Mongolian language

Last updated
  • монгол хэл
  • ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯᠬᠡᠯᠡ
Pronunciation [ˈmɔɴ.ɢəɮxiɮ]
Native to Mongolian Plateau
RegionAll of Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, Buryatia, Kalmykia; parts of Irkutsk Oblast, Zabaykalsky Krai in Russia; parts of Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Xinjiang, Gansu and Qinghai provinces in China; Issyk-Kul Region in Kyrgyzstan
Ethnicity Mongols
Native speakers
5.2 million (2005) [1]
  • Central Mongolic
    • Mongolian
Early forms
Standard forms
Official status
Official language in
Regulated by
  • Mongolia:
  • State Language Council, [3]
  • China:
  • Council for Language and Literature Work [4]
Language codes
ISO 639-1 mn
ISO 639-2 mon
ISO 639-3 mon – inclusive code
Individual codes:
khk   Khalkha Mongolian
mvf   Peripheral Mongolian (part)
Glottolog mong1331
Linguasphere part of 44-BAA-b
Idioma mongol.png
Map of where Mongolian is spoken.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Mongolian [note 1] 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. [1] In Mongolia, Khalkha Mongolian is predominant, and is currently written in both Cyrillic and the traditional Mongolian script. In Inner Mongolia, it is dialectally more diverse and written in the traditional Mongolian script. However, Mongols in both countries often use the Latin script for convenience on the Internet. [5]


In the discussion of grammar to follow, the variety of Mongolian treated is the standard written Khalkha formalized in the writing conventions and in grammar as taught in schools, but much of it is also valid for vernacular (spoken) Khalkha and other Mongolian dialects, especially Chakhar Mongolian.

Some classify several other Mongolic languages like Buryat and Oirat as varieties of Mongolian, but this classification is not in line with the current international standard.

Mongolian is a language with vowel harmony and a complex syllabic structure compared to other Mongolic languages, allowing clusters of up to three consonants syllable-finally. It is a typical agglutinative language that relies on suffix chains in the verbal and nominal domains. While there is a basic word order, subject–object–predicate, ordering among noun phrases is relatively free, as grammatical roles are indicated by a system of about eight grammatical cases. There are five voices. Verbs are marked for voice, aspect, tense and epistemic modality/evidentiality. In sentence linking, a special role is played by converbs.

Modern Mongolian evolved from Middle Mongol, the language spoken in the Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries. In the transition, a major shift in the vowel-harmony paradigm occurred, long vowels developed, the case system changed slightly, and the verbal system was restructured. Mongolian is related to the extinct Khitan language. It was believed that Mongolian was related to Turkic, Tungusic, Korean and Japonic languages but this view is now seen as obsolete by a majority of (but not all) comparative linguists. These languages have been grouped under the Altaic language family and contrasted with the Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area. However, instead of a common genetic origin, Clauson, Doerfer, and Shcherbak proposed that Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic languages form a language Sprachbund , rather than common origin. [6] Mongolian literature is well attested in written form from the 13th century but has earlier Mongolic precursors in the literature of the Khitan and other Xianbei peoples. The Bugut inscription dated to 584 CE and the Inscription of Hüis Tolgoi dated to 604–620 CE appear to be the oldest substantial Mongolic or Para-Mongolic texts discovered.


Writers such as Owen Lattimore referred to Mongolian as "the Mongol language". [7]


Edict of Yesun Temur Khan, Emperor Taiding of Yuan (1328). Only the 'Phags-pa script retains the complete Middle Mongol vowel system. Phagspa imperial edict dragon year.jpg
Edict of Yesün Temür Khan, Emperor Taiding of Yuan (1328). Only the 'Phags-pa script retains the complete Middle Mongol vowel system.

The earliest surviving Mongolian text may be the Stele of Yisüngge  [ ru ], a report on sports composed in Mongolian script on stone, which is most often dated at 1224 or 1225. [9] The Mongolian-Armenian wordlist of 55 words compiled by Kirakos of Gandzak (13th century) is the first written record of Mongolian words. [10] From the 13th to the 15th centuries, Mongolian language texts were written in four scripts (not counting some vocabulary written in Western scripts): Uyghur Mongolian (UM) script (an adaptation of the Uyghur alphabet), 'Phags-pa script (Ph) (used in decrees), Chinese (SM) ( The Secret History of the Mongols ), and Arabic (AM) (used in dictionaries). [11] While they are the earliest texts available, these texts have come to be called "Middle Mongol" in scholarly practice. [12] The documents in UM script show some distinct linguistic characteristics and are therefore often distinguished by terming their language "Preclassical Mongolian". [13]

The Yuan dynasty referred to the Mongolian language in Chinese as "Guoyu" (Chinese :國語), which means "National language", a term also used by other non-Han dynasties to refer to their languages such as the Manchu language during the Qing dynasty, the Jurchen language during the Jin dynasty (1115–1234), the Khitan language during the Liao dynasty, and the Xianbei language during the Northern Wei period.

The next distinct period is Classical Mongolian, which is dated from the 17th to the 19th century. This is a written language with a high degree of standardization in orthography and syntax that sets it quite apart from the subsequent Modern Mongolian. The most notable documents in this language are the Mongolian Kangyur and Tengyur [14] as well as several chronicles. [15] In 1686, the Soyombo alphabet (Buddhist texts) was created, giving distinctive evidence on early classical Mongolian phonological peculiarities. [16]

Geographic distribution

Mongolian is the official national language of Mongolia, where it is spoken (but not always written) by nearly 3.6 million people (2014 estimate), [17] and the official provincial language (both spoken and written forms) of Inner Mongolia, China, where there are at least 4.1 million ethnic Mongols. [18] Across the whole of China, the language is spoken by roughly half of the country's 5.8 million ethnic Mongols (2005 estimate) [17] However, the exact number of Mongolian speakers in China is unknown, as there is no data available on the language proficiency of that country's citizens. The use of Mongolian in Inner Mongolia has witnessed periods of decline and revival over the last few hundred years. The language experienced a decline during the late Qing period, a revival between 1947 and 1965, a second decline between 1966 and 1976, a second revival between 1977 and 1992, and a third decline between 1995 and 2012. [19] However, in spite of the decline of the Mongolian language in some of Inner Mongolia's urban areas and educational spheres, the ethnic identity of the urbanized Chinese-speaking Mongols is most likely going to survive due to the presence of urban ethnic communities. [20] The multilingual situation in Inner Mongolia does not appear to obstruct efforts by ethnic Mongols to preserve their language. [21] [22] Although an unknown number of Mongols in China, such as the Tumets, may have completely or partially lost the ability to speak their language, they are still registered as ethnic Mongols and continue to identify themselves as ethnic Mongols. [17] [23] The children of inter-ethnic Mongol-Chinese marriages also claim to be and are registered as ethnic Mongols so they can benefit from the preferential policies for minorities in education, healthcare, family planning, school admissions, the hiring and promotion, the financing and taxation of businesses, and regional infrastructural support given to ethnic minorities in China. [24] [25] In 2020, the Chinese government required three subjects — language and literature, politics, and history — to be taught in Mandarin in Mongolian-language primary and secondary schools in the Inner Mongolia since September, which caused widespread protests among ethnic Mongol communities. [26] [27] These protests were quickly suppressed by the Chinese government. [28] Mandarin has been deemed the only language of instruction for all subjects as of September 2023. [29]

Classification and varieties

Modern Mongolian's place on the chronological tree of Mongolic languages MongolicLanguagesGraph.svg
Modern Mongolian's place on the chronological tree of Mongolic languages

Mongolian belongs to the Mongolic languages. The delimitation of the Mongolian language within Mongolic is a much disputed theoretical problem, one whose resolution is impeded by the fact that existing data for the major varieties is not easily arrangeable according to a common set of linguistic criteria. Such data might account for the historical development of the Mongolian dialect continuum, as well as for its sociolinguistic qualities. Though phonological and lexical studies are comparatively well developed, [30] the basis has yet to be laid for a comparative morphosyntactic study, for example between such highly diverse varieties as Khalkha and Khorchin. [31] [32]

In Juha Janhunen's book titled Mongolian, he groups the Mongolic language family into four distinct linguistic branches: [33]

The Common Mongolic branch is grouped in the following way: [33]

