Today we are going to learn about a very important Mongolian pronunciation rule that you absolutely must know after having learned the alphabet. I’ve been teaching Mongolian to foreigners for over 10 years and this is the common mistake that people make if they do not learn it well at the beginning.
So this rule is very important, especially if you are learned the alphabet by yourself and don’t have a teacher, in which case no one will tell you, and you will likely pronounce most words wrong and most people won’t be able to understand you. Let’s get started.
I explain this rule in the video right below! Be sure to check it out and follow our channel for the newest videos and tips!
Do you ever wonder why Сайн байна уу? is not pronounced Сайн байн-a уу? Or why Баярлалаа is pronounced Баярллаа and not Баяр-ла-лаа with the last syllable -лаа being dropped? Let me tell you why:
This rule is all about pronouncing short vowels. That is the key to this: understanding which short vowels are pronounced and which are dropped.
In Mongolian language, the stress of a word always falls on the first syllable, UNLESS there are long vowels or diphthongs in the word, or if it is a loan word (like a Russian word for example).
So, that is why the first short vowels are pronounced clearly and the following short vowels are not.
We call these ‘unstressed vowels’ and they are minimally pronounced or not pronounced at all. At first this may sound complicated, but once you get used to it, you will realize that words actually become easier to pronounce, since you end up dropping many syllables.
Here is an example:
even though this word has two identical vowels (two ‘a’s), according to the rule,
the first ‘a’ which is the vowel in the first syllable, has stress so it’s pronounced clearly,
but the ‘a’ in the second syllable is an unstressed vowel so it won’t be pronounced, it will be dropped, making the word pronounced: амр.
Here are some more examples:
In all of these words the second vowel is DROPPED ENTIRELY!
Here are some more examples of words with 3 or more syllables:
хадгалагдах (btw, this is the longest palindrome in the Mongolian language: it’s meaning is ‘to be saved’).
Do you know which Vowels will be pronounced and which will be stressed? Hover to find out!
So, as you can see, no matter how many vowels are in the word, all the short vowels are dropped except for the first one.
*And finally, remember, this doesn’t apply for loan words that don’t have an emphasis on the first syllable, like вино (wine), кино (movie), машин (car), автобус (bus), такси (taxi)
I hope this post helped you guys. It is a really important Mongolian pronunciation rule so try to remember it! Just remember: If you are reading or speaking a word, do not pronounce the short vowels unless they are in the first syllable. Bayrtai!