DOWN WITH PALATALIZATION!

A recent post at Anatoly’s blog (now called просто здесь красный, где у всех голубой, a quote from Aquarium‘s song “8200“) shows an absolutely hilarious sign held up by a protester: “Мы за пересмотр итогов палатализации” [We are for a reconsideration of the results of palatalization]. [Photo now available here.] Unfortunately, unless you’re familiar with the Slavic first, second, and third (no Wikipedia article, for shame!) palatalizations, you’re going to have a hard time seeing the humor, but for those who are, Anatoly’s thread is funny enough I think it’s worth posting.
Addendum. Don’t miss Bathrobe’s long comment below (May 15, 2012 09:54 AM) on Mongolian scripts and dialects and the history of the split between Buryat and Mongolian!
Update (2013). John Cowan writes to say: “Anatoly’s blog no longer shows the famous picture, but it is available at
http://img-fotki.yandex.ru/get/6304/24332511.8a/0_6f9ba_76f4ae5d_XXL.” I’ve added a note in the post accordingly.

Comments

  1. a well-known slogan “за пересмотр результатов приватизации” is also probably a prerequisite
    (“for reconsideration of the results of privatization”, referring to the Russian oligarchy’s infamous foundation mechanism of the 1990s)

  2. Third palatalization (which it seems actually took place earliest, or possibly between the first and second). Fourth palatalization (in Polish and the other Lechitic languages only): ke, ky, ge, gy > kie, ki, gie, gi, e.g. bogyni > bogini ‘goddess’.

  3. Of course undoing the English First Consonant Shift and especially the Great Vowel Shift sound like a good idea too.

  4. a well-known slogan “за пересмотр результатов приватизации” is also probably a prerequisite
    Quite right, I should have mentioned that.

  5. marie-lucie says:

    Undoing the Great Vowel Shift would be a blessing for children learning to read and write and to foreigners of just about every stripe.

  6. Would the English First Consonant Shift be the consonant shift that’s angry about “press ’1′ for English”?
    (But seriously — what is that? This page is the only Google-hit for that phrase.)

  7. Ran:
    It’s Grimm’s law, and it applies to all the Germanic languages, not just English. It’s why we have the native words foot, third, hound, what, ten, cold corresponding to Latin-derived pedal, triangle, canine, quodlibet, decimal, gelid.
    The Second Consonant Shift affected German only, and is why we have English path, eat, make and German Pfad, essen, machen.

  8. I think Poles will find this sign offensive.

  9. Having only to deal with two difficult first and second palatalizations in the history of Ancient Greek, I find the very concept of a third or fourth palatalization absolutely frightening.

  10. Etienne says:

    Marie-Lucie: let’s be fair here, restoring French final consonants and schwa would also ease the burden of native and non-native speakers alike when it comes to reading and writing.
    All: Palatalizations in Slavic certainly created a new layer of morphophonemic complexity, but at least all Slavic languages today represent the new phonemes in writing. Just imagine what Russian (for example) would be like today if, for instance, KTO and CHTO were both spelled with an initial {K] because of etymological considerations…

  11. It’s trying to figure out when French final consonants are pronounced that’s hard, at least for this anglophone.

  12. marie-lucie says:

    Etienne, you are right, but I was picking up on John Cowan’s mention of the English GVS.
    In both languages the spelling has largely stood still for several centuries while the pronunciation changed.

  13. Though I suppose if you tried to update English spelling today, you’d end up with different ortographies (e.g. number of vowels) for RP, American, Australian, South African… Written English feels almost logographic to me.
    (Ok, not quite “almost”.)

  14. Bathrobe says:

    Different orthographies for different varieties of English. Hmmm. Sounds like a good idea. This is what the Russians liked to do to their minority nationalities (it was a nice way of splitting Buryat from Mongolian, for instance). Applied to English, it would be a good start on the road to destroying Anglo-Saxon dominance of the world…

  15. Leonardo, Bathrobe: Actually, we are at a good moment in the evolution of English to update our spelling. There have been a lot of dialectal phonemic mergers, and a few universal ones like vain/vein, but very few dialectal phonemic splits. The only significant one is bad/lad, which takes different forms in different areas. Consequently, an orthography that continues to maintain most of the 14th-century distinctions of current spelling, but eliminates all the irregularities, will be about as easy to read as French. People who merge cot/caught, when/wen, or meat/meet, for example, will have to learn which spelling to use when, but they will be able to read every word at sight once the system is mastered.

  16. I’m afraid I’m sufficiently interested in palatalisation to want to understand this but dense enough not to get the joke. Why on earth is anyone demonstrating about palatalization anyway?? I know asking to explain a joke usually kills it but could you please oblige?

  17. Bathrobe says:

    From my understanding, it would be a bit like a placard saying “We demand the repeal of the Great Vowel Shift”. As to why that would be funny in a Russian political context, well, I’m no wiser than you are.

  18. Cadoro,Bathrobe -
    See primaler’s comment at the begining of the thread. It’s basically an absurdist play on words. Russians tend to be fond of this sort of humor.

  19. Actually, the joke has nothing to do with palatalization, or anything else in the language. It’s politics. The original slogan was “We want the elections results to be reconsidered” (We had elections to the Parliament in autumn, and the results were unfair (Putin’s party Edinaya Rossiya won), in the opinion of lots of people. Now, after Putin’s inauguration, anti-Putin opposition held meetings and demonstrations in many Russian cities. The discussed post tells about one of them,in Krasnoyarsk. Not to be taken by the police for anti-Kremlin prpopaganda, the people pretended to be just “walking” (the word which has aquired a new meaning now!) with ridiculous slogans like the one about palatalization.

  20. Christopher Burd says:

    I was surprised that (as far as I can tell) none of those palatalization laws accounts for the hard/soft consonant pairings that are such a striking feature of Russian phonology.

  21. And what’s with the pre-1918 orthography?

  22. Well, if you’re opposing the results of palatalization, it stands to reason you’re not going to like orthographic reform either.

  23. Bring bæc þe olde weieȝes!

  24. Trond Engen says:

    Wouldn’t that be weȝes?
    (asked in sincere ignorance)

  25. Well, they didn’t use the ȝ in Old English, so I threw in a fine-looking Middle English form. I don’t think perfect consistency is a strong point of the parodic revivalist movement.

  26. Bathrobe says:

    Anna, a belated thanks for that explanation. In the political context it all makes sense. (LH is so focussed on language, he sometimes forgets to fill us in on the political background :) )

  27. So true!

  28. Hi Bathrobe,
    Could you give more information on the story behind splitting Buryat and Mongol?
    I ask because I came across a birthday wish in Buryat: “Турэhэн удэроор – тумэн жаргал хусэнэб!” and while I could recognize what it was, it seems quite far from “Tѳрсѳн ѳдрийн баярын мэнд хvргэe” (that’s correct Mongolian, isn’t it?), and not just orthographically. I can also recognize when I’m wished happy birthday in Dutch when it’s written down, although I couldn’t say it, and English and Dutch are different, not just orthographically.
    I also spoke with a Buryat I knew and he told me on some words that are spelled the same in Buryat and Mongol, Buryats pronounce the final single vowels that are often silent in Mongol. Though he said the same thing as you, that it was one language before the Russians introduced different orthographies, and the languages became more and more separate.
    There is a Buryat working as a Russian teacher at the school I’m working at in Darkhan and she mainly communicates with the other teachers in Russian or poor Mongolian. (Although come to think of it her Buryat may not be strong, since she’s from Ulan-Ude.)
    I don’t know what this all adds up to except I would like more information. What can you tell me?