There is no disagreement that the Khalkha dialect of the Mongolian state is Mongolian. [34] However, the status of certain varieties in the Common Mongolic group—whether they are languages distinct from Mongolian or just dialects of it—is disputed. There are at least three such varieties: Oirat (including the Kalmyk variety) and Buryat, both of which are spoken in Russia, Mongolia, and China; and Ordos, spoken around Inner Mongolia's Ordos City. [35] The influential classification of Sanžeev (1953) proposed a "Mongolian language" consisting of just the three dialects Khalkha, Chakhar, and Ordos, with Buryat and Oirat judged to be independent languages. [36] On the other hand, Luvsanvandan (1959) proposed a much broader "Mongolian language" consisting of a Central dialect (Khalkha, Chakhar, Ordos), an Eastern dialect (Kharchin, Khorchin), a Western dialect (Oirat, Kalmyk), and a Northern dialect (consisting of two Buryat varieties). [37] Additionally, the Language Policy in the People's Republic of China: Theory and Practice Since 1949, states that Mongolian can be classified into four dialects: the Khalkha dialect in the middle, the Horcin-Haracin dialect in the East, Oriat-Hilimag in the west, and Bargu-Buriyad in the north. [38]

Some Western scholars [39] propose that the relatively well researched Ordos variety is an independent language due to its conservative syllable structure and phoneme inventory. While the placement of a variety like Alasha, [40] which is under the cultural influence of Inner Mongolia but historically tied to Oirat, and of other border varieties like Darkhad would very likely remain problematic in any classification, [41] the central problem remains the question of how to classify Chakhar, Khalkha, and Khorchin in relation to each other and in relation to Buryat and Oirat. [42] [43] The split of [tʃ] into [tʃ] before *i and [ts] before all other reconstructed vowels, which is found in Mongolia but not in Inner Mongolia, is often cited as a fundamental distinction, [44] for example Proto-Mongolic *tʃil, Khalkha /tʃiɮ/, Chakhar /tʃil/ 'year' versus Proto-Mongolic *tʃøhelen, Khalkha /tsoːɮəŋ/, Chakhar /tʃoːləŋ/ 'few'. [45] On the other hand, the split between the past tense verbal suffixes -/sŋ/ in the Central varieties v. -/dʒɛː/ in the Eastern varieties [46] is usually seen as a merely stochastic difference. [47]

In Inner Mongolia, official language policy divides the Mongolian language into three dialects: Standard Mongolian of Inner Mongolia, Oirat, and Barghu-Buryat. The Standard Mongolian of Inner Mongolia is said to consist of Chakhar, Ordos, Baarin, Khorchin, Kharchin, and Alasha. The authorities have synthesized a literary standard for Mongolian in whose grammar is said to be based on the Standard Mongolian of Inner Mongolia and whose pronunciation is based on the Chakhar dialect as spoken in the Plain Blue Banner. [48] Dialectologically, however, western Mongolian dialects in Inner Mongolia are closer to Khalkha than they are to eastern Mongolian dialects in Inner Mongolia: e.g. Chakhar is closer to Khalkha than to Khorchin. [49]

List of dialects

Juha Janhunen (2003: 179) [50] lists the following Mongol dialects, most of which are spoken in Inner Mongolia.

Standard varieties

There are two standard varieties of Mongolian.


Standard Mongolian in the state of Mongolia is based on the northern Khalkha Mongolian dialects, which include the dialect of Ulaanbaatar, and is written in the Mongolian Cyrillic script. [51]


Standard Mongolian in Inner Mongolia is based on the Chakhar Mongolian of the Khalkha dialect group, [52] spoken in the Shuluun Huh/Zhènglán Banner, [53] and is written in the traditional Mongolian script.

The number of Mongolian speakers in China is still larger than in the state of Mongolia, [54] where the majority of Mongolians in China speak one of the Khorchin dialects, or rather more than two million of them speak the Khorchin dialect itself as their mother tongue, so that the Khorchin dialect group has about as many speakers as the Khalkha dialect group in the State of Mongolia. Nevertheless, the Chakhar dialect, which today has only about 100,000 native speakers and belongs to the Khalkha dialect group, is the basis of standard Mongolian in China. [55]


The characteristic differences in the pronunciation of the two standard varieties include the umlauts in Inner Mongolia and the palatalized consonants in Mongolia (see below) as well as the splitting of the Middle Mongol affricates *ʧ (č) and *ʤ (ǰ) into ʦ (цc) and ʣ (зz) versus ʧ (чč) and ʤ (жž) in Mongolia: [56]

Middle MongolInner MongoliaMongoliaMeaning
*ʧisuᠴᠢᠰᠤčisu[ʧʊs] ᠴᠢᠰᠤčisu[ʦʊs] цусcusblood
*ʤamᠵᠠᠮǰam[ʤɑm] ᠵᠠᠮǰam[dzɑm] замzamstreet
*oʧixuᠣᠴᠢᠬᠤočiqu[ɔʧɪx] ᠣᠴᠢᠬᠤočiqu[ɔʧɪx] очихočixto go
*ʤimeᠵᠢᠮ ǰim-e[ʤim] ᠵᠢᠮ ǰim-e[ʤim] жимžimpath

Aside from these differences in pronunciation, there are also differences in vocabulary and language use: in the state of Mongolia more loanwords from Russian are being used, while in Inner Mongolia more loanwords from Chinese have been adopted. [57]


The following description is based primarily on the Khalkha dialect as spoken in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital. The phonologies of other varieties such as Ordos, Khorchin, and even Chakhar, differ considerably. [58] This section discusses the phonology of Khalkha Mongolian with subsections on Vowels, Consonants, Phonotactics and Stress.


The standard language has seven monophthong vowel phonemes. They are aligned into three vowel harmony groups by a parameter called ATR (advanced tongue root); the groups are −ATR, +ATR, and neutral. This alignment seems to have superseded an alignment according to oral backness. However, some scholars still describe Mongolian as being characterized by a distinction between front vowels and back vowels, and the front vowel spellings 'ö' and 'ü' are still often used in the West to indicate two vowels which were historically front. The Mongolian vowel system also has rounding harmony.

Length is phonemic for vowels, and except short [e], which has merged into short [i], [59] each of the other six phonemes occurs both short and long. Phonetically, short /o/ has become centralised to the central vowel [ɵ].

In the following table, the seven vowel phonemes, with their length variants, are arranged and described phonetically. The vowels in the Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet are:

Mongolian Cyrillic IPA Romanization
а, аа[a, aː]a, aa
и, ий/ы[i, iː]i, ii
о, оо[ɔ, ɔː]o, oo
ө, өө[ɵ, oː] /o, oː/ö, öö
у, уу[ʊ, ʊː]u, uu
ү, үү[u, uː]ü, üü
э, ээ[i, eː]e, ee
Front Central Back
Close iu
Near-Close ʊʊː
Close-Mid ɵ
Open-mid ɔɔː
Open a

Khalkha also has four diphthongs: historically /ui,ʊi,ɔi,ai/ but are pronounced more like [ʉe̯,ʊe̯,ɞe̯,æe̯]; [60] e.g. ой in нохой (nohoi) [nɔ̙ˈχɞe̯] 'dog', ай in далай (dalai) [taˈɮæe̯] sea', уй in уйлах (uilah) [ˈʊe̯ɮɐχ] 'to cry', үй in үйлдвэр (üildver) [ˈʉe̯ɮtw̜ɘr] 'factory', эй in хэрэгтэй (heregtei) [çiɾɪxˈtʰe] 'necessary'. There are three additional rising diphthongs /ia/ (иа), /ʊa/ (уа) /ei/ (эй); e.g. иа in амиараа (amiaraa) [aˈmʲæɾa] 'individually', уа in хуаран (huaran) [ˈχʷaɾɐɴ] 'barracks'. [61]


This table below lists vowel allophones (note that short vowels allophones in non-initial positions are used interchangeably with schwa): [62]

ShortInitial positions[a][e][i][ɔ][o][ʊ][u]
Non-initial positions[ă][ĕ][ĭ][ɔ̆][ŏ][ʊ̆][ŭ]
LongInitial positions[aː][eː][iː][ɔː][oː][ʊː][uː]
Non-initial positions[a][e][i][ɔ][o][ʊ][u]

ATR harmony

Mongolian divides vowels into three groups in a system of vowel harmony:

+ATR ("front")−ATR ("back")Neutral
Cyrillicэ, ү, өа, у, ои, ы and й

For historical reasons, these have been traditionally labeled as "front" vowels and "back" vowels, as /o/ and /u/ developed from /ø/ and /y/, while /ɔ/ and /ʊ/ developed from /o/ and /u/ in Middle Mongolian. Indeed, in Mongolian romanizations, the vowels /o/ and /u/ are often conventionally rendered as ö and ü, while the vowels /ɔ/ and /ʊ/ are expressed as o and u. However, for modern Mongolian phonology, it is more appropriate to instead characterize the two vowel-harmony groups by the dimension of tongue root position. There is also one neutral vowel, /i/, not belonging to either group.

