Mongolian language

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Mongolian language
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{{Distinguish|Mongol language (New Guinea)}}

!! Short! Long! Short! Long! Short! Long! style="text-align: left;" | Close! style="text-align: left;" | Near-Close||||! style="text-align: left;" | Close-Mid! style="text-align: left;" | Open-mid||||! style="text-align: left;" | Open||
/mɔŋɢɔ̆ɮ xeɮ/}}Mongolian Plateau>Mongolia| region = All of state Mongolia and 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| speakers = 3.6 Million| date = 2014| ref = | familycolor = AltaicMongolic languages>Mongolic| fam3 = Central Mongolic| ancestor = Middle Mongolian| ancestor2 = Classical MongolianKhalkha Mongolian>KhalkhaChakhar Mongolian>ChakharKhorchin Mongolian>KhorchinBaarin Mongolian>BaarinXilingol Mongolian>XilingolDarkhad dialect>DarkhadKhalkha Mongolian>Khalkha (Mongolia)Chakhar Mongolian>Chakhar (China)| script = Mongolian alphabets: Traditional Mongolian alphabet(in China), Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet (in Mongolia), Mongolian Braille| nation = {{MGL}}{{CHN}} PUBLISHER= MONGOLIANLAWS.COMACCESS-DATE = 2009-03-27 ARCHIVE-URL= HTTPS://WEB.ARCHIVE.ORG/WEB/20090822084246/HTTP://WWW.EDULAWS.PMIS.GOV.MN/EDULAWS/WEB/INDEX.PHP?MODULES=LAW&VIEWID=2&LAW_ID=189, 2009-08-22, The decisions of the council have to be ratified by the government.China:Council for Language and Literature Work"Mongγul kele bičig-ün aǰil-un ǰöblel". See Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 204.| iso1 = mn| iso2 = mon| iso3 = mon| lc1 = khk| ld1 = Khalkha Mongolian| lc2 = mvf| ld2 = Peripheral Mongolian (part)| lingua = part of 44-BAA-b| map = Mongols-map.png| mapalt = Topographic map showing Asia as centered on modern-day Mongolia and Kazakhstan. An orange line shows the extent of the Mongol Empire. Some places are filled in red. This includes all of Mongolia, most of Inner Mongolia and Kalmykia, three enclaves in Xinjiang, multiple tiny enclaves round Lake Baikal, part of Manchuria, Gansu, Qinghai, and one place that is west of Nanjing and in the south-south-west of Zhengzhou| mapcaption = Geographic distribution of Mongolic peoples across Asia (red)| notice = IPA| glotto = mong1331| glottorefname = Mongolian}}{{Contains Mongolian script}}The Mongolian language{{NoteTag|In Mongolian script: {{Mousetext|(File:Monggol kele.svg|27px)|mongɣol xele}} '; in Mongolian Cyrillic: , '}} 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 Mongolian residents of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.Estimate from Svantesson et al. 2005: 141. In Mongolia, the Khalkha dialect, written in Cyrillic (and at times in Latin for social networking), is predominant, while in Inner Mongolia, the language is dialectally more diverse and is written in the traditional Mongolian script. In the discussion of grammar to follow, the variety of Mongolian treated is Standard Khalkha Mongolian (i.e., the standard written language as formalized in the writing conventions and in the school grammar), but much of what is to be said is also valid for vernacular (spoken) Khalkha and for other Mongolian dialects, especially Chakhar.Some classify several other Mongolic languages like Buryat and Oirat as dialects of Mongolian, but this classification is not in line with the current international standard.Mongolian has vowel harmony and a complex syllabic structure for a Mongolic language that allows 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, so 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 is 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. 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 are currently the oldest substantial Mongolic or Para-Mongolic texts discovered.

Geographic distribution

Mongolian is the official national language of Mongolia, where it is spoken (but not written) by nearly 3.6 million people (2014 estimate),BOOK, Janhunen, Juha, Mongolian, November 29, 2012, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 11, 1, and the official provincial language (both spoken and written forms) of Inner Mongolia, China, where there are at least 4.1 million ethnic Mongols.BOOK, Tsung, Linda, Language Power and Hierarchy: Multilingual Education in China, October 27, 2014, Bloomsbury Academic, 59, 3, Across the whole of China, the language is spoken by roughly half of the country's 5.8 million ethnic Mongols (2005 estimate) 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.BOOK, Tsung, Linda, Language Power and Hierarchy: Multilingual Education in China, October 27, 2014, Bloomsbury Academic, 3, 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.BOOK, Iredale, Robyn, Bilik, Naran, Fei, Guo, China's Minorities on the Move: Selected Case Studies, August 2, 2003, 84, 4, The multilingual situation in Inner Mongolia does not appear to obstruct efforts by ethnic Mongols to preserve their language.BOOK, Janhunen, Juha, Mongolian, November 29, 2012, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 16, 1, BOOK, Otsuka, Hitomi, More Morphologies: Contributions to the Festival of Languages, Bremen, 17 Sep to 7 Oct, 2009, 30 Nov 2012, 99, 6, 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.BOOK, Iredale, Robyn, China's Minorities on the Move: Selected Case Studies, August 2, 2003, Routledge, 56, 64–67, 3, The children of inter-ethnic Mongol-Chinese marriages also claim to be and are registered as ethnic Mongols.BOOK, Janhunen, Juha, Mongolian, November 29, 2012, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 11, 1, BOOK, Iredale, Robyn, Bilik, Naran, Fei, Guo, China's Minorities on the Move: Selected Case Studies, August 2, 2003, 61, 3,