  29. Bathrobe, you’re welcome)) This link will show you more slogans from that demonstration – have fun!
    http://feelek.livejournal.com/72354.html

  30. Bathrobe says:

    @PF: So you’re in Mongolia. Nice! Actually, I think LH could give you much more information about the process by which the Russians decided on the standardisation of the languages of their empire, and I’m also sure it has been covered at LH before.
    At any rate, one of the keys is the script. The old Uighur alphabet is quite difficult because it fails to distinguish between certain sounds that need to be distinguished. For example, ᠦ can represent either ө or ү, which means that you have to guess at the pronunciation if you don’t actually know the word. The script is also very archaic, representing the sounds of Mongolian as it was spoken many centuries ago. While this is a major problem in learning to read Mongolian, it is very good in the way it is able to cover different modern dialects with their varying pronunciations. There are actually a lot of variant Mongolic dialects, and they can be almost mutually intelligible.
    To take a very simple example of the script uniting the language, take the word for ‘father’, which in the traditional script is written ‘abu’ (sorry, can’t reproduce the Mongolian script here). This is pronounced /a:β/ in modern standard (i.e. Khalkha) Mongolian. Since the Cyrillic script is quite phonetic for the Khalkha dialect, this is written аав. This is the same pronunciation as in Chakar dialect of Inner Mongolia. But by way of comparison, the Khorchin dialect pronunciation is /a:b/. If it were written in Cyrillic, it should probably be ааб. So using an alphabet that strictly fits one dialect (and not others) tends to splinter the language. And in fact, the Buryat spelling of this word is аба. As long as Mongols were all using the old script, which wrote ‘abu’, nobody was disadvantaged and everyone had a common written language. But the moment purely ‘phonetic’ spelling was introduced, the old unity was broken. The old script was able to accommodate variation in vowels (which is quite widespread in Mongolian dialects) and at times even the old endings you mention. The modern ‘phonetic’ scripts force just one pronunciation to be chosen as standard.
    The Russians forced the Mongolians, like many other peoples of the Soviet Union, to drop their traditional script and adopt Cyrillic. This happened in Mongolia in the 1940s (after a brief period where the Latin alphabet was used). I’m not sure when they forced the Buryats to adopt the Cyrillic alphabet, but it probably wasn’t that much earlier. What was sneaky about the Russians (or perhaps Stalin) was that they made the decision on what was to be encoded as a ‘standard language’. If they decided that Buryat was a separate language from Mongolian, then a separate script was created for ‘standard Buryat’. If they decided that something was just a dialect of another language, they didn’t develop a separate script. The grounds for making such decisions were, if I understand correctly, just as much related to destroying tradition and ‘divide-and-rule’ as anything cultural or linguistic. Since Buryat was already a distinct dialect from Khalkha and other varieties of Mongolian, and since Buryatia belonged to Russia and Mongolia was a (theoretically) separate country, it wasn’t difficult to set up a different orthography for Buryat from Mongolian. Add to that the massive Russian influence on Buryat vocabulary, and the two standards started to become very different.
    This encoding and enforcing of standards then tends to become entrenched. In Mongolia, the Khalkha variety has been encoded as Standard Mongolian, and all Mongolians are taught this standard, including the Buryats living in Mongolia. (The Buryats living in China are taught the Chahar dialect as standard). This leads to the gradual homogenisation of language within each territory. My understanding is that the original dialects within Mongolia are gradually disappearing and being replaced by standard Mongolian (Khalkha), destroying the variety that once existed — Khalkha Mongolian is a very narrow standard –and also the cross-border similarities among dialects in different countries.
    The example you give is fairly easy to understand, and would be even easier to understand if the script was unified. Турэhэн удэроор – тумэн жаргал хусэнэб. Турэhэн is obviously the same as Tѳрсѳн (с becomes h in Buryat), удэр is the same as өдөр with a difference in vowel and a different case ending (instrumental instead of genitive). You write тумэн, but I suspect that should be түмэн (ten thousand). Жаргал is the same as Mongolian жаргал (fortune, happiness). The last word should be хүсэнэб and is obviously related to the Mongolian word хүсэх (to wish). I’m not sure of the verb ending, but the whole obviously means something like ‘Wishing you ten-thousand happinesses on your birthday’. It’s not the standard Mongolian phrasing for ‘Happy Birthday’, but I think you could be overrating the significance of this difference in wording.
    At any rate, the adoption of different scripts and new ‘standards’ was, I’m pretty sure, deliberate policy designed to split the Mongols into smaller competing groups. Add to this the fractiousness of the Mongols themselves, and it’s easy to split them into competing groups. The Mongolians regularly deny ‘Mongolness’ to Mongols in China or (perhaps to a much lesser extent) in Russia. It helps to reinforce the way that the Chinese and the Russians have already broken them up.

  31. Wow. Thanks, PF, for asking the question and prompting that terrific response! (I’ve written briefly about the general issue of Soviet ethnic/linguistic splitting, for example here and here), but I know nothing about Buryat and Mongol and would have been unable to provide any useful information here.)

  32. Bathrobe says:

    Ah, I’ve found some information on Buryat (or Buriad) in The Phonology of Mongolian (Oxford Linguistics) by Jan-Olof Svantesson et al.
    Characteristic phonological features of Buriad are the weaking of *s to h and fricativization of affricates [here I think it refers to things like Mongolian цагаан becoming сагаан in Buriad]. Another feature differentiating Buriad from Halh is the retention of word final short vowels, for example, ʊʊlə ‘mountain’ vs. Halh ʊʊɮ [Cyrillic: уула in Buriad, уул in Mongolian].
    …..
    There is not complete agreement about the dialect division of Buriad, but five main dialects may be recognized:
    Buriad dialects
    (a) Eastern Buriad (Hori, Aga, Muhar-Sheber, Tugnui, Hilok, Buriad of Mongolia)
    (b) Northwestern Buriad (Ehired, Bulagad, Kabansk, North Selenge, Ivalga, Bargazhan, Kachug, Boohon, Ol’hoon, Osa, Baigal-Hudari)
    (c) Southwestern Buriad (Alair, Tünhen, Aha, Ungi, Zakamna)
    (d) Nizhneudinsk
    (e) Bargu
    …..
    The Eastern Buriads traditionally used Classical Written Mongolian as their written language. A special Buriad variant of the Mongolian alphabet was devised in 1905 by Agvan Doržiev, who took the Oirad Clear Script as a model. The Cyrillic alphabet was used for writing Buriad from about 1840 in Western Buriatia, but after 1917 the Mongolian alphabet was introduced there as well. It was officially replaced by a Latin-based script in 1931. At first, Halh Mongolian was used as the dialect basis for this script, but this was almost immediately changed to the South Selenge (Tsongool-Sartuul) dialect, which is phonologically a dialect of Mongolian proper rather than Buriad. The dialect basis was changed to Hori in 1936, and it was decided in 1938 that the Cyrillic alphabet should replace the Latin one. Printing in the old Mongolian alphabet ceased in 1937, and printing in the Cyrillic alphabet started in 1939-40. In China and Mongolia, Buriad is regarded as a dialect of Mongolian, and the speakers use the respective forms of the Mongolian written language.

