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Review of  The Collected Works of Bronislaw Pilsudski Vol.3

Reviewer: Edward J. Vajda
Book Title: The Collected Works of Bronislaw Pilsudski Vol.3
Book Author: Alfred F. Majewicz
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Language Documentation
Text/Corpus Linguistics
Anthropological Linguistics
Subject Language(s): Ainu
Issue Number: 16.1812

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Date: Wed, 08 Jun 2005 15:40:32 +0200
From: Edward Vajda
Subject: The Collected Works of Bronislaw Pilsudski, Vol. 3: Ainu Language
and Folklore Materials 2

EDITOR: Majewicz, Alfred F.
TITLE: The Collected Works of Bronislaw Pilsudski, Vol. 3
SUBTITLE: Ainu Language and Folklore Materials 2
SERIES: Trends in Linguistics, Documentation 15-3
PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter
YEAR: 2004

Edward J. Vajda, Department of Modern Languages, Western Washington
University, Bellingham, Washington


This is the third book in a planned five-volume series. The completed
series aims to provide in English translation all of the extant linguistic,
ethnographic and historical materials left by the outstanding Polish
scholar-in-exile Bronislaw Pilsudski. Among its contents of specific
interest to linguists, Volume III contains never-before published original
Ainu texts, as well as meticulous descriptions of wax cylinder sound
recordings made of Ainu language and folklore over 100years ago.

The book contains three primary sections, accompanied by a host of
bibliographies, appendices and other supporting materials. The latter
include reproductions of 173 original photographs and plates dating from
the period of Pilsudski's exile (late 1880s to 1910). These offer a glimpse
into the Ainu world at the beginning of the 20th century, and also document
many of the key places and events of the scholar's life. Supplementing
these are an additional 82 color photographs taken during the time of the
volume's preparation. Most of these pictures depict Ainu people and
important items of cultural. A month-by-month chronology (13-47) details
the important events of Pilsudski's stay in the Far East during the years
1887 to 1909.

Section I (211-249) contains four items. The first is a translation of
Pilsudski's "A preliminary report on the expedition to the Ainu of Sakhalin
in 1902-1903", followed by plates reproducing the original manuscript
(219-221). The report contains unique commentary on the nature of
Ainu/Russian interaction at the beginning of the 20th century and a wealth
of detail about Ainu daily life at that time. The next item entitled
"Traditions of the Sakhalin aborigines on their first encounter with the
white man" (222-228), contains translations from Russian of accounts by
Nivkh, Orok and Ainu on the earliest contact with Russians. There is also a
brief narrative (229-230), again an English translation from an original
Russian version, taken from an early Ainu convert to Orthodox Christianity.
The last item in this section reproduces "A draft of rules for the
organization of life of and the establishment of authority over the Ainu of
Sakhalin" (231-249).

Section II, entitled "Ainu texts" (251-417), begins with the description of
a newly discovered letter containing Pilsudski's own description of the 452
items in his collection of Ainu folkloric texts. This catalog has assisted
the editor in providing a authoritative inventory of the entire collection
(261-263) and in hunting down many items hitherto lost to scholars.
Reproduced here are three 'tales of tradition', eleven fairy tales, and 51
prayers. All but two of the tales of tradition appear in the original Ainu.
Each text is provided with commentary and an English translation. There is
no morpheme-by-morpheme glossing.

Section III, titled "Phonographic records of Ainu language and folklore on
wax cylinders" (575-642), contains a methodical description of everything
that has been recovered from about 30 recordings of traditional Ainu
musical culture. The contents of each cylinder is described and commented
upon, with accompanying musical score and Ainu text, where possible. This
section also explains the mechanics and history of this remarkable recovery

The volume ends with a series of appendixes and indexes. The appendixes
contain English translations of hitherto unpublished reports and letters of
considerable historiographic interest. These include Waclaw Sieroszewski's
ethnographic article, "Among hairy people" (659-660), an account written in
1926 describing the author's 1903 expedition with Pilsudski to the Ainu of
Sakhalin and Aleksandr Jantac-Polczynski's 1936 account of a visit to the
Ainu of Sakhalin in 1933 (731-744). Also published here are a series of
letters (700-730), written to Pilsudski by Sentoku Taroji in 1906. There
are also indexes of personal names, place names, subject, as well as Ainu
words and words from other languages that appear in the book.


The two previous volumes (Majewicz 1998a, 1998b) reproduce items previously
published elsewhere. Still, given that the originals appeared in small
editions that can rarely be found today, these books are of equally great
value as primary collections of rare material on the native peoples and
languages of Sakhalin (Nivkh, Ainu, Orok). This third volume continues the
material on Ainu contained in Volume II (Majewicz 1998b). Unlike the first
two books, however, Volume III offers a wealth of information never before
published in any form, given that much of it remained completely unknown
prior to extensive recovery and documentation research performed by the
editor. The folktales in Section II are particularly valuable to linguists,
as they contain carefully reproduced and glossed examples of completely
fluent Ainu connected speech. As in the earlier volumes, the editor has
expended every effort to make the contents as accessible and useful to the
reader as possible. The meticulous descriptions of the recovery work
performed on Pilsudski's wax-cylinder recordings of Ainu music could serve
as an instructive model for future work with similar archived recordings of
other languages.

Not all of the materials here are of direct relevance to the linguistic
study of the Ainu. But taken together, this collection offers a complete
background account of Pilsudski's work among the Ainu, a factor that helps
place the texts and other language materials in a clear sociolinguistic
context. Although the project of gathering together and publishing all of
Bronislaw Pilsudski's priceless linguistic and ethnographic data is now
already more than a decade behind schedule, the resulting volumes are well
worth the wait. For anyone studying the aboriginal languages of the Russian
Far East, this set promises to be one of the outstanding and essential
sources of primary data.


Majewicz, Alfred F., ed. (1998a) Collected works of Bronislaw Pilsudski,
Vol. 1. The Aborigines of Sakhalin. Berlin; New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Majewicz, Alfred F., ed. (1998b) Collected works of Bronislaw Pilsudski,
Vol. 2. Materials for the study of Ainu language and folklore, part 1.
Berlin; New York: Mouton de Gruyter.


Edward J. Vajda is professor of linguistics, Russian language, and Eurasian
studies at Western Washington University. He is an editor of the journal
Word. His research interests include minority languages of the former
Soviet Union and other areas of Eurasia. For the past several years he has
been intensively involved in descriptive research on the structure of Ket,
a language isolate spoken by a few hundred people in Central Siberia near
the Yenisei River.

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