All the vowels in a noncompound word, including all its suffixes, must belong to the same group. If the first vowel is −ATR, then every vowel of the word must be either /i/ or a −ATR vowel. Likewise, if the first vowel is a +ATR vowel, then every vowel of the word must be either /i/ or a +ATR vowel. In the case of suffixes, which must change their vowels to conform to different words, two patterns predominate. Some suffixes contain an archiphoneme /A/ that can be realized as /a,ɔ,e,o/; e.g.

  • /orx/ 'household' + -Ar (instrumental) → /orxor/ 'by a household'
  • /xarʊɮ/ 'sentry' + -Ar (instrumental) → /xarʊɮar/ 'by a sentry'

Other suffixes can occur in /U/ being realized as /ʊ,u/, in which case all −ATR vowels lead to /ʊ/ and all +ATR vowels lead to /u/; e.g.

  • /aw/ 'to take"l' + -Uɮ (causative) → /awʊɮ/

If the only vowel in the word stem is /i/, the suffixes will use the +ATR suffix forms. [63]

Rounding harmony

Mongolian also has rounding harmony, which does not apply to close vowels. If a stem contains /o/ (or /ɔ/), a suffix that is specified for an open vowel will have [o] (or [ɔ], respectively) as well. However, this process is blocked by the presence of /u/ (or /ʊ/) and /ei/; e.g. /ɔr-ɮɔ/ 'came in', but /ɔr-ʊɮ-ɮa/ 'inserted'. [64]

Vowel length

The pronunciation of long and short vowels depends on the syllable's position in the word. In word-initial syllables, there is a phonemic contrast in vowel length. A long vowel has about 208% the length of a short vowel. In word-medial and word-final syllables, formerly long vowels are now only 127% as long as short vowels in initial syllables, but they are still distinct from initial-syllable short vowels. Short vowels in noninitial syllables differ from short vowels in initial syllables by being only 71% as long and by being centralized in articulation. As they are nonphonemic, their position is determined according to phonotactic requirements. [65]


The following table lists the consonants of Khalkha Mongolian. The consonants enclosed in parentheses occur only in loanwords. [66] The occurrence of palatalized consonant phonemes, except /tʃ//tʃʰ//ʃ//j/, is restricted to words with [−ATR] vowels. [67]

Labial Dental Velar Uvular
plain pal. plain pal. plain pal.
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive unaspirated p t ɡ ɡʲ ɢ
aspirated ()(pʲʰ)tʲʰ()(kʲʰ)
Affricate unaspirated ts
aspirated tsʰtʃʰ
Fricative central ( f ) s ʃ x
lateral ɮ ɮʲ
Trill r
Approximant w̜ʲ j

A rare feature among the world's languages, Mongolian has neither a voiced lateral approximant, such as [l], nor the voiceless velar plosive [k]; instead, it has a voiced alveolar lateral fricative, /ɮ/, which is often realized as voiceless [ɬ]. [68] In word-final position, /n/ (if not followed by a vowel in historical forms) is realized as [ŋ]. Aspirated consonants are preaspirated in medial and word-final contexts, devoicing preceding consonants and vowels. Devoiced short vowels are often deleted. [69]

Syllable structure and phonotactics

The maximal syllable is CVVCCC, where the last C is a word-final suffix. A single short vowel rarely appears in syllable-final position. If a word was monosyllabic historically, *CV has become CVV. In native words, the following consonants do not occur word-initially: /w̜/, /ɮ/, /r/, /w̜ʲ/, /ɮʲ/, /rʲ/, /tʰʲ/, and /tʲ/. [ŋ] is restricted to codas (else it becomes [n]), and /p/ and /pʲ/ do not occur in codas for historical reasons. For two-consonant clusters, the following restrictions obtain:

Clusters that do not conform to these restrictions will be broken up by an epenthetic nonphonemic vowel in a syllabification that takes place from right to left. For instance, hoyor 'two', azhil 'work', and saarmag 'neutral' are, phonemically, /xɔjr/, /atʃɮ/, and /saːrmɡ/ respectively. In such cases, an epenthetic vowel is inserted to prevent disallowed consonant clusters. Thus, in the examples given above, the words are phonetically [ˈxɔjɔ̆r], [ˈatʃĭɮ], and [ˈsaːrmăɢ]. The phonetic form of the epenthetic vowel follows from vowel harmony triggered by the vowel in the preceding syllable. Usually it is a centralized version of the same sound, with the following exceptions: preceding /u/ produces [e]; /i/ will be ignored if there is a nonneutral vowel earlier in the word; and a postalveolar or palatalized consonant will be followed by an epenthetic [i], as in [ˈatʃĭɮ]. [70]


Stress in Mongolian is nonphonemic (does not distinguish different meanings) and thus is considered to depend entirely on syllable structure. But scholarly opinions on stress placement diverge sharply. [71] Most native linguists, regardless of which dialect they speak, claim that stress falls on the first syllable. Between 1941 and 1975, several Western scholars proposed that the leftmost heavy syllable gets the stress. Yet other positions were taken in works published between 1835 and 1915.

Walker (1997) [72] proposes that stress falls on the rightmost heavy syllable unless this syllable is word-final:

HˈHLLбайгуулагдах[pæ.ˈɢʊ.ɮəɢ.təx]'to be organized'
LHˈHLхөндийрүүлэн[xɵn.ti.ˈɾu.ɮəŋ]'separating' (adverbial)
LHHˈHLУлаанбаатрынхан[ʊ.ɮan.paːtʰ.ˈrin.xəŋ]'the residents of Ulaanbaatar'

A "heavy syllable" is defined as one that is at least the length of a full vowel; short word-initial syllables are thereby excluded. If a word is bisyllabic and the only heavy syllable is word-final, it gets stressed anyway. In cases where there is only one phonemic short word-initial syllable, even this syllable can get the stress: [73]

ˈLLуншсан[ˈʊnʃ.səɴ]'having read'

More recently, the most extensive collection of phonetic data so far in Mongolian studies has been applied to a partial account of stress placement in the closely related Chakhar dialect. [74] [75] The conclusion is drawn that di- and trisyllabic words with a short first syllable are stressed on the second syllable. But if their first syllable is long, then the data for different acoustic parameters seems to support conflicting conclusions: intensity data often seems to indicate that the first syllable is stressed, while F0 seems to indicate that it is the second syllable that is stressed. [76]


The grammar in this article is also based primarily on Khalkha Mongolian. Unlike the phonology, most of what is said about morphology and syntax also holds true for Chakhar, [77] while Khorchin is somewhat more diverse. [78]


Modern Mongolian is an agglutinative—almost exclusively suffixing—language, with the only exception being reduplication. [79] Mongolian also does not have gendered nouns, or definite articles like "the". [80] Most of the suffixes consist of a single morpheme. There are many derivational morphemes. [81] For example, the word baiguullagiinh consists of the root bai 'to be', an epentheticg‑, the causativeuul‑ (hence 'to found'), the derivative suffix ‑laga that forms nouns created by the action (like -ation in organisation) and the complex suffix ‑iinh denoting something that belongs to the modified word (‑iin would be genitive).