  33. Bathrobe says:

    I have here a Russian-Buryat dictionary from 1954. It’s called Русско=Бурят-Монгольский словарь. Note the use of the compound word Бурят-Монгольский.
    If we look at the naming of Buryatia, Wikipedia says: “In 1923, the Buryat-Mongolian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Buryat: Буряадай Автономито Совет Социалис Республика; Russian: Бурятская Автономная Советская Социалистическая Республика) was created as a result of the merger of Buryat-Mongol and Mongol-Buryat Oblasts….In 1958, the name “Mongol” was removed from the name of the republic. The Buryat ASSR declared its sovereignty in 1990 and adopted the name Republic of Buryatia in 1992. However, it remained an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation.”
    Since my dictionary was published in 1954, it still retains “Монгольский” in the name. This name no longer appears to be current.

  34. Bathrobe says:

    Finally, a quote from Soviet Language Policy in Central Asia by Mark Dickens, which LH links to. It gives the general characteristics of Soviet language policy in those early days:
    “One of the chief linguistic tasks of the new government was to develop a separate literary language for each significant ethnic group in the Soviet Union. “In the USSR, the emergence of a written language is not always the result of a long internal evolution; it is frequently the consequence of a decision by the central authorities who can present a community with a literary language worked out by Russian linguists” (Bennigsen and Quelquejay 1961:16). Each Central Asian Group chosen to constitute a nation was given a literary language which was artificially differentiated from those of neighbouring nations which were often linguistically similar (as, for instance, with the Kazakh and the Kirghiz). Thus, the linguistic unity of the area was broken up while differences between the languages were emphasized. This process of separation was helped further by the National Delimitation of 1924, which fixed the boundaries of the five Central Asian republics, primarily along ethnic and linguistic lines.
    “On the surface, the provision of a territory and a literary language for each Central Asian nationality seems like a generally beneficial development for the groups in question and certainly, the latter was necessary if the people were to become literate in their own language. At the same time, however, definite political motivations can be seen for this move. This divide-and-rule strategy obviously helped to diffuse any potential pan-Turkic tendencies. In addition,
    the early policy-makers harnessed nationalist sentiments and used them to promote unity within the Communist framework. Instead of suppressing the national languages and the expression of cultural heterogeneity, the Soviets encouraged them, thus deflecting any criticisms from nationalist factions. The symbol around which nationalists could rally, namely the language, was openly encouraged by the young Soviet regime and even championed by it, weakening the nationalist cause (Allardyce 1987:4).
    It must be remembered also that it was the central government which initiated and carried out the process, not the local population. the Soviets maintained total control of the situation throughout. ”

  35. Which leads us to korenizatsiya.

  36. As I have said before: Although the conversion to Cyrillic script was surely politically motivated, especially for the Turkic languages, which had perfectly good Latin alphabets from only ten years before, I don’t believe either the separation into novel Dachsprache or the details of the orthography were a matter of deliberate, er, incompatiblizing. It was more a matter of the job being done by separated groups in different places with no coordination between them, according to the best principles they could scrape up in an extreme hurry.
    Note that although Pontic Greek and Yiddish got spelling reforms in Soviet days, neither was cyrillicized. The same is true of Georgian, Armenian, and (after 1940) Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian, which retained their native scripts.

  37. “Турэhэн удэроор – тумэн жаргал хусэнэб!” ‘Wishing you ten-thousand happinesses on your birthday’.
    Yes, it says “on your birthday – wishing you thousand joys (happiness)”. I am so very glad that you two are interested in Buriad and Mongolian languages, my father’s family is from hori Buriads, they used to live around the lake Baikal (Baigali dalai) and came to Mongolia in 1916 and were then repressed in 1937, all the men, my grandmother would tell us sometimes stories about that time how all just the women and kids were left, they were considered as if they were counter-revolutionaries who avoided the October revolution, my father’s two uncles then were in the gulags around the White Sea and then served in the Red Army during the WWII, one of them who was a pilot died under Kharkiv in 1944, there is a documentary about them in the Museum of the repressed in UB.
    I think at least in singing our songs, the Inner Mongolian singers now sing in the perfect standard Mongolian, it’s so very moving too, as if Inner Mongolians consider speaking the standard Mongolian cool, isn’t it great and it’s enough only 20 years to open the borders and communications and the language differences start to diminish and the dialects come closer, I am not sure that’s that bad a thing, for our unity and statehood and for people’s perceiving own national and ethnic identity and pride
    otoh, in our countryside the Inner Mongolian Odon or some other TV are so prominent, people watching them daily, seemed as if it is not a very good thing, as if the Chinese state propaganda could reach and wash the people’s minds too easily, and it seemed just pretty boring, what is official is official sounding in any language
    i’ve noticed when i watch some Buriad documentaries they adopt the standard Mongolian words and terms in their speaking Buriad, b/c it seems they forgot their original words and knew only Russian substitutes for those words and had to learn it from our language anew, the speech then sounds pretty strange and as if like patchy, rough, not very polished sounding, “rejet ukho” Russians would say, when the pure Buriad would flow as if like pretty smoothly
    so I mean, if you have any other questions about Mongolian expressions or Buriad, PF, feel free to ask, i’ll try to answer, but Mr.B knows more about the linguistics problems, of course, I have no idea about all those palatalizations etc. would have thought, for example, at first that that was a pun on the Kremlin palaces – palaty in Russian

  38. Anthony says:

    The 1923 merger was probably done to prevent strife between the Buryat-Mongol People’s Liberation Front and the Mongol-Buryat People’s Liberation Front.

  39. sorry, yeah, tumen – ten thousands, the meaning of the exactly ten thousands is not used much, one would say more like arvan myanga now

  40. Bathrobe says:

    Thanks, read, for that follow-up!
    I belatedly realised that Турэhэн удэроор should also be Түрэхэн үдэроор. The same rules about vowel harmony apply (masculine and feminine vowels). (I’m not sure of үдэроор, which, if it were a Mongolian word, would be үдрээр, with vowel harmony in the ending to match the ү in үдэр). At any rate:
    Buryat Түрэхэ = Mongolian Төрөх (to be born)
    Buryat Үдэр = Mongolian Өдөр (day)
    You’ll notice that under the Classical script both words would use the same letter (ᠦ) where Cyrillic uses ө and ү respectively. So the vagueness of the old script actually allowed these two variants to coexist within the one standard, whereas Cyrillic makes this into a difference between two languages.

