What is the (spoken) language like?
The Mongolic language group is usually regarded as one of the three branches of the Altaic language family (Svantesson 17). Svantesson continues to say that little phonetic and dialectological work has been done by research outside the Mongolic speaking countries where tradition has been more historical and philological (18). This language has seven long vowels and six shot vowels. In initial syllables the language has also full vowels as well as phonetically reduced vowels (Svantesson 1). Researchers indicated that the measurements in Mongolian language show that the duration of a short vowel in the initial syllable is almost exactly half of the duration of a long vowel.
In its spoken nature Svantesson indicated that the duration of a full non-initial vowel is spoke at an average of 61 per cent of the duration of a long initial vowel and reduced non- initial vowels which are spoken in a duration of 34 per cent of the duration of a long initial vowel (3). Svantesson continues to say that the qualities of corresponding long and short initial vowels are almost the same (4). He also indicated that non-Halh Mongolian dialects corresponding to Halh. This means that it is similar to the relation within the vowel harmony pairs in several Western African languages such a Akan. Svantesson continues to say that X-ray investigations have shown that the articulator cause of this acoustic effect is based on the fact that the first member of a pair is pronounced with a wider pharynx than the second member.
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The phonology of Mongolian indicated that “The important feature about the Mongolian language is pharyngeal which denotes activity in the hyoglossi muscles which pull the tongue root backwards possibly combined with activity in the pharyngeal constrictor muscles” (8). Svantesson therefore said that the feature pharyngeal is more or less equivalent to retracted tongue root which is the opposite of advanced tongue root is also used to elaborate the vowel harmony.
If you have some background in linguistics, you may want to comment on things you find interesting about the language’s structure, but this is not required.
Dongxiang is among the several Mongolian languages which belong to the Altaic language family. One interesting feature about the language is it has lexicon resemble words of the same meaning in modern Mongolian and some are even identical to words presently used in inner Mongolia (Bisht, Narendra and Bankoti ) Certain grammatical features such as declension and adverbial use are also similar to modern Mongolian. On the other hand
In the Mongolian language the dialect differences are rather small and there are is no generally accepted dialect division (Svantesson 141). The dialects are often referred to by names which denote ethical o political rather than linguistic units. Svantesson continues to say that dialects Buriad and Oirad are officially regarded as dialects of Mongolian language.
What language family does the language belong to? Is there any disagreement about this? (The classification in Ethnologue is not always universally agreed upon.) Where are other members of the family spoken, and what explains their geographic distribution?
The Mongolic language group is usually regarded as one of the three branches of the Altaic language family (Svantesson 17). The Mongols are not homogeneous language while their language is also not a homogeneous language (Bruun and Odgaard 15). Bruun and Odgaard continue to say that as a rule the Mongolian dialects are not too different from one another so that Mongols of different groups often can communicate without too much difficult. Mongolia in transition indicated that “only the Dakhur Mongols in Northeastern Mongolia speak a dialect which no other Mongols understand due to the fact they took of so many loan words from non-Mongol language” (15). Mongolian language is structurally close to Turkish, Korean and Japanese but it is very different from Chinese, Tibetan and the languages of Southeast Asia. Bruun and Odgaard also indicated that Mongolian is not a tone language but it has vowel harmony which is characteristic feature of the Altaic languages.
Does the language have a written form? If so, how long has it been written? What script (or scripts) are used, and why? What are the scripts like? What proportion of speakers is literate in the language? Is there a big difference between the written form and the spoken forms?
In the Mongolian language the classical Mongolian alphabet is an adaption of the script used by the Turkic Uighurs in Central Asia. Bruun and Odgaard indicated that the classical Mongolian spelling preserves some archaic features of the language, and it is likely that the Mongolian script was in fact invented some years earlier. The written script of the Mongolian language was originally written from right to left in rows like scripts of Semitic origin. Mongolian was changed due to the Chinese influence hence Mongols write in columns from left to right.
Mongolia in transition indicates that “the Mongolian language script has twenty four letters which come in three different forms according to their position in the word either first in the middle or ending the word” (17). Also Bruun and Odgaard say that the classical Mongolian script serves as a common writing for all Mongolian dialects hence all groups no matter which dialect they speak they can speak, read the script no matter when it was written.
What is the status of the language in society? Is it legally recognized in some way? Is it used in education, and if so, at what levels? How is it used in public life: radio and television, journalism, publishing, the internet? How does its status compare with that of other languages used in the society?
The phonology of Mongolian indicated that “the Mongolian language is spoken by abut 2.5 million people in the Republic of Mongolia and by about 2.7 million in South Mongolia in China. The Mongolian script was used in Mongolia until 1941 when it was replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet but due to fear of the common Mongol front the move was reversed in 1955 hence Mongolian script is still used today. Bruun and Odgaard say that the Mongolian language was implemented throughout the country in the year 1995 with the priority given to training of teachers and gradual introduction of the language script in the school curricula (18). The new program was t be administered by local authorities.
The Mongolia in transition continues to say “that the main dialect in Mongolia is Khalka which is also the basis for the Cyrillic variant of written Mongolian” (15). In this case Khalkha Mongolian is the standard language in Mongolia and is used in all kinds of communication in everyday life, in administration, in books and newspapers as well as all levels of education. According to Bruun and Odgaard the Mongolian language has been naturally adapted to the nomadic life on the steppes (16). This is because it was established that the language contains a great variety of words for grasses and vegetation and also that the language has a variety of terms for domestic animals according to their age, sex, color and other special features.
Bruun and Odgaard stated that the Mongolian and Cyrillic scripts have been taught simultaneously in the schools for a number of years and some newspapers and books are already published in the Mongolian script. In this context it is likely tat the Mongolian Script will be used more in the future than it is now but they say that for the time being it can not replace Cyrillic script (18). Introducing the Mongolian script at the time when government at all levels was under considerable financial strain when many public services had been discontinued and when schools were struggling to survive had some difficulties (Bruun and Odgaard 18).
What political or policy issues are associated with the language? Is it endangered or discriminated against? Is there a standard form of the language? Is it used on computers and the internet? (For example: are localized versions of software available in the language? Is Google or Wikipedia available in it? Is its script included in Unicode, and are there adequate fonts for it?
Zhou and Sun say that the Mongolian language has played a crucial role in implementing government policies towards national minorities hence improving the educational and scientific levels of the Mongols (297). The language is associated with promoting reform and modernization and strengthening the national unity and the stability and prosperity of the country. Zhou and Sun say that because f the above reasons the local government pays special respect to Mongolian language work.
The language is not endangered because the government has paid a great attention to the significance and importance f Mongolian language, the usefulness of Mongol for economic development, the legalization and standardization of Mongol (Zhou and Sun 297). In Mongolian communities Mongol plays an indispensable role in politics, administration, judicature, education, news media, translation, publication, broadcasting and film.
The Mongolian language is available in Google and in Wikipedia. Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2007/2008 indicated that “there are a number of websites developed and maintained in the Mongolian Language and that he number is growing compared to three to five years ago” (213). Besides that Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2007/2008 continues to say that “the development of local language content in CD-ROMs has also been growing. There are also learning materials like the e-learning CD-ROM packaged of the Microsoft Office Suite in the Mongolian language” (213). Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2007/2008 also says that “the CDROMs which are all in the Mongolian language have been distributed to all the 600 schools in Mongolia to be used by teachers in the classroom” (213). This also implies that because there is adequate font for this language because it is available in Microsoft suite.
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