Mongolian - interesting facts


Mongolian is the mother tongue of about 7 million people (about 0.1% of the world's population) and ranks outside the top 100 most spoken languages in the world regarding native speakers.

Mongolian has official language status in Mongolia and China (in the Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia).

Mongolian belongs to the family of Altaic languages. The very name of the Mongolian language has two meanings: narrower and broader (in this text, the information mainly refers to the broader meaning). In a narrower sense, the name refers to the Khalese dialect and in a broader sense – to many dialects spoken by the population of Mongolia and some areas of China and Russia.

Modern Mongolian evolved from Middle Mongolian, a group of dialects spoken over a large geographical area from the 13th to the 16th centuries (from Manchuria to Eastern Europe) due to the conquests of Genghis Khan. During this period, many literary works were created (the literary language differed significantly from the dialects spoken by the Mongolian tribes). The beginnings of the New Mongolian language date back to the 17th century.

In Mongolia, the Mongolian language is written in a modified version of Cyrillic. In the past, however, other forms of writing were used: the Uighur alphabet derived from the Mongolian script, which is read from top to bottom (still used in Inner Mongolia), the Wagindra script (phonetic script) and the Latin alphabet.

The State Council of Language regulates the norms of the Mongolian language in Mongolia itself.

Mongolian belongs to the agglutinative languages, in which suffixes (suffixes) are attached to the word's root. The content of such a word is rendered in Indo-European languages in a few words.

A typical order of words in the Mongolian sentence is subject-completion-ruling (so the verb occurs at the end of the sentence).

An interesting phenomenon in Mongolian is the so-called vowel harmony: suffixes added to the word core usually contain the same or similar vowels.

A characteristic feature of Mongolian pronunciation is the relatively high frequency of soft palatal consonants. This creates the impression that throat sounds dominate this language.

In Mongolian, most of the vocabulary consists of words borrowed from other languages. In the past, words were borrowed from, among others, ancient Turkish, Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic. In recent decades, most borrowings have been Russicisms and Anglicisms.


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Mongolian language

The Mongolian script is based on the Cyrillic alphabet, which was adopted in 1941. However, many traditional Mongolian texts are still written in an older form of writing, the so-called classical script, which is based on Tibetan script. It is a syllabic alphabet in which each syllable is written separately.

History of Mongolian

The Mongolian language is associated with the history of the Mongol empire, which extended its territory to many countries of Asia and Europe. In those days, the Mongolian language was spoken by many people, including merchants, diplomats and other representatives of various nations. During the development of the Mongolian language, it was influenced by languages of other cultures such as Turkish and Chinese, which influenced its grammar and vocabulary.

Mongolian grammar 

The grammar of the Mongolian language has many unique features. This language does not have an article, and the words are changed by endings that mean numbers and cases. The verb variation is also complicated because it has no times, but instead ends are used to express the past, present, and future.

Relationship of Mongolian with other languages

The Mongolian language has many words borrowed from Chinese and Russian because these countries have influenced Mongolia for a long time. Knowing these words can help you understand many cultural and historical concepts related to Mongolia.

Mongolian language and culture

The Mongolian language is inextricably linked to Mongolian culture, especially its traditional values and history. Many people believe that learning Mongolian is the key to understanding the culture and heritage of Mongolia.

Mongolian proverbs

"Хонь болохоосоо чухал үг гэжээ." (Hon' bolokhoosoo chukhal ug geje.)
Translation: A dog's bark is important from its own perspective.
Interpretation: Everybody's thoughts and opinions matter to them, no matter how insignificant they may seem to others. This proverb reflects the Mongolian belief in the importance of empathy and understanding.

"Агаараа тасарч байгаа тулуу асгахгүй." (Agaaraa tasarch baigaa tuluu asgakhgui.)
Translation: A wedge will not be driven into a shaking stone.
Interpretation: Don't interfere when someone or something is already in trouble. This reflects the Mongolian tradition of understanding and respect for others' difficulties.

"Борооноо ширтэгээр түрүүлнэ." (Boroonoo shirtegeer turyulne.)
Translation: Wait for the rain by the shovel.
Interpretation: Be prepared for opportunities. The Mongolian people are traditionally nomadic, so this saying underscores their adaptability and readiness for changing circumstances.

"Бороо шивээхэд намар өнгөрөхгүй." (Boroo shiveekhed namar öngörökhgui.)
Translation: If you expect rain, summer won't pass.
Interpretation: Don't waste your time waiting for something that might not happen. This proverb promotes an active, present-focused lifestyle.

"Зоригтоо мэдрэхгүй бол амьдралыг зохиохгүй." (Zorigtoo medrekhgui bol amidralyg zokhiokhgui.)
Translation: If you don't know your destiny, you can't plan your life.
Interpretation: Knowing oneself is the key to effective life planning. This is reflective of the spiritual and introspective aspects of Mongolian culture.

"Тэнэг хоргодохгүй, хар тамхи хоргодохгүй." (Teneg khorgodokhgui, khar tamkhi khorgodokhgui.)
Translation: A child won't stumble on a flat place, a black horse won't stumble on smoke.
Interpretation: This saying means that well-prepared and apt people can handle any situation. It speaks to the Mongolian cultural values of self-sufficiency and resilience.

"Хээрийн залуу нар муу үзэгддэг." (Kheeriin zaluu nar muu uzegddeg.)
Translation: Young people in the family see things negatively.
Interpretation: Young people tend to be critical. It's a reminder to guide and teach the youth with patience and wisdom.

"Хоёр аргалыг нэг гараараа авчрахгүй." (Khoyor argalyg neg garaaraa avchraakhgui.)
Translation: You can't carry two bundles of firewood with one hand.
Interpretation: You can't do everything at once. It emphasizes the value of focus and prioritizing tasks.

"Муу охин хорвоо бус ширээ дээр үзэгддэг." (Muu okhin khorvoo bus shiree deer uzegddeg.)
Translation: A bad daughter-in-law notices the pile, not the table.
Interpretation: Some people tend to focus more on negatives rather than positives. This saying speaks to the importance of maintaining a positive outlook and appreciating what you have.

"Хорвоогынхаа хоолойг мэддэг." (Khorvooginkhaa khooloyg meddeg.)
Translation: Knows the throat of his/her camel.
Interpretation: This means that you know someone or something very well, akin to the English saying "knows like the back of his hand." This reflects the historically nomadic lifestyle of the Mongolian people, who have close relationships with their animals.

Each of these sayings carries with it the wisdom of Mongolian culture and tradition, embodying the Mongolian people's respect for the environment, their strong family values, their emphasis on self-knowledge, and their deep understanding of nature and the world around them. This makes these proverbs quite fascinating for English speakers in London, offering a fresh and different perspective on life and its various aspects.


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Your Essential Mongolian




yes Тийм (tim)
no Үгүй (ügüj) 
please Та мэдээлэх үү? (ta medeelekh uu?) 
thank you Баярлалаа (bayarlalaa)
I'm sorry Уучлаарай (uuchlaarai) 
good morning Сайн байна уу? (sain baina uu?) 
good evening Сайн сайхан вэ? (sain saikhan ve?) 
goodbye Сайн шөнө (sain shönö) 
good night Хаягдлыг тавихдаа (khayagdlyg tavihdaa) 
hi Сайн байна уу? (sain baina uu?) 
how are you?  Баярлалаа, маш их баярлалаа (bayarlalaa, mash ikh bayarlalaa) 
well Намайг ... гэдэг (namaig... gedeg) 
My name is... Би ойлгохгүй (bi oilgokhgüi) 
I don't understand Би Польшын хүн (bi Polshyn khün) 



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