  41. yes, that is true, the old script writes the both pronunciations the same way, the Buriad or Ordos or other dialects seem like older versions of our language and now they are as if like catching up with us :)
    i’ve tried last year to follow a FB page for the Uigarjin, it’s so difficult and without knowing the rules i think i would never start reading it, and the rules seem like too obsolete, so i always ask the admin to put the cyrillic galig together and he always says then i’d never learn it, i even get rebuked for proposing the changes in the writing rules and get labeled unpatriotic and suggested that i should go elsewhere to learn the simplified kanjis if i prefer etc, it’s pretty like that, ironic

  42. I should ask questions more often! It will take me a little while to digest this information. Thanks very much for it!
    (Yes I am in Mongolia, in Darkhan. The Buryat text I took from facebook – its author is an English teacher in Duldurga who is not very familiar with computers, I think, which explains the у for ү. I can only assume that үдэроор should be үдэрѳѳр or үдэрээр or something. From what I recall she speaks Buryat at home and half-Russian, half-Buryat at work and in official/administrative contexts.)

  43. Trond 延元 says:

    Support the anti-glottalization movement!

  44. SFReader says:
  45. Bathrobe says:

    SFReader, I’m much obliged for that information. These ‘predicative personal endings’ look very much like cliticised pronouns (би and бид). What are the endings for second and third persons?
    I wrote my posts above in response to PF’s request for clarification and I was learning as I went along. I would be the first to admit that there is a healthy dose of subjectivism in what I wrote (as JC pointed out), and the issue is obviously less simple than it appears.

  46. SFReader says:

    Yes, Buryat personal endings seem to derive from pronouns.
    For example, 2nd person singular would be -sh, -shi, 2nd person plural -t
    yabanab – I go, yabanash – you (singular) go, yabanat – you (plural) go.
    Very close Mongolian cognates can be produced simply by adding pronoun after the word
    yavna bi – yabanab
    yavna chi – yabanash
    yavna ta – yabanat
    3rd person singular – unmarked, 3rd person plural -d
    yabanad – they go

  47. SFReader says:

    Generally speaking, once one gets used to the pronunciation and small grammar differences, standard literary Buryat (based on eastern Buryat dialects) is remarkably similar to Mongolian.
    Western Buryat is more divergent, I am told (even eastern Buryats have trouble understanding it)

  48. ura! nashego polku pribylo, so to speak
    i mean i am glad to know there is a reader in SF so knowledgeable about Buriad Mongol language, i would be even more glad if you are yourself of Mongolian descent, but it seems you are not, where have you learnt the language? hiigti, yabagti
    i remember watching on TV an American missionary couple speaking perfect Mongolian without any accent, some people are really good at learning languages, they were talking they lived in Khentii for two years iirc

  49. hiigti, yabagti, i meant the words reminded me my grandma

  50. SFReader says:

    I think you mean “хэхэбди” – let’s do, “ябабди” – let’s go.

  51. Bathrobe says:

    SFReader, I wasn’t sure if you were in San Francisco or just an avid reader of science fiction.

  52. SFReader says:

    Buryat sounds like this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9Zh-GPEY40&feature=player_embedded
    Алиа хүүхэн дуун урин дуудаад
    Аян холохоо ерээб шамдаа
    Анхан түрэхэн талам шэнээр
    Аршаан сүршэжэ, бэеым жэгнээл
    Дуутайхан, суутайхан тоонто нютаг
    Зүрхэнэйм охин, зүдэнэйм эхин
    Дуулим буряадайм тоонто нютаг
    Зүрхэнэйм охин, зүдэнэйм эхин
    Дуулим буряадайм тоонто нютаг
    Сагай хайханда ургааш, хэргээш
    Сагаан эдеэгээ элбэг дэлгэээш
    Сарюун үбэлдөөш, арюун зундааш
    Самряан ажалаар омог зандааш
    Дуутайхан, суутайхан тоонто нютаг
    Зүрхэнэйм охин, зүдэнэйм эхин
    Дуулим буряадайм тоонто нютаг
    Зүрхэнэйм охин, зүдэнэйм эхин
    Дуулим буряадайм тоонто нютаг
    Аяын хангалаар нара золгоош
    Агтын жороое хөгжэм болгоош
    Айдар хүбүүдтээ жэгүүр олгоош
    Абын заншалагаар ерөөл үргөөш
    Дуутайхан, суутайхан тоонто нютаг
    Зүрхэнэйм охин, зүдэнэйм эхин
    Дуулим буряадайм тоонто нютаг
    Зүрхэнэйм охин, зүдэнэйм эхин
    Дуулим буряадайм тоонто нютаг
    While even Mongolian without exposure to Buryat would get the gist of it, this is hardly a level of intelligibility characteristic of one language.

  53. “”хэхэбди” – let’s do, “ябабди” – let’s go.”
    no, hiigti, yabagti are commands, do that, go there
    while hiihebdi, yabhabdi are will do, will go, will be doing, going
    i don’t know whether the forms you wrote are correct, let’s do will be, i am not really sure, in Mongolian xiitsgeye, yavtsgaaya, but in Buriad, I’ll ask my father

  54. What a great discussion! Sometimes the silliest posts produce the most informative comments.

  55. Bathrobe says:

    We’re onto the controversial field of what constitutes a separate language. (Mutual) intelligibility is often cited as a test for deciding whether a single language or separate languages are involved, but I don’t think it holds much water. For instance, the German dialects are often so different as to be mutually unintelligible, but thanks to the existence of a common ‘standard language’ from which they are treated as deviations, ‘German’ gets to be regarded as a single language. I think the same could be argued for Buryat. A different historical trajectory (less than 100 years ago) and Buryat would have been a dialect of Mongolian. In fact, it didn’t happen this way, and as a result Buryat is now treated as an independent language. Which was the point of my post.

  56. Well, to me there’s a big difference between being “regarded” or “treated” as a single language and actually being one by linguistic/scientific standards: see Arabic, Chinese, etc. But we’ve gone back and forth on that any number of times.

  57. SFReader says:

    Now I understand.
    Yabayabdi – let’s go (Mongolian yav’ya)
    Yababdi – we go (Mongolian yavaa)
    Yabayagty – you go! (Mongolian yavaach!)
    Very, very complicated…

  58. Trond Engen says:

    I’ve touted my sociolinguistic definition of language before, haven’t I? I’ve boiled it down to

    A language is a dialect continuum with shared prestige varieties.

  59. SFReader says:

    Well, actually in Mongolia and China, Buryat functions as a dialect of Mongolian and in Russia as a separate language.
    Same with Oirat (Western Mongol), which is a dialect of Mongolian in Mongolia and China and a separate Kalmyk language in Russia.
    I think this all depends on existence of schools which teach normative literary standard.
    Every Buryat in Mongolia understands and speaks standard Mongolian, so Buryat is effectively just a dialect of Mongolian.
    The same can not be said for Buryats from Russia which often forces Mongolians and Buryats to speak Russian in order to understand each other.

