Geographic distributionMongolian is the official national language of Mongolia, where it is spoken (but not always written) by nearly 3.6 million people (2014 estimate), and the official provincial language (both spoken and written forms) of Inner Mongolia, China, where there are at least 4.1 million ethnic Mongols. 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. 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. The multilingual situation in Inner Mongolia does not appear to obstruct efforts by ethnic Mongols to preserve their language. 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. The children of inter-ethnic Mongol-Chinese marriages also claim to be and are registered as ethnic Mongols. In 2020, 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. These protests were quickly suppressed by the Chinese government.
Classification and dialectsMongolian 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 Variety (linguistics), varieties is not easily arrangeable according to a common set of linguistic criteria. Such data might account for the Historical linguistics, historical development of the Mongolian dialect continuum, as well as for its Sociolinguistics, sociolinguistic qualities. Though phonological and lexical studies are comparatively well developed, the basis has yet to be laid for a comparative Morphology (linguistics), morphosyntactic study, for example between such highly diverse varieties as Khalkha Mongolian, Khalkha and Khorchin. 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 language, Oirat (including the Kalmyk Oirat, Kalmyk variety) and Buryat language, Buryat, both of which are spoken in Russia, Mongolia, and China; and Ordos Mongolian, Ordos, spoken around Inner Mongolia's Ordos City. There is no disagreement that the Khalkha dialect of the Mongolian state is Mongolian. 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 Mongolian, Chakhar, and Ordos, with Buryat and Oirat judged to be independent languages. 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). 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. Some Western scholars 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 dialect, Alasha, which is under the cultural influence of Inner Mongolia but historically tied to Oirat, and of other border varieties like Darkhad dialect, Darkhad would very likely remain problematic in any classification, 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. The split of into before *i and before all other reconstructed vowels, which is found in Mongolia but not in Inner Mongolia, is often cited as a fundamental distinction, for example Proto-Mongolic ', Khalkha , Chakhar 'year' versus Proto-Mongolic ', Khalkha , Chakhar 'few'. On the other hand, the split between the past tense verbal suffixes -' in the Central varieties vs. -' in the Eastern varieties is usually seen as a merely stochastic difference. 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 Mongolian, Baarin, Khorchin, Kharchin, and Alasha. The authorities have synthesized a Standard language, 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 Eight Banners, Plain Blue Banner. 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. Besides Mongolian, or "Central Mongolic", other languages in the Mongolic grouping include Dagur language, Dagur, spoken in eastern Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, and in the vicinity of Tacheng in Xinjiang; the Shirongolic languages, Shirongolic subgroup Eastern Yugur language, Shira Yugur, Bonan language, Bonan, Santa language, Dongxiang, Monguor language, Monguor, and Kangjia language, Kangjia, spoken in Qinghai and Gansu regions; and the possibly extinct Moghol language, Moghol of Afghanistan. As for the classification of the Mongolic family relative to other languages, the Altaic theory (which is increasingly less well received among linguists) proposes that the Mongolic family is a member of a larger Altaic languages, Altaic family that would also include the Turkic languages, Turkic and Tungusic languages, Tungusic, and usually Koreanic languages and Japonic languages as well.
