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  •    John C. Street, The Secret History of Mongols

    Please let me know if any of you reading this find errors — or program bugs — here or in the SH text file; or if you have comments of any sort. You can reach me at where for email purposes I am jcstreet.

    ⇓ download the text of the Secret History in pdf format (Transliteration of prof. John C. Street)




    (Draft of 12 Oct. 2013)

    Copyright John C. Street 1985-2013

    0. Introductory. This document explains a digital version of the Middle Mongolian text known as the Secret History of the Mongols prepared by myself, John C. Street of the University of Wisconsin—Madison, during the years 1985-1991, 1997, and 2013. I would hope that my text, while by no means intended as a final and definitive edition of the SH, might facilitate research into the literary and linguistic structure of that document in two ways. First, by providing an easily available version of the SH text which any writer might use to cite a few lines of the text without having to make his or her own decisions about alternate readings and errors in the Chinese text, or other matters; for any errors of any sort in such a writer's citation would, in fact, be mine. And second as a useful tool for a student or professional with some prior knowledge of Mongolian who wants to learn something about the SH or the early Mongolian language in general; many portions of the text can be read with only Lessing's Mongolian dictionary as an aide, and the footnotes in my text — not to mention the morpheme breaks, capitalization, and punctuation here provided — could be of genuine help to such individuals.

             The computer files here were originally produced with versions 4.2 and 5.1 of the old WordPerfect word-processing program, and can still best be utilized by one who has a working copy of version 5.1 this program — which these days seems possible (without extraordinary effort) only with Windows XP. Therefore my original WP 5.1 version of this version 24-T, was first converted automatically to Corel WordPerfect X6, and the resultant file then likewise converted (by means of the WP X6 conversion utilities) to both PDF and HTML files. None of these three allows the full range of searches available in WP 5.1, and in none is the search process as easy. (To facilitate searches in the PDF version, several symbol-changes had to be made, so extensive quotation of SH lines should be made only from the HTML version.) See §2 below for a comparison of searches in PDF and HTML files.

             The term SH here refers to the Mongolian text of the Secret History; YCPS to the late 13th-century Chinese transcription of the text as found in the Commercial Press photolithographic edition ('C') of 1936 and the Pao-Palladius manuscript of the YCPS ('P').


    1. Elements of the transcription. The transcription here attempts to distinguish various types of text and divisions thereof.

    1.1 Text categories.

    Quotation. All direct quotation (Street13.16-41) is printed in italics. Quotation within quotation is further marked by single quotation marks, `...'. A third level of quotation by ╟...╢ (or '...' in the PDF version), and in one single instance a fourth level (line 9283-84) by `...' again. Indirect quotation (alone or inside direct quotation) is shown by «...».

    Poetry. What I assume to be poetic lines are marked by the symbol { at the start of each, and } when prose is resumed. Further, I reproduce here Pelliot's use of boldface type to mark the syllables he apparently thought showed initial alliteration in poetic lines. (For further details, see my footnote to SH line 1133.)

    Proper names. A proper name glossed as such by the interlinear notation of the YCPS text is here marked by capitalization of the initial letter; and I use a sequence of an underlined space plus a plain space separates words to mark cases where the YCPS shows no division within a proper name of more that one word. (My marking of proper names is probably, in some cases, little less incomplete and inconsistent than that of the YCPS itself. Names present special problems in any language.)

    Note that a proper name in sentence-initial position is not additionally marked with double underlining, as noted below.

    1.2 Text divisions.

    Major parts of the YCPS. At some point in time the YCPS text or some predecessor was divided into 282 sections of greatly varying length. In works by western authors these are traditionally marked (as here) by the symbol § plus one to three digits; e.g. §5, §178. Eventually these sections were differently grouped into what are sometimes loosely termed chapters; some versions, here exemplified by edition C, split the text into 12 'chapters', while others (e.g. the Pao-Palladius MS.) show 15. (Sometimes a new 'chapter' begins in the middle of a sentence.)