Classification and dialects

File:Ulan Bator 14.JPG|thumb|left|Mongolian script and Mongolian Cyrillic on Sukhbaatar's statue in UlaanbaatarUlaanbaatar(File:MongolicLanguagesGraph.jpg|thumb|left|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,See especially Rinčjen 1979, Amaržargal 1988, Coloo 1988 and for a general bibliography on Mongolic phonology Svantesson et al. 2005: 218–229. the basis has yet to be laid for a comparative morphosyntactic study, for example between such highly diverse varieties as Khalkha and Khorchin.See Ashimura 2002 for a rare piece of research into dialect morphosyntax that shows significant differences between Khalkha and Khorchin.Janhunen 2003d: 189.The status of certain varieties in the 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.See Janhunen (ed.) 2003 and Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005 for two classificatory schemes.There is no disagreement that the Khalkha dialect of the Mongolian state is Mongolian.For an exact delimitation of Khalkha, see Amaržargal 1988: 24–25. Beyond this one point, however, agreement ends. For example, 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.Sanžeev 1953: 27–61, especially 55. 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).Quoted from Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 167–168. Some Western scholarsamong them Janhunen 2003 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,Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 265–266. 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,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. 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.Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 166–73, 184–195. See also Janhunen 2003d: 180. The split of {{IPA|[tʃ]}} into {{IPA|[tʃ]}} before *i and {{IPA|[ts]}} before all other reconstructed vowels, which is found in Mongolia but not in Inner Mongolia, is often cited as a fundamental distinction,E.g., Svantesson et al. 2005: 143, Poppe 1955: 110–115. for example Proto-Mongolic {{IPA|*tʃil}}, Khalkha {{IPA|/tʃiɮ/}}, Chakhar {{IPA|/tʃil/}} 'year' versus Proto-Mongolic {{IPA|*tʃøhelen}}, Khalkha {{IPA|/tso:ɮəŋ/}}, Chakhar {{IPA|/tʃo:ləŋ/}} 'few'.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 {{IPA|[ɮ]}} for Proto-Mongolic and imprecision or convenience in notation for Chakhar (Chakhar phonemes according to Dobu 1983). On the other hand, the split between the past tense verbal suffixes -{{IPA|sŋ}} in the Central varieties vs. -{{IPA|dʒɛː}} in the Eastern varietiesE.g., bi tegün-i taniǰei I him know -{{smallcaps|past}} 'I knew him' is accepted and ?Bi öčögedür iregsen rejected by an Inner Mongolian grammarian from Khorchin (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. is usually seen as a merely stochastic difference.See, for example, Činggeltei 1959. Notice that this split is blurred by the school grammar, which treats several dialectal varieties as one coherent grammatical system (for example Činggeltei 1999 [1979]). This understanding is in turn reflected in the undecided treatment of -{{IPA|sŋ}} in research work like Bayančoγtu 2002: 306.In Inner Mongolia, official language policy divides the Mongolian language into three dialects: Southern Mongolian, Oirat, and Barghu-Buryat. Southern Mongolian 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 Southern Mongolian and whose pronunciation is based on the Chakhar dialect as spoken in the Plain Blue Banner."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." (Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 85). Dialectologically, however, western Southern Mongolian dialects are closer to Khalkha than they are to eastern Southern Mongolian dialects: for example, Chakhar is closer to Khalkha than to Khorchin.Janhunen 2003d.Besides Mongolian, or "Central Mongolic", other languages in the Mongolic grouping include Dagur, spoken in eastern Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, and in the vicinity of Tacheng in Xinjiang; the Shirongolic subgroup Shira Yugur, Bonan, Dongxiang, Monguor, and Kangjia, spoken in Qinghai and Gansu regions; and the possibly extinct Moghol of Afghanistan.Janhunen 2006, except that Mongghul and Mangghuer are treated as a sub-branch (Slater 2003) and that Kangjia has been added (Siqinchaoketu 1999). Khamnigan which Janhunen groups as a Central Mongolic language is usually not discussed by other scholars.As for the classification of the Mongolic family relative to other languages, the Altaic theory (which is increasingly less well received among linguistsFor a history of the Altaic theory, see Georg et al. 1999. Since then, the major pro-Altaistic publication Starostin et al. 2003 has appeared, which got mostly mildly negative to devastating reviews, the most detailed being Vovin 2005.) proposes that the Mongolic family is a member of a larger, now discredited Altaic family that would also include the Turkic and Tungusic, and usually Koreanic languages and Japonic languages as well.

List of dialects

Janhunen (2003: 179)Janhunen, Juha. 2003. The Mongolic Languages, p.179. Routledge Language Family Series 5. London: Routledge. lists the following Mongol dialects, most of which are spoken in Inner Mongolia.
  • Jerim group
    • Khorchin (Qurciv)
    • Jasagtu (Jasaqdu)
    • Jarut (Jarut)
    • Jalait (Jalajit)
    • Dörbet (Tuirbat)
    • Gorlos (Qhurlus)
  • Juu Uda group
    • Aru Khorchin (vAru Qurciv)
    • Baarin (Baqhariv)
    • Ongniut (vUvgniqhut)
    • Naiman (Naimav)
    • Aokhan (vAuqav)
  • Josotu group
    • Kharachin (Qaraciv)
    • Tümet (Tuimat)
  • Ulan Tsab group
    • Chakhar (Caqar)
    • Urat (vUrat)
    • Darkhan (Tarqav)
    • Muumingan (Muumivgqhav)
    • Dörben Küüket (Tuirbav Gaugat)
    • Keshigten (Gasigdav)
  • Shilingol group
    • Ãœdzümüchin (vUiczumuciv)
    • Khuuchit (Qaqhucit)
    • Abaga (vAbaqhe)
    • Abaganar (vAbaqhanar)
    • Sönit (Suinit)
  • Outer Mongolian group
    • Khalkha (Qalqe)
    • Khotogoit (Quduqhujit)
    • Darkhat (Tarqat)
    • Tsongol (Cuvgqhul)
    • Sartul (Sartaqhul)
    • Dariganga (Tariqhavgqhe)


|filename = MOV00979.ogv
|title = Mongolians speaking Khalkh
|description = Modern day Mongolians speaking Khalkh, the dominant dialect of Mongolian. Recorded in Tavan Har, Mongolia
}}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.See Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 249–384. 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 each of the seven phonemes occurs short or long. Phonetically, short {{IPA|/o/}} has become centralized to the central vowel {{IPA|[ɵ]}}.In the following table, the seven vowel phonemes, with their length variants, are arranged and described phonetically.
{| class="wikitable" style="text-align: center;"
!! colspan="2"|Front! colspan="2"|Central! colspan="2"|Back
Khalkha also has four diphthongs: {{IPA|/ui, ʊi, ɔi, ai/}}.Svantesson et al. 2005: 22ATR harmony. Mongolian divides vowels into three groups in a system of vowel harmony:
{| class="wikitable" style="text-align: center;"
! +ATR ("front")! −ATR ("back")! Neutrale, u, o}}a, ʊ, ɔ}}i}}As mentioned, for historical reasons these have traditionally been labeled as "front" vowels and "back" vowels. Indeed, in Romanized transcription of Mongolian, the vowels {{IPA|/o/}} and {{IPA|/u/}} are often conventionally rendered as {{angle bracket|ö}} and {{angle bracket|ü}}, while the vowels {{IPA|/ɔ/}} and {{IPA|/ʊ/}} are expressed as {{angle bracket|o}} and {{angle bracket|u}} (this is also the case in the nonphonological sections of this article). However, for modern Mongolian phonology, it seems more appropriate to instead characterize the two vowel-harmony groups by the dimension of tongue root position. There is also one neutral vowel, {{IPA|/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 {{IPA|/i/}} or a −ATR vowel. Likewise, if the first vowel is a +ATR vowel, then every vowel of the word must be either {{IPA|/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 {{IPA|/A/}} that can be realized as {{IPA|/a, ɔ, e, o/}}. For example:
  • {{IPA|orx}} household + {{IPA|-Ar}} (instrumental) → {{IPA|orxor}} by a household
  • {{IPA|xarÊŠÉ®}} sentry + {{IPA|-Ar}} (instrumental) → {{IPA|xarÊŠÉ®ar}} by a sentry
Other suffixes can occur in {{IPA|/U/}} being realized as {{IPA|/ʊ, u/}}, in which case all −ATR vowels lead to {{IPA|/ʊ/}} and all +ATR vowels lead to {{IPA|/u/}}. For example:
  • {{IPA|aw}} to take + {{IPA|-UÉ®}} (causative) → {{IPA|awÊŠÉ®}}
If the only vowel in the word stem is {{IPA|/i/}}, the suffixes will use the +ATR suffix forms.Svantesson et al. 2005: 43–50.Rounding harmony. Mongolian also has rounding harmony, which does not apply to close vowels. If a stem contains {{IPA|/o/}} (or {{IPA|/ɔ/}}), a suffix that is specified for an open vowel will have {{IPA|[o]}} (or {{IPA|[ɔ]}}, respectively) as well. However, this process is blocked by the presence of {{IPA|/u/}} (or {{IPA|/ʊ/}}) and {{IPA|/ei/}}. E.g. {{IPA|ɔr-ɮɔ}} came in, but {{IPA|ɔr-ʊɮ-ɮa}} inserted.Svantesson et al. 2005: 46–47, 50–51.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 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.Svantesson et al. 2005: 1–7, 22–24, 73–75.


