Hello Mongolian Language Learners,
Every nation has it’s own way of greeting. The French say bonjour with a kiss, the Germans say guten tag, and so on. So how do Mongolians greet each other? What can you do when you meet a Mongolian that won’t lead to embarrassment? Check out these tips and go below for a quick video lesson! There are seemingly endless types of greetings in the Mongolian language, including: first greetings, work greetings, seasonal greetings, holiday greetings, city greeting versions, countryside greetings, traditional greetings etc…
Luckily there are a few basic ones that we can use to get by. One of these would be the equivalent of “Hello”. This is the most basic greeting and can be used when you spot a Mongolian anywhere, anytime:
“Сайн байна уу?”, Sain bainoo, which means literally, “Are you good?”
(sain meaning good, bain, the verb to be, and oo being a question particle)
Example: Question: Сайн байна уу? Answer: Сайн, and then greet back: Сайн байна уу?
The second one is “Сайн байцгаана уу?”, Sain baitsgaanoo, which means “hello everybody” and is used to greet multiple people.
Example: Question: Сайн байцгаана уу? Answer: Сайн, Сайн байна уу?
You can shorten this to “Cайн уу?” sain oo? Which is the equivalent of “Hi”. This version is less formal and is commonly used with friends, people who are close to you, and/or the same age person or younger.
Example: Question: Сайн уу? Answer: Сайн, Сайн уу?
More Greetings and Farewells
Mongolia has some other common greetings as well. These are:
- Сайхан амарсан уу? which means “Did you have a good rest?’’ used for morning greetings. This is much more common than saying, ‘Good morning’. The response to this would be, ‘’Сайхан амарсан’’ (I rested well).
- Сонин юу байна? Is a very casual and common greeting meaning “what`s up?, what`s new? or what`s going on?” which we use everyday. The two responses to this would be “Тайвандаа” (peaceful) or “Юмгүй дээ” (nothing much).
Check out this table to make things easier:
|Conversation Mongolian||English Translation||Transliteration|
Q: Сайхан амарсан уу?
A: Сайхан амарсан.
Q: Сонин юу байна?
Q: Did you rest well?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: What`s up?
See you later.
Have a good rest.
Sonin you bain?
Another type of greeting is the seasonal greeting. You can use them in countryside when you meet someone. These are not as commonly used in the city.
In the summer time, you can say,
Saikhan zusaj baina uu? (сайхан зусаж байна уу?), Are you summering well? or, targan saihan zusaj baina uu? which means is everything (family, livestock) good this summer?
In the wintertime, a common greeting is Unutei saihan uvuljij baina uu? (өнөтэй сайхан өвөлжиж байна уу?), ‘Are you wintering well?’. Likewise, we can use, Saihan havarjij baina uu? (сайхан хаваржиж байна уу?) in spring.
During Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian lunar new year) when you visit a Mongolian family you can greet with them with, ‘Sar shinedee saihan shinelj baina uu?(сар шинэдээ сайхан шинэлж байна уу? )’ or ‘Amar baina uu?‘(Aмар байна уу?). This is a very special greeting which is referred to as ‘золгох’ (zolgoh). Younger people greet their elders by putting their hands under those of the older one. This is quite formal and Mongolians dress their best to perform this. Additionally, the elder sits at the most prominent and important spot in the ger, which is the very back (that’s 12:00 if you divide the ger’s circular shape into sections).
So those are some of the many greetings used in Mongolia. For some additional practice and information check out Nomiin Ger’s Khishgee Bagsh explaining some of the finer points in the video below. Good luck and cайн сураарай, манайхаан!