    Lines. The vertical columns of the YCPS are here represented by 4-digit numbered lines of text (with the system first introduced in Street 1986.14). The first digit shows the chapter number: the numbers 1-9 are used for the first nine chapters, while X, Y, Z refer respectively to chapters 10, 11, and 12. The second and third digits together refer to a leaf ('page') of a chapter; the last digit (0-9) reflects one of the 10 columns on that leaf. (The five columns on the recto side of a leaf are numbered 0-4, those on the verso, 5-9. Thus 'line' 2159 is the last column on the verso side of leaf 15 of chapter 2.) Such numbering makes it relatively easy to locate a particular passage in the Commercial Press and Yeh editions of the YCPS, the romanized text-editions of Haenisch, Shiratori, and de Rachewiltz, and the translation of Cleaves.

    Sentences. In the text here, sentences are demarcated basically according to a passage's assumed meaning, but with careful consideration of the spacing of Chinese characters that was originally intended to show speech pauses. Only the beginning and end of a sentence are consistently marked. Double-underlined capitalization (single-underlined in the HTML version) is added to the initial letter of a sentence if this is not a proper name. (See Words below for the different use of capitalization to mark proper names. And note that the initial letter of a sentence after a semicolon in parataxis is not capitalized.

    A period is regularly used at the end of what may be termed a full sentence, i.e. one which is not contained (as a quoted, interpolated, or paratactic sequence) within some other sentence. A semicolon is used after what may tentatively be considered a sentence paratactically combined with a following one; otherwise only the period is used. (But punctuation is avoided for the final sentence of a quoted sequence, since no pause is assumed before the quotative verb kee-, with or without an intervening negative or interrogative element.) Full sentences are followed by two spaces; others by only one. A long dash (——) is used when some syntactically irregular pattern seems to occur within a sentence.

    Words. Phonological words (not consistently demarcated in the YCPS) are here separated by a space, but such divisions have often little to do with the syntax.

    The special symbol ~ before a space represents cases where the YCPS shows no space between characters and no division within a non-name sequence longer than one word.

    The symbol ° (or @ in the PDF version) marks the following morpheme as a particle; some of these (like ber) are independent words, other (like interrogative u:) are not.

    Morphemes. Many inter-word morpheme divisions are marked. Verbal inflectional suffixes are preceded by the equals sign =, others by the hyphen character -. But the special symbol ♦ (or + in the PDF version) is used before any plural ending.

    A very few derivational endings are tentatively and inconsistently distinguished, by the symbol (or ^ in the PDF version). These are primarily the ≈jin, ≈tAy/≈day and ≈Ul of tribal affiliation, and a very few others of some interest.

    1.3 Other features of this text.

    Endnotes. In the WP and PDF versions of this text an endnote is placed immediately after a line number in any case where edition C, our best exemplar of the YCPS, has a column-break within a single word or a multi-part name. In the present text the entire word or name is moved to the following line; an endnote shows the actual point of the column-break by a vertical line | .

    Footnotes. These discuss a multiplicity of topics, most particularly emendations of the text in C, differences between C and P, earlier writers' marking of poetic lines, alternative translations, and various problems relating to lexicon, morphology, or syntax.

    Note that in footnotes and endnotes simple underlining is used in lieu of italics — so that a search in the WP or PDF can distinguish between italicized Mongolian and what would otherwise be italicized English forms. Footnotes and endnotes cannot be searched in the HTML version.

    Other special symbols. The symbols § ♦ « » ° ╟ ╢ | have been mentioned above. A few others are used for still different purposes.

    The colon is used after a vowel to show reconstructed vowel length (which is often equivalent to a sequence of two identical vowels).

    Only in the WP versions is [Index:-]- distinguished (in 'Reveal codes') from the simple hyphen character; the former indicates that the YCPS bracketing does show the morpheme division.

    Used only in footnotes, square brackets indicate emendation by some addition to the YCPS text, while angle brackets <...> mark emendation by deletion. (See footnote to line 101.)