  60. marie-lucie says:

    LH: to me there’s a big difference between being “regarded” or “treated” as a single language and actually being one by linguistic/scientific standards: see Arabic, Chinese, etc.
    Most linguists will agree that there is no hard and fast criteria which will definitely decide on purely linguistic factors whether two speech varieties with many resemblances should be classified as separate languages or separate dialects of a single language. Extra-linguistic factors usually intrude, such as whether speakers agree to ignore their linguistic differences (because they feel they are part of a single ethnic or national group), or emphasize them as markers of separateness.

  61. SFReader says:

    More complicated case. Here is a Daguur folk song
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=VtjQP8cH7NM#t=173s
    I am willing to bet that this song would be almost completely unintelligible to any Mongolian (maybe a few words here and there, at most a short sentence can be picked)
    Dagur and Mongolian share a bit over 50% of vocabulary. The languages diverged long ago (over a thousand years ago, perhaps. It is thought that Dagur is related to Khitan language, or maybe even its direct successor)
    Nevertheless, there was actually an attempt by Dagur nationalists to claim that the Dagur is just a dialect of Mongolian and that Daurs are Mongols (curiously, Mongols never regarded them as Mongols and showed very little enthusiasm for this claim)

  62. Bathrobe says:

    Interestingly, the few comments that that song attracted are all in Mongolian.

  63. “Yabaya,” i can recognize this form for let’s go, others seem unfamiliar to me, but you, I guess, are referring to a dictionary, so those words can’t be incorrect, right? still sounds a little unnatural to me
    “Interestingly, the few comments that that song attracted are all in Mongolian.” it’s bc the person who posted the song is an Inner Mongolian and he has his own public listening to his posts
    I can understand just a few words from the song, something about berries, jimstei etc. if to listen more carefully it seems very close to how our songs lyrics are constructed, so i’ll try to listen later when will have more time

  64. Most linguists will agree that there is no hard and fast criteria which will definitely decide on purely linguistic factors whether two speech varieties with many resemblances should be classified as separate languages or separate dialects of a single language. Extra-linguistic factors usually intrude, such as whether speakers agree to ignore their linguistic differences (because they feel they are part of a single ethnic or national group), or emphasize them as markers of separateness.
    Of course there are no “hard and fast criteria”; there rarely are when dealing with human affairs. But to say hard and fast lines can’t be drawn and reasonable people can differ on edge cases is very far indeed from saying that whatever people want to be true must be allowed to be true. It is of sociological interest that many speakers of Chinese or Arabic insist that there is only one language involved, but it should be irrelevant to linguists. Frankly, it annoys the hell out of me to see scientists bending over backward to accommodate people who have nothing but their feelings to go on (this applies equally to the issue of bones and other remains that are claimed by people who by any scientific standard have no relationship to the people who left those remains tens of thousands of years ago). If people don’t like the findings of science, the education system needs to be improved rather than having scientists go “Oh well then, if you don’t like it, never mind.”

  65. this horchin song, i can understand almost all the words
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oCTAVgOcBE&feature=relmfu
    the songs is sung in the khalkha mongolian too, just the melody gets a bit different then http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vx1_O8H8WDE&feature, the second melody in the compilation, the first one is a uzemchin song

  66. marie-lucie says:

    LH, looking for instance at the Scandinavian languages, if they had not already been classified by being spoken in separate nations it could be argued on purely linguistic grounds that there is a single “Scandinavian” language spoken in the Scandinavian peninsula, with several dialects and sub-dialects. There are differences, but Swedes and Norwegians can talk to each other, each using their own “language”, without having had to learn the other one.

  67. Sure, absolutely. That’s what I mean about edge cases. I don’t see that that has much if anything to do with Cantonese and Mandarin, two very different languages, being classified as dialects because it offends people to do otherwise.

  68. marie-lucie says:

    Perhaps “dialects” reflects the traditional Chinese way of referring to the non-Mandarin speech varieties? I don’t think linguists think of them as “dialects” rather than separate languages.

  69. Bathrobe says:

    I suspect these Mongolic languages are somewhere near the Scandinavian situation, but with a bit of Chinese thrown in. SFReader seems to be suggesting that Buryat is ‘naturally’ different enough that it should be treated as a separate language. And indeed, as SFReader points out, Buryat is rather different from Mongolian in a way that the Mongolian languages of Inner Mongolia (China) and Mongolia are not, although even with the Mongolian dialects there can also be problems of mutual intelligibility.
    The Mongolic languages present various issues of classification. The three well-known languages are Mongolian, Buriad, and Oirat, which The Phonology of Mongolian claims are “more or less mutually comprehensible” and have used Classical Written Mongolian and had contact throughout history. As SFReader points out, Buryat and Oirat are treated as separate languages in Russia (Buryat and Kalmyk respectively) but as dialects of Mongolian in China and Mongolia. In addition there are also many “peripheral” languages (Kamnigan, Dagur, Shira Yugur, Mongguor, Santa, Bonan, Kangjia, and Moghol) which are rather more different. So when a Dagur speaker pops up and claims to be speaking ‘Mongolian’, but this claim is not recognised by a Mongolian, then we have a true ‘edge situation’.
    Underlying all this, as usual, is ethnic and national politics. When SFReader made the comment that “this is hardly a level of intelligibility characteristic of one language”, he/she was pushing back against my rather passionate claim that it was the Russians who decided to make Buryat a separate language from Mongolian. (Russian) Buryat as a separate language is now an established fact. Whether you feel the division is natural or artificial will depend very much on your point of view. At any rate, however you view it, the fact is that decisions relating to script reform and selection of the standard language or Dachsprache led to different outcomes in different places. As SFReader points out, in Russia Buryat is a separate language; in Mongolia and China it is a dialect.

  70. Every Buryat in Mongolia understands and speaks standard Mongolian, so Buryat is effectively just a dialect of Mongolian.
    While this rule of thumb is useful, it’s not universally applicable. Every child over age five in Welsh-speaking Wales understands and speaks English, but that does not make Welsh a dialect of English.
    The Wikipedia article on Ausbausprache, Abstandsprache and Dachsprache may be helpful in clarifying people’s thinking:
    “A dialect [of Welsh, for instance] may be an abstand language (again, with respect to some other dialect [of English, say]) without being an ausbau language. This is often the case with minority languages used within a larger nation state, where the minority language is used only in private, and all official functions are performed in the majority language. [Not quite true in Wales, but near enough.] On the other hand, a language may be an ausbau language even when it has little or no abstand from its neighbours, as noted above for Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian. ”

  71. SFReader says:

    I think that people can accommodate wide enough differences within a language if they are inclined to do so. One of the most extreme cases – Mingrelian which is regarded in Georgia as dialect of Georgian, even though the differences are on the level of, say, English and Russian…

  72. Perhaps “dialects” reflects the traditional Chinese way of referring to the non-Mandarin speech varieties? I don’t think linguists think of them as “dialects” rather than separate languages.
    Rather it reflects a traditional but misleading Western translation of the Chinese term 方言 fāngyán, which really means ‘local language’ and in Imperial days applied just as much to Korean or Japanese as to Shanghainese or Cantonese. Victor Mair uses the neologism topolect as a direct translation of fāngyán in order to avoid this confusion. It neatly corresponds to the Tok Pisin term tok ples.
    Unfortunately, the Chinese government insists that all the Han in China speak the same language, and linguists working and living in China can’t safely contradict this.

