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Mongolian is the official national language of Mongolia, where it is spoken by nearly 2.8 million people and is the official provincial language of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, where there are at least 4.1 million ethnic Mongols. Across the whole of China, the language is spoken by roughly half of the country’s 5.8 million ethnic Mongols, however, the exact number of speakers in China is unknown.

In Mongolia, the Khalkha dialect, written in Cyrillic is predominant, while in Inner Mongolia, the language is dialectally more diverse and is written in the traditional script. The language has what is known as ‘vowel harmony’ and a complex syllabic structure for a Mongolic language that allows clusters of up to three consonants syllable-finally. It is a typical agglutinative language that relies on suffix chains in the verbal and nominal domains. While there is a basic word order, subject–object–predicate, ordering among noun phrases is relatively free, so grammatical roles are indicated by a system of about eight grammatical cases.

Mongolian is distantly related to the Khitan language. It belongs to the Northern Asian linguistic area, including the Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, Korean and Japonic languages. These languages have been grouped under the still-debated Altaic language family.



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