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What Genghis Khan's Mongolian Sounded Like – and how we know




Genghis Khan? Or Chinggis Khaan? Maybe Khagan? History’s most famous conqueror kept many secrets. Yet with some clever linguistic investigation, we can reanimate the sounds of his language.

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~ Summary ~

Our journey starts with a Mongolian grammar and a trip to modern Mongolia, a language with some standout features. You’ll see the Khan’s name written everywhere… but in the Cyrillic script. Cross the border to Inner Mongolia in China to see everyday use of a much older script, a script with extra “hidden” syllables.

We’ll trace those syllables back to when the soon-to-be-Khan, Temüjin, conquered the Naiman and encouraged his dignitaries to use the newfound Uyghur script. That Written Mongol has some archaic features, and comes from the time of the Khan, but another piece of evidence suggests it’s too archaic.

In the 1800s, a scholarly Russian monk found a history book in China. It was written in Hànzì (Chinese characters), but the text didn’t read well… unless you pronounced it in Mongolian. This turned out to be the Secret History of the Mongols. The language of the text was similar to Written Mongol, but it had notable differences, including modern-looking features. Still, it also seemed to come from the Khan’s time. Was this Middle Mongol more authentic?

That’s when we’ll run into a third line of evidence: linguists comparing Mongolic languages and reconstructing Proto-Mongolic. There’s not just one modern Mongolian; there’s an entire Mongolic family. The features of this reconstructed proto-language matched the slightly modern-looking Middle Mongol.

In the end, these three ways of looking back to the early Mongols situate the Khan in linguistic history. Before him, there were Turkic loans (including the Khahan, the state (ulus), and the hero (baatur) in Ulaanbaatar), maybe dialects, and perhaps sibling Para-Mongolic languages. After him, a diversification into the modern languages. Between those, he unified his people and, in a “linguistic bottleneck”, created a common Mongol language that turned into a language family in a relatively short time.

Along the way, we’ll meet these forms of the language:

– Mongolian: the modern standard language of Mongolia, a standardized form of Khalkha
– Mongol: a general term for stages of the standard or prestige language, as well as a native term for many individual Mongolic varieties (Mongol, Mangghuer, Moghol, …)
– Written Mongol (WM): the archaic language behind a continuous stream of texts in the Mongol script
– Secret History (SH): the longest early Mongol text, here claimed to represent a different form of MM
– Middle Mongol (MM): the oldest attested stage of Mongol, typically including SH and Preclassical WM, plus later material like ‘Phags-pa texts
– Mongolic: the language family branching from early Mongol after the time of Genghis Khan
– Proto-Mongolic (PM): the reconstructed common ancestor of modern Mongolian and its sibling languages

These discussions were heavily, heavily trimmed for time. They’re mostly a given by Genghis Khan’s era, but they definitely matter when we’re digging into the backstory of PM and early Mongol:
– (Mongolized) Turkic: Mongolic has many Turkic words that must predate PM but show clear signs of borrowing, not common ancestry
– Para-Mongolic: a headscratcher of a hypothesis, but we may possess evidence of ancient siblings to the Proto-Mongolic or pre-PM language itself (not direct ancestors of modern Mongolian), with current focus on Khitan

~ Credits ~

Art, animation and narration by Josh from NativLang. Some of the music, too.

Other music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) and one by Josh Woodward (joshwoodward.com). Full credits in the sources doc below.

Sources for claims and credits for images, sfx, music and fonts:

Nguồn: https://corecplusplustutorial.com/

Xem thêm bài viết khác: https://corecplusplustutorial.com/du-lich/

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  • can someone tell my why inner mongolia is part of china?


  • music is haram sahih bukhari 5590


  • You need to get a girlfriend or a life in general


  • if you want to experience something completely different

    https://youtu.be/AAEcWMvZszQ?t=1


  • It's so fun listening english man saying Ch (x)


  • AsimAsim

    Author Reply

    Turkish like I guess


  • Mongols is turk
    Turks is mongol


  • Jingis khan was a blood sucking murderer! Just imagine yourself were there just living a simple humble life, and then this mass murderer shows up in your village, kills you, rapes your woman and takes your children as slaves… Is this person worthy of praise like you do here??? Just think about it with honor in humanity.


  • Same with deutsch


  • I don't know but I had triggers voice from only fools an horses as Genghis khan


  • We subcontinent people say chengish khan


  • Greetings! As a person who has Ten(g)ri in his surname, I salute my brothers and sisters!


  • I hate GENGIS KHAN


  • Mongolia is switching alphabets from Cyryllic to Mongolian script.


  • I guess I'd rather learn math language hoping world would understand.. than twisting my tongue weirdly.


  • Russian word for knight is Богатырь.


  • I'm hungarian and I hoped that i hear some hungarian words 🙂 because some hungarian and mongolian words have the same meaning. 🙂


  • Most words are derived from Turkish.


  • In Vietnamese, his name sound like Khalkha, not Khaan


  • Büyük bahadır Cengiz'e kuzen Türk'ten esenlikler.


  • I don't know much of my paps, but my quest lead me northern Asia. Not China but Mongolia. I am also Thai from mother side. Thai people makes fun of me and say your head in weird you look like Mong. I never thank them for such an enlightening comment. That open up a can o worms.


  • Chinese here. shaking now


  • this guy talk fucking so much


  • Actually the New pronounciation of Word Khan is the exact way to pronounce it in arabic so i think that the New pronounciation was caused by the muslim pepole who was trying to write His Name in thier books so the New pronounciation poped up


  • جالبه ما تو ایران به آدمهای خر و نفهم میگیم منگول و تو انگلیسی به مغولها میگن منگول😂👍واقعا هم منگول هستن


  • چنگیز منگولیان😂😂😂


  • Ur mongol is realllllly good
    Sounds like real mongolian
    Or are u mongolia


  • Cengiz was a Turk.


  • Apparently they had tape recorders before the Jesus Christ era. Ancient alien stuff, look it up!


  • "How the mongol sounds like"

    7 year old me singing on a table fan


  • Sadly in Inner Mongolia the CCP is starting to erode the teaching of Mongolian.. the planned cultural assimilation continues..


  • Just extraordinary! Thanks!