Nominal compounds are quite frequent. Some derivational verbal suffixes are rather productive, e.g. yarih 'to speak', yarilc 'to speak with each other'. Formally, the independent words derived using verbal suffixes can roughly be divided into three classes: final verbs, which can only be used sentence-finally, i.e. ‑na (mainly future or generic statements) or ‑ö (second person imperative); [82] participles (often called "verbal nouns"), which can be used clause-finally or attributively, i.e. ‑san (perfect-past) [83] or ‑maar 'want to'; and converbs, which can link clauses or function adverbially, i.e. ‑zh (qualifies for any adverbial function or neutrally connects two sentences) or ‑tal (the action of the main clause takes place until the action expressed by the suffixed verb begins). [84]


Roughly speaking, Mongolian has between seven and nine cases: nominative (unmarked), genitive, dative-locative, accusative, ablative, instrumental, comitative, privative and directive, though the final two are not always considered part of the case paradigm. [85] [33] If a direct object is definite, it must take the accusative, while it must take the nominative if it is indefinite. [86] [87] In addition to case, a number of postpositions exist that usually govern the genitive, dative-locative, comitative and privative cases, including a marked form of the nominative (which can itself then take further case forms). There is also a possible attributive case (when a noun is used attributively), which is unmarked in most nouns but takes the suffix ‑н (‑n) when the stem has an unstable nasal. [88] Nouns can also take a reflexive-possessive suffix, indicating that the marked noun is possessed by the subject of the sentence: bi najz-aa avar-san I friend-reflexive-possessive save-perfect "I saved my friend". [89] However, there are also somewhat noun-like adjectives to which case suffixes seemingly cannot be attached directly unless there is ellipsis. [90]

Mongolian noun cases [91]
CaseSuffixEnglish prepositionExample (Cyrillic)TransliterationTranslation
nominative номnombook
  • г (‑g)
  • ыг (‑iig), ‑ийг (‑iig)
номыгnomiigthe book (as object)
  • н (‑n)
  • ы (‑ii), ‑ий (‑ii)
  • ын (‑iin), ‑ийн (‑iin)
  • гийн (‑giin)
  • ны (‑nii), ‑ний (‑nii)
  • ины (‑inii), ‑иний (‑inii)
ofномынnomiinof (a) book; book's
  • д (‑d)
  • т (‑t)
  • ад (‑ad), ‑од (‑od), ‑өд (‑öd), ‑эд (‑ed)
  • ид (‑id)
  • нд (‑nd)
  • анд (‑and), ‑онд (‑ond), ‑өнд (‑önd), ‑энд (‑end)
  • инд (‑ind)
on, to, at, inномдnomdin (a) book
  • аас (‑aas), ‑оос (‑oos), ‑өөс (‑öös), ‑ээс (‑ees)
  • иас (‑ias), ‑иос (‑ios), ‑иөс (‑iös), ‑иэс (‑ies)
  • наас (‑naas), ‑ноос (‑noos), ‑нөөс (‑nöös), ‑нээс (‑nees)
fromномоосnomoosfrom (a) book
  • аар (‑aar), ‑оор (‑oor), ‑өөр (‑öör), ‑ээр (‑eer)
  • иар (‑iar), ‑иор (‑ior), ‑иөр (‑iör), ‑иэр (‑ier)
with, usingномоорnomoorwith (e.g. by means of a) book
  • тай (‑tay), ‑той (‑toy), ‑тэй (‑tey)
together withномтойnomtoiwith (e.g. alongside a) book
  • гүй (‑güy)
withoutномгүйnomgüywithout (a) book
  • руу (ruu), рүү (rüü)
  • луу (luu), лүү (lüü)
towardsном рууnom ruutowards (a) book

Note: the rules governing the morphology of Mongolian case endings are intricate, and so the rules given below are only indicative. In many situations, further (more general) rules must also be taken into account in order to produce the correct form: these include the presence of an unstable nasal or unstable velar, as well as the rules governing when a penultimate vowel should be deleted from the stem with certain case endings (e.g. цэрэг (tsereg) → цэргийн (tsergiin)). The additional morphological rules specific to loanwords are not covered.

Nominative case

The nominative case is used when a noun (or other part of speech acting as one) is the subject of the sentence, and the agent of whatever action (not just physically) takes place in the sentence. In Mongolian, the nominative case does not have an ending.

Accusative case

The accusative case is used when a noun acts as a direct object (or just "object"), and receives action from a transitive verb. It is formed by:

  1. г (‑g) after stems ending in long vowels or diphthongs, or when a stem ending in н (n) has an unstable velar (unstable g).
  2. ыг (‑iig) after back vowel stems ending in unpalatalized consonants (except г and к), short vowels (except и) or iotated vowels.
  3. ийг (‑iig) after front vowel stems ending in consonants, short vowels or iotated vowels; and after all stems ending in the palatalized consonants ж (j), ч (ch) and ш (sh), as well as г (g), к (k), и (i) or ь (i).
Note: If the stem ends in a short vowel or ь (i), it is replaced by the suffix.

Genitive case

The genitive case is used to show possession of something. [92]

  • For regular stems, it is formed by:
    1. н (‑n) after stems ending in the diphthongs ай (ai), ой (oi), эй (ei), яй (yai), ёй (yoi) or ей (yei), or the long vowel ий (ii).
    2. ы (‑ii) after back vowel stems ending in н (n).
    3. ий (‑ii) after front vowel stems ending in н (n).
    4. ын (‑iin) after back vowel stems ending in unpalatalized consonants (except н, г and к), short vowels (except и) or iotated vowels.
    5. ийн (‑iin) after front vowel stems ending in consonants (other than н), short vowels or iotated vowels; and after all stems ending in the palatalized consonants ж (j), ч (ch) and ш (sh), as well as г (g), к (k), и (i) or ь (i).
    6. гийн (‑giin) after stems ending in a long vowel (other than ий), or after the diphthongs иа (ia), ио (io) or иу (iu).
    Note: If the stem ends in a short vowel or ь (i), it is replaced by the suffix.
  • For stems with an unstable nasal (unstable n), it is formed by:
    1. ны (‑nii) after back vowel stems (other than those ending in и or ь).
    2. ний (‑nii) after front vowel stems (other than those ending in и or ь).
    3. ины (‑inii) after back vowel stems ending in и (i) or ь (i).
    4. иний (‑inii) after front vowel stems ending in и (i) or ь (i).
    Note: If the stem ends in и (i) or ь (i), it is replaced by the suffix.
  • For stems with an unstable velar (unstable g), it is formed by ‑гийн (‑giin).

Dative-locative case

The dative-locative case is used to show the location of something, or to specify that something is in something else. [93]

  • For regular stems or those with an unstable velar (unstable g), it is formed by:
    1. д (‑d) after stems ending in vowels or the vocalized consonants л (l), м (m) and н (n), and a small number of stems ending in в (v) and р (r).
    2. т (‑t) after stems ending in г (g) and к (k), most stems ending in в (v) and р (r), and stems ending in с (s) when it is preceded by a vowel.
    3. ид (‑id) after stems ending in the palatalized consonants ж (j), ч (ch) and ш (sh).
    4. ад (‑ad), ‑од (‑od), ‑өд (‑öd) or ‑эд (‑ed) after all other stems (depending on the vowel harmony of the stem).
  • For stems with an unstable nasal (unstable n), it is formed by:
    1. нд (‑nd) after stems ending in vowels.
    2. инд (‑ind) after stems ending in the palatalized consonants ж (j), ч (ch) and ш (sh).
    3. анд (‑and), ‑онд (‑ond), ‑өнд (‑önd) or ‑энд (‑end) after all other stems (depending on the vowel harmony of the stem).


Source: [94]

Plurality may be left unmarked, but there are overt plurality markers, some of which are restricted to humans. A noun that is modified by a numeral usually does not take any plural affix. [95] There are four ways of forming plurals in Mongolian:

  1. Some plurals are formed by adding -нууд-nuud or -нүүд-nüüd. If the last vowel of the previous word is a (a), o (y), or ɔ (o), then -нууд is used; e.g. харxharh 'rat' becomes xapхнуудharhnuud 'rats'. If the last vowel of the previous word is e (э), ʊ (ө), ü (ү), or i (и) then нүүд is used; e.g. нүдnüd 'eye' becomes нүднүүдnüdnüüd 'eyes'.
  2. In other plurals, just -ууд-uud or -үүд-üüd is added without the "n"; e.g. хотhot 'city' becomes хотуудhotuud 'cities', and ээжeezh 'mother' becomes ээжүүдeezhüüd 'mothers'.
  3. Another way of forming plurals is by adding -нар-nar; e.g. багшbagsh 'teacher' becomes багш нарbagsh nar 'teachers'.
  4. The final way is an irregular form used: хүнhün 'person' becomes хүмүүсhümüüs 'people'.


