Swedish scholar wins Academia Sinica award for Manchu language research

Mårten Söderblom Saarela is pictured at Academia Sinica after receiving the award Friday. CNA photo Nov. 5, 2021

A Swedish scholar has won an early-career research achievement award from Taiwan’s top research institute, the Academia Sinica, for his study of the Manchu language, Focus Taiwan writes.

Manchu is a critically endangered East Asian Tungusic language native to the historical region of Manchuria in Northeast China and 36-year-old Swedish Mårten Söderblom Saarela was among nine people chosen from 103 candidates this year who was awarded the Academia Sinica Early-Career Investigator Research Achievement Award. 

Mårten Söderblom Saarela is the youngest to win the award this year and he has been researching the Manchu language for almost eight years. According to Academia Sinica, he has used the critically endangered language to connect Chinese and Western cultures while also looking into how people in Qing Dynasty interacted with people in East Asia and Europe from the perspective of the Manchu language.

Between 1636 to 1912, the Manchu language was one of the official languages of the Qing Dynasty.

Mårten Söderblom Saarela told local media that he grew up with an interest in linguistics as his mother is a French teacher and he had ended up in Taiwan after traveling to many places to learn the Manchu language.

Mårten Söderblom Saarela said that Taiwan provides a lot of access to documents and historical sources and that Taiwan has provided him with good opportunities for having exchanges due to the large number of scholars devoted to Chinese culture study.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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