    For completeness I should list here other symbols that may not be as easily used in searches as one might expect. These are ö Ö ü Ü š Š ŋ. See §2 below.

    Non-word-initial capital letters are used for two purposes.

    (a) One of the past-tense morphemes is written in specially complex ways in the YCPS (see Street `Middle Mongolian past-tense -BA in the Secret History' in JAOS 128.399-422). In the text here I quite arbitrarily romanize this as -BA (pronounced vowel-harmonically as /ba/ or /be/) when it's written with the 15-stroke ba character as opposed to either the 4- or 7-stroke one (romanized as -ba and -be respectively). Likewise I romanize as -bAy the vowel-harmonic plural (/bay/ of /bey/) which is written is even more complex ways.

    (b) In other cases non-initial caps are used to show that the YCPS writes the wrong member of a vowel-harmonic pair at some point within a word. My text's nemürE in line 8443, for example, is actually written with final -ra, but using capital E here means that searching for nemüre (in other than HTML files; see below) will find this odd writing as well as the correct vowel-harmonic writings in lines 6171 and Y094.

    2. Search procedures. Searches that are very easy in the WP 5.1 version of this text are more difficult in other versions. Below are a few remarks about searching in PDF and HTML files.

             In WP 5.1 files 'Search' (F2) searches only the text proper. 'Extended search' (Home+F2) searches both the text and notes of both sorts. Both types show you only one instance at a time, going forward or backward through the file. In either case it is easy to include in the search string any element at all that can occur in any text.

             In WP X6 files, 'Find and replace' (Ctrl+F) plus 'Find Next' (F) or 'Find Prev' (P) works like WP 5.1 simple 'Search', but it is sometimes rather a nuisance to include an element like Hyphen, Space, HardReturn, or Tab in the search string.

             In PDF files, 'Find' (Ctrl+F) searches for one instance of an item at a time — in both the text proper and notes of both sorts. 'Advanced search' (Shift+Ctrl+F) most helpfully provides a full list of all occurrences in the order these occur on each successive page. Either type of search ignores a space you may put in the search string, and makes no distinction between upper and lower case letters.

             In HTML files, 'Find' (Ctrl+F etc.) does not search footnotes or endnotes, but shows only one instance at a time, going forward or backward through the text proper. Searching ignores a space you may put in the search string, but does make a distinction between upper and lower case letters.

             In PDF and HTML files, searches involving exotic characters like ü ö Ü ŋ can be rather time-consuming. In order to get such a character into the search box, and functioning there, one must do one of three things.

    (1) One retrieve the appropriate character from the Microsoft charmap.exe file. (2) Sometimes a shortcut is possible, such as typing Alt+0252 to get ü into the search box, or Alt+0154 for š. The list below lists some of such shortcuts. But in HTML files, typing some such combinations can have unexpected and undesirable results. (3) One can copy an instance of the desired character from the SH text itself, and paste it into the search box. This is especially useful in HTML files, and generally works well. It does not work for certain symbols in PDF files, and so the PDF version of my SH text has changed the preferred symbols to alternative ones as following.

             ŋ > ⁿ (Alt+252 in PDF)

             ♦ > + (plus sign)

             ≈ > ^ 

             ° > @

             ╟ and ╢ > '

    3. Works cited in the notes. At the left, below, are shown short-form references used in the text for some of the more important sources.


    Cleaves, Frances Woodman: “The expression öb ese bol- in the Secret History of the Mongols”. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 11:3/4.311-20 (1948).


    Cleaves, Francis Woodman: “The Sino-Mongolian inscription of 1362 in memory of Prince Hindu”. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 12:1/2.1-132 (1949).


    Cleaves, Francis Woodman: “The Sino-Mongolian inscription of 1335 in memory of Chang Ying-jui”. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 13:1/2.1-131 (1950).


    Cleaves, Francis Woodman: “The Mongolian documents in the Musée de Téhéran”. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 16:1/2.1-207 (1953a).


