The Bibliothèque Nationale de France holds a copy of a Manchu work(1) in which are found several short texts which seem to have been written by a Christian learning Manchu (a missionary?). Some of them are explicitly Christian in content (the Lord’s prayer for instance), others are more mundane and some even seem to have been written in a joking tone. Two of them are concerned with the learning of Manchu, here is the first one in which the author reflects on the fact that he must be a student of no oustanding ability since his teacher comes to teach him as often as possible:
bi tuwaci manju gisun tacibure urse šabisa i sure albatu tuwambi. sure oci hacihiyame tacibumbi. albatu seci heolendeme šušuri mašari tacibumbi. bodoci sefu mimbe albatui ton de obuhabi. uttu ofi sefu daruhai jiderakū. damu šolo be tuwame mudan mudan jimbi. albatu faksi mudangga moo be tuwancihiyame muterakū: mergen faksisai gala de isinjici uthai tondo ombi:
It seems to me that Manchu teachers look upon students as intelligent or ordinary. If one is intelligent, they teach him with speed. If one is ordinary, they teach him slowly(2) and meticulously. Upon consideration, my teacher put me in the ‘ordinary’ category. Consequently, he does not come often but each time he has the opportunity he comes. An ordinary craftsman cannot straighten a curved piece of wood; if it comes into the hands of a skilled craftsman, then can it be straightened.
I will post other texts from this work since they are often light reading with a few interesting lexical items.
(1) The work is mislabeled as are many others at Gallica. It should also be noted that although the lines on each page are to be read in the normal left-to-right order, pages follow one another from right to left.
(2) heole(n)dembi appears as “to be careless, to be negligent, to be idle” in Norman’s Lexicon but I think the context here calls for something without pejorative association, like “slowly”.