Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet

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The word 'Mongolia' ('Mongol') in Cyrillic script Mongolia-text.svg
The word 'Mongolia' ('Mongol') in Cyrillic script
Cyrillic Script Monument erected under a joint Bulgarian-Mongolian project in Antarctica Cyrillic monument.jpg
Cyrillic Script Monument erected under a joint Bulgarian-Mongolian project in Antarctica

The Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet (Mongolian: Монгол Кирилл үсэг, Mongol Kirill üseg or Кирилл цагаан толгой, Kirill cagaan tolgoi) is the writing system used for the standard dialect of the Mongolian language in the modern state of Mongolia. It has a largely phonemic orthography, meaning that there is a fair degree of consistency in the representation of individual sounds. Cyrillic has not been adopted as the writing system in the Inner Mongolia region of China, which continues to use the traditional Mongolian script.



Mongolian Cyrillic is the most recent of the many writing systems that have been used for Mongolian. It is a Cyrillic alphabet and is thus similar to, for example, the Bulgarian alphabet. It uses the same characters as the Russian alphabet except for the two additional characters Өө ö and Үү ü.

It was introduced in the 1940s in the Mongolian People's Republic under Soviet influence, [1] after two months in 1941 where Latin was used as the official script, while Latinisation in the Soviet Union was in vogue. After the Mongolian democratic revolution in 1990, the traditional Mongolian script was briefly considered to replace Cyrillic, but the plan was canceled in the end. However, the Mongolian script has become a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schooling and is slowly gaining in popularity. [2] The Mongolian script is a highly uncommon vertical script, and unlike other historically vertical-only scripts such as the Chinese script it cannot easily be adapted for horizontal use, which puts it at a disadvantage compared to Cyrillic for many modern purposes. Thus, the Cyrillic script continues to be used in everyday life.

In March 2020, the Mongolian government announced plans to use both Cyrillic and the traditional Mongolian script in official documents by 2025. [3] [4] [5]


The Cyrillic alphabet used for Mongolian is as follows (with borrowed sounds in parentheses):

Pos.Cyrillic Braille Name IPA [6] ISO 9 Standard romanization
(MNS 5217:2012) [7] [8]
Library of
1 Аа аaа
2 Бб бэp, pʲb
3 Вв вэw̜, w̜ʲv
4 Гг гэɡ, ɡʲ, ɢg
5 Дд дэt, tʲd
6 Ее еji~jɵeyeeᠶᠡ
7 Ёё ёëyoëᠶᠣ
8 Жж жэžjzh
9 Зз зэtsz
10 Ии иii
11 Йй хагас иijiĭ
12 Кк каkʰ, kʲʰ, x, xʲk
13 Лл элɮ, ɮʲlᠯᠠ
14 Мм эмm, m
15 Нн энn, , ŋn
16 Оо оɔo
17 Өө өɵ~oôö
18 Пп пэpʰ, pʰʲp
19 Рр эрr, rʲr
20 Сс эсss
21 Тт тэtʰ, tʰʲt
22 Уу уʊu
23 Үү үuü
24 Фф фэ, фа, эфf, pʰf
25 Хх хэ, хаx, xʲhkh
26 Цц цэtsʰcts
27 Чч чэtʃʰčchᠴᠤ
28 Шш ша, эшʃšsh
29 Щщ ща, эшчэ(ʃ)ŝshshchᠰᠢ
30 Ъъ хатуугийн тэмдэгnoneʺiı
31 Ыы эр үгийн ыiy
32 Ьь зөөлний тэмдэгʲʹi
33 Ээ эe~ièeê
34 Юю юjʊ, juûyuiuᠶᠦ
35 Яя яjaâyaiaᠶᠠ

Үү and Өө are sometimes also written as the Ukrainian letters Її (or Vv) and Єє respectively, [9] when using Russian software or keyboards that do not support them.

Initial long vowels and non-initial full vowels are written with double vowel letters, while initial short vowels and non-initial epenthetic vowels are written with single vowel letters. Conversely, every vowel letter except у and ү can also represent schwa and zero in non-first syllables. Palatalisation is indicated by и (i), the soft sign ь (') or е (ye), ё (yo), я (ya) and ю (yu) after the palatalised consonant. These latter letters are pronounced without [j] in that position. Щ is never used in Mongolian and only used in Russian words containing the letter. [10] It is pronounced identically to Ш, and is often omitted when teaching the Cyrillic alphabet. Sometimes, Russian loanwords with Щ will be spelled with Ш instead: борш, Хрушев. The difference between [e~i] might be dialectal, [11] while the difference between ɵ~o is positional. [12]

