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the language of the Mongols, the predominant population of the Mongolian People’s Republic and Inner Mongolia, and of groups living in various provinces of the People’s Republic of China. Mongolian belongs to the Mongolian language group and is spoken by approximately 3 million persons (1970, estimate). It evolved between the 14th and 16th centuries.
Mongolian is divided into dialects. The Khalkha dialect has both sibilant and hushing consonants. Dialects having only hushing consonants (without the phonemes dz and ts) include Chakhar (Chahar), Kharchin, Tumet, and Ordos. Mongolian is an agglutinative language in which the subject occurs before the predicate, and the attribute precedes the dependent member. The language has no grammatical gender, and there is no agreement of the attribute with the dependent member or of the predicate with the subject in number and case. It also lacks personal-predicative particles, thereby differing from other Mongolian languages and the Turkic languages. Mongolian has seven cases and personal and impersonal possession, the particles of which occur after the case endings. Verbs have five voices and 21 conjugated forms. Participial and adverbial-participial constructions replace subordinate clauses, and the accusative case is used to form the subject of such constructions.
In the phonetic system the phonemes k, p, and f occur only in recent borrowings, and b and v are variants of the same phoneme in native Mongolian words. Voiced consonants are devoiced at the end of a syllable, and l and r almost never occur at the beginning of a word. Many consonants have palatalized variants, for example, khaliuun (“otter”) and khaluun (“hot”). Vowels are subject to the laws of vowel harmony and may be phonemically short or long, for example, kharakh (“to look”) and khaarakh (“to be closed”) or der (“head of the bed”) and deer (“above”). The Mongolian language began to evolve as a national language, based on the Khalkha dialect, after the Mongolian People’s Revolution of 1921.
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Sanzheev, G. D. Staropis’mennyi mongol’skii iazyk. Moscow, 1964.
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Damdinsuren, Ts., and A. Luvsandendev. Oros-mongol tol’ vols. 1–2. Ulan Bator, 1967–69.
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Luvsanvandan, Sh. Orchin tsagiin mongol khelnii butets, parts 1–2. Ulan Bator, 1967–68.
Street, J. Khalkha Structure. The Hague, 1963.
Lessing, F. Mongolian-English Dictionary. Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1960.
G. D. SANZHEEV