  73. SFReader says:

    re Welsh comparison.
    In Mongolia situation is more complex, since due to closeness of languages, the Mongolians having some exposure to Buryat can understand it without difficulty (and some even speak it).
    I’d say, Mongolian and Buryat most resemble English and Scots(not Gaelic!) in Scotland rather than English and Welsh in Wales.

  74. Bathrobe says:

    I was minded to mention Scottish vs English. But for the union of the two thrones, English/Scottish might have become something similar to Mongolian/Buryat.

  75. marie-lucie says:

    the Chinese government insists that all the Han in China speak the same language, and linguists working and living in China can’t safely contradict this
    Linguists are people too, and have to live in the real world. Local linguists having to toe the line in China does not mean that foreign linguists cannot have their own ideas.
    Victor Mair’s solution (“topolect”) is a good one, since this word does not have the connotations that “dialect” often has among non-linguists. I often use “language varieties” when I don’t feel it would be wise to make a case on purely linguistic grounds.

  76. SFReader says:

    Another useful comparison would be with Russian/Ukrainian/Belarussian.
    In the 19th century Ukrainian and Belarussian functioned and were officially regarded as dialects of Russian.
    A case is often made that evil Russian Communists artificially separated Ukrainian and Belarussian in order to prevent unity of East Slavic peoples… ;-)))

  77. Bathrobe says:

    A case is often made that evil Russian Communists artificially separated Ukrainian and Belarussian in order to prevent unity of East Slavic peoples
    You are obviously cynical about the idea of reading motivations into Soviet language policy. I’m curious to hear what you think about the Mark Dickens paper linked to above (Soviet Language Policy in Central Asia).

  78. The problem with dialect/language is that even with hard-and-fast rules it can create too many languages for one to be able to manage. Personally I’m for a Trond-Engen definition of language, which would make Chinese something like 12 or so languages, a picture which is obviously false — Standard Cantonese is as unintelligible with a smaller Cantonese dialect as Standard Mandarin. So practically the most convenient way is to always take the smallest possible unit, like Beijing Mandarin or Guangzhou Cantonese or the Wu Chinese of a certain village, and call it a variety in English (un parler in French and a 土语 in Chinese, I would say), and be precise about the level of classification (whether I’m talking about one variety or a group of varieties etc).

  79. SFReader says:

    I think Soviet language policy was dictated by much more mundane practical considerations rather than by any grandiose plans to split, merge or create languages…
    For example, 1920s Soviets attempted eradication of illiteracy for all ethnic groups. Obviously, for average Buryat herder’s kid it was much easier to achieve literacy in Buryat than in Russian, Classical Mongolian or Khalkha Mongolian. Obviously, there was a question of grammars, dictionary and in this regard Buryat was much more extensively studied language in Russia compared to Classical Mongolian (as I know, colloquial Khalkha Mongolian was studied in any detail only in Soviet times). Hence, sheer availability of materials also dictated policy.
    There were of course some political constraints as well. Ukrainian nationalism proved during the Russian Civil War to be a powerful force capable of mobilizing large peasant rebel armies. It was much easier to accommodate it rather than attempt to deny existence of Ukrainian on purely linguistic grounds.
    Then there were personal motives of people in charge of language policy(or nationalities policy in general).
    A prospect of becoming a classic founder of a new literary language, a lifetime fame and employment, well, who could resist that? And on administrative levels, of course there was a great demand from politicians for plausible linguistic explanations why there needs to be a separate republic with separate language and separate republican committee of Communist Party…

  80. marie-lucie says:

    minus273: The problem with dialect/language is that even with hard-and-fast rules it can create too many languages for one to be able to manage.
    The Ethnologue catalogue of languages falls into this trap.

  81. I think that people can accommodate wide enough differences within a language if they are inclined to do so. One of the most extreme cases – Mingrelian which is regarded in Georgia as dialect of Georgian, even though the differences are on the level of, say, English and Russian…
    I don’t see what it means to say “people can accommodate wide enough differences within a language”; they can call Mingrelian a dialect if they like, but that doesn’t make it true. If the difference with Georgian is on the level of English and Russian (I’ll have to take your word for it), then they can’t understand each other’s languages without pretty intensive study, and it’s blatantly counterfactual to call the one a dialect of the other. It’s as if for political reasons the US government decided to call Spanish a dialect of English—that wouldn’t make it so.
    I think Soviet language policy was dictated by much more mundane practical considerations rather than by any grandiose plans to split, merge or create languages
    Have you actually read about it in any detail? Because if you read, say, Terry Martin’s The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939, you’ll see that they did in fact have grandiose political plans—it wasn’t at all simply a matter of “mundane practical considerations.”

  82. SFReader says:

    Mingrelians understand Georgian because it’s the national language which they are taught in school (but their native Mingrelian is not taught at all). Some Mingrelians speak Georgian badly, because they are refugees from Abhazia (which was mainly Russian-speaking multi-ethnic republic in Soviet times)
    Georgians don’t speak and don’t understand Mingrelian at all.
    Very similar to the Welsh-English comparison above.

  83. SFReader says:

    I’ll have to read Martin’s book. What I’ve read about Soviet language policy in 1920-30s gives me an impression of a lack of any common policy (and very abrupt policy reversals).
    First there was an attempt to create a unified written language for Mongolian, Buryat and Kalmyk (disregarding already existing Classical Mongolian which served same role), then reversal of policy and decision to have three different written languages, then change of alphabet in favor of Latin, then sudden change in favor of Cyrillic and all sorts of strange decisions on Cyrillic orthography for every language (the most bewildering one – artificial skipping of short vowels in Kalmyk orthography which produces monstrosities like алдршлгдх (try to pronounce that!))

  84. SFReader and read – I’m a little late to this – I should have checked back earlier. I have a question. My Buryat is non-existent and my Mongolian is very elementary so excuse my mistakes. SFReader wrote:
    Yabayabdi – let’s go (Mongolian yav’ya)
    Yababdi – we go (Mongolian yavaa)
    Yabayagty – you go! (Mongolian yavaach!)
    I don’t know the “yavaa” form – is it possible this is yavna? If not, what form is it?
    Read, in your “xiitsgeye, yavtsgaaya” (let’s do, let’s go), is the tsg the plural infix that makes “sain baina uu” into “sain baitsgana uu”? Is this necessary when speaking in the first person plural? When I am inviting someone to go together with me in the moment I generally say “yavax uu” (shall we go); whereas when I inform someone that I intend to go in the moment I generally say
    “yav’ya” – is this correct? Should I be inviting/exhorting people to go together with me by saying “yavtsgaaya”?
    Also do other Mongolian languages or dialects or topolects retain the personal endings on verbs like Buryat does?
    Thanks!