Personal pronouns exist for the first and second person, while the old demonstrative pronouns have come to form third person (proximal and distal) pronouns. Other word (sub-)classes include interrogative pronouns, conjunctions (which take participles), spatials, and particles, the last being rather numerous. [96]

Personal Pronouns [97]
Oblique stem
(all other cases)
1st personsingular











































2nd personsingularfamiliar



































Та Нар

ta nar







Танай/ Та Нарын

Tanai/ Ta Nariin





3rd personsingular


















Тэд Нар

ted nar









Тэд Нарын

ted nariin


Negation is mostly expressed by -güi (-гүй) after participles and by the negation particle bish (биш) after nouns and adjectives; negation particles preceding the verb (for example in converbal constructions) exist, but tend to be replaced by analytical constructions. [98]


Pronunciation and writing of numbers in text
NText in MongolianNText in MongolianNText in Mongolian
0тэгteg10аравarav20хорь, hori
1нэгneg11арван нэгarvan neg30гучguch
2хоёрhoyor12арван хоёрarvan hoyor40дөчdöch
3гуравgurav13арван гуравarvan gurav50тавьtavi
4дөрөвdöröv14арван дөрөвarvan döröv60жарzhar
5тавtav15арван тавarvan tav70далdal
6зургааzurgaa16арван зургааarvan zurgaa80наяnaya
7долооdoloo17арван долооarvan doloo90ерyer
8наймnaim18арван наймarvan naim100нэг зууneg zuu
9есyös19арван есarvan yös200хоёр зууhoyor zuu

Forming questions

When asking questions in Mongolian, a question marker is used to show a question is being asked. There are different question markers for yes/no questions and for information questions. For yes/no questions, уу and үү are used when the last word ends in a short vowel or a consonant, and their use depends on the vowel harmony of the previous word. When the last word ends in a long vowel or a diphthong, then юу and юү are used (again depending on vowel harmony). For information questions (questions asking for information with an interrogative word like who, what, when, where, why, etc.), the question particles are вэ and бэ, depending on the last sound in the previous word.

  1. Yes/No Question Particles -уу/үү/юу/юү (uu/üü/yuu/yuü)
  2. Open Ended Question Particles -бэ/вэ (be/ve)

Basic interrogative pronouns -юу (yuu 'what'), -хаана (haana 'where'), хэн (hen 'who'), яагаад (yaagaad 'why'), яаж (yaazh 'how'), хэзээ (hezee 'when'), ямар (yamar 'what kind')


In Mongolian, verbs have a stem and an ending. For example, the stems бай-bai-, сур-sur-, and үзэ-üze- are suffixed with -h, -ах-ah, and -h respectively: байxbaih, сурaxsurah, and үзэxüzeh. These are the infinitive or dictionary forms. [99] The present/future tense is formed by adding -на-na, -но-no, -нэ-ne, or -нө-nö to the stem, for example сурнаsurna 'I/you/he/she/we/they (will) study'. байнаbaina is the present/future tense verb for 'to be'; likewise, уншинаunshina is 'to read', and үзнэüzne is 'to see'. The final vowel is barely pronounced and is not pronounced at all if the word after begins with a vowel, so сайн байна ууsain bain uu is pronounced [sæe̯m‿pæe̯n‿ʊː] 'hello, how are you?'. [99]

  1. Past Tense -сан/-сон/-сэн/-сөн (-san/-son/-sen/-sön)
  2. Informed Past Tense (any point in past) (-v)
  3. Informed Past Tense (not long ago) -лаа/-лоо/-лээ/-лөө (-laa/-loo/-lee/-löö)
  4. Non-Informed Past Tense (generally a slightly to relatively more distant past) -жээ/-чээ (-zhee/-chee)
  5. Present Perfect Tense -даг/-дог/-дэг/-дөг (-dag/-dog/-deg/-dög)
  6. Present Progressive Tense -ж/-ч байна (-zh/-ch baina)
  7. (Reflective) Present Progressive Tense -аа/-оо/-ээ/-өө (-aa/-oo/-ee/-öö)
  8. Simple Present Tense -на/-но/-нэ/-нө (-na/-no/-ne/-nö)
  9. Simple Future -х (болно) (-h (bolno))
  10. Infinitive (-h)


There are several ways to form negatives in Mongolian. [93] For example:

  1. биш (bish) – the negative form of the verb 'to be' (байхbaih) – биш means 'is/are not'.
  2. -гүй (güi). This suffix is added to verbs, so явах (yawah 'go/will go') becomes явахгүй (yawahgüi 'do not go/will not go').
  3. үгүй (ügüi) is the word for 'no'.
  4. битгий (bitgii) is used for negative imperatives; e.g. битгий яваарай (bitgii yawaarai 'don't go')
  5. бүү (büü) is the formal version of битгий.


Differential case marking

Mongolian uses differential case marking, being a regular differential object marking (DOM) language. DOM emerges from a complicated interaction of factors such as referentiality, animacy and topicality.

Mongolian also exhibits a specific type of differential subject marking (DSM), in which the subjects of embedded clauses (including adverbial clauses) occur with accusative case. [100]

Phrase structure

The noun phrase has the order: demonstrative pronoun/numeral, adjective, noun. [101] [87] Attributive sentences precede the whole NP. Titles or occupations of people, low numerals indicating groups, and focus clitics are put behind the head noun. [102] Possessive pronouns (in different forms) may either precede or follow the NP. [103] Examples:












bid-nii uulz-san ter saihan zaluu-gaas ch

we-GEN meet-PRF that beautiful FOC

'even from that beautiful young man that we have met'







Dorzh bagsh maan

Dorj teacher our

'our teacher Dorj'

The verbal phrase consists of the predicate in the center, preceded by its complements and by the adverbials modifying it and followed (mainly if the predicate is sentence-final) by modal particles, [104] as in the following example with predicate bichsen:











ter hel-eh-güi-geer üün-iig bich-sen shüü

s/he without:saying it-ACC write-PRF PTC

's/he wrote it without saying [so] [i.e. without saying that s/he would do so, or that s/he had done so], I can assure you.'

In this clause the adverbial, helehgüigeer 'without saying [so]' must precede the predicate's complement, üüniig 'it-accusative' in order to avoid syntactic ambiguity, since helehgüigeer is itself derived from a verb and hence an üüniig preceding it could be construed as its complement. If the adverbial was an adjective such as hurdan 'fast', it could optionally immediately precede the predicate. There are also cases in which the adverb must immediately precede the predicate. [105]

For Khalkha, the most complete treatment of the verbal forms is by Luvsanvandan (ed.) (1987). However, the analysis of predication presented here, while valid for Khalkha, is adapted from the description of Khorchin. [106]

Most often, of course, the predicate consists of a verb. However, there are several types of nominal predicative constructions, with or without a copula. [107] Auxiliaries that express direction and aktionsart (among other meanings) can with the assistance of a linking converb occupy the immediate postverbal position; e.g.





uuzh orhison

drink-CVB leave-PERF

'drank up'

The next position is filled by converb suffixes in connection with the auxiliary, baj- 'to be', e.g.







ter güizh baina

s/he run-CVB be-NPAST

'she is running'

Suffixes occupying this position express grammatical aspect; e.g. progressive and resultative. In the next position, participles followed by baj- may follow, e.g.,







ter irsen baina

s/he come-PERF be-NPAST

'he has come'

Here, an explicit perfect and habituality can be marked, which is aspectual in meaning as well. This position may be occupied by multiple suffixes in a single predication, and it can still be followed by a converbal Progressive. The last position is occupied by suffixes that express tense, evidentiality, modality, and aspect.


Unmarked phrase order is subjectobject–predicate. [108] [87] While the predicate generally has to remain in clause-final position, the other phrases are free to change order or to wholly disappear. [109] The topic tends to be placed clause-initially, new information rather at the end of the clause. [110] Topic can be overtly marked with bol, which can also mark contrastive focus, [111] overt additive focus ('even, also') can be marked with the clitic ch, [112] and overt restrictive focus with the clitic l ('only'). [113]

The inventory of voices in Mongolian consists of passive, causative, reciprocal, plurative, and cooperative. In a passive sentence, the verb takes the suffix -gd- and the agent takes either dative or instrumental case, the first of which is more common. In the causative, the verb takes the suffix -uul-, the causee (the person caused to do something) in a transitive action (e.g. 'raise') takes dative or instrumental case, and the causee in an intransitive action (e.g. 'rise') takes accusative case. Causative morphology is also used in some passive contexts:






Bi tüün-d huurt-san


'I was fooled by her/him'.

