How did the salamander slither into the Manchu dictionary?
(63rd Annual Meeting Ulaanbaatar, 2021)
While the author proved already in 1970 that a number of exotic animals entered Chinese geography and literature mainly from Conrad Gessner’s massive Historia animalium (1617–1621) it has been unclear where the corresponding Manchu names of these animals were taken from. As most of these animals were unknown in China, or at least their European images and descriptions did not tally with those in traditional Chinese literature (e.g. the lion) there was no chance that these new terms were coined on the sight of these creatures. And why should a European term like Salamandara or Dog of the Po River (for the beaver) be chosen? And if a Manchu scholar had been impressed by the Chinese descriptions based on Gessner and had actually come up with a Manchu version, how would this then have entered Manchu lexicography? The paper presents and discusses the finally discovered missing link.