List of dialectsJuha Janhunen (2003: 179) lists the following Mongol dialects, most of which are spoken in Inner Mongolia. *Tongliao group **Khorchin (Qurciv) **Jasagtu (Jasaqdu) **Jarut (Jarut) **Jalait (Jalajit) **Dörbet (Tuirbat) **Gorlos (Qhurlus) *Chifeng, Juu Uda group **Aru Khorchin (vAru Qurciv) **Baarin (Baqhariv) **Ongniut (vUvgniqhut) **Naiman (Naimav) **Aokhan (vAuqav) *Josutu League, Josotu group **Kharachin (Qaraciv) **Tümet (Tuimat) *Ulanqab, Ulan Tsab group **Chakhar (Caqar) **Urat (vUrat) **Darkhan (Tarqav) **Muumingan (Muumivgqhav) **Dörben Küüket (Tuirbav Gaugat) **Keshigten (Gasigdav) *Xilingol League, Shilingol group **Üdzümüchin (vUiczumuciv) **Khuuchit (Qaqhucit) **Abaga (vAbaqhe) **Abaganar (vAbaqhanar) **Sönit (Suinit) *Outer Mongolian group **Khalkha Mongolian, Khalkha (Qalqe) **Khotogoit (Quduqhujit) **Darkhad dialect, Darkhat (Tarqat) **Tsongol (Cuvgqhul) **Sartul (Sartaqhul) **Dariganga (Tariqhavgqhe)
Juha Janhunen – 'Mongolian' book – from 2012In Juha Janhunen's book titled "Mongolian", he groups the Mongolic language family into 4 distinct linguistic branches: * the Dagur language, Dagur branch, made up of just the Dagur language, which is spoken in the northeast area of Manchuria in China, specifically in Morin Dawa Daur Autonomous Banner of Hulunbuir, and in Meilisi Daur District of Qiqihar, Heilongjiang. * the Moghol language, Moghol branch, made up of just the Moghol language, spoken in Afghanistan, and is possibly extinct. * the Shirongolic (or Southern Mongolian, ''Southern Mongolic'') branch, made up of roughly 7 languages, and which are spoken in the Amdo region of Tibet. * the Common Mongolic (or Central Mongolic – see ''Mongolic languages'') branch, made up of roughly 6 languages, and which are spoken centrally in the country of Mongolia, as well as Manchuria and Inner Mongolia to the east, Ordos City, Ordos to the south, Dzungaria to the west, and Siberia to the north.
= Shirongolic/Southern Mongolic (part of a Gansu–Qinghai Sprachbund)= The Shirongolic branch of the Mongolic languages, Mongolic language family is made up of roughly 7 languages, grouped in the following way: * Eastern Yugur language, Shira Yughur * Monguor language, Monguor group ** Monguor language, Mongghul ** Monguor language, Mongghuor ** Monguor language, Mangghuer * Bonan language, Bonan group ** Bonan language, Bonan ** Kangjia language, Kangjia ** Santa language, Santa
= Common Mongolic/Central Mongolic= The Common Mongolic (or ''Central Mongolic'' – see Mongolic languages) branch of the Mongolic languages, Mongolic language family is made up of roughly 6 languages, grouped in the following way: * Khalkha Mongolian, Khalkha (''Xalx''), or the Khalkha Mongolian, Khalkha group of dialects, are spoken centrally in the country of Mongolia, but some dialects, e.g. Chakhar Mongolian, Chakhar are also spoken in the Inner Mongolia region of China. * Khorchin Mongolian, Khorchin (''Xorcen''), or the Khorchin Mongolian, Khorchin group of dialects, are spoken to the east, in the eastern part of Inner Mongolia and Manchuria. * Ordos Mongolian, Ordos (''Ordes''), is spoken to the south, in the Ordos City, Ordos city of Inner Mongolia. * Oirat language, Oirat (''Oired''), is spoken to the west, in Dzungaria. * Khamnigan Mongol, Khamnigan (''Xamyen'gen''), or Khamnigan Mongol, is spoken to the northeast, in the northeast of the country Mongolia, and also in northwest of the Manchuria of China. * Buryat language, Buryat (''Bouryaad''), is spoken to the north, in the Republic of Buryatia of Russia, as well as the Barga (Bargu) region of Hulunbuir, Hulun Buir League in the Inner Mongolia region of China.
PhonologyThe 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. This section discusses the phonology of Khalkha Mongolian with subsections on Vowels, Consonants, Phonotactics and Stress.
VowelsThe standard language has seven monophthong vowel phonemes. They are aligned into three vowel harmony groups by a parameter called ATR (Advanced and retracted tongue root, 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 has become centralized to the Close-mid central rounded vowel, central vowel . 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: : : Khalkha also has four diphthongs: . Vowels can also combine to form a further three diphthongs, and so seven in total: ia (иа), ʊa (уа) ei (эй). For example: aй in далай (sea), иа in амиараа (individually), ой in нохой (dog), уа in хуаран (barracks), уй in уйлах (to cry), үй in үйлдвэр (factory), эй in хэрэгтэй (necessary). ATR harmony. Mongolian divides vowels into three groups in a system of vowel harmony: : As mentioned, for historical reasons these have traditionally been labeled as "front" vowels and "back" vowels. Indeed, in Romanization, Romanized transcription of Mongolian, the vowels and are often conventionally rendered as and , while the vowels and are expressed as and (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, , not belonging to either group. All the vowels in a nonCompound (linguistics), compound 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 or a −ATR vowel. Likewise, if the first vowel is a +ATR vowel, then every vowel of the word must be either 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 that can be realized as . For example: * ''household'' + (instrumental) → ''by a household'' * ''sentry'' + (instrumental) → ''by a sentry'' Other suffixes can occur in being realized as , in which case all −ATR vowels lead to and all +ATR vowels lead to . For example: * ''to take'' + (causative) → If the only vowel in the word stem is , the suffixes will use the +ATR suffix forms. Rounding harmony. Mongolian also has rounding harmony, which does not apply to close vowels. If a stem contains (or ), a suffix that is specified for an open vowel will have (or , respectively) as well. However, this process is blocked by the presence of (or ) and . E.g. ''came in'', but ''inserted''. 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 Phoneme, phonemic contrast in Vowel length, 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 Syllabification, determined according to Phonotactics, phonotactic requirements.