/ɡ/ and /ɢ/ are both indicated by the letter г g, but the phonetic value of that letter is mostly predictable. In words with "front" (+ATR) vowels (see Mongolian phonology for details), it always means /ɡ/, because only /ɡ/ occurs in such words. In words with "back" (ATR) vowels, it always means /ɢ/, except syllable-finally, where it means /ɡ/; to acquire the value of /ɢ/, it is written as followed by a single mute syllable-final vowel letter. Similarly, a mute vowel is added to final н n to make it denote /n/ and not /ŋ/. ф (f) and к (k) are loan consonants and will often be adapted into the Mongolian sound system as [pʰ] and [x]. [10]

The original plan as at 10 October 1945 was to use э only at the beginning of words and in long vowel combinations (as is done in other languages written using Russian-based Cyrillic), дз for modern з, дж for modern ж, ии for modern ий and йө for modern е (to represent the "yö" sound at the beginning of words), but the alphabet was changed to its final form on 13 November. [13]

See also

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Mongolian writing systems

Many alphabets have been devised for the Mongolian language over the centuries, and from a variety of scripts. The oldest, called simply the Mongolian script, has been the predominant script during most of Mongolian history, and is still in active use today in the Inner Mongolia region of China and de facto use in Mongolia. It has in turn spawned several alphabets, either as attempts to fix its perceived shortcomings, or to allow the notation of other languages, such as Sanskrit and Tibetan. In the 20th century, Mongolia first switched to the Latin script, and then almost immediately replaced it with the Cyrillic script for compatibility with the Soviet Union, its political ally of the time. Mongol Chinese in Inner Mongolia and other parts of China, on the other hand, continue to use alphabets based on the traditional Mongolian script.

Mongolian is the official language of Mongolia and both the most widely spoken and best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the ethnic Mongol residents of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. In Mongolia, the Khalkha dialect is predominant, and is currently written in both Cyrillic and traditional Mongolian script, while in Inner Mongolia, the language is dialectally more diverse and is written in the traditional Mongolian script.

Russian alphabet Alphabet that uses letters from the Cyrillic script

The Russian alphabet was derived from Cyrillic script for Old Church Slavonic language. Initially an old variant of the Bulgarian alphabet, it became used in the Kievan Rus' since 10th century to write what would become the Russian language. The modern Russian alphabet consists of 33 letters. It has twenty consonants, ten vowels, a semivowel (⟨й⟩), and two modifier letters that alter a preceding consonant.

Tuvan language Turkic language in Russia

Tuvan, also known as Tuvinian, Tyvan or Tuvin, is a Turkic language spoken in the Republic of Tuva in South-Central Siberia in Russia. The language has borrowed a great number of roots from the Mongolian language, Tibetan and the Russian language. There are small diaspora groups of Tuvan people that speak distinct dialects of Tuvan in the People's Republic of China and in Mongolia.

Kalmyk Oirat

Kalmyk Oirat, commonly known as the Kalmyk language, is a register of the Oirat language, natively spoken by the Kalmyk people of Kalmykia, a federal subject of Russia. In Russia, it is the standard form of the Oirat language, which belongs to the Mongolic language family. The Kalmyk people of the Northwest Caspian Sea of Russia claim descent from the Oirats from Eurasia, who have also historically settled in Mongolia and Northwest China. According to UNESCO, the language is "Definitely endangered". According to the Russian census of 2010, there are 80,500 speakers of an ethnic population consisting of 183,000 people.

I (Cyrillic)

I is a letter used in almost all Cyrillic alphabets.

Bulgarian alphabet

The Bulgarian alphabet is used to write the Bulgarian language.

Two scripts are currently used for the Tatar language: Arabic, Cyrillic.

Ye (Cyrillic)

Ye, Je, or Ie is a letter of the Cyrillic script. In some languages this letter is called E. It looks like another version of E (Cyrillic).

Shcha Cyrillic letter

Shcha is a letter of the Cyrillic script. In Russian, it represents the voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative, similar to the pronunciation of ⟨sh⟩ in sheep. In Ukrainian and Rusyn, it represents the consonant cluster. In Bulgarian, it represents the consonant cluster. In Kurdish, it represents the consonant. Other non-Slavic languages written in Cyrillic use this letter to spell the few loanwords that use it or foreign names; it is usually pronounced and is often omitted when teaching those languages.

The Ukrainian alphabet is the set of letters used to write Ukrainian, the official language of Ukraine. It is one of the national variations of the Cyrillic script. The modern Ukrainian alphabet consists of 33 letters.

Buryat or Buriat, known in Chinese sources as the Bargu-Buryat dialect of the Mongolian language, and in pre-1956 Soviet sources as Buryat-Mongolian is a variety of the Mongolic languages spoken by the Buryats and Bargas that is classified either as a language or major dialect group of Mongolian.

Kazakh alphabets

Three alphabets are used to write the Kazakh language: in the Cyrillic, Latin and Arabic scripts. The Cyrillic script is used in Kazakhstan and Mongolia. An October 2017 Presidential Decree in Kazakhstan ordered that the transition from Cyrillic to a Latin script be completed by 2025. The Arabic script is used in parts of China, Iran and Afghanistan.

