited everybody to participate. With these words, the 31st annual meeting of the PIAC ended successfully.