The following table lists the consonants of Khalkha Mongolian. The consonants enclosed in parentheses occur only in loanwords.Svantesson et al. 2005: 25–30.{| class="wikitable" style=text-align:center! colspan=2 rowspan=2|! colspan=2|Labial! colspan=2|Dental! colspan=2|Velar! rowspan=2|Uvular style="font-size: x-small;"! plain! pal.! plain! pal.! plain! pal.! colspan=2| Nasalm}}mʲ}}n}}nʲ}}ŋ}}||! rowspan="2" |Plosive!voiceless/voicedp}}pʲ}}t}}tʲ}}ɡ}}ɡʲ}}ɢ}}! voiceless aspiratedpʰ}})pʲʰ}})tʰ}}tʲʰ}}kʰ}})kʲʰ}})|! rowspan="2" |Affricate!voiceless||ts}}tʃ}}|||!voiceless aspirated||tsʰ}}tʃʰ}}|||! rowspan="2" |Fricative!centralf}})|s}}ʃ}}x}}xʲ}}|!lateral||ɮ}}ɮʲ}}|||! colspan="2" |Trill||r}}rʲ}}|||! colspan="2" | Approximantw̜}}w̜ʲ}}|j}}|||Mongolian lacks the voiced lateral approximant, {{IPA|[l]}}; instead, it has a voiced alveolar lateral fricative, {{IPA|/ɮ/}}, which is often realized as voiceless {{IPA|[ɬ]}}.Karlsson 2005: 17 In word-final position, {{IPA|/n/}} (if not followed by a vowel in historical forms) is realized as {{IPA|[ŋ]}}. The occurrence of palatalized consonant phonemes seems to be restricted to words that contain [−ATR] vowels.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". Aspirated consonants are preaspirated in medial and word-final contexts, devoicing preceding consonants and vowels. Devoiced short vowels are often deleted.WEB,weblink Vowels in Mongolian speech: deletions and epenthesis, Anastasia Mukhanova Karlsson, Lund University, Department of Linguistics, 2014-07-26,

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. {{IPA|[ŋ]}} is restricted to codas (else it becomes {{IPA|[n]}}), and {{IPA|/p/}} and {{IPA|/pʲ/}} do not occur in codas for historical reasons. For two-consonant clusters, the following restrictions obtain:
  • a palatalized consonant can be preceded only by another palatalized consonant or sometimes by {{IPA|/É¢/}} and {{IPA|/ʃ/}}
  • {{IPA|/Å‹/}} may precede only {{IPA|/ʃ, x, É¡, ɡʲ/}} and {{IPA|/É¢/}}
  • {{IPA|/j/}} does not seem to appear in second position
  • {{IPA|/p/}} and {{IPA|/pʲ/}} do not occur as first consonant and as second consonant only if preceded by {{IPA|/m/}} or {{IPA|/É®/}} or their palatalized counterparts.
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 example, hojor 'two', ažil 'work', and saarmag 'neutral' are, phonemically, {{IPA|/xɔjr/}}, {{IPA|/atʃɮ/}}, and {{IPA|/saːrmɡ/}} respectively. In such cases, an epenthetic vowel is inserted so as to prevent disallowed consonant clusters. Thus, in the examples given above, the words are phonetically {{IPA|[xɔjɔ̆r]}}, {{IPA|[atʃĭɮ]}}, and {{IPA|[saːrmăɢ]}}. 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 {{IPA|/u/}} produces {{IPA|[e]}}; {{IPA|/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 {{IPA|[i]}}, as in {{IPA|[atʃĭɮ]}}.Svantesson et al. 2005: 62–72.


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.Svantesson et al. 2005: 95–97 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)elaborating on Bosson 1964 and Poppe 1970. proposes that stress falls on the rightmost heavy syllable unless this syllable is word-final:
{|ˈHLL >[pai.ˈɢʊɮ. ɮəɢ.təx]}}
to be organizedˈHL >[xon.ti.ˈru.ɮəŋ]}} separating (adverbial)ˈHL >[ʊ.ɮan.paːtʰ.ˈrin.xəŋ]}} the residents of UlaanbaatarˈHH >[ʊːr.ˈtʰai.ɢar]}} angrilyˈHLH >[ˈʊitʰ.ɢər.tʰai]}} sadA "heavy syllable" is here 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: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.
{|ˈH >[ɢa.ˈɮʊ]}}
gooseˈLL >[ˈʊnʃ.səŋ]}} having readMore 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.Harnud [Köke] 2003.Harnud 2003 was reviewed by J. Brown in Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 2006 Dec, 36(2): 205–207. 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.Harnud [Köke] 2003: 44–54, 94–100.


The grammar here is also based primarily on Khalkha Mongolian. Unlike the phonology, most of what is said about morphology and syntax also holds true for Chakhar,See Sečenbaγatur 2003 while Khorchin is somewhat more diverse.See Bayančoγtu 2002


Modern Mongolian is an agglutinative, almost exclusively suffixing language, the only exception being reduplication.Svantesson et al. 2005: 58–59. Most of the suffixes consist of a single morpheme. There are many derivational morphemes.Sečen 2004. For example, the word bajguullagynh consists of the root baj- 'to be', an epenthetic -g-, the causative -uul- (hence 'to found'), the derivative suffix -laga that forms nouns created by the action (like -ation in 'organisation') and the complex suffix –ynh denoting something that belongs to the modified word (-yn would be genitive).Nominal compounds are quite frequent. Some derivational verbal suffixes are rather productive, e.g. jar'- 'to speak', jarilts- '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 –ø (second person imperative);Luvsanvandan (ed.) 1987: 151–153, 161–163. participles (often called "verbal nouns"), which can be used clause-finally or attributively, i.e. -san (perfect-past)Hashimoto 1993. or -maar ('want to'); and converbs, which can link clauses or function adverbially, i.e. -ž (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).Luvsanvandan (ed.) 1987: 103–104, 124–125, 130–131.Roughly speaking, Mongolian has eight cases: nominative (unmarked), genitive, dative, accusative, ablative, instrumental, comitative and directional.Tsedendamba and Möömöö 1997: 222–232. If a direct object is definite, it must take the accusative, while it must take the nominative if it is unspecific.Guntsetseg 2008: 61. The exact conditions of use for indefinite specific direct objects have not yet been specified in detail, but they appear to be related to animacy and textual context. In addition to case, a number of postpositions exist that usually govern genitive, ablative, or comitative case or a form of the nominative that has sometimes -Vn either for lexical historical reasons or analogy (thus maybe becoming an attributive case suffix).Sečenbaγatur 2003: 32–46. Nouns can take reflexive-possessive clitics indicating that the marked noun is possessed by the subject of the sentence: bi najz(-)aa avarsan I friend-{{smallcaps|reflexive-possessive}} save-{{smallcaps|perfect}} 'I saved my friend'.Tsedendamba and Möömöö 1997: 234–241. However, there are also somewhat noun-like adjectives to which case suffixes seemingly cannot be attached directly unless there is ellipsis.For a pioneering approach to this problem, see Sajto 1999. 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.Tsedendamba and Möömöö 1997: 210–219, Sečenbaγatur 2003: 23–29.
{| class="wikitable"! Case !! Suffix !! English {{abbr|prep.|preposition}} !! Example !! Translationnominative case>nominative – – nom bookaccusative case>accusative -g/ig – nomig book (as object)genitive case>genitive -n/in of nomin of (a) book, book'sdative case>dative/locative case>-d >nomd >| in (a) bookablative case>ablative long vowel + -s from nomoos from (a) bookinstrumental case>instrumental long vowel + -r with nomoor with (e.g. by means of a) bookcomitative case>comitative -t–i, dependent on vowel, e.g. -toi, -tei, etc. with nomtoi with (e.g. alongside a) bookPersonal 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.This is a simplified treatment of word classes. For a more precise treatment within the descriptive framework common in Inner Mongolia, see Sečenbaγatur 2003.{| class="wikitable"!! Nominative(subject)bi >čita (formal) >ter >bid >ta nar >| ted nar! Accusative(object)namaig >čamaigtanyg (formal) >tüünijg >bidnijg >| tednijg! Genitive(possession)minii >činii'tany (formal) >tüünii >bidnii'manai (excl.) >tanaita naryn >| ted naryn! Oblique stem(used for all other cases)nad- >čam- >bidn-man- (excl.) >tan- >| –Negation is mostly expressed by -güj after participles and by the negation particle biš after nouns and adjectives; negation particles preceding the verb (for example in converbal constructions) exist, but tend to be replaced by analytical constructions.For the historic background of negation, see Yu 1991. For a phenomenology, see Bjambasan 2001.


