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3. The Pentaglot Project and its Objectives

The first step leading to the Pentaglot Project as it presents itself today was the extraction of its Mongolian material in 1997 for lexicographical purposes. During this process, the peculiarities of the Mongolian language data became evident, and a first glance at the other languages gave evidence of similarly intriguing phenomena.

The Manju renderings of Tibetan reveals historical data on the supposed pronounciation of Tibetan in the 17th and 18th century. The usage of grammatical suffix forms in Mongolian marks a transition from Classical Mongolian to Colloquial Mongolian which is recorded in remarkable detail. The Uighur dialect used for recording the Uighur entries has never been documented before in this completeness, and Chinese is characterized by an astonishing degree of Beijing local colloquialisms.

Beyond all philological need to make the Pentaglot corpus available to a wider scientific community, there are also numerous cultural and anthropological aspects which can be discovered by lexicological work. The classification scheme used in the Pentaglot is undoubtedly of Chinese origin. The classification gives valuable insight into the world of the 18th century Qing court.

The strangest thing however is that this Qing Dynasty masterpiece of multilingual scholarship is only treated marginally in Chinese historical lexicography, being barely mentioned in most reference works on Chinese dictionaries.

In a nutshell, the Pentaglot Project aims at the following targets, all of equal importance:

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