Languages of the Dahur and Oroqen in Contact in Northern China—a Comparative Study of Kin Terms (Culture and Variation of Kinship Terminology)
(57th Annual Meeting of the PIAC Vladivostok, 2014)
By comparing three generations’ collateral kin terms of the Daur, Oroqen and Manchu Languages, namely kin terms for ascending 2 and 1 generations, and the ones for descending 1 generation, we find that Daur and Oroqen share more common features than either of them with Manchu. No matter in terms of language family or in terms of ethnology, Manchu and Oroqen should share more common features than either of which with Daur, since in terms of traditional linguistics, the former two belong to the same language family— the Tungusic family while Daur belongs to a different language family—the Mongolian family. Why? The paper draws on the ethnographical and historical literature to seek the reason. The review of ethnographical and historical literature reveals that more than 300 hundred years’ close cultural contact between the Daur and Oroqen peoples in the course of fur trading, military training and intermarriage contributes to this effect—kin term convergence of the two languages. The typical embodiment of the close contact is the Anda relationship between a Daur family and an Oroqen family which may last for several generations. This study indicates that kinship terminology is not a close system—cultural contact induces variation of kinship terminology. Variation can go so far as kin term convergence overlaps language family boundary.