Khalkha Mongolian

The Khalkha dialect (Mongolian script: ᠬᠠᠯᠬ᠎ᠠ ᠠᠶᠠᠯᠭᠣ, Qalq-a ayalγu, Mongolian Cyrillic: Халх аялгуу, Khalkh ayalguu, [χɑɮχ ɑjɮ.ɢʊː]) is a dialect of Mongolian widely spoken in Mongolia and according to some classifications includes such Southern Mongolian varieties such as Shiliin gol, Ulaanchab and Sönid.[1] As it was the basis for the Cyrillic orthography of Mongolian,[2] it is de facto the national language of Mongolia.[3] The name of the dialect is related to the name of the Khalkha Mongols and the Khalkha river.

There are certain differences between normative and spoken Khalkha. For example, the normative language uses proximal demonstratives based on the word stem ʉː/n- (except for the nominative in [i̠n] and the accusative which takes the stem ʉːn-)[4] and thus exhibits the same developmental tendency as exhibited by Oirat.[5] On the other hand, the spoken language also makes use of paradigms that are based on the stems inʉːn- and inĕn-.[6] This seems to agree with the use in Chakhar Mongolian.[7] The same holds for the distal demonstrative /tir/.[8]

Khalkha may roughly be divided into Northern and Southern Khalkha, which would include Sönid etc. Both varieties share affricate depalatalization, namely, /tʃ/ > /ts/ and /tʃʰ/ > /tsʰ/ except before *i, while Southern Khalkha patterns with Chakhar and Ordos Mongolian in that it exhibits a dissimilating deaspiration, e.g. *tʰatʰa > /tatʰ/.[9] However, Mongolian scholars more often hold that the border between Khalkha and Chakhar is the border between the Mongolian state and the Chakhar area of South Mongolia.[10]

Especially in the speech of younger speakers, /p/ (or /w/) > [ɸ] may take place, as in Written Mongolian qabtasu > Sünid [ɢaptʰǎs] ~ [ɢaɸtʰǎs] 'cover (of a book)'.[11]

One of the classifications of Khalkha dialect in Mongolia divides it into 3 subdialects: Central, Western and Eastern. The orthography of the Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet is essentially based on the Central Khalkha dialect. Among the main differences is the pronunciation of initial letter х in feminine words which is in Central Khalkha pronounced as it is written, in Western Khalkha as kh, and in Eastern Khalkha as g. Example: хөтөл (Central Khalkha), көтөл (Western Khalkha), гөтөл (Eastern Khalkha). The initial letter х is pronounced in masculine words in Western Khalkha dialect as h (almost not heard) if the second consonant is voiceless, and is pronounced as gh in Eastern Khalkha. Example: хутга (Central Khalkha),) hутага (Western Khalkha), гутага (Eastern Khalkha). Initial т is pronounced in Eastern Khalkha dialect as d. Example: талх (Central Khalkha),) талк (Western Khalkha), далх (Eastern Khalkha).


  1. ^ Svantesson et al. 2005: 143. Janhunen 2003: 179-180 mentions that such an approach might be possible. Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 207 without further discussion include at least Shiliin gol and Ulaanchab into the Chakhar dialect.
  2. ^ Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 372, also see Svantesson et al. 2005: 36
  3. ^ Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 372, cp. Mongolian State (2003): Törijn alban josny helnij tuhaj huul’ Archived 2009-08-22 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2009-03-27
  4. ^ cp. Street 1957: 88, IPA in accordance with Svantesson et al. 2005: 2,6-7, 91, but it follows Ölǰeyibürin (2001) in writing [ʉ] instead of [u].
  5. ^ Birtalan 2003: 220, Bläsing 2003: 239
  6. ^ Poppe 1951: 72
  7. ^ see Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 237. While this reference is a bit fuzzy as it includes parts of Southern Khalkh into Chakhar, it does not mention stems like ʉːn-.
  8. ^ see the same sources as for /in/
  9. ^ Svantesson et al. 2005: 143, 206
  10. ^ e.g. Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 207, 372-373, probably also Amaržargal 1988: 22-25
  11. ^ Ölǰeyibürin 2001: 17-18. He assumes voicing to be distinctive, while the above transcription follows Svantesson et al. 2005 in assuming only aspiration as distinctive.


  • Amaržargal, B. (1988): BNMAU dah’ mongol helnij nutgijn ajalguuny tol’ bichig: halh ajalguu. Ulaanbaatar: ŠUA.
  • Birtalan, Ágnes (2003): Oirat. In: Janhunen (ed.) 2003: 210-228.
  • Bläsing, Uwe (2003): Kalmuck. In: Janhunen (ed.) 2003: 229-247.
  • Janhunen, Juha (ed.) (2003): The Mongolic languages. London: Routledge.
  • Janhunen, Juha (2003a): Mongol dialects. In: Janhunen 2003: 177-191.
  • Ölǰeyibürin (2001): Sünid aman ayalγun-u geyigülügči abiyalaburi-yin sistem. In: Mongγol Kele Utq-a ǰokiyal 2001/1: 16-23.
  • Poppe, Nicholas (1951): Khalkha-mongolische Grammatik. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner.
  • Sečenbaγatur, Qasgerel, Tuyaγ-a, B. ǰirannige, U Ying ǰe (2005): Mongγul kelen-ü nutuγ-un ayalγun-u sinǰilel-ün uduridqal. Kökeqota: Öbür mongγul-un arad-un keblel-ün qoriy-a.
  • Street, John (1957): The language of the Secret history of the Mongols. American Oriental series 42.
  • Svantesson, Jan-Olof, Anna Tsendina, Anastasia Karlsson, Vivan Franzén (2005): The Phonology of Mongolian. New York: Oxford University Press.