ConsonantsThe following table lists the consonants of Khalkha Mongolian. The consonants enclosed in parentheses occur only in loanwords. A striking and rare feature among the world's languages, Mongolian lacks the voiced lateral approximant, ; instead, it has a voiced alveolar lateral fricative, , which is often realized as voiceless . In word-final position, (if not followed by a vowel in historical forms) is realized as . The occurrence of palatalized consonant phonemes seems to be restricted to words that contain [−ATR] vowels. Aspirated consonants are preaspirated in medial and word-final contexts, devoicing preceding consonants and vowels. Devoiced short vowels are often deleted.
Syllable structure and phonotacticsThe maximal syllable is CVVCCC, where the last C is a word-final suffix. A single short vowel rarely appears in Syllable#Coda, syllable-final position. If a word was monosyllabic historically, *CV has become CVV. is restricted to codas (else it becomes ), and and 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 and * may precede only and * does not seem to appear in second position * and do not occur as first consonant and as second consonant only if preceded by or or their palatalized counterparts. Clusters that do not conform to these restrictions will be broken up by an Epenthesis, epenthetic nonphonemic vowel in a syllabification that takes place from right to left. For example, ''hojor'' 'two', ''ažil'' 'work', and ''saarmag'' 'neutral' are, phonemically, , , and 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 , , and . The phonetic form of the epenthetic vowel follows from vowel harmony triggered by the vowel in the preceding syllable. Usually it is a Relative articulation#Centralized vowels, centralized version of the same sound, with the following exceptions: preceding produces ; 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 , as in .
StressStress (linguistics), 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. 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) proposes that stress falls on the rightmost Syllable weight, heavy syllable unless this syllable is word-final: : A "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: : 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. 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 (physics), intensity data often seems to indicate that the first syllable is stressed, while Fundamental frequency, F0 seems to indicate that it is the second syllable that is stressed.
GrammarThe 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, while Khorchin is somewhat more diverse.
Forming questionsWhen 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, and 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 and 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 and , depending on the last sound in the previous word. # Yes/No Question Particles - () # Open Ended Question Particles - () Basic interrogative pronouns - (; 'what'), - (; 'where'), (; 'who'), (; 'why'), (; 'how'), (; 'when'), (; 'what kind')
VerbsIn Mongolian, verbs have a stem and an ending. For example, , , and are the stems and take the following endings: , , and respectively: , , and . These are the infinitive or dictionary forms. The present/future tense is formed by adding either , , , or to the stem. These do not change for different pronouns, so (I/you/he/she/we/you all/they study) will always be . is the present/future tense verb for to be. is to read. is to see. The final vowel is barely pronounced and is not pronounced at all if the word after begins with a vowel, so is pronounced sain bain uu. # Past Tense - () # Informed Past Tense (any point in past) - () # Informed Past Tense (not long ago) - () # Non-Informed Past Tense (generally a slightly to relatively more distant past) - () # Present Perfect Tense - () # Present Progressive Tense - () # (Reflective) Present Progressive Tense - () # Simple Present Tense - () # Simple Future - () # Infinitive Tense - ()
Negative formThere are several ways to form negatives in Mongolian. For example: # () – the negative form of the verb 'to be' ( ) – means 'is/are not'. # - (). This suffix is added to verbs, for example ( – go/will go) becomes ( – do not go/will not go). # () is the word for 'no' in Mongolian # () is used for negative imperatives, for example ( – don't go) # () is the formal version of .
