Following on the interesting discussion that began in the comments section of Language log about “Manchu illiteracy”. Since comments are closed there I thought I would add the following here.
The question at hand is the meaning of the sentence songkoi cimari yamji baica. Two points seem to be problematic, 1) the absence of a complement before songkoi (which is usually a postposition) and 2) the exact meaning of cimari yamji.
I have posted there examples (one at least) supporting the idea that songkoi can be used not as a postposition but as an adverb, meaning “accordingly” and refering to something said/written before.
The meaning of cimari yamji has been debated and Pamela (K. Crossley?), while not ruling out a meaning “tomorrow night”, supports a meaning “all through the day”, cimari yamji being understood as a contraction of cimari erde ci yamji de. (1)
I, on the other hand, favor a translation of cimari yamji by “tomorrow evening/night” for several reasons:
– cananggi yamji et sikse yamji mean “(the day before) yesterday evening”
– examples I have been able to find of cimari yamji in the Manchu Jin Ping Mei seem to unambiguously mean “tomorrow night”.
See for instance chap. 69:
lin ši minggan tumen jergi urgunjeme dahafi. cimari yamji ilaci looye boode akū amala. sarin dagilafi aliyaki. habšara baita be yandure be anagan obufi. somishūn i acaki sehe babe giyan giyan i alara jakade. si men king donjifi ambula urgunjeme. dai an be juwe suje gajibufi buhe: (f°7a-b)
Or chap. 90:
si kemuni jio ai gelere babi. mini gisun be lai joo i sargan de hendufi. sinde alabure. bi cimari yamji. ere jai dukai dorgi fu i adame araha hetu boode simbe aliyambi sefi. yasa arara jakade. lai wang gūnin be ulhifi hendume. ere jai duka be yamji yaksimbio. akūn: (f°14b)
si cimari yamji geli jio. (f°19b)
These examples support a translation of cimari yamji by “tomorrow night” but this is of course very fragmentary evidence. Only by finding more examples will it be made clearer wether cimari yamji always means “tomorrow night” or if other meanings are possible.
(1) See her comment written April 24, 2016 at 2:22 pm. I hope I’m not misrepresenting her position.