We’ve decided to intermittently write a series in response to our most frequently asked questions. You can read other posts in this series by clicking the link(s) below:
#2 WHAT LANGUAGE DO THEY SPEAK?
Most Mongolians speak Mongolian. If you want to hear what Mongolian sounds like (spoken by a cute littler girl and her dad) you can click here to watch/listen to our favorite Mongolian YouTube channel of a Mongolian family living in LA; we appreciate that they have subtitles.
The first time we heard Mongolian it sounded like people were mumbling without moving their lips. We couldn’t distinguish sounds and had no idea what we were hearing.
On our second trip to Mongolia sounds began to be a little more distinct and our friends enjoyed trying to teach us common words and phrases. And by “enjoyed” I mean they patiently helped us repeat words until we got them right while also laughing at us. We enjoyed it too.
There is a traditional Mongolian script but the more commonly used script is Cyrillic (like the Russians use). Sometimes, Mongolians will transliterate from Cyrillic to Latin letters (like English uses). So, Баярлалаа becomes bayarlalaa. We see this a lot on Facebook.
Fortunately for us, Google Translate is getting better at translating Mongolian (Cyrillic) into English but it’s not so good at translating Mongolian (Latin) into English. So when our friends type in Cyrillic, we can get some idea of what they’re saying; when they type in Latin letters we have no idea what they’re saying.
As far as learning languages go, Mongolia won’t be as hard to learn as it would be for a non-English speaker to learn English. Because the language is largely phonetic (yay!), it’s relatively easy to read and remember. Still, we’ll spend a good bit of our first two years in Mongolia learning Mongolian.
We’ve already got a language school picked out and will share how we plan to learn the language when we get there (it’s nothing like how I learned Spanish in high school!). But we’ll save that for another post…this one is long enough.