Mongolia Language and Languages
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Mongolian is an Altaic language spoken by approximately 5 million people in Mongolia, China, Afghanistan and Russia. There are a number of closely related varieties of Mongolian: Khalkha or Halha, the national language of Mongolia, and Oirat, Chahar and Ordos, which are spoken mainly in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China.
Other languages considered part of the Mongolian language family, but separate from Mongolian, include Buryat and Kalmyk, spoken in Russia and Moghul or Mogul, spoken in Afghanistan.
As a result of pressure from the Soviet Union, Mongolia adopted the Latin alphabet in 1931 and the Cyrillic alphabet in 1937. In 1941 the Mongolian government passed a law to abolish the Classical Mongol script, but since 1994 they have been trying to bring it back. It is now taught to some extent in schools, though is mainly used for decorative purposes by artists, designers, calligraphers and poets. The average person in Mongolia knows little or nothing about the Classical Mongol script, though there is high literacy in Cyrillic. In Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China the Classical Mongol script is still used.
The older, traditional alphabet was developed in the 1200s from the Turkic Uighur script. The classical Mongolian system of writing is visually similar to Arabic but written vertically, perhaps under Chinese influence. Unlike most vertical scripts, it begins at the left.
In Mongolia, most older genealogical sources were written either in the classical Mongol script or in Chinese. Records from the 1900s are written in Russian, in Cyrillic Mongolian, or in the Kazakh language.
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Mongolia,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 2001.