A General Survey of the Conditional Suffixes in 82 Uighur Contracts

Liu Ge

A General Survey of the Conditional Suffixes in 82 Uighur Contracts

(65th Meeting Astana, 2023)

In the research of Uighur contract dating, American scholar Larry Vernon Clark’s studies is comparatively systematic. Clark (1975) [1] put forward twenty-four dating factors of Uighur contracts in the 13th-14th century, among which appears the abbreviated form (-sa, -sä, -za, -zä) of the conditional suffixes.

Based on the survey data of fifteen documents (Sa11, Sa12, Sa17, Sa24, Sa27, RH03, Ad01, Em01, WP01, WP04, Mi01, Mi03, Mi10, Mi17, Mi28) containing “čao” coins, a kind of popular currency in the Mongol-Yuan period with no dispute in Chinese and foreign academic circles, and the objective situation of the conditional suffixes in these documents through investigation, shown in one of her recent papers [2] as the ages of these fifteen documents are similar, and their language phenomena are marked by the times, the author argues that Clark’s view is one-sided and lack of evidence:

  1. The abbreviated form of conditional suffixes coexists with their full form (-sa, -sä, -za, -zä;-sar, -sär).
  2. The conditional suffixes in the full form is more than those in the abbreviated form, namely, (-sar, -sär) > (-sa, -sä, -za, -zä). There are thirty-one cases of conditional suffixes in these documents, among which twenty-seven cases are in full form and four abbreviated.
  3. Sentences with conditional suffixes often appear in documents related to business. Tapla– (which means satisfaction) is the representative of the positive and negative fixed sentence patterns.
  4. A document may contain various forms of conditional suffixes.

Since not every document satisfies all circumstances mentioned above, especially in those incomplete documents, it is necessary to make a comprehensive investigation in combination with other factors when judging the age of the contracts.

In the present paper, in order to verify the universality of above findings through a more general survey of some other documents, the author tries to observe conditional suffix variations in various documents on the one hand and on the other, to confirm the dating of the documents with only animal chronology and hard to correspond in the AD chronology among those documents as the Mongol-Yuan Period.

The investigation is conducted among one hundred and twenty documents compiled by Japanese scholar Oda Juten et al. [3], written on the basis of the posthumous work of Mr. Nobuo Yamada. Apart from the fifteen documents that the author (2021) [4] have studied previously, there remains one hundred and six documents. Among these remained documents, eighty-two contain conditional suffixes, therefore, the data in the Checklist of the Phenomena of Conditional Suffixes reflects the conditional suffixes of 82 documents.

Through the general survey, the author concludes that the conditional suffixes in these eighty-two documents are basically the same as those in the previous study of Uighur Contracts in the Mongol-Yuan Period, especially the coexistence phenomena of the abbreviated form and the full form of the conditional suffixes, and the phenomenon that the full form of the conditional suffixes is more than that of their abbreviated form. Among these eighty-two documents, there are altogether one hundred and ninety-one cases of conditional suffixes with one hundred and sixty-nine cases of full form and twenty-two cases of abbreviated form, etc. The conditional suffixes in these two bunches of documents is the same linguistic phenomenon from the same historical period.

On the chronological issue of conditional suffixes, the above four aspects are the universal evidences serving as the dating indicators the author has found out.

  1. Clark, Larry Vernon, Introduction to the Uighur Civil Documents of East Turkestan (13th — 14th cc.), Indiana University, May 1975. p. 187–188;p. 134–136
  2. Liu, Ge, Exploration on the Chronological Factors in Uygur Contract Documents in the Mongol-Yuan Period A Study on Conditional Suffixes, 2021
  3. Oda Juten et al., Collection of Uighur Contract Documents,(《ウイグル文契約文書集成》compiled by Oda Juten, P.ツイ-メ, Hiroshi Umemura, Moriyasu Takao),Osaka University Press,1993
  4. Liu, Ge. Exploration on the Chronological Factors in Uygur Contract Documents in the Mongol-Yuan Period — A Study on Conditional Suffixes, 2021