Background

On this website we will be studying Mongolian as it is spoken in Inner Mongolia. A lot of people don’t know the difference between Inner and Outer Mongolia. During the Mongol Empire, China was a part of Mongolia. During the Qing Dynasty, Mongolia was a part of China. Now, however, they are divided into inner and outer parts. Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region within China, similar to a province. Outer Mongolia is it’s own country, the country of Mongolia. There are some differences between them. The country of Mongolia has had more of a Russian influence and even uses the Russian Cyrillic alphabet to write. Inner Mongolia has had more of a Chinese influence, but continues to use the traditional Mongolian script. However, the Mongolians of both Inner and Outer Mongolia share many cultural traits that are distinctly Mongolian and neither Chinese nor Russian. Most significantly to this site, Mongolians from either side of the border are able to communicate orally together with relatively little difficulty.

There are some pronunciation and lexical differences between Inner and Outer Mongolian, but they are fairly minor. It could be compared to the differences in spoken English around the world. Although the Mongol population of Inner Mongolia is greater, some would argue that the Mongolian spoken in Outer Mongolia is the most standard. That may or may not be, but Inner Mongolia also has its own well developed pronunciation standard, with strict requirements for those aspiring to be television or radio announcers. The Mongolian spoken in Xilingol (and specifically the Blue Banner area of Xilingol) is considered to have the most standard Mongolian pronunciation in Inner Mongolia. Our teachers, whose recordings we will be listening to, are both from Xilingol (though not from Blue Banner). I trust that if we learn all they have to teach us, we can be understood all across the Mongol speaking world.

In order to give some direction to our study without creating a curriculum from scratch, the lessons follow the basic progression of sentences and dialogues found in Conversational Chinese 301, (《汉语会话301句》ISBN 978-7-5619-1403-8). If you are thinking about learning Chinese, I highly recommend this textbook.

When learning to speak a language, listening can’t be stressed enough. We will never learn to speak well from using a textbook alone. That’s why this site focuses on audio sentences and dialogues. I wish it were as professional as www.talktomeinkorean.com is for learning Korean, but that’s beyond my ability right now. Check out the links section for other resources and let me know if I missed anything.

I’m learning Mongolian right along with you, so let’s get started!