MorphologyModern Mongolian is an agglutination, agglutinative, almost exclusively suffixing language, the only exception being reduplication. Mongolian also does not have gendered nouns, or definite articles like "the". Most of the suffixes consist of a single morpheme. There are many Derivation (linguistics), derivational morphemes. For example, the word consists of the root - 'to be', an epenthesis, epenthetic --, the causative -- (hence 'to found'), the Derivation (linguistics), derivative suffix - that forms nouns created by the action (like -''ation'' in 'organisation') and the complex suffix – denoting something that belongs to the modified word (- would be genitive case, genitive). Nominal compound (linguistics), compounds are quite frequent. Some derivational verbal suffixes are rather productivity (linguistics), productive, e.g. - 'to speak', - '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. - (mainly future or generic statements) or – (second person imperative); participles (often called "verbal nouns"), which can be used clause-finally or attributively, i.e. - (perfect (grammar), perfect-past tense, past) or - ('want to'); and converbs, which can link clauses or function adverbially, i.e. - (qualifies for any adverbial function or neutrally connects two sentence (linguistics), sentences) or - (the action of the main clause takes place until the action expressed by the suffixed verb begins). Roughly speaking, Mongolian has eight grammatical case, cases: nominative case, nominative (markedness, unmarked), genitive case, genitive, dative case, dative, accusative case, accusative, ablative case, ablative, instrumental case, instrumental, comitative case, comitative and allative case, directional. If a direct object is definiteness, definite, it must take the accusative, while it must take the nominative if it is Definiteness, unspecific. In addition to case, a number of Preposition and postposition, postpositions exist that usually govern genitive, ablative, or comitative case or a form of the nominative that has sometimes - either for lexical historical reasons or analogy (thus maybe becoming an attributive case suffix). Nouns can take reflexive-possessive clitics indicating that the marked noun is possessed by the subject (grammar), subject of the sentence: I friend- save- 'I saved my friend'. However, there are also somewhat noun-like adjectives to which case suffixes seemingly cannot be attached directly unless there is ellipsis (linguistics), ellipsis. : 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 adding one of the following endings: - (-), - (-), - (-).
Genitive caseThe genitive case is used to show possession of something. It is formed by adding one of the following endings: -н (n) -ы (i) -ий (ii) -ийн (iin) -ын (in) -гийн (giin). For example: # -н (n) is added to all words which end with a diphthong or ий (ii). # -ы (i) is added to back vowel words ending in -н (n). # -ий (ii) is added to front vowel words ending in н (n). # -ийн (iin) is added to front vowel words ending in short vowels or consonants (except those ending in н), and to back vowel words ending in ж, ч, ш, г, ь, и, and the short vowel will be dropped. # -ын (in) is added to all other back vowel words ending with short vowels or other consonants (except those ending in н). # -гийн (giin) is added to all front and back vowel word ending with long vowels.
Dative/locative caseThe dative/locative case is used to show the location of something. It is formed by adding one of the following endings to the stem of a word: ''-''д (d), ''-''ад (ad), -ид (id), ''-''т (t). For example: # ''-''д (d) is added to words ending in a vowel, or -м, -н. -л. # ''-''ад (ad) is added to words ending in -д, -з, -ц, -с. -т, -х. # -ид (id) is added to words ending in -ш, -ж or -ч. # -т (t) is added to words ending in -р, -г, or -с (only when -c has a vowel before it).
PluralsSource: 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. There are four ways of forming plurals in Mongolian: # Some plurals are formed by adding ''noːd'' or ''-nuːd'' (нууд or нүүд - ''nuud'' or ''nüüd''). If the last vowel of the previous word is a (a), o (y), or ɔ (o), then -noːd (нууд) is used. For example, харx (kharkh - rat) becomes xapхнууд (kharkhnuud - rats). If the last vowel of the previous word is e (э), ʊ (ө), ü (ү), or i (и) then ''-nuːd'' (нүүд) is used: for example, нүд (eye) becomes нүднүүд (eyes - nüdnüüd). # In other plurals, just ''-oːd'' or ''-uːd'' is added with no "n" included. For example, хот (city - khot) becomes хотууд (cities - khotuud), and ээж (mother - eej) becomes ээжүүд (mothers - eejüüd). # Another way of forming plurals is adding ''-nar.'' For example, багш (teacher - bagsh) becomes багш нар (teachers - bagsh nar). # The final way is an irregular form used: хүн (khün - person) becomes хүмүүс (khümüüs - 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, grammatical conjunction, conjunctions (which take participles), spatials, and grammatical particle, particles, the last being rather numerous. negation (linguistics), Negation is mostly expressed by ''-güi'' (-гүй) after participles and by the negation particle ''bish'' after nouns and adjectives; negation particles preceding the verb (for example in converbal constructions) exist, but tend to be replaced by analytical constructions.
