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Short and long vowels, Diphthongs in Mongolian language

Mongolian language


Correct Pronunciation of the long vowels

In the Mongolian language, there are long vowels, with two consecutive vowels that are the same. They are supposed to be pronounced long because if it is not pronounced long, the meaning of the word may be changed or misunderstood. For example, if ‘’цаас’’the word for ‘’paper’’ is pronounced short, its meaning changes to ‘’цас’’ which means ‘’snow’’. Here are some more examples,

хол (far)                      хоол (food)

зун (summer)              зуун  (century)

бодол  (thought)         боодол (wrap)

зах (market)                заах  (teach)

будах  (paint)              буудах  (shoot)

Examples of the most commonly mispronounced word are ‘’Уланбатaр’’ and ‘’Надаам’’the correct pronunciations are  ‘’Улаанбаатар’’(Ulaanbaatar) and ‘’Наадам’’(Naadam). (This paragraph is unclear in meaning. – I understand what you mean but to a new speaker its would be unclear.)

Dropping the single vowels except for the first syllable.

The stress automatically falls on the first syllable if there are no long vowels or diphthongs. Therefore, short vowels for the next syllables are not pronounced. For example, мөнгө, бодол, даалгавар, эхлэнэ. Yet, it doesn`t apply for loan words such as вино, кино.

You will find an easy explanation in the below video

Pronouncing Diphthongs “ай”correctly.

There are five diphthongs in Mongolian. Those are –ай, -эй, -ой, -уй, -үй which are pronounced how it’s written except for ай which is pronounced () like ‘’map’’.(??) For example, сайн, байна, найз, хайр

байр (apartment)

цай (tea)

зайрмаг (ice cream)

Май (here)

найм (eight)

сайхан (nice)

Тайвандаа (nothing much)

хайрцаг (box)

Below chart displays the vowels in their three main forms. There are vowels, long vowels, and diphthongs in Mongolian language.

Short vowelsLong vowelsDiphthongs
и(их-ikh)ий(хийх-khiikh)No version
ө(өд-öd)өө(өөх-öökh)No version

Mongolian Cyrillic vowel harmony

Vowel harmony is an aspect of the Mongolian language. Understanding the rules can give you quicker learning words because words with male vowels generally do not also have female vowels and vise-versa. It is possible to guess the spelling and pronunciation of words simply based on the first vowel. Remember that the “gender” of the vowels has nothing to do with actual gender.

Masculine vowelsNeutral vowelFeminine vowels
ё,ы,ю,я е

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4 Responses

  1. Dear fellow,
    Your works are great. Yes you give very concise introduction to Mongolian language. Yes, there are a few problems in your work. “Male vowels” should be translated as masculine vowels or tense vowels or back vowels; “Female vowels” should be translated as feminine vowels or lax vowels or front vowels. I think if you present in this way, the foreigners will understand easily.

    1. Dear Bayaerta,

      Thank you so much for the feedback. We will edit those! Please continue to give as much feedback as possible, and if you have any other questions, just let us know.

      Nomiin Ger Staff

  2. ой and уй actually are pronounced differently from how they’re written though? I think it should be mentioned because the different from pronouncing it like ой from pronouncing it like о + й is very different

  3. The vowels ай and ой are not really diphthongs. They’re really just monophthongs spelled like diphthongs. Aside from some borrowings like мэйл, the vowel combination эй is usually pronounced like a monophthong too.

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