The semantic attribute of animacy is syntactically important: thus the sentence, 'the bread was eaten by me', which is acceptable in English, would not be acceptable in Mongolian. The reciprocal voice is marked by -ld-, the plurative by -cgaa-, and the cooperative by -lc-. [114]

Mongolian allows for adjectival depictives that relate to either the subject or the direct object, e.g. Liena nücgen untdag 'Lena sleeps naked', while adjectival resultatives are marginal. [115]

Complex sentences

One way to conjoin clauses is to have the first clause end in a converb, as in the following example using the converb -bol:











bid üün-iig ol-bol cham-d ög-nö

we it-ACC find-COND.CVB you.FAM-DAT give-FUT

'if we find it we'll give it to you'

Some verbal nouns in the dative (or less often in the instrumental) function very similar to converbs: [116] e.g. replacing olbol in the preceding sentence with olohod find-imperfective-dative yields 'when we find it we'll give it to you'. Quite often, postpositions govern complete clauses. In contrast, conjunctions take verbal nouns without case: [117]







yadar-san uchraas unt-laa

become.tired-PRF because sleep-WIT.PAST

'I slept because I was tired'

Finally, there is a class of particles, usually clause-initial, that are distinct from conjunctions but that also relate clauses:











bi olson, harin chamd ögöhgüi

I find-PRF but you-DAT give-IPFV-NEG

'I've found it, but I won't give it to you'.

Mongolian has a complementizer auxiliary verb ge- very similar to Japanese to iu. ge- literally means 'to say' and in converbal form gezh precedes either a psych verb or a verb of saying. As a verbal noun like gedeg (with ni) it can form a subset of complement clauses. As gene it may function as an evidentialis marker. [118]

Mongolian clauses tend to be combined paratactically, which sometimes gives rise to sentence structures which are subordinative despite resembling coordinative structures in European languages: [119]








ter ir-eed namaig üns-sen come-CVB I.ACC kiss-PRF

'S/he came and kissed me.'

In the subordinate clause the subject, if different from the subject of main clause, sometimes has to take accusative or genitive case. [120] There is marginal occurrence of subjects taking ablative case as well. [121] Subjects of attributive clauses in which the head has a function (as is the case for all English relative clauses) usually require that if the subject is not the head, then it take the genitive, [122] e.g. tüünii idsen hool eat-perfect meal 'the meal that s/he had eaten'.

Loanwords and coined words

Mongolian first adopted loanwords from many languages including Old Turkic, Sanskrit (these often via Uyghur), Persian, Arabic, Tibetan, [123] Tungusic, and Chinese. [124] However, more recent loanwords come from Russian, English, [125] and Mandarin Chinese (mainly in Inner Mongolia). [126] Language commissions of the Mongolian state continuously translate new terminology into Mongolian, [127] so as the Mongolian vocabulary now has yerönhiilögch 'president' ('generalizer') and shar airah 'beer' ('yellow kumys'). There are several loan translations, e.g. galt tereg 'train' ('fire cart') from Chinese huǒchē (火车 'fire cart') 'train'. [128] Other loan translations include mön chanar 'essence' from Chinese shízhì (实质 'true quality'), hün am 'population' from Chinese rénkǒu (人口 'person mouth'), erdene shish 'corn, maize' from Chinese yùmǐ (玉米 'jade rice') and bügd nairamdah uls 'republic' from Chinese gònghéguó (共和国 'public collaboration nation').

In the 20th century, many Russian loanwords entered the Mongolian language, including doktor 'doctor', shokolad 'chocolate', wagon 'train wagon', kalendar 'calendar', sistem 'system', podwoolk (from futbolka 'T-shirt'), and mashin 'car'.

In more recent times, due to socio-political reforms, Mongolian has loaned various words from English; some of which have gradually evolved as official terms: menezhment 'management', komputer 'computer', fail 'file', marketing 'marketing', kredit 'credit', onlain 'online', and mesezh 'message'. Most of these are confined to the Mongolian state.[ citation needed ]

Other languages have borrowed words from Mongolian. Examples (Mongolian in brackets) include Persian کشيكچى kešikci (from heshig 'royal guard'), قرقاولqarqâvol (from girgawl 'pheasant'), جیبهjibe (from zhebseg 'iron armour'), داروغهdâruqe (from darga 'chief of commandant'), قیچیqeyci (from kayichi 'scissors'); Uzbek orol (from aral 'island'); Chinese 衚衕 hutong (from gudum 'passageway'), 站赤 zhanchi (from zhamchi 'courier/post station'); Middle Chineseduk (from tugul 'calf'); Korean 수라sura (from shüle 'royal meal'), 악대akdae (from agta 'castrated animal'), 업진eobjin (from ebchigün 'chest of an animal'); Old English cocer (from köküür 'container'); Old French quivre (from köküür 'container'); Old High German Baldrian (from balchirgan-a 'valerian plant'). Köküür and balchirgan-a are thought to have been brought to Europe by the Huns or Pannonian Avars.

Despite having a diverse range of loanwords, Mongolian dialects such as Khalkha and Khorchin, within a comparative vocabulary of 452 words of Common Mongolic vocabulary, retain as many as 95% of these native words, contrasting e.g. with Southern Mongolic languages at 39–77% retentions. [129]

Writing systems

Nova N 176 found in Kyrgyzstan. The manuscript (dating to the 12th century Western Liao) is written in the Mongolic Khitan language using cursive Khitan large script. It has 127 leaves and 15,000 characters. Nova N 176 folio 9.jpg
Nova N 176 found in Kyrgyzstan. The manuscript (dating to the 12th century Western Liao) is written in the Mongolic Khitan language using cursive Khitan large script. It has 127 leaves and 15,000 characters.
Mongolian script and Mongolian Cyrillic on Sukhbaatar's statue in Ulaanbaatar Ulan Bator 14.JPG
Mongolian script and Mongolian Cyrillic on Sukhbaatar's statue in Ulaanbaatar

Mongolian has been written in a variety of alphabets, making it a language with one of the largest number of scripts used historically. The earliest stages of Mongolian (Xianbei, Wuhuan languages) may have used an indigenous runic script as indicated by Chinese sources. The Khitan large script adopted in 920 CE is an early Mongol (or according to some, para-Mongolic) script.

The traditional Mongolian script was first adopted by Temüjin in 1204, who recognized the need to represent his own people's language. It developed from the Uyghur script when several members of the Uyghur elite who were brought into the Mongol confederation early on shared their knowledge of their written language with the Mongol imperial clan. Among the Uyghurs sharing that knowledge were Tata-tonga (Chinese :塔塔統阿), Bilge Buqa (比俚伽普華), Kara Igach Buyruk (哈剌亦哈赤北魯), and Mengsus (孟速思). [130] From that time, the script underwent some minor disambiguations and supplementation.

Between 1930 and 1932, a short-lived attempt was made to introduce the Latin script in the Mongolian state. In 1941, the Latin alphabet was adopted, though it lasted only two months. [131]

The Mongolian Cyrillic script was the result of the spreading of Russian influence following the expansion of Russian Empire. The establishment of Soviet Union helped the influence continue, and the Cyrillic alphabet was slowly introduced with the effort by Russian/Soviet linguists in collaboration with their Mongolian counterparts. It was made mandatory by government decree in 1941. It has been argued that the introduction of the Cyrillic script, with its smaller discrepancy between written and spoken form, contributed to the success of the large-scale government literacy campaign, which increased the literacy rate from 17.3% to 73.5% between 1941 and 1950. [132] Earlier government campaigns to eradicate illiteracy, employing the traditional script, had only managed to raise literacy from 3.0% to 17.3% between 1921 and 1940. [132] From 1991 to 1994, an attempt at reintroducing the traditional alphabet failed in the face of popular resistance. [133] In informal contexts of electronic text production, the use of the Latin alphabet is common. [134]

In the People's Republic of China, Mongolian is the official language along with Mandarin Chinese in some regions, notably the entire Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The traditional alphabet has always been used there, although Cyrillic was considered briefly before the Sino-Soviet split. [135] There are two types of written Mongolian used in China: the traditional Mongolian script, which is official among Mongols nationwide, and the Clear Script, used predominantly among Oirats in Xinjiang. [136]

In March 2020, the Mongolian government announced plans to use both Cyrillic and the traditional Mongolian script in official documents by 2025. [137] [138] [139]

Example text

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Mongolian, written in the Cyrillic alphabet: [140]

Хүн бүр төрж мэндлэхэд эрх чөлөөтэй, адилхан нэр төртэй, ижил эрхтэй байдаг. Оюун ухаан, нандин чанар заяасан хүн гэгч өөр хоорондоо ахан дүүгийн үзэл санаагаар харьцах учиртай.