Phrase structure

The noun phrase has the order: demonstrative pronoun/numeral, adjective, noun.Guntsetseg 2008: 55. Attributive sentences precede the whole NP. Titles or occupations of people, low numerals indicating groups, and focus clitics are put behind the head noun.Tserenpil and Kullmann 2005: 237, 347. Possessive pronouns (in different forms) may either precede or follow the NP.Svantesson 2003: 164–165. Examples:
{| style="width:60%; height:70%"bid-nij>uulz-san>ter>sajhan>zaluu-gaas>|č
genitive}}meet-{{smallcapsablative}} {{smallcaps|focus}}'even from that beautiful young man that we have met'
{| style="width:18%; height:55%"Dorž>bagš>|maan'
|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,See Mönh-Amgalan 1998. as in the following example with predicate bičsen:
{| style="width:52%; height:65%"ter>hel-eh-güj-geer >üün-ijg >bič-sen >|šüü
accusative}} write-{{smallcapsparticle}}'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, helehgüjgeer 'without saying [so]' must precede the predicate's complement, üünijg 'it-{{smallcaps|accusative}}' in order to avoid syntactic ambiguity, since helehgüjgeer is itself derived from a verb and hence an üünijg 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.Sečenbaγatur 2003: 167.For Khalkha, the most complete treatment of the verbal forms is Luvsanvandan (ed.) 1987. However, the analysis of predication presented here, while valid for Khalkha, is adapted from the description of Khorchin by Matsuoka 2007.Most often, of course, the predicate consists of a verb. However, there are several types of nominal predicative constructions, with or without a copula.Hashimoto 2004 Auxiliaries that express direction and aktionsart (among other meanings) can with the assistance of a linking converb occupy the immediate postverbal position, e.g. uuž orhison drink-{{smallcaps|converb}} leave-{{smallcaps|perfect}} 'drank up'. The next position is filled by converb suffixes in connection with the auxiliary, baj- 'to be', e.g. ter güjž bajna s/he run-{{smallcaps|converb}} be-{{smallcaps|nonpast}} '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 bajna s/he come-{{smallcaps|perfect}} be-{{smallcaps|nonpast}} '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 subject–object–predicate.Guntsetseg 2008: 54. While the predicate generally has to remain in clause-final position, the other phrases are free to change order or to wholly disappear.Tserenpil and Kullmann 2005: 88, 363–364. The topic tends to be placed clause-initially, new information rather at the end of the clause.Apatoczky 2005. Topic can be overtly marked with bol, which can also mark contrastive focus,Hammar 1983: 45–80. overt additive focus ('even, also') can be marked with the clitic č,Kang 2000. and overt restrictive focus with the clitic l ('only').Tserenpil and Kullmann 2005: 348–349.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:
{| style="width:40%; height:50px"Bi>tüün-d>|huurt-san
dative}}fool-{{smallcaps|causative-perfect}}'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 -tsgaa-, and the cooperative by -lts-.Sečenbaγatur 2003: 116–123.Mongolian allows for adjectival depictives that relate to either the subject or the direct object, e.g. Ljena nücgen untdag 'Lena sleeps naked', while adjectival resultatives are marginal.Brosig 2009.

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:
{| style="width:70%; height:50px"bid>üün-ijg >ol-bol >čam-d >|ög-nö
accusative}} find-{{smallcapsfamiliar}}-{{smallcapsfuture}}'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:Svantesson 2003: 172. e.g., replacing olbol in the preceding sentence with olohod find-{{smallcaps|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:See Sečenbaγatur 2003: 176–182 (who uses the term "postposition" for both and the term "conjunction" for junctors).
{| style="width:50%; height:60px"jadar-san >učraas >|unt-laa
perfect}} because sleep-{{smallcapsinterlinear gloss, {{smallcaps>witnessed;past}} indicates that multiple semantic features are simultaneously expressed by a single, unanalyzable affix.'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:
{| style="width:50%; height:60px"bi olson, >harin čamd >| ögöhgüj
perfect}} but you-{{smallcapsimperfective-negation}} '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 gež precedes either a psych verb or a verb of saying. As a verbal noun like gedeg (with n' or case) it can form a subset of complement clauses. As gene it may function as an evidentialis marker.Sečenbaγatur 2003: 152–153.Mongolian clauses tend to be combined paratactically, which sometimes gives rise to sentence structures which are subordinative despite resembling coordinative structures in European languages:Johanson 1995.
{| style="width:45%; height:60px"ter>ir-eed>namajg>|üns-sen
converb}} I.{{smallcapsperfect}}'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.Mizuno 1995. There is marginal occurrence of subjects taking ablative case as well.Pürev-Očir 1997: 131. 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,Sečenbaγatur 2003: 36. e.g. tüünij idsen hool{{smallcaps|genitive}} eat-{{smallcaps|perfect}} meal 'the meal that s/he had eaten'.

