Understanding Mongolian Vowels in Detail & Pronunciation

So in our last lesson, we talked about alphabet pronunciation, so in today’s lesson, we will learn in detail about the pronunciation and harmony of Mongolian language vowels.

Depending on how long you hold a vowel and subtle pronunciation differences, specific words can mean completely different things.

Take for example:

тэр (ter) – Means it
тээр (te er) – Means nuisance.

ур (ur) – Means talent
урь (uri) – Means invite

Masculine Vowels: а, о, у, ё, ы, ю, я

Feminine Vowels: э, ө, ү, е

Neutral Vowels: и, й

Vowel softener: ь

Vowel hardener: ъ

While conjugations in the Mongolian language have no masculine and feminine differences, there are still masculine and feminine words, so a word with masculine vowels can only have masculine and neutral vowels.

A feminine word can only have feminine and neutral vowels.

UNLESS in rare situations where the word is a loan word or a name, the rules sometimes don’t apply, but very rarely.

**Neutral vowels can go with both masculine and feminine vowels.

How to pronounce longer vowels vs shorter vowels?

While the pronunciation of long vowels sounds pretty much the same, it just sounds a bit longer and is held a bit longer than short vowels.

long vowels: уу, үү, оо, ээ, аа, өө, ий, ы

examples – уураг, дүүр, боол, хээр, таар, төөр, хийл, талын

short vowels: у, ү, о, э, а, ө, я, ё, е, и, ю

examples – ураг, дүр, бол, хэр, тар, төр, яр, ёр, ерөөл, хил

How to pronounce Diphthongs & What’s the difference?

A Diphthong is a combination of different sounding vowels that make a unique sound of its own. If you remember, masculine and feminine vowels can never mix, but neutral vowels can mix with both, so you get few interesting sounds from the combination:

ай, эй, ёо, яа, юу, юү

examples – айраг, хэлтэй, ёотон, яарах, юутай, юүлүүр

Diphthong pronunciations are held a bit longer like the long vowels.

What is a vowel softener?

Vowel softener themselves have no sound and is silent, but when it’s added into a word, it makes the word a bit softer and elegant. It’s like adding a subtle and very short и letter into the word.

examples – харь, тарь, барь

Related: What Does the Mongolian Language Sound Like? 

What is a vowel hardener?

Like vowel softeners, vowel hardeners don’t have a sound and is silent, but when it’s added to a word, it makes the word a bit harsh and aggressive sounding.

examples – харъя, таръя

For more practice please refer to the video or become a member here.

Shopping Cart