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Mongolian, written in the Mongolian Latin alphabet:

Hün bür törzh mendlehed erh chölöötei, adilhan ner törtei, izhil erhtei baidag. Oyuun uhaan nandin chanar zayaasan hün gegch öör hoorondoo ahan düügiin üzel sanaagaar haricah uchirtai.

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Mongolian, written in the Mongolian script: [141]

ᠬᠦᠮᠦᠨ ᠪᠦᠷ ᠲᠥᠷᠥᠵᠦ ᠮᠡᠨᠳᠡᠯᠡᠬᠦ ᠡᠷᠬᠡ ᠴᠢᠯᠥᠭᠡ ᠲᠡᠢ᠂ᠠᠳᠠᠯᠢᠬᠠᠨ ᠨᠡᠷ᠎ᠡ ᠲᠥᠷᠥ ᠲᠡᠢ᠂ ᠢᠵᠢᠯ ᠡᠷᠬᠡ ᠲᠡᠢ ᠪᠠᠢᠠᠭ᠃ᠣᠶᠤᠨ ᠤᠬᠠᠭᠠᠨ᠂ ᠨᠠᠨᠳᠢᠨ ᠴᠢᠨᠠᠷ ᠵᠠᠶᠠᠭᠠᠰᠠᠨ ᠬᠦᠮᠦᠨ ᠬᠡᠭᠴᠢ ᠥᠭᠡᠷ᠎ᠡᠬᠣᠭᠣᠷᠣᠨᠳᠣ᠎ᠨ ᠠᠬᠠᠨ ᠳᠡᠭᠦᠦ ᠢᠨ ᠦᠵᠢᠯ ᠰᠠᠨᠠᠭᠠ ᠥᠠᠷ ᠬᠠᠷᠢᠴᠠᠬᠥ ᠤᠴᠢᠷ ᠲᠠᠢ᠃

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in English: [142]

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

See also


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mongolic languages</span> Language family of Eurasia

The Mongolic languages are a language family spoken by the Mongolic peoples in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North Asia and East Asia, mostly in Mongolia and surrounding areas and in Kalmykia and Buryatia. The best-known member of this language family, Mongolian, is the primary language of most of the residents of Mongolia and the Mongol residents of Inner Mongolia, with an estimated 5.7+ million speakers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tuvan language</span> Siberian Turkic language

Tuvan or Tyvan 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Buryat language</span> Mongolic language of Buryatia (Russia) and neighbouring areas

Buryat or Buriat, known in foreign sources as the Bargu-Buryat dialect of Mongolian, 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oirat language</span> Central Mongolic language

Oirat is a Mongolic language spoken by the descendants of Oirat Mongols, now forming parts of Mongols in China, Kalmyks in Russia and Mongolians. Largely mutually intelligible to other core Central Mongolic languages, scholars differ as to whether they regard Oirat as a distinct language or a major dialect of the Mongolian language. Oirat-speaking areas are scattered across the far west of Mongolia, the northwest of China and Russia's Caspian coast, where its major variety is Kalmyk. In China, it is spoken mainly in Xinjiang, but also among the Deed Mongol of Qinghai and Subei County in Gansu.

The Khalkha dialect is a dialect of central Mongolic widely spoken in Mongolia. According to some classifications, the Khalkha dialect includes Southern Mongolian varieties such as Shiliin gol, Ulaanchab and Sönid. As it was the basis for the Cyrillic orthography of Mongolian, it is de facto the national language of Mongolia. The name of the dialect is related to the name of the Khalkha Mongols and the Khalkha river.

Darkhad is a dialect in-between Central Mongolian and Oirat still variously seen as closer to Oirat or as a dialect of Khalkha Mongolian with some Oirat features. However, it seems to have substantially assimilated to the Khalkha dialect since it first was described by Sanžeev, and some classificational differences seem to be due to what historical state got classified. Ethnologue reports a population of 24,000 without providing a date. Speakers live mainly in the west of Lake Khövsgöl in the sums Bayanzürkh, Ulaan-Uul and Rinchinlkhümbe in the Khövsgöl Province of Mongolia.

The Dagur, Daghur, Dahur, or Daur language, is a Mongolic language, as well as a distinct branch of the Mongolic language family, and is primarily spoken by members of the Dagur ethnic group.

Middle Mongol or Middle Mongolian was a Mongolic koiné language spoken in the Mongol Empire. Originating from Genghis Khan's home region of Northeastern Mongolia, it diversified into several Mongolic languages after the collapse of the empire. In comparison to Modern Mongolian, it is known to have had no long vowels, different vowel harmony and verbal systems and a slightly different case system.

Torgut, also spelled Torghud, is a dialect of the Oirat language spoken in Xinjiang, in western Mongolia and in eastern Kalmykia. Thus, it has more speakers than any other variety of Oirat. It is better researched than any other Oirat variety spoken in China.

Ordos Mongolian is a variety of Central Mongolic spoken in the Ordos City region in Inner Mongolia and historically by Ordos Mongols. It is alternatively classified as a language within the Mongolic language family or as a dialect of the standard Mongolian language. Due to the research of Antoine Mostaert, the development of this dialect can be traced back 100 years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chakhar Mongolian</span> Mongolian variety of Inner Mongolia, China

Chakhar is a variety of Mongolian spoken in the central region of Inner Mongolia. It is phonologically close to Khalkha and is the basis for the standard pronunciation of Mongolian in Inner Mongolia.

The Khorchin dialect is a variety of Mongolian spoken in the east of Inner Mongolia, namely in Hinggan League, in the north, north-east and east of Hinggan and in all but the south of the Tongliao region. There were 2.08 million Khorchin Mongols in China in 2000, so the Khorchin dialect may well have more than one million speakers, making it the largest dialect of Inner Mongolia.

Alasha, or Alaša-Eǰen-e, is a Mongolic variety with features of both Oirat and Mongolian that historically used to belong to Oirat but has come under the influence of Mongolian proper. It has more than 40,000 speakers in Alxa League, Inner Mongolia, China and consists of two sub-dialects, Alasha proper and Eǰene.

In the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, the Mongolian language is the official provincial language. Mongols are the second largest ethnic group, comprising about 17 percent of the population. There are at least 4.1 million ethnic Mongols in Inner Mongolia, including subgroups like the Chahars, Ordos, Baarin, Khorchin, Kharchin, and Buryats. While there is a standardized dialect of the Mongolian language in Inner Mongolia, different Mongolian dialects continue to be spoken by different subgroups of the Mongols. Some proposed the Peripheral Mongolian dialect group to cover the Mongolian dialects in Inner Mongolia.

Baarin is a dialect of Mongolian spoken mainly in Inner Mongolia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet</span> Writing system of standard Mongolian in Mongolia

The Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet 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.

I is a letter of related and vertically oriented alphabets used to write Mongolic and Tungusic languages.

Na is a letter of related and vertically oriented alphabets used to write Mongolic and Tungusic languages.

Ga is a letter of related and vertically oriented alphabets used to write Mongolic and Tungusic languages.