  85. What I’ve read about Soviet language policy in 1920-30s gives me an impression of a lack of any common policy (and very abrupt policy reversals).
    Yes, there were certainly abrupt policy reversals, but they were for political reasons. Soviet ethnic/national politics changed rapidly in those years!

  86. Bathrobe says:

    artificial skipping of short vowels in Kalmyk
    Well, in my understanding this is related to epenthetic vowels, which are basically ‘inserted by rule’. I have always had trouble remembering which vowels to leave out in Mongolian writing (үхэр / үхрийн is easy, but it gets a bit curly with the verbs). At least Kalmyk is consistent.

  87. Reading Bathrobe’s comments: Agvan Dorzhiev seems to turn up everywhere. Last time I read about him he was in Tibet advising the Dalai Lama. I wonder if there’s some more comprehensive resource available about him.

  88. SFReader says:

    –I don’t know the “yavaa” form – is it possible this is yavna? If not, what form is it?
    Yes, should be yavna (yavaa is also possible, the meaning is of continuing action – going, walking)
    –Read, in your “xiitsgeye, yavtsgaaya” (let’s do, let’s go), is the tsg the plural infix that makes “sain baina uu” into “sain baitsgana uu”?
    It’s the so called participatory verb. The meaning is let’s do it together, let’s go together.
    –”yav’ya” – is this correct? Should I be inviting/exhorting people to go together with me by saying “yavtsgaaya”?
    This is I think called voluntative suffix -wishing to do something or calling someone to do something.
    —Also do other Mongolian languages or dialects or topolects retain the personal endings on verbs like Buryat does?
    I think it’s unique to Buryat, but need to check

  89. SFReader says:

    —Well, in my understanding this is related to epenthetic vowels, which are basically ‘inserted by rule’. I have always had trouble remembering which vowels to leave out in Mongolian writing (үхэр / үхрийн is easy, but it gets a bit curly with the verbs). At least Kalmyk is consistent.
    no, no! They are all pronounced in Kalmyk, so I see no reason why they are skipped. Here is how a Kalmyk dictionary looks like
    http://i38.fastpic.ru/big/2012/0517/9c/90434eb84bb5d9df2e078eff1f4b619c.png

  90. SFReader says:

    If I am not mistaken, Welsh orthography also tends to skip vowels, anyone knows why?

  91. SFR:
    The rough estimate of the Mingrelian/Georgian split is about 3000 years ago. So English/Russian is a slight exaggeration, but not much: three millennia or six, you still understand nothing. Laz has only been separated for about 500 years from Mingrelian, the date of the Turkic migration that physically separated them (though there were probably dialect differences before that), and apparently individual words can be mutually understood, but connected sentences cannot.
    In Welsh, “w” and “y” are vowels as well as consonants: is that what you’re referring to? I know of no unwritten vowels.
    Irish (and Hiberno-English) inserts a schwa to break up consonant clusters which is not written, and this could be confused with the fact that most short unstressed vowels go to schwa. But trying to write Irish by ear alone is a hopeless undertaking anyhow, as hopeless as French.

  92. Yabayabdi – let’s go (Mongolian yav’ya)
    Yababdi – we go (Mongolian yavaa)
    Yabayagty – you go! (Mongolian yavaach!)

    so i don’t think Yabayabdi, Yababdi,yabayagty are correct there, yabaya is let’s go, yes, but there is no yabayabdi, that di in the end sounds incorrect, yababdi also sounds not correct, there is yabhab, yabhabdi, which means okay, i’ll go that intonation of okay is in there, maybe bc there is that hidden bi in the end of the word..
    yabagti means you go, if to say yabagti daa, it would be a softer form, as if like asking to go or giving a permit
    in your “xiitsgeye, yavtsgaaya” (let’s do, let’s go), is the tsg the plural infix that makes “sain baina uu” into “sain baitsgana uu”?
    i think it’s plural for do(xiitsgee), go (yavtsgaa), be (baitsgaa) when singular form is xii, yav, bai sounding as commands
    when it gets the suffix ye in the end it becomes let’s do, let’s go, let’s be
    when it has +na attached it’s something like present continuous form i guess, yavtsgaana – are doing, are going, are being
    hope it makes sense
    I have always had trouble remembering which vowels to leave out in Mongolian writing
    there is a lesson on that, so “mongol baavar” mnglbvr always have vowels, before or after, and there are rules of the zarimdag giguulegch which lose the vowels depending on when
    http://myagaabagsh.blogmn.net/74061/egshigt-ba-zarimdag-giiguulegch.html

  93. I don’t know the “yavaa” form – is it possible this is yavna? If not, what form is it?
    Yes, should be yavna (yavaa is also possible, the meaning is of continuing action – going, walking)

    yes, yavaa means going, some continuation of action, just alone it is not used much, it’s like auxiliary to some other action, irj yavaa would mean, for example one is coming, xiij yavaa would mean is doing
    another usage is “yavaa yav” would sound as if one says go go, go away
    “…yavaa daa” would mean someone supposes what action might be is going on

  94. In the 19th century Ukrainian and Belarussian functioned and were officially regarded as dialects of Russian.
    Ukrainian also existed as a separate language in the 19th century across the border in the Habsburg Empire, where it was usually known as “Ruthenian”. The Austro-Hungarians had their own political reasons for promoting Ruthenian/Ukrainian as a separate language from Russian (and apparently no one tried to argue it was a dialect of Polish, at least not prior to 1919). The separate history of Hapsburg Ukraine – Galicia and Bukovina – is why Ukrainian is still a living language today and not as moribund as Belarussian seems to be.

  95. Bathrobe says:

    OK, I’m afraid I’m highly dependent on The Phonology of Mongolian, but my understanding goes like this:
    (1) In initial syllables in Mongolian languages, there is contrasting vowel length (i.e., long and short vowels).
    (2) Non-initial syllables can have two kinds of vowels: full and reduced. Historically, these derived from long and short vowels respectively.
    The quality of a reduced vowel can be predicted (centralised version of the vowel in the preceding syllable, except for a reduced vowel following [u], which is a centralised version of [e]).
    The placing of a reduced vowel is also predictable; they can be inserted (epenthesised) by a rule and need not be present in phonological representations.
    This results in the two approaches to writing non-initial vowels in the Cyrillic alphabet:
    a. In Mongolian and Buryat, full non-initial vowels are written with double letters, reduced vowels are written with single letters.
    b. In Kalmyk, full vowels are written with single letters, reduced vowels are not written (because they can be predicted — see above). Thus:
    Mongolian улаан Kalmyk улан (full vowel)
    Mongolian баатар Kalmyk баатр (reduced vowel).
    A Kalmyk orthography which writes schwa vowels was officially adopted in 1999 but not widely accepted and abolished in 2001.
    This makes intellectual sense to me, but I’m not an expert so I’m quite willing to be corrected.
    As for the epenthetic vowels proper, it’s possible to get the hang of them but they can be confusing. For example:
    ойлгох ‘to understand’ is pronounced as written, something like [œlgǝx] (sorry, I know it’s not totally accurate, but I’m having trouble hunting for the right symbols and I have to go to work!). But ойлгосон is not, as it might appear, pronounced [œlgǝsǝŋ], it’s pronounced [œlǝgsǝŋ]! This is, again, rule-based behaviour, but sometimes I feel it would be easier if they just wrote ойлгсн so you could put the vowels in yourself!
    Thus, I tend to sympathise with the Kalmyk approach, even if it’s not quite the same thing.
    (read’s link led to a youtube screen, which is blocked here. I’ll check it later with VPN).