Loanwords and coined words

Mongolian first adopted{{fix|text=what century?|date=April 2017}} loanwords from Old Turkic, Sanskrit (these often through Uighur), Persian, Arabic, Tibetan,Temürčereng 2004: 86–99. Tungusic, and Chinese.Svantesson 2003: 127. However, more recent loanwords come from Russian, English,Temürčereng 2004: 99–102. and Mandarin Chinese (mainly in Inner Mongolia).Öbür mongγul-un yeke surγaγuli 2005: 792–793. Language commissions of the Mongolian state continuously translate new terminology into Mongolian,WEB, Baabar, Yum bolgon nertei, Ödriin sonin, 2008-12-09, so as the Mongolian vocabulary now has jerönhijlögč 'president' ("generalizer") and šar ajrag 'beer' ("yellow kumys"). There are several loan translations, e.g., galt tereg 'train' ('fire-having cart') from Chinese huǒchē (火车, fire cart) 'train'.Öbür mongγul-un yeke surγaγuli 2005: 828. Other loan translations include mön chanar (essence) from Chinese shízhì (实质, true quality), khün am (population) from Chinese rénkǒu (人口, person mouth), erdene shish (corn, maize) from Chinese yùmǐ (玉米, jade rice) and bügd nairamdakh uls (republic) from Chinese gònghéguó (共和国, public collaboration nation).
  • Sanskrit loanwords include shashin (शशन sasana, religion), sansar (सँसार sansāra, space), avyas (अभ्यास abhyasa, talent), buyan (पुण्य punya, good deeds), agshin (क्षण kÅ¡ana, instant), tiv (द्वीप dvipa, continent), garig (ग्रह graha, planet), tsadig (जातक jātaka, tales, stories), shüleg (श्लोक Å¡loka, poems, verses), badag (पदक padaka, strophe), arshan (रसायन raÅ¡ayana, mineral water, nectar), shastir (शास्त्र shastra, chronicle), bud (बुध budh, Mercury), sugar (शुक्र shukra, Venus), barhasvadi (वृहस्पति vrihaspati, Jupiter) and sanchir (शनि shani, Saturn).
  • Persian loanwords include anar (anar, amethyst), arkhi (aragh, brandy, from arabic), baishin (pishiwan, building), bars (fars, tiger), bers (farzin, chess queen/female tiger), bold (pulad, steel), bolor (bulur, crystal), gunjid (kunjut, sesame), gindan (zindan, prison), dari (daru, powder/gunpowder), duran (dur, telescope), duranbai (durbin, telescope/microscope), devter (daftar, notebook), hurmast (Ahura Mazda, high God), savan (savan, soap) and sandal (sandali, stool).
  • Chinese loanwords include banz (板子 bÇŽnzi, board), laa (蜡 là, candle), luuvan (萝卜 lúobo, radish), khuluu (葫芦 húlu, gourd), denlüü (灯路 dÄ“nglù, lamp), chiiden (汽灯 qìdÄ“ng, electric lamp), biir (笔儿 bǐ'er, paintbrush), gambanz (斩板子 zhÇŽnbÇŽnzi, cutting board), chinjuu (青椒 qÄ«ngjiāo, pepper), juutsai (韭菜 jiÇ”cài, leek), moog (蘑菇 mógu, mushroom), tsuu (醋 cù, vinegar, soy sauce), baitsaa (白菜 báicài, cabbage), mantuu (馒头 mántou, steamed bun), naimaa/maimaa (买卖 mÇŽimài, trade), goimon (挂面 gùamiàn, noodles), dan (单 dān, single), gan (é’¢ gāng, steel), lantuu (榔头 lángtou, sledgehammer), tsonkh (窗户 chÅ«anghu, window), buuz (包子 bāozi, dumplings), khuushuur (火烧儿 hÇ”oshāo'er, fried dumpling), zutan (乳脂汤 rÇ”zhÄ«tāng, cream soup), bantan (粉汤 fÄ›ntāng, flour soup), jan (é…± jiàng, soy), van (王 wáng, king), günj (公主 gōngzhÇ”, princess), gün (å…¬ gōng, duke), janjin (将军 jiāngjÅ«n, general), taigan (太监 tàijiàn, eunuch), pyanz (片子 piànzi, recorded disk), guanz (馆子 guÇŽnzi, restaurant), lianhua (莲花 liánhuā, lotus), khuar (花儿 huā'er, flower, used in names), toor (桃儿 táo'er, peach), intoor (樱桃儿 yÄ«ngtáo'er, cherry), zeel (借 jie, borrow, lend, with Mongolian denominal verb suffix -l-), vandui (豌豆 wāndòu, pea), yanz (样子 yàngzi, manner, appearance), shinj (性质 xìngzhì, characteristic), liir (梨儿 lí'er, pear), bai (牌 páizi, target), jin(g) (æ–¤ jÄ«n, weight), bin(g) (饼 bǐng, pancake), khuanli (皇历 huángli, calendar), shaazan (烧瓷 shāocí, porcelain), khantaaz (砍兜肚 kÇŽndōudu, sleeveless vest), püntüüz (粉条子 fÄ›ntiáozi, potato noodles) and tsai (茶 chá, tea).
In the 20th century there were numerous Russian loanwords concerning daily life: doktor (doctor), shokolad (chocolate), vagon (train wagon), kalendar (calendar), sistem, podvoolk (from futbolka, T-shirt), and mashin (car). In more recent times, due to socio-political changes, Mongolian has loaned various words from English; some which have gradually evolved as official terms: menejment, computer, fail (file), marketing, kredit, onlain (online), mesej (message). Most of the latter are confined to the Mongolian state.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.Rybatzki 2003a: 385–387

Writing systems

File:Nova N 176 folio 9.jpg|thumb|right|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 scriptKhitan large scriptMongolian 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 adapted from Uyghur script probably at the very beginning of the 13th century and from that time underwent some minor disambiguations and supplementations. Between 1930 and 1932, a short-lived attempt was made to introduce the Latin script in the Mongolian state, and after a preparatory phase, the Mongolian Cyrillic script was declared mandatory by government decree. It has been argued that the 1941 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.Batchuluun Yembuu, Khulan Munkh-Erdene. 2005. Literacy country study: Mongolia. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006.Literacy for Life. P.7-8] 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. From 1991 to 1994, an attempt at reintroducing the traditional alphabet failed in the face of popular resistance.Svantesson et al. 2005: 34, 40–41. In informal contexts of electronic text production, the use of the Latin alphabet is common.WEB, Sühbaatar, B,weblink Mongol helnij kirill üsgijg latin üsgeer galiglah tuhaj, InfoCon, 2009-01-03, In the People's Republic of China, Mongolian is a co-official language 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.Svantesson et al. 2005: 34, 40. 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.Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 398.

Linguistic history

File:Phagspa imperial edict dragon year.jpg|thumb|left|upright=1.59|alt=White page with black Phags-pa characters and two seals, one being in the middle of and one on the right sight of the text. All lines start at the top of the page|Edict of Yesün Temür Khan, Emperor Taiding of Yuan (1328). Only the 'Phags-pa script retains the complete (Middle Mongol language|Middle Mongol]] vowel system.Svantesson et al. 2005: 111.)The earliest surviving Mongolian text may be the {{ill|Stele of Yisüngge|ru|Чингисов_камень}}, a report on sports composed in Mongolian script on stone, which is most often dated at 1224 or 1225.E.g. Garudi 2002: 7. But see Rachewiltz 1976) The Mongolian-Armenian wordlist of 55 words compiled by Kirakos of Gandzak (13th century) is the first written record of Mongolian words.Djahukyan 1991: 2368 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).Rybatzki 2003b: 58 While they are the earliest texts available, these texts have come to be called "Middle Mongol" in scholarly practice.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. The documents in UM script show some distinct linguistic characteristics and are therefore often distinguished by terming their language "Preclassical Mongolian".Rybatzki 2003b: 57"The Yuan dynasty referred to the Mongolian language in Chinese as "Guoyu" ({{zh|t=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 TengyurJanhunen 2003a: 32. as well as several chronicles.Okada 1984. In 1686, the Soyombo alphabet (Buddhist texts) was created, giving distinctive evidence on early classical Mongolian phonological peculiarities.Nadmid 1967: 98–102.{{Clear}}