Mongolian script writing system used for the Mongolian language

The classical or traditional Mongolian script, also known as the Hudum Mongol bichig, was the first writing system created specifically for the Mongolian language, and was the most widespread until the introduction of Cyrillic in 1946. It is traditionally written in vertical lines Top-Down, right across the page. Derived from the Old Uyghur alphabet, Mongolian is a true alphabet, with separate letters for consonants and vowels. The Mongolian script has been adapted to write languages such as Oirat and Manchu. Alphabets based on this classical vertical script are used in Inner Mongolia and other parts of China to this day to write Mongolian, Xibe and experimentally, Evenki.

The Mongolian Latin script was officially adopted in Mongolia in 1931. In 1939, a second version of the Latin alphabet was introduced but not widely used until it was replaced by the Cyrillic script in 1941.

Cyrillic alphabets Related alphabets based on Cyrillic scripts

Numerous Cyrillic alphabets are based on the Cyrillic script. The early Cyrillic alphabet was developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 9th century AD at the Preslav Literary School by Saint Clement of Ohrid and Saint Naum and replaced the earlier Glagolitic script developed by the Byzantine theologians Cyril and Methodius. It is the basis of alphabets used in various languages, past and present, in parts of Southeastern Europe and Northern Eurasia, especially those of Slavic origin, and non-Slavic languages influenced by Russian. As of 2011, around 252 million people in Eurasia use it as the official alphabet for their national languages. About half of them are in Russia. Cyrillic is one of the most-used writing systems in the world.

The Cyrillic script family contains many specially treated two-letter combinations, or digraphs, but few of these are used in Slavic languages. In a few alphabets, trigraphs and even the occasional tetragraph are used.

Yo (Cyrillic)

Yo, Jo, or Io is a letter of the Cyrillic script. In Unicode, the letter ⟨Ё⟩ is named CYRILLIC CAPITAL/SMALL LETTER IO.

The Komi language, a Uralic language spoken in the north-eastern part of European Russia, has been written in several different alphabets. Currently, Komi writing uses letters from the Cyrillic script. There have been five distinct stages in the history of Komi writing:

Since its inception in the 18th century and up to the present, it is based on the Cyrillic alphabet to write the Udmurt language. Attempts were also made to use the Latin alphabet to write the Udmurt language. In its modern form, the Udmurt alphabet was approved in 1937.


  1. Will Mongolia Have the Courage to Scrap the Russian Alphabet?
  2. "Монгол бичиг XXI зуунд хэлэлцүүлгээс уриалга гаргалаа" [Announcements from the "Mongolian script in the 21st century" debate]. 13 May 2011 (in Mongolian). Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  3. "Mongolia to promote usage of traditional script". (March 19, 2020).
  4. Official documents to be recorded in both scripts from 2025, Montsame, 18 March 2020.
  5. Mongolian Language Law is effective from July 1st, Gogo, 1 July 2015. "Misinterpretation 1:Use of cyrillic is to be terminated and only Mongolian script to be used. There is no provision in the law that states the termination of use of cyrillic. It clearly states that Mongolian script is to be added to the current use of cyrillic. Mongolian script will be introduced in stages and state and local government is to conduct their correspondence in both cyrillic and Mongolian script. This provision is to be effective starting January 1st of 2025. ID, birth certificate, marriage certificate and education certificates are to be both in Mongolian cyrillic and Mongolian script and currently Mongolian script is being used in official letters of President, Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament."
  6. Svantesson, Jan-Olof, Anna Tsendina, Anastasia Karlsson, Vivan Franzén. 2005. The Phonology of Mongolian. New York: Oxford University Press: 30-40.
  7. "Монгол кирил үсгийн латин хөрвүүлгийн шинэ стандарт батлагдлаа" [New latinization standard for Mongolian cyrillic script approved]. 18 February 2012 (in Mongolian). Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  8. kirill-useg-standart.jpg, basic table on
  9. Sühbaatar, B. "Mongol helnij kirill üsgijg latin üsgeer galiglah tuhaj". InfoCon. Archived from the original on 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  10. 1 2 Svantesson et al. 2005: 30-40.
  11. Svantesson et al. 2005 who proclaim a merger. Luvsanjav, J. (1975): Mongol avianii duudlaga. Ulaanbaatar: MUIS: 14-15 claims that word-initial e-s are articulated towards i, while others are not. But LaCross, Amy (2012): Non-adjacent Phonological Dependency Effects on Khalkha Mongolian Speech Perception. Proceedings of the 29th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, ed. Jaehoon Choi et al., 143-151. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project, 143-151 keeps them distinct
  12. Svantesson et al. 2005: 1-10.
  13. Tseveliin Shagdagsüren, Mongolchuudyn üseg bichigiin tovchoon, 2001, page 190