Learn Mongolian

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About Mongolian

Mongolian (монгол хэл) is the official language of Mongolia and is also spoken by ethnic Mongolians in parts of China and Russia close to Mongolia’s modern borders. The main dialect spoken in Mongolia, which is what uTalk teaches, is known as Khalkha. The language is unique but over the centuries has borrowed some vocabulary from Tibetan, Sanskrit, Uyghur, Chinese, Russian and English. Although a slightly modified version of the Cyrillic script has been officially used in Mongolia since the 1940s, for some time there have been efforts to revive the beautiful traditional Mongolian script, which runs in vertical columns from left to right and is still used in the Inner Mongolia region of China.

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Fun facts — Mongolian

  • Horses are so important in Mongolian culture that there are hundreds of different words to identify horses by their colour, pattern, gait, age and gender.
  • A traditional way of saying ‘to relieve oneself’ used by men in the country is ‘to go and see a horse’ (морь харах).
  • The modern name of the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar (Улаанбаатар), was a communist choice meaning ‘Red Hero’.
  • The word for ‘zip’ - цахилгаан - (as in clothing) literally means ‘lightning button’.
  • Mongolian herders have always lived in a ‘ger’ (гэр), known as ‘yurt’ in English.
  • The word ‘ger’ is the basis for several Mongolian words including ‘ger bul’ (гэр бүл), meaning family; ‘gerleh’ (гэрлэх), to get married; ‘gergii’ (гэргий), wife; and ‘gergiitei’ (гэргийтэй), a married man.
  • The word ‘nutag’ (нутаг), meaning dwelling place, forms words including ‘nutaglah’ (нутаглах), to settle, make a habitation; ‘nutagshih’ (нутагших), to get used to a new dwelling place; and ‘nutagluulah’ (нутаглуулах), to lay a deceased person to rest.

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