Changes in phonology


Research into reconstruction of the consonants of Middle Mongol has engendered several controversies. Middle Mongol had two series of plosives, but there is disagreement as to which phonological dimension they lie on, whether aspiratione.g. Svantesson et al. 2005 or voicing.e.g. Tömörtogoo 1992 The early scripts have distinct letters for velar plosives and uvular plosives, but as these are in complementary distribution according to vowel harmony class, only two back plosive phonemes, */k/, *{{IPA|/kʰ/}} (~ *[k], *{{IPA|[qʰ]}}) are to be reconstructed.Svantesson et al. 2005: 118–120 One prominent, long-running disagreement concerns certain correspondences of word medial consonants among the four major scripts (UM, SM, AM, and Ph, which were discussed in the preceding section). Word-medial /k/ of Uyghur Mongolian (UM) has not one, but two correspondences with the three other scripts: either /k/ or zero. Traditional scholarship has reconstructed */k/ for both correspondences, arguing that */k/ was lost in some instances, which raises the question of what the conditioning factors of those instances were.e.g. Poppe 1955 More recently, the other possibility has been assumed; namely, that the correspondence between UM /k/ and zero in the other scripts points to a distinct phoneme, /h/, which would correspond to the word-initial phoneme /h/ that is present in those other scripts.Svantesson et al. 2005: 118–124. /h/ (also called /x/) is sometimes assumed to derive from *{{IPA|/pʰ/}}, which would also explain zero in SM, AM, Ph in some instances where UM indicates /p/; e.g., debel > Khalkha deel.Janhunen 2003c: 6The palatal affricates *č, *čʰ were fronted in Northern Modern Mongolian dialects such as Khalkha. {{IPA|*kʰ}} was spirantized to {{IPA|/x/}} in Ulaanbaatar Khalkha and the Mongolian dialects south of it, e.g. Preclassical Mongolian kündü, reconstructed as {{IPA|*kʰynty}} 'heavy', became Modern Mongolian {{IPA|/xunt/}}Svantesson et al. 2005: 133, 167. (but in the vicinity of Bayankhongor and Baruun-Urt, many speakers will say {{IPA|[kʰunt]}}).Rinchen (ed.) (1979): 210. Originally word-final *n turned into /ŋ/; if *{{IPA|n}} was originally followed by a vowel that later dropped, it remained unchanged, e.g. {{IPA|*kʰen}} became {{IPA|/xiŋ/}}, but {{IPA|*kʰoina}} became {{IPA|/xɔin/}}. After i-breaking, {{IPA|*[ʃ]}} became phonemic. Consonants in words containing back vowels that were followed by {{IPA|*i}} in Proto-Mongolian became palatalized in Modern Mongolian. In some words, word-final {{IPA|*n}} was dropped with most case forms, but still appears with the ablative, dative and genitive.Svantesson et al. 2005: 124, 165–166, 205.Only foreign origin words start with the letter L and none start with the letter R.BOOK, S. Robert Ramsey, The Languages of China,weblink 1987, Princeton University Press, 0-691-01468-X, 206–,


The standard view is that Proto-Mongolic had {{IPA|*i, *e, *y, *ø, *u, *o, *a}}. According to this view, {{IPA|*o}} and {{IPA|*u}} were pharyngealized to {{IPA|/ɔ/}} and {{IPA|/ʊ/}}, then {{IPA|*y}} and {{IPA|*ø}} were velarized to {{IPA|/u/}} and {{IPA|/o/}}. Thus, the vowel harmony shifted from a velar to a pharyngeal paradigm. {{IPA|*i}} in the first syllable of back-vocalic words was assimilated to the following vowel; in word-initial position it became {{IPA|/ja/}}. {{IPA|*e}} was rounded to {{IPA|*ø}} when followed by {{IPA|*y}}. VhV and VjV sequences where the second vowel was any vowel but {{IPA|*i}} were monophthongized. In noninitial syllables, short vowels were deleted from the phonetic representation of the word and long vowels became short.Svantesson 2005: 181, 184, 186–187, 190–195.E.g. {{IPA|*imahan}} ({{IPA|*i}} becomes {{IPA|/ja/}}, {{IPA|*h}} disappears) > {{IPA|*jamaːn}} (unstable n drops; vowel reduction) > /jama(n)/ 'goat'and {{IPA|*emys-}} (regressive rounding assimilation) > {{IPA|*ømys-}} (vowel velarization) > {{IPA|*omus-}} (vowel reduction) > /oms-/ 'to wear'This reconstruction has recently{{When|date=November 2016}} been opposed, arguing that vowel developments across the Mongolic languages can be more economically explained starting from basically the same vowel system as Khalkha, only with {{IPA|*[ə]}} instead of *[e]. Moreover, the sound changes involved in this alternative scenario are more likely from an articulatory point of view and early Middle Mongol loans into Korean.Ko 2011

Changes in morphology

Nominal system

(File:Secret history.jpg|thumb|right|upright=1.13|alt=white page with several lines of black Chinese characters running top-down and separated into small groups by spaces. To the left of some of the characters there are small characters such as 舌 and 中. To the right of each line, groups of characters are indicated as such by a ")"-shaped bracket, and to the right of each such bracket, there are other medium-sized characters|The Secret History of the MongolsThe Secret History of the MongolsIn the following discussion, in accordance with a preceding observation, the term "Middle Mongol" is used merely as a cover term for texts written in any of three scripts, Uighur Mongolian script (UM), Chinese (SM), or Arabic (AM).The case system of Middle Mongol has remained mostly intact down to the present, although important changes occurred with the comitative and the dative and most other case suffixes did undergo slight changes in form, i.e., were shortened.Rybatzki 2003b: 67, Svantesson 2003: 162. The Middle Mongol comitative -luγ-a could not be used attributively, but it was replaced by the suffix -taj that originally derived adjectives denoting possession from nouns, e.g. mori-tai 'having a horse' became mor'toj 'having a horse/with a horse'. As this adjective functioned parallel to ügej 'not having', it has been suggested that a "privative case" ('without') has been introduced into Mongolian.Janhunen 2003c: 27. There have been three different case suffixes in the dative-locative-directive domain that are grouped in different ways: -a as locative and -dur, -da as dativeRybatzki 2003b: 68. or -da and -a as dative and -dur as locative,Garudi 2002: 101–107. in both cases with some functional overlapping. As -dur seems to be grammaticalized from dotur-a 'within', thus indicating a span of time,Toγtambayar 2006: 18–35. the second account seems to be more likely. Of these, -da was lost, -dur was first reduced to -du and then to -dToγtambayar 2006: 33–34. and -a only survived in a few frozen environments.Norčin et al. (ed.) 1999: 2217. Finally, the directive of modern Mongolian, -ruu, has been innovated from uruγu 'downwards'.Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 228, 386. Social gender agreement was abandoned.Rybatzki 2003b: 73, Svantesson 2003: 166.

Verbal system

Middle Mongol had a slightly larger set of declarative finite verb suffix formsWeiers 1969: Morphologie, §B.II; Svantesson 2003: 166. and a smaller number of participles, which were less likely to be used as finite predicates.Weiers 1969: Morphologie, §B.III; Luvsanvandan 1987: 86–104. The linking converb -n became confined to stable verb combinations,Luvsanvandan (ed.) 1987: 126, Činggeltei 1999: 251–252. while the number of converbs increased.Rybatzki 2003b: 77, Luvsanvandan (ed.) 1987: 126–137 The distinction between male, female and plural subjects exhibited by some finite verbal suffixes was lost.The reconstruction of a social gender distinction is fairly commonplace, see e.g. Rybatzki 2003b: 75. A strong argument for the number distinction between -ba and -bai is made in Tümenčečeg 1990: 103–108 (also see Street 2008), where it is also argued that this has been the case for other suffixes.