Differential case markingMongolian uses differential case marking, being a regular Differential object marking, Differential Object Marking (DOM) language. DOM emerges from a complicated interaction of factors such as referentiality, animacy and Topic and comment, 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.
Phrase structureThe noun phrase has the order: demonstrative pronoun/Numeral (linguistics), numeral, adjective, noun. Attributive sentences precede the whole NP. Titles or occupations of people, low numerals indicating groups, and topic–comment, focus clitics are put behind the head noun. Possessive pronouns (in different forms) may either precede or follow the NP. Examples: : : The verbal phrase consists of the Predicate (grammar), predicate in the center, preceded by its complement (linguistics), complements and by the adverbials modifying it and followed (mainly if the predicate is sentence-final) by modal particles, as in the following example with predicate ''bičsen'': : In this clause the adverbial, ''helehgüjgeer'' 'without saying [so]' must precede the predicate's complement, ''üünijg'' 'it-' 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. 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 (linguistics), copula. coverb, Auxiliaries that express direction and Lexical aspect, aktionsart (among other meanings) can with the assistance of a linking converb occupy the immediate postverbal position, e.g. ''uuž orhison'' drink- leave- '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- be- 'she is running'. Suffixes occupying this position express grammatical aspect, e.g., progressive aspect, progressive and resultative. In the next position, participles followed by ''baj-'' may follow, e.g., ''ter irsen bajna'' s/he come- be- 'he has come'. Here, an explicit perfect (grammar), 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.
ClausesUnmarked phrase order is subject (grammar), subject–object (grammar), object–predicate. While the predicate generally has to remain in clause-final position, the other phrases are free to change order or to wholly disappear. The topic tends to be placed clause-initially, new information rather at the end of the clause. Topic can be overtly marked with ''bol'', which can also mark contrastive focus, overt additive focus ('even, also') can be marked with the clitic ''č'', and overt restrictive focus with the clitic ''l'' ('only'). The inventory of Grammatical voice, voices in Mongolian consists of passive, causative, reciprocal (grammar), 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: : 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''-. 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.
Complex sentencesOne way to conjoin clauses is to have the first clause end in a converb, as in the following example using the converb ''-bol'': : Some verbal nouns in the dative (or less often in the instrumental) function very similar to converbs: e.g., replacing ''olbol'' in the preceding sentence with ''olohod'' find- 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: : Finally, there is a class of particles, usually clause-initial, that are distinct from conjunctions but that also relate clauses: : Mongolian has a complementizer auxiliary verb ''ge''- very similar to Japanese language, 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
Loanwords and coined wordsMongolian first adopted loanwords from many languages including Old Turkic, Sanskrit (these often through Uighur language, Uighur), Persian language, Persian, Arabic language, Arabic, Classical Tibetan, Tibetan, Tungusic languages, Tungusic, and Chinese language, Chinese. However, more recent loanwords come from Russian language, Russian, English language, English, and Mandarin Chinese (mainly in Inner Mongolia). Language commissions of the Mongolian state continuously translate new terminology into Mongolian, so as the Mongolian vocabulary now has 'president' ("generalizer") and 'beer' ("yellow kumys"). There are several calque, loan translations, e.g., 'train' ('fire-having cart') from Chinese (, fire cart) 'train'. Other loan translations include (essence) from Chinese (, true quality), (population) from Chinese (, person mouth), (corn, maize) from Chinese (, jade rice) and (republic) from Chinese (, public collaboration nation). * Sanskrit loanwords include ( , religion), ( , space), ( , talent), ( , good deeds), ( , instant), ( , continent), ( , planet), ( , tales, stories), ( , poems, verses), (पदक, , strophe), ( , mineral