    Cleaves, Francis Woodman: “Daruγa and gerege”. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 16:1/2.237-59 (1953b).


    CL82   Cleaves, Francis Woodman: The Secret History of the Mongols. Vol. 1 (translation). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, for the Harvard-Yenching Institute (1982).


    deR72 de Rachewiltz, Igor: Index to The Secret History of the Mongols. Uralic and Altaic Series 121. Bloomington: Indiana University (1972). Includes the full text of the SH in romanization; but the author specifically states that this 'cannot claim to be a definitive edition' (p. 2). Three separate 'Additions and Corrections' sheets were later provided.


    de Rachewiltz, Igor: Additions and Corrections sheets I, II, and III [for his 1972 Index...] (1973[?]-1997).


    deR4   de Rachewiltz, Igor: The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian epic chronicle of the thirteenth century. Translated with a historical and philological commentary. Two volumes. Brill's Inner Asian Library 7/1 and 7/2 (with continuous pagination). Leiden: Brill (2004).


    deR13 de Rachewiltz, Igor: The Secret History of the Mongols...(as above). Volume 3 (Supplement). Brill's Inner Asian Library 7/3 (with separate pagination, xxiii+266). Leiden: Brill (2013).


    H48tr  Haenisch, Erich: Die Geheime Geschichte der Mongolen.... Erstmalig übersetzt und erläutert. Leipzig: Harrassowitz (1948).


    H62txt      Haenisch, Erich: Manghol un Niuca Tobca'an (Yüan ch`ao pi-shi) Die Geheime Geschichte der Mongolen... Teil I: Text. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag (1962 reprint of 1937 original).


    Hattori, Shirō: The Chinese dialect on which the transcription of the Yüan-ch ‘ ao Mi-shih was based. Pp. 35-44 in Acta asiatica, Bulletin of the Institute of Eastern Culture 24. Tokyo: The Tōhō Gakkai (1973). [Pp. 40-44 gives Roman equivelents for all Chinese characters used in the text.] ‘


    H62dict    Same, but ...Teil II: Wörterbuch. (1962 reprint of 1939 original).


    Kowalewski, Joseph Étienne: Dictionnaire Mongol - Russe - Français. Three volumes, with continuous pagination; in Russian and French. Kazan, Imprimerie de l'université (1844-49).


    Kozin, Sergei Andreevich: Sokrovennoe skazanie. Mongol'skaya khronika 1240 g. pod nazvaniem Mongγol-un niγuča tobčiyan. Yuan' čao bi ši. ... Tom I: Vvedenie v izučenie pamyatnika perevod, teksty, glossarii. Moscow-Leningrad: Izdatel'stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR (1941). This work is abbreviated Ko in deR4.1138.


    Kurib1     Kuribayashi, Hitoshi, & Choijinjab: Word- and suffix-index to the Secret History of the Mongols: Based on the romanized transcription of L. Ligeti. CNEAS Monograph Series 4. Sendai, Japan: Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohoku University (2001). Includes reproduction of manuscript C of the Yüan ch`ao pi-shi, with full text in romanization (with quoted speech marked as such), plus indexes.


    Kuribayashi, Hitoshi: Word- and suffix-index to the Hua-yi Yi-yü: Based on the romanized transcription of L. Ligeti. CNEAS Monograph Series 10. Sendai, Japan: Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohoku University (2003). Includes reproduction of the text in Chinese characters, with full romanization and indexes.


    Lessing, Ferdinand D., et al.: Mongolian-English dictionary. Corrected re-printing, The Mongolia Society: Bloomington, Indiana (1973; originally published 1960).


    Ligeti71        Ligeti, Louis: Histoire secrète des Mongols. Vol. 1 of Monumenta Linguae Mongolicae Collecta. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó (1971).