  1. 1 2 Estimate from Svantesson et al. (2005): 141.
  2. "China". Ethnologue.
  3. "Törijn alban josny helnij tuhaj huul'". 2003-05-15. Archived from the original on 2009-08-22. Retrieved 2009-03-27. The decisions of the council have to be ratified by the government.
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  6. Gerard Clauson (1956). "The case against the Altaic theory Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine ". Central Asiatic Journal volume 2, pp. 181–187.
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  8. Svantesson et al. (2005): 111.
  9. Garudi (2002): 7, but see Rachewiltz (1976)
  10. Djahukyan (1991): 2368
  11. Rybatzki (2003b): 58.
  12. See Rachewiltz 1999 for a critical review of the terminology used in periodizations of Mongolic; Svantesson et al. (2005): 98–99 attempt a revision of this terminology for the early period.
  13. Rybatzki (2003b): 57.
  14. Janhunen (2003a): 32.
  15. Okada (1984)
  16. Nadmid (1967): 98–102.
  17. 1 2 3 Janhunen, Juha (November 29, 2012). "1". Mongolian. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 11.
  18. Tsung, Linda (October 27, 2014). "3". Language Power and Hierarchy: Multilingual Education in China. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 59.
  19. Tsung, Linda (October 27, 2014). "3". Language Power and Hierarchy: Multilingual Education in China. Bloomsbury Academic.
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  21. Janhunen, Juha (November 29, 2012). "1". Mongolian. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 16.
  22. Otsuka, Hitomi (30 Nov 2012). "6". More Morphologies: Contributions to the Festival of Languages, Bremen, 17 Sep to 7 Oct, 2009. p. 99.
  23. Iredale, Robyn (August 2, 2003). "3". China's Minorities on the Move: Selected Case Studies. Routledge. pp. 56, 64–67.
  24. Janhunen, Juha (November 29, 2012). "1". Mongolian. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 11.Iredale, Robyn; Bilik, Naran; Fei, Guo (August 2, 2003). "3". China's Minorities on the Move: Selected Case Studies. p. 61.
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  30. See especially Rinčjen (1979), Amaržargal (1988), Coloo (1988) and for a general bibliography on Mongolic phonology Svantesson et al. (2005): 218–229.
  31. See Ashimura (2002) for a rare piece of research into dialect morphosyntax that shows significant differences between Khalkha and Khorchin.
  32. Janhunen (2003): 189.
  33. 1 2 3 Janhunen, Juha A. (2012). Mongolian. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 3. ISBN   978-90-272-3820-7.
  34. For an exact delimitation of Khalkha, see Amaržargal (1988): 24–25.
  35. See Janhunen (ed.) (2003) and Sečenbaγatur et al. (2005) for two classificatory schemes.
  36. Sanžeev (1953): 27–61, especially 55.
  37. Quoted from Sečenbaγatur et al. (2005): 167–168.
  38. Zhou, Minglang; Sun, Hongkai (2006-04-11). Language Policy in the People's Republic of China: Theory and Practice Since 1949. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN   978-1-4020-8039-5.
  39. Janhunen (2003)
  40. Sečenbaγatur et al. (2005): 265–266.
  41. Sečenbaγatur et al. (2005): 266 classify Alasha as a variety of Southern Mongolian according to morphological criteria, while Svantesson et al. (2005): 148 classify it as a variety of Oirat according to phonological criteria. For a discussion of opinions on the classification of Darkhad, see Sanžaa and Tujaa (2001): 33–34.
  42. Sečenbaγatur et al. (2005): 166–73, 184–195.
  43. Janhunen (2003): 180.
  44. Svantesson et al. (2005): 143, Poppe (1955): 110–115.
  45. Svantesson et al. (2006): 159–160; the difference between the [l]s might just be due to the impossibility of reconstructing something as precise as [ɮ] for Proto-Mongolic and imprecision or convenience in notation for Chakhar, Dobu (1983).
  46. e.g. bi tegün-i taniǰei I him know.past 'I knew him' is accepted and ?Bi öčögedür iregsen rejected by Chuluu (1998): 140, 165; in Khalkha, by contrast, the first sentence would not appear with the meaning attributed to it, while the second is perfectly acceptable.
  47. See, for example, Činggeltei (1959). This split is blurred by the school grammar, which treats several dialectal varieties as one coherent grammatical system; e.g. Činggeltei (1979, 1999). This understanding is in turn reflected in the undecided treatment of -/sŋ/ in research work like Bayančoγtu (2002): 306.
  48. Sečenbaγatur et al. (2005): 85. "Öbür mongγul ayalγu bol dumdadu ulus-un mongγul kelen-ü saγuri ayalγu bolqu büged dumdadu ulus-un mongγul kelen-ü barimǰiy-a abiy-a ni čaqar aman ayalγun-du saγurilaγsan bayidaγ."
  49. Janhunen 2003d.
  50. Janhunen, Juha (2003). The Mongolic Languages. p. 179. Routledge Language Family Series 5. London: Routledge.
  51. Svantesson et al. (2005): 9-10
  52. Svantesson et al. (2005): 9-10
  53. Dàobù 1982, p. 2.
  54. Juha Janhunen (Hg.): The Mongolic Languages. London / New York: Routledge, 2003; ISBN 0-7007-1133-3; S. xviii.
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    / 《蒙汉词典》 1999 and ᠭᠠᠯᠰᠠᠩᠫᠤᠩᠰᠣᠭ / Галсанпунцаг 2004.
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  67. Svantesson et al. (2005): 20–21, where it is actually stated that they are phonemic only in such words; in Svantesson's analysis, [−ATR] corresponds to "pharyngeal" and [+ATR]—to "nonpharyngeal".
  68. Karlsson (2005): 17
  69. Anastasia Mukhanova Karlsson. "Vowels in Mongolian speech: deletions and epenthesis" . Retrieved 2014-07-26.
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  72. elaborating on Bosson (1964) and Poppe (1970).
  73. Walker's evidence is collected from one native informant, examples from Poppe (1970) and consultation with James Bosson. She defines stress in terms of pitch, duration and intensity. The analysis pertains to the Khalkha dialect. The phonemic analysis in the examples is adjusted to Svantesson et al. (2005).
  74. Harnud [Köke] (2003).
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  139. Mongolian Language Law is effective from July 1st Archived 2022-04-09 at the Wayback Machine , 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 1 January 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."
  140. "Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Mongolian, Halh (Cyrillic)".
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For some Mongolian authors, the Mongolian version of their name is also given in square brackets, e.g., "Harnud [Köke]". Köke is the author's native name. It is a practice common among Mongolian scholars, for purposes of publishing and being cited abroad, to adopt a surname based on one's patronymic, in this example "Harnud"; compare Mongolian name.
Some library catalogs write Chinese language titles with each syllable separate, even syllables belonging to a single word.

List of abbreviations used

TULIP is in official use by some librarians; the remainder have been contrived for this listing.

  • KULIP = Kyūshū daigaku gengogaku ronshū [Kyushu University linguistics papers]
  • MKDKH = Muroran kōgyō daigaku kenkyū hōkoku [Memoirs of the Muroran Institute of Technology]
  • TULIP = Tōkyō daigaku gengogaku ronshū [Tokyo University linguistics papers]
  • (in Mongolian) Amaržargal, B. 1988. BNMAU dah' Mongol helnij nutgijn ajalguuny tol' bichig: halh ajalguu. Ulaanbaatar: ŠUA.
  • Apatóczky, Ákos Bertalan. 2005. On the problem of the subject markers of the Mongolian language. In Wú Xīnyīng, Chén Gānglóng (eds.), Miànxiàng xīn shìjìde ménggǔxué [The Mongolian studies in the new century : review and prospect]. Běijīng: Mínzú Chūbǎnshè. 334–343. ISBN   7-105-07208-3.
  • (in Japanese) Ashimura, Takashi. 2002. Mongorugo jarōto gengo no -lɛː no yōhō ni tsuite. TULIP, 21: 147–200.
  • (in Mongolian) Bajansan, Ž. and Š. Odontör. 1995. Hel šinžlelijn ner tom"joony züjlčilsen tajlbar toli. Ulaanbaatar.
  • (in Mongolian) Bayančoγtu. 2002. Qorčin aman ayalγun-u sudulul. Kökeqota: ÖMYSKQ. ISBN   7-81074-391-0.
  • (in Mongolian) Bjambasan, P. 2001. Mongol helnij ügüjsgeh har'caa ilerhijleh hereglüürüüd. Mongol hel, sojolijn surguul: Erdem šinžilgeenij bičig, 18: 9–20.
  • Bosson, James E. 1964. Modern Mongolian; a primer and reader. Uralic and Altaic series; 38. Bloomington: Indiana University.
  • Brosig, Benjamin. 2009. Depictives and resultatives in Modern Khalkh Mongolian. Hokkaidō gengo bunka kenkyū, 7: 71–101.
  • Chuluu, Ujiyediin. 1998. Studies on Mongolian verb morphology Archived 2023-01-05 at the Wayback Machine . Dissertation, University of Toronto.
  • (in Mongolian) Činggeltei. 1999. Odu üj-e-jin mongγul kelen-ü ǰüi. Kökeqota: ÖMAKQ. ISBN   7-204-04593-9.
  • (in Mongolian) Coloo, Ž. 1988. BNMAU dah' mongol helnij nutgijn ajalguuny tol' bichig: ojrd ajalguu. Ulaanbaatar: ŠUA.
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Further reading

Traditional Mongolian script