The History of the Mongolian Language

In addition to being close to Turkish, Mongolian belongs to the Altaic language family. Over 7 million people speak it in Mongolia, in Tsinghai and Kansu in China, as well as in Eastern Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

Mongol, a language based on the Khalkha dialect, became the state’s official language in 1924. The main dialect in Mongolia is Khalkha, which differs slightly from the other dialects spoken by Mongolians in China (Chahar, Oyirad, and Barghu-Buryat).

During the early 13th century, the slave Tatar-Tonga coined the first Mongolian alphabet. Chinese and Arabic were also used to write Mongolian in subsequent centuries.

The traditional Mongolian alphabet
The traditional Mongolian alphabet

The Soviet Union forced Mongolia to adopt the Cyrillic alphabet in 1937, resulting in the abolition of the Mongolian script in 1941. Currently, Mongolian script is mainly used for decoration purposes. There are separate letters for consonants and vowels in this phonemic alphabet. The shape of a letter depends on whether it’s in the first, median, or last position. Mongolian script is written from left to right.

Modern Mongolian alphabet
Modern Mongolian alphabet

Mongolian grammar is very simple – predicates appear at the end of sentences, and attributes are placed in front of objects. Mongolian uses a system of suffixes attached to the root of the word in order to modify its meaning and the way it is conjugated/declined.

It may be difficult for Europeans to learn Mongolian, even though Mongolian pronunciation isn’t very challenging. A Korean or Japanese speaker should have little trouble learning Mongolian.



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