Traditional Mongolian alphabet

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This article is about the traditional alphabet used specifically to write Mongolian. For the family of Mongolian-derived alphabets, see Mongolian script. For other alphabets used to write Mongolian, see Mongolian alphabets.
Mongolian alphabet
ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯ ᠪᠢᠴᠢᠭ᠌
Modern Mongol calligraphy.jpg
Languages Mongolian
Time period
ca. 1204 – present
Parent systems
Sister systems
Manchu alphabet
Oirat alphabet (Clear script)
Vagindra alphabet
Galik alphabet
Evenki alphabet
Xibe alphabet
ISO 15924 Mong, 145
Direction Top-to-bottom
Unicode alias
U+1800 – U+18AF

The traditional or classical Mongolian alphabet, sometimes called Hudum 'traditional' in Oirat in contrast to the Clear script (Todo 'exact'), is the original form of the Mongolian script used to write the Mongolian language. It fails to distinguish several vowels (o/u, ö/ü, final a/e) and consonants (t/d, k/g, sometimes ž/y) that were not required for Uyghur, which was the source of the Mongol (or Uyghur-Mongol) script.[1] The result is somewhat comparable to the situation of English, which must represent ten or more vowels with only five letters and uses the digraph th for two distinct sounds. Ambiguity is sometimes prevented by context, as the requirements of vowel harmony and syllable sequence usually indicate the correct sound. Moreover, as there are few words with an exactly identical spelling, actual ambiguities are rare for a reader who knows the orthography.

Letters have different forms depending on their position in a word: initial, medial, or final. In some cases, additional graphic variants are selected for visual harmony with the subsequent character.

From left to right : Phagspa, Lantsa, Tibetan, Mongolian, Chinese and Cyrillic


Characters Transliteration Notes
alone initial medial final Latin Cyrillic
Mg a initial.png 2mg ae medial.png 3mg ae final.png3mg ae2 final.png a А Distinction usually by vowel harmony (see also q/γ and k/g below)
Mg e initial.png e Э
Mg i initial.png 2mg i medial.png[note 1]

Mongol i middle2.jpg[note 2]

3mg iy final.png i, yi И,Й, Ы, Ь At end of word today often absorbed into preceding syllable
Mg ou initial.png 2mg öü2 medial.PNG 3mg ouöü final.PNG o, u О, У Distinction depending on context.
Mg öü initial.PNG 2mg öü1 medial.PNG2mg öü2 medial.PNG 3mg ouöü final.PNGMongol oe tail.jpg ö, ü Ө, Ү Distinction depending on context.
Mg n initial.png 2mg n1 medial.png[note 3]

2mg n2 medial.png[note 4]

3mg ae final.png3mg n2 final.png n Н Distinction from medial and final a/e by position in syllable sequence.
2mg ng medial.png 3mg ng final.png ng Н, НГ Only at end of word (medial for composites).

Transcribes Tibetan ང; Sanskrit ङ.

Mg b initial.png 3mg ouöü final.PNG 3mg b1 final.png3mg b2 final.png b Б, В In classical Mongolian v is used only for transcribing foreign words, so most "В (V)" in Cyrillic Mongolian correspond to "Б (B)" in Classical Mongolian.
Mg p initial.png 2mg p medial.png 3mg p final.png p П Only at the beginning of Mongolian words.

Transcribes Tibetan པ;

Mg q initial.png 2mg q medial.png 3mg q final.png q Х Only with back vowels
Mg gh initial.png 2mg gh1 medial.png2mg q medial.png 3mg gh1 final.png 3mg q final.png γ Г Only with back vowels.

Between vowels pronounced as a long vowel in oral Mongolian.[note 5] The "final" version only appears when followed by an a written detached from the word.