Changes in syntax

Neutral word order in clauses with pronominal subject changed from object–predicate–subject to subject–object–predicate, e.g.,
{| style="width:80%; height:60px"|kee-jüü.y''
"Kökseü sabraq spoke saying, 'Alas! You speak a great boast....' "Street 1957: 14, Secret History 190.13v.
The syntax of verb negation shifted from negation particles preceding final verbs to a negation particle following participles; thus, as final verbs could no longer be negated, their paradigm of negation was filled by particles.Yu 1991. For example, Preclassical Mongolian ese irebe 'did not come' vs. modern spoken Khalkha Mongolian ireegüj or irsengüj.

See also






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 KyÅ«shÅ« daigaku gengogaku ronshÅ« [Kyushu University linguistics papers]
  • MKDKH Muroran kōgyō daigaku kenkyÅ« hōkoku [Memoirs of the Muroran Institute of Technology]
  • TULIP Tōkyō daigaku gengogaku ronshÅ« [Tokyo University linguistics papers]

  • {{mn icon}} Amaržargal, B. 1988. BNMAU dah' Mongol helnij nutgijn ajalguuny tol' bichig: halh ajalguu. Ulaanbaatar: Å UA.
  • Apatóczky, Ákos Bertalan. 2005. On the problem of the subject markers of the Mongolian language. In Wú XÄ«nyÄ«ng, Chén Gānglóng (eds.), Miànxiàng xÄ«n shìjìde ménggÇ”xué [The Mongolian studies in the new century : review and prospect]. BÄ›ijÄ«ng: Mínzú ChÅ«bÇŽnshè. 334–343. {{ISBN|7-105-07208-3}}.
  • {{jp icon}} Ashimura, Takashi. 2002. Mongorugo jarōto gengo no {{IPA|-lɛː}} no yōhō ni tsuite. TULIP, 21: 147–200.
  • {{mn icon}} Bajansan, Ž. and Å . Odontör. 1995. Hel Å¡inžlelijn ner tom"joony züjlčilsen tajlbar toli. Ulaanbaatar.
  • {{mn icon}} Bayančoγtu. 2002. Qorčin aman ayalγun-u sudulul. Kökeqota: ÖMYSKQ. {{ISBN|7-81074-391-0}}.
  • {{mn icon}} Bjambasan, P. 2001. Mongol helnij ügüjsgeh har'caa ilerhijleh hereglüürüüd. Mongol hel, sojolijn surguul: Erdem Å¡inžilgeenij 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 kenkyÅ«, 7: 71–101.
  • Chuluu, Ujiyediin. 1998. Studies on Mongolian verb morphology. Dissertation, University of Toronto.
  • {{mn icon}} ÄŒinggeltei. 1999. Odu üj-e-jin mongγul kelen-ü ǰüi. Kökeqota: ÖMAKQ. {{ISBN|7-204-04593-9}}.
  • {{mn icon}} Coloo, Ž. 1988. BNMAU dah' mongol helnij nutgijn ajalguuny tol' bichig: ojrd ajalguu. Ulaanbaatar: Å UA.
  • {{en icon}} Djahukyan, Gevork. (1991). Armenian Lexicography. In Franz Josef Hausmann (Ed.), An International Encyclopedia of Lexicography (pp. 2367–2371). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
  • {{zh icon}} [Dobu] Dàobù. 1983. MénggÇ”yÇ” jiÇŽnzhì. BÄ›ijÄ«ng: Mínzú.
  • {{mn icon}} Garudi. 2002. Dumdadu üy-e-yin mongγul kelen-ü bütüče-yin kelberi-yin sudulul. Kökeqota: ÖMAKQ.
  • Georg, Stefan, Peter A. Michalove, Alexis Manaster Ramer, Paul J. Sidwell. 1999. Telling general linguists about Altaic. Journal of Linguistics, 35: 65–98.
  • Guntsetseg, D. 2008. Differential Object Marking in Mongolian. Working Papers of the SFB 732 Incremental Specification in Context, 1: 53–69.
  • Hammar, Lucia B. 1983. Syntactic and pragmatic options in Mongolian – a study of bol and n'. Ph.D. Thesis. Bloomington: Indiana University.
  • [Köke] Harnud, Huhe. 2003. A Basic Study of Mongolian Prosody. Helsinki: Publications of the Department of Phonetics, University of Helsinki. Series A; 45. Dissertation. {{ISBN|952-10-1347-8}}.
  • {{jp icon}} Hashimoto, Kunihiko. 1993. no imiron. MKDKH, 43: 49–94. Sapporo: Dō daigaku.
  • {{jp icon}} Hashimoto, Kunihiko. 2004. weblink" title="">Mongorugo no kopyura kōbun no imi no ruikei. Muroran kōdai kiyō, 54: 91–100.
  • Janhunen, Juha (ed.). 2003. The Mongolic languages. London: Routledge. {{ISBN|0700711333}}
  • Janhunen, Juha. 2003a. Written Mongol. In Janhunen 2003: 30–56.
  • Janhunen, Juha. 2003b. Para-Mongolic. In Janhunen 2003: 391–402.
  • Janhunen, Juha. 2003c. Proto-Mongolic. In Janhunen 2003: 1–29.
  • Janhunen, Juha. 2003d. Mongol dialects. In Janhunen 2003: 177–191.
  • Janhunen, Juha. 2006. Mongolic languages. In K. Brown (ed.), The encyclopedia of language & linguistics. Amsterdam: Elsevier: 231–234.
  • Johanson, Lars. 1995. On Turkic Converb Clauses. In Martin Haspelmath and Ekkehard König (eds.), Converbs in cross-linguistic perspective. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter: 313–347. {{ISBN|978-3-11-014357-7}}.
  • {{ko icon}} Kang, Sin Hyen. 2000. Tay.mong.kol.e č-uy uy.mi.wa ki.nung. Monggolhak [Mongolian Studies], 10: 1–23. Seoul: Hanʼguk Monggol Hakhoe [Korean Association for Mongolian Studies].
  • Karlsson, Anastasia Mukhanova. 2005. Rhythm and intonation in Halh Mongolian. Ph.D. Thesis. Lund: Lund University. Series: Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund; 46. Lund: Lund University. {{ISBN|91-974116-9-8}}.
  • Ko, Seongyeon. 2011. Vowel Contrast and Vowel Harmony Shift in the Mongolic Languages. Language Research, 47.1: 23–43.
  • {{mn icon}} Luvsanvandan, Å . 1959. Mongol hel ajalguuny učir. Studia Mongolica [Mongolyn sudlal], 1.
  • {{mn icon}} Luvsanvandan, Å . (ed.). 1987. (Authors: P. Bjambasan, C. Önörbajan, B. Pürev-Očir, Ž. Sanžaa, C. Žančivdorž) Orčin cagijn mongol helnij ügzüjn bajguulalt. Ulaanbaatar: Ardyn bolovsrolyn jaamny surah bičig, setgüülijn negdsen rjedakcijn gazar.
  • {{jp icon}} Matsuoka, YÅ«ta. 2007. Gendai mongorugo no asupekuto to dōshi no genkaisei. KULIP, 28: 39–68.
  • {{jp icon}} Mizuno, Masanori. 1995. Gendai mongorugo no jÅ«zokusetsushugo ni okeru kakusentaku. TULIP, 14: 667–680.