water, nectar), ( , chronicle), ( , Mercury), ( Venus), ( , Jupiter) and ( , Saturn). * Persian loanwords include (, amethyst), (, brandy, from Arabic), (, building), (, tiger), (, chess queen/female tiger), (, steel), (, crystal), (, sesame), (, prison), (, powder/gunpowder), (, telescope), (, telescope/microscope), (, notebook), (, high God), (, soap) (, stool), and (, cup). * Chinese loanwords include ''banz'' (板子 bǎnzi, board), ''laa'' (蜡 là, candle), ''luuvan'' (萝卜 lúobo, radish), ''khuluu'' (葫芦 húlu, gourd), ''denlüü'' (灯路 dēnglù, lamp), ''chiiden'' (汽灯 qìdēng, electric lamp), ''biir'' (笔儿 bǐ'er, paintbrush), ''gambanz'' (斩板子 zhǎnbǎnzi, cutting board), ''chinjuu'' (青椒 qīngjiāo, pepper), ''juutsai'' (韭菜 jiǔcài, 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 mǎimài, trade), ''goimon'' (挂面 gùamiàn, noodles), ''dan'' (单 dān, single), ''gan'' (钢 gāng, steel), ''lantuu'' (榔头 lángtou, sledgehammer), ''tsonkh'' (窗户 chūanghu, window), ''buuz'' (包子 bāozi, dumplings), ''khuushuur'' (火烧儿 hǔoshāo'er, fried dumpling), ''zutan'' (乳脂汤 rǔzhītāng, cream soup), ''bantan'' (粉汤 fěntāng, flour soup), ''jan'' (酱 jiàng, soy), ''van'' (王 wáng, king), ''günj'' (公主 gōngzhǔ, princess), ''gün'' (公 gōng, duke), ''janjin'' (将军 jiāngjūn, general), ''taigan'' (太监 tàijiàn, eunuch), ''pyanz'' (片子 piànzi, recorded disk), ''guanz'' (馆子 guǎnzi, restaurant), ''lianhua'' (莲花 liánhuā, lotus), ''khuar'' (花儿 huā'er, flower, used in names), ''toor'' (桃儿 táo'erAhura Mazda, , peach), ''intoor'' (樱桃儿 yīngtáo'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)'' (斤 jīn, weight), ''bin(g)'' (饼 bǐng, pancake), ''khuanli'' (皇历 huángli, calendar), ''shaazan'' (烧瓷 shāocí, porcelain), ''khantaaz'' (砍兜肚 kǎndōudu, sleeveless vest), ''püntüüz'' (粉条子 fěntiáozi, 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. Mongolian also gave out loanwords to other languages. Examples, with Mongolian in brackets, include the following. Persian: ''kheshikchi'' (kheshig, royal guard), ''Gūrkāniyān'' گورکانیان (küregen, son-in-law), ''qarqavol'' قرقاول (girgawl, pheasant), ''jebe'' جبه (jebseg, iron armour), ''nokar'' نوکر (nökör, attendant), ''chedar'' چدار (chödör, hobble), ''daruge'' داروغه (darga, chief commandant), ''keyichi'' قیچی (kayichi, scissors). Uzbek ''orol'' (aral, island). Chinese ''hutong'' 衚衕 (gudum, passageway), ''zhanchi'' 站赤 (jamchi, courier/post station). Middle Chinese ''duk'' 犢 (tugul, calf). Korean ''sura'' 수라 (shüle, royal meal), ''akdae'' 악대 (agta, castrated animal), ''eobjin'' 업진 (ebchigün, chest of an animal). Old English ''cocer'' (köküür, container). Old French ''quivre'' (köküür, container). Old High German ''Baldrian'' (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.
Writing systemsMongolian 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 Old Uyghur alphabet, Uyghur script probably at the very beginning of the 13th century and from that time 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. 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 persisted, 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.Batchuluun Yembuu, Khulan Munkh-Erdene. 2005
Linguistic historyThe earliest surviving Mongolian text may be the , a report on sports composed in Mongolian script on stone, which is most often dated at 1224 or 1225. The Mongolian-Armenian language, Armenian wordlist of 55 words compiled by Kirakos of Gandzak (13th century) is the first written record of Mongolian words. 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 language, Uyghur alphabet), 'Phags-pa script (Ph) (used in decrees), Chinese characters, Chinese (SM) (''The Secret History of the Mongols''), and Arabic script, Arabic (AM) (used in dictionaries). While they are the earliest texts available, these texts have come to be called "Middle Mongol language, Middle Mongol" in scholarly practice. The documents in UM script show some distinct linguistic characteristics and are therefore often distinguished by terming their language "Preclassical Mongolian". The Yuan dynasty referred to the Mongolian language in Chinese as "Guoyu" (), 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, Xianbei language during the Northern Wei period. The next distinct period is Classical Mongolian language, 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 as well as several chronicles. In 1686, the Soyombo alphabet (Buddhist texts) was created, giving distinctive evidence on early classical Mongolian phonological peculiarities.