Mg g initial.png 2mg g medial.png k Х Only with front vowels, but 'ki/gi' can occur in both front and back vowel words
Word-finally only g, not k.

g between vowels pronounced as long vowel.[note 6]

3mg g final.png g Г
Mg m initial.png 2mg m medial.png 3mg m final.png m М
Mg l initial.png 2mg l medial.png 3mg l final.png l Л
Mg s initial.png 2mg s medial.png 3mg s final.png s С
Mg sh initial.png 2mg sh medial.png 3mg sh final.png š Ш

Mg td initial.png 2mg td2 medial.png2mg td1 medial.png 3mg td final.png t, d Т, Д Distinction depending on context.
Mg c initial.png 2mg c medial.png č Ч, Ц Distinction between /tʃ'/ and /ts'/ in Khalkha Mongolian.
Mg j initial.png 2mg j medial.png j Ж, З Distinction by context in Khalkha Mongolian.
Mg y initial.png 2mg y medial.png 3mg iy final.png y -Й, Е*, Ё*, Ю*, Я*
Mg r initial.png 2mg r medial.png 3mg r final.png r Р Not normally at the beginning of words.[note 7]
Mg w initial.png 2mg w medial.png v В Used to transcribe foreign words (Originally used to transcribe Sanskrit व)
Mg f initial.png 2mg f medial.png 3mg f final.png f Ф Used to transcribe foreign words
Mg k initial.png 2mg k medial.png 3mg k final.png К Used to transcribe foreign words
Mg ts initial.png 2mg ts medial.png (c) (ц) Used to transcribe foreign words (Originally used to transcribe Tibetan /ts'/ ཚ; Sanskrit छ)
Mg z initial.png 2mg z medial.png (z) (з) Used to transcribe foreign words (Originally used to transcribe Tibetan /dz/ ཛ; Sanskrit ज)
Mg h initial.png 2mg h medial.png (h) (г, х) Used to transcribe foreign words (Originally used to transcribe Tibetan /h/ ཧ, ྷ; Sanskrit ह)
Mg zh initial.png (zh) (-,-) Transcribes Chinese 'zhi' - used in Inner Mongolia
Mg ri initial.png (ř) (-,-) Transcribes Chinese 'ri' - used in Inner Mongolia
Mg ch initial.png (chi) (-,-) Transcribes Chinese 'chi' - used in Inner Mongolia


  1. ^ Following a consonant, Latin transliteration is i.
  2. ^ Following a vowel, Latin transliteration is yi, with rare exceptions like naim ("eight") or Naiman.
  3. ^ Character for front of syllable (n-<vowel>).
  4. ^ Character for back of syllable (<vowel>-n).
  5. ^ Examples: qa-γ-an (khan) is shortened to qaan unless reading classical literary Mongolian. Some exceptions like tsa-g-aan ("white") exist.
  6. ^ Example: de-g-er is shortened to deer. Some exceptions like ügüi ("no") exist.
  7. ^ Transcribed foreign words usually get a vowel prepended. Example: Transcribing Русь (Russia) results in Oros.


Genghis Khan in Mongolian script
Mongolian script written in an angular hand
Mongolian Wikipedia preview. A representation of what would look like if Mongolian script support was properly implemented. already exists, but support has not been implemented. Not all text is "real Mongolian" — only the actual text of the article, and the name thereof.
Mongolian People's Republic
Manuscript Type Transliteration
(first word)
Mclassical mimic.jpg Wikiclassicalmongol.jpg
Mongol w head.jpg v
Mongol i middle1.jpg  i
Mongol k middle.jpg k
Mongol i middle1.jpg i
Mongol p middle.jpg p
Mongol a middle 2.jpg e
Mongol t middle.jpg d
Mongol i middle1.jpg i
Mongol y1 middle.jpg y
Mongol a tail 1.jpg a
  • Transliteration: Vikipediya čilügetü nebterkei toli bičig bolai.
  • Cyrillic: Википедиа чөлөөт нэвтэрхий толь бичиг болой.
  • Transcription: Vikipedia chölööt nevterkhii toli bichig boloi.
  • Gloss: Wikipedia free omni-profound mirror scripture is.
  • Translation: Wikipedia is the free encyclopedia.


  1. ^ György Kara, "Aramaic Scripts for Altaic Languages", in Daniels & Bright The World's Writing Systems, 1994.

External links[edit]