  • {{mn icon}} Mönh-Amgalan, J. 1998. Orčin tsagijn mongol helnij bajmžijn aj. Ulaanbaatar: Moncame. {{ISBN|99929-951-2-2}}.
  • {{mn icon}} Nadmid, Ž. 1967. Mongol hel, tüünij bičgijn tüühen högžlijn tovč tojm. Ulaanbaatar: Å UA.
  • {{mn icon}} Norčin et al. (eds.) 1999. Mongγol kelen-ü toli. Kökeqota: ÖMAKQ. {{ISBN|7-204-03423-6}}.
  • Okada, Hidehiro. 1984. Mongol chronicles and Chinggisid genealogies. Journal of Asian and African studies, 27: 147–154.
  • {{mn icon}} Öbür mongγul-un yeke surγaγuli. 2005 [1964]. Odu üy-e-yin mongγul kele. Kökeqota: ÖMAKQ. {{ISBN|7-204-07631-1}}.
  • Poppe, Nicholas. 1955. Introduction to Mongolian comparative studies. Helsinki: Finno-Ugrian Society.
  • Poppe, Nicholas. 1970. Mongolian language handbook. Washington D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics.
  • {{mn icon}} Pürev-Očir, B. 1997. Orčin cagijn mongol helnij ögüülberzüj. Ulaanbaatar: n.a.
  • Rachewiltz, Igor de. 1976. Some Remarks on the Stele of Yisuüngge. In Walter Heissig et al., Tractata Altaica – Denis Sinor, sexagenario optime de rebus altaicis merito dedicata. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. pp. 487–508.
  • Rachewiltz, Igor de. 1999. Some reflections on so-called Written Mongolian. In: Helmut Eimer, Michael Hahn, Maria Schetelich, Peter Wyzlic (eds.). ''Studia Tibetica et Mongolica – Festschrift Manfred Taube. Swisttal-Odendorf: Indica et Tibetica Verlag: 235–246.
  • {{mn icon}} Rinchen, Byambyn (ed.). 1979. Mongol ard ulsyn ugsaatny sudlal helnij Å¡inžlelijn atlas. Ulaanbaatar: Å UA.
  • Rybatzki, Volker. 2003a. Intra-Mongolic Taxonomy. In Janhunen 2003: 364–390.
  • Rybatzki, Volker. 2003b. Middle Mongol. In Janhunen 2003: 47–82.
  • {{mn icon}} Sajto, Kosüke. 1999. Orčin čagyn mongol helnij "nerÅ¡sen" temdeg nerijn onclog (temdeglel). Mongol ulsyn ih surguulijn Mongol sudlalyn surguul' Erdem Å¡inžilgeenij bičig XV bot', 13: 95–111.
  • {{mn icon}} Sanžaa, Ž. and D. Tujaa. 2001. Darhad ajalguuny urt egÅ¡gijg avialbaryn tövÅ¡ind sudalsan n'. Mongol hel Å¡inžlel, 4: 33–50.
  • {{ru icon}} Sanžeev, G. D. 1953. Sravnitel'naja grammatika mongol'skih jazykov. Moskva: Akademija Nauk USSR.
  • {{mn icon}} Sečen. 2004. Odu üy-e-yin mongγul bičig-ün kelen-ü üge bütügekü daγaburi-yin sudulul. Kökeqota: ÖMASKKQ. {{ISBN|7-5311-4963-X}}.
  • Sechenbaatar [Sečenbaγatur], Borjigin. 2003. The Chakhar dialect of Mongol: a morphological description. Helsinki: Finno-Ugrian society. {{ISBN|952-5150-68-2}}.
  • {{mn icon}} Sečenbaγatur, Qasgerel, Tuyaγ-a [Туяa], Bu. Jirannige, Wu Yingzhe, ÄŒinggeltei. 2005. Mongγul kelen-ü nutuγ-un ayalγun-u sinÇ°ilel-ün uduridqal [A guide to the regional dialects of Mongolian]. Kökeqota: ÖMAKQ. {{ISBN|7-204-07621-4}}.
  • {{cn icon}} Siqinchaoketu [=Sečenčoγtu]. 1999). Kangjiayu yanjiu. Shanghai: Shanghai Yuandong Chubanshe.
  • Slater, Keith. 2003. A grammar of Mangghuer. London: RoutledgeCurzon. {{ISBN|978-0-7007-1471-1}}.
  • Starostin, Sergei A., Anna V. Dybo, and Oleg A. Mudrak. 2003. Etymological Dictionary of the Altaic Languages, 3 volumes. Leiden: Brill. {{ISBN|90-04-13153-1}}.
  • Street, John C. 1957. The language of the Secret History of the Mongols. New Haven: American Oriental Society. American Oriental series; 42.
  • Street, John C. 2008. Middle Mongolian Past-tense -BA in the Secret History. Journal of the American Oriental Society 128 (3): 399–422.
  • Svantesson, Jan-Olof. 2003. Khalkha. In Janhunen 2003: 154–176.
  • Svantesson, Jan-Olof, Anna Tsendina, Anastasia Karlsson, Vivan Franzén. 2005. The Phonology of Mongolian. New York: Oxford University Press. {{ISBN|0-19-926017-6}}.
  • {{mn icon}} Temürcereng, JÌŒ. 2004. Mongγul kelen-ü üge-yin sang-un sudulul. Kökeqota: ÖMASKKQ. {{ISBN|7-5311-5893-0}}.
  • {{mn icon}} Toγtambayar, L. 2006. Mongγul kelen-ü kele ǰüiÇ°igsen yabuča-yin tuqai sudulul. Liyuuning-un ündüsüten-ü keblel-ün qoriy-a. {{ISBN|7-80722-206-9}}.
  • {{mn icon}} Tömörtogoo, D. 1992. Mongol helnij tüühen helzüj. Ulaanbaatar.
  • {{mn icon}} Tömörtogoo, D. 2002. Mongol dörvölžin üsegijn durashalyn sudalgaa. Ulaanbaatar: IAMS. {{ISBN|99929-56-24-0}}.
  • {{mn icon}} Tsedendamba, Ts., Sürengijn Möömöö (eds.). 1997. Orčin cagijn mongol hel. Ulaanbaatar.
  • Tserenpil, D. and R. Kullmann. 2005. Mongolian grammar. Ulaanbaatar: Admon. {{ISBN|99929-0-445-3}}.
  • {{mn icon}} Tümenčečeg. 1990. Dumdadu Ç°aγun-u mongγul kelen-ü toγačin ögülekü tölüb-ün kelberi-nügüd ba tegün-ü ularil kögÇ°il. Öbür mongγul-un yeke surγaγuli, 3: 102–120.
  • JOURNAL, Vovin, Alexander, Alexander Vovin, 2005, The end of the Altaic controversy (review of Starostin et al. 2003), Central Asiatic Journal, 49, 1, 71–132, harv,
  • Walker, Rachel. 1997. Mongolian stress, licensing, and factorial typology. Rutgers Optimality Archive, ROA-172.
  • {{de icon}} Weiers, Michael. 1969. Untersuchungen zu einer historischen Grammatik des präklassischen Schriftmongolisch. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. Asiatische Forschungen, 28. (Revision of 1966 dissertation submitted to the Universität Bonn.)
  • Yu, Wonsoo. 1991. A study of Mongolian negation. Ph. D. Thesis. Bloomington: Indiana University.

Further reading

  • Janhunen, Juha A. 2012: Mongolian. (London Oriental and African Language Library, 19.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. {{ISSN|1382-3485}}. {{ISBN|978-90-272-3820-7}}

External links

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