Changes in phonology
ConsonantsResearch 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 aspiration or voicing. 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/'', *' (~ *''[k]'', *') are to be reconstructed. 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. 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. ''/h/'' (also called ''/x/'') is sometimes assumed to derive from *', which would also explain zero in ''SM'', ''AM'', ''Ph'' in some instances where ''UM'' indicates /p/; e.g., ''Deel (clothing), debel'' > Khalkha ''deel''. The palatal affricates *''č'', *''čʰ'' were fronted in Northern Modern Mongolian dialects such as Khalkha. was spirantization, spirantized to in Ulaanbaatar Khalkha and the Mongolian dialects south of it, e.g. Preclassical Mongolian ''kündü'', reconstructed as ' 'heavy', became Modern Mongolian (but in the vicinity of Bayankhongor and Baruun-Urt, many speakers will say ). Originally word-final *''n'' turned into /ŋ/; if *' was originally followed by a vowel that later dropped, it remained unchanged, e.g. ' became , but ' became . After i-breaking, became phonemic. Consonants in words containing back vowels that were followed by ' in Proto-Mongolian became Palatalization (phonetics), palatalized in Modern Mongolian. In some words, word-final ' was dropped with most case forms, but still appears with the ablative, dative and genitive. Only foreign origin words start with the letter ''L'' and none start with the letter ''R''.
VowelsThe standard view is that Proto-Mongolic had '. According to this view, ' and ' were pharyngealization, pharyngealized to and , then ' and ' were velarization, velarized to and . Thus, the vowel harmony shifted from a velar to a pharyngeal paradigm. ' in the first syllable of back-vocalic words was Assimilation (linguistics), assimilated to the following vowel; in word-initial position it became . ' was rounded to when followed by '. VhV and VjV sequences where the second vowel was any vowel but ' were monophthongized. In noninitial syllables, short vowels were deleted from the phonetic representation of the word and long vowels became short. E.g. ' (' becomes , ' disappears) > ' (unstable ''n'' drops; vowel reduction) > /jama(n)/ 'goat' and ' (regressive rounding assimilation) > ' (vowel velarization) > ' (vowel reduction) > /oms-/ 'to wear' This reconstruction has recently 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 ' instead of ''*[e]''. Moreover, the sound changes involved in this alternative scenario are more likely from an Articulatory phonetics, articulatory point of view and early Middle Mongol loans into Korean language, Korean.
Changes in morphology
Nominal system"-shaped bracket, and to the right of each such bracket, there are other medium-sized characters, ''The Secret History of the Mongols'' which goes back to a lost Mongolian script original is the only document that allows the reconstruction of agreement in social gender in Middle Mongol. In 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. 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
Verbal systemMiddle Mongol had a slightly larger set of declarative finite verb suffix forms and a smaller number of participles, which were less likely to be used as finite predicates. The linking converb -''n'' became confined to stable verb combinations, while the number of converbs increased. The distinction between male, female and plural subjects exhibited by some finite verbal suffixes was lost.
Changes in syntaxNeutral word order in clauses with pronominal subject changed from object–predicate–subject to subject–object–predicate, e.g., : :"Kökseü sabraq spoke saying, 'Alas! You speak a great boast....' " 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* Mongolian writing systems **Mongolian script ***Galik alphabet ***Clear Script, Todo alphabet **ʼPhags-pa script ***Horizontal square script **Soyombo script **Mongolian Latin alphabet ***SASM/GNC romanization#Mongolian, SASM/GNC romanization § Mongolian **Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet **Mongolian transliteration of Chinese characters *** **Mongolian Braille * Mongolian Sign Language * Mongolian name
Bibliography''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.''
Further reading* Janhunen, Juha A. 2012: ''Mongolian.'' (London Oriental and African Language Library, 19.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. .