  96. is the tsg the plural infix
    actually it does not go together, -ts is separate and makes a noun : yav (go) – yavts (a noun meaning process) – yavtsgaa (you all go, plural command) – yavtsgaaya (let’s go) – yavtsgaana (are going/will be going)
    the same construction in xar (look)- xarts (a look or looking)- xartsgaa and so on
    there are of course exceptions, there is no a noun baits, for example

  97. Mongolian баатар Kalmyk баатр (reduced vowel).
    Should that be “Kalmyk батр”?

  98. Bathrobe says:

    No, because in the initial syllable there is a distinction between long and short vowels, which must be marked. It’s in non-initial syllables that the distinction drops down to ‘full’ and ‘reduced’.

  99. Bathrobe says:

    And it was my fault for not making that clear.

  100. Reading Bathrobe’s comments: Agvan Dorzhiev seems to turn up everywhere. Last time I read about him he was in Tibet advising the Dalai Lama. I wonder if there’s some more comprehensive resource available about him.
    i just read the wikipedia page on him and there were some references listed there, i remember reading about him that his remains were exhumated iirc and he was found in a sitting position as he was left according to his own instructions (sounds very doubtful how the nkvd would have allowed that, though could be if the body was given to his relatives) not at all changed, mummified or all just bones, and that was regarded as a sign of a holy spirit or his meditational forces(? after death?) preserving the body, must be just rumors, and if it really was so the Siberian cold weather of course played perhaps a greater role, though still the ordinary remains would have undergone the inevitable changes after death perhaps, so who knows, rumors are rumors
    hope this helps if you know Russian http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfin8TFek6U or maybe you already found this, if it is on youtube, seems just a nauchno-popularnaya documentary or this
    http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/advanced/kalachakra/shambhala/mistaken_foreign_myths_shambhala.html reads like some science fiction
    this one is a Buriad docu on another medical man buddhist monk Petr Badmaev http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B660oen1aSc&feature=related
    about the Buriad words, my father adds another different word yabham as yavna, and he also couldn’t recognize the forms i thought were incorrect, must be that is how the western Buriads talk, not the hori Buriads
    apologize for my earlier outburst yesterday not perceived (by me) unprovoked though, deleted in the other thread
    too easy and immediate communications these days, should really try to control self in such cases anyway

  101. Hello,
    found Your interesting page because I’m searching for the translation of a line of the buryat song “Toonto nyutag” – You posted the text here.
    Until I will ask my question still one comment concerning this comparing: (in the hope, this place is still “alive”)

    SFReader says:
    May 16, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Now I understand.
    Yabayabdi – let’s go (Mongolian yav’ya)
    Yababdi – we go (Mongolian yavaa)
    Yabayagty – you go! (Mongolian yavaach!)
    Very, very complicated…

    read says:
    May 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm
    “Yabaya,” i can recognize this form for let’s go, others seem unfamiliar to me, but you, I guess, are referring to a dictionary, so those words can’t be incorrect, right? still sounds a little unnatural

    So far as I know, in the case of “to go” there are no big differences between the Khalkha-Mongol language and the Buryaad -only the typical changing from “v” in Mongolian to “b” in Buryat and the typical vowel in the end of the verb in Buryat. So I would say in Mongolian in the infinitive form “yavakh” (явах) and in Buryat “yabakha” (ябаха). During in Mongol the verb is only changing with times, we have in Buryat also the conjugation (someone already wrote about in this discussion). The form “let’s do” is, so far I know, (I only love music from all over the world and sometimes try to translate lyrics … and Mongolian music concerns to my favourites, but never really studied these languages) very similar. So I would say

    to go …… yavakh ——————– yabakha
    I go ……… yavakh / yavadag ——————– yababa/yabadagbi (differences in time/repeats of acting)

    You go …… ” ” ——————– may be: yabash/yabadagshi
    Let’s go ….. yav’ya! —————————- yabaya!

    Very, very similar.

    These words I constructed myself. May be, I made some mistakes. But let’s have a look at an example of another word, I found in a Buryat grammar book:

    to study – hurakha (in Mongolian surakh) … again the typical changing from s in Mongolian to h in Buryat and the vowel in the end of infinitiv in Buryat

    When I’m speaking about learning in gerneral, not a regular act, not in a form like telling a story etc. I would say in Mongolian suradag – bi suradag – I study, chi suradag – You study …
    In the Buryat grammar book I found the following:

    1.p.sg.: huradagbi 1.p.pl.: huradagbdi
    2.p.sg.: huradagshi 2.p.pl.: huradagta
    3.p.sg.: huradag 3.p.pl.: huradag

    BTW, this system (of kind of conjugation with the help of syllables in the end of the verb, which are similar to the personal pronoun) You will find also in the turk languages, a group of languages concerning together with the mongolian languages to the Altaiic languages.

    And still some very well known Buryat words in the form “let’s do”, which we can hear very often in the traditional Buryat dance “Yokhor”: “khataraya” and “duulaya” – let’s dance and let’s sing. This shows, that they have a similar to the Mongolian language form to express this “let’s do”: with the help of the endings, which in Mongolian are: -’ya, -’yo, -’ye, -ya, -yo and -ye (depending of last letter in the word and the vowels). Examples are orokh – or’yo (go/come in), tegekh – teg’ye (to do (sth. what was spoken about before – read this – teg’ye! – I will do so), khijkh – khijye (make).
    This form is not only used to express “let’s do” but also “let ME do”/”I will do”.

    Well, let’s come to my question :)

    In the 2nd verse of the song “Toonto nyutag” we have the lines

    Saryuun ubeld88sh, aryuun zundaash
    Samryan azhalaar omog zandaash

    Сарюун үбэлдөөш, арюун зундааш
    Самряан ажалаар омог зандааш.

    Сарюун – fresh
    үбэлдөө – in winter which function could have the letter ш in the end? I found the conjunction-endings already in other parts of the sentences, not always directly in the end of the verb. Could this be such a case? So it could be a sign for “You”/2nd p.sg.? But how to translate in this case the whole sentence? The typical Mongolian word for “coming through the winter” in Buryat should be ubelzhekhe. Cannot imagine this could be a form of this verb.

    арюун – clean, clear, bright
    зундааш – the same construction as үбэлдөөш only concerning summer

    Самряан – ??? could it be Самaряан – echo?
    ажал-аар – work-with – through/with the help of work
    омог – pride
    зандааш – zandakha means sth. like grumble, cry … the double “a” could be past, the “sh” in the end 2nd p.sg.

    Any ideas for translation or help for understanding the grammar? Or some other meanings of single words?

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