    MostSQP Mostaert, Antoine: Sur quelques passages de l'Histoire Secrète des Mongols. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard-Yenching Institute (1953). [Reprinted, with new 26-page introduction, from HJAS 13.285-361 (1950), 14.329-403 (1951), and 15.285-407 (1952).]


    Most99     Mostaert, Antoine: Quelque problèmes phonétiques dans la transcription en charactères chinois du texte Mongol du Iuen tch'ao pi cheu (edited by Igor de Rachewiltz and Peter W. Geier). Part II of Antoine Mostaert (1881-1971), C.I.C.M missionary and scholar (ed. by Klaus Sagaster). Louvain Chinese Studies IV. (1999, but written in 1927).


    Most/Cl    Mostaert, Antoine, & Francis Woodman Cleaves: “Trois documents mongols des Archives Secrètes Vaticanes”. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 15.419-506 (1952).


    Most/deR Mostaert, Antoine, & Igor de Rachewiltz: Le matériel mongol du Houa i i iu... de Houng-ou (1389). Vol. 1, Edité par Igor de Rachewiltz, avec l'assistance de Anthony Schönbaum, 1977. Vol. 2 (Commentaires), par Antoine Mostaert et Igor de Rachewiltz, 1995. Mélanges chinois et bouddhiques 18, 27. Bruxelles: Institut Belge des Hautes Études Chinoises.


    Pelliot, Paul: Histoire secrète des Mongols. [Reconstruction of the Mongol text and French translation of Chapters 1-6. Posthumously published.] Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve (1949).


    PoppeGWM     Poppe, Nicholas: Grammar of Written Mongolian. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz (1954).


    Poppe54   Poppe, Nicholas: “Remarks on some roots and stems in Mongolian”, pp. 294-300 in Silver Jubilee Volume of the Zinbun-Kagaku-Kenkyusho. Kyoto University (1954).


    Poppe57   Poppe, Nicholas: The Mongolian monuments in hP`ags-pa script. Göttinger Asiatische Forschunger 8. Wiesbeden: Harrassowitz (1957).


    Poppe75   Poppe, Nicholas: “Altaic lingustics: an overview”, pp. 130-86 in Gengo no kagaku (= Sciences of Language) vol 6. Tokyo (1975)


    Shiratori, Kurakichi: Onyaku-mōbun-genchō-hishi. A romanized representation of the Yüan-ch`ao-pi-shih (A secret history of the Mongols) in its original Mongolian sound. Tokyo: The Tōyō Bunko (1942).


    Street57   Street, John C.: The language of the Secret History of the Mongols. American Oriental Series 42. New Haven, Connecticut: American Oriental Society (1957).


    Street86   Street, John C.: On the 14th century punctuation of Mongolian in the Yuan-ch'ao pi-shih. Mongolia Society Occasional Paper #12. Bloomington, Indiana: The Mongolia Society (1986).


    Street90   Street, John C.: “Nominal plural formations in the Secret History”, Acta Orientalia Hungarica 44:3.345-379 (issue dated 1990, but appeared early in 1993).


    Street, John C. 2008a “Middle Mongolian past-tense -ba in the Secret History”, Journal of the American Oriental Society 128:3.399-422.


    Street08   Street, John C: “The interrogative particle in early Middle Mongolian”, Mongolian Studies 30.43-82 (2008, published in late 2010).


    Street13   Street, John C.: On quotation in Middle Mongolian: The verb ke(m)e- `to say'. Mongolia Society Occasional Paper #27. Bloomington, Indiana (2013).


    Vietze92   Vietze, Hans-Peter, & Gendeng Lubsang. Altan Tobči: Eine mongolische Chronik des XVII. Jahrhunderts von Blo bsan bstan 'jin. Text and Index. Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (1992).


    YCPS  Yüan ch`ao pi-shi. [The highly sophisticated text of the Secret History in Chinese characters, produced around 1400. The sources utilized for the present digital text here are those called edition C and MS. P. The first of these is most conveniently available in Kuribayashi 2001; the second, far less useful, was published by V. I. Pankratov in Moscow in 1962.


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