Khorchin Mongolian

The Khorchin (Mongolian ᠬᠣᠷᠴᠢᠨ Qorčin, Chinese 科尔沁 Kē'ěrqìn) dialect is a variety of Mongolian spoken in the east of Inner Mongolia, namely in Hinggan League, in the north, north-east and east of Hinggan and in all but the south of the Tongliao region.[1] There were 2.08 million Khorchin Mongols in China in 2000,[2] so the Khorchin dialect may well have more than one million speakers, making it the largest dialect of Inner Mongolia.



Khorchin consonant phonemes[3][lower-alpha 1]
Labial Coronal Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop voiceless p t t͡ʃ k
Fricative s ʃ x
Approximant w l j
Trill r

Historical /t͡ʃʰ/ has become modern /ʃ/, and in some varieties, /s/ is replaced by /tʰ/.[4] Then, *u (<*ʊ<*u) has regressively assimilated to /ɑ/ before *p, e.g. *putaha (Written Mongolian budaγ-a) > pata ‘rice’.[5] However, less systematic changes that pertain only to a number of words are far more notable, e.g. *t͡ʃʰital 'capacity'> Khorchin /xɛtl/.[6] This last example also illustrates that Khorchin allows for the consonant nuclei /l/ and /n/ (cp. [ɔln] 'many').[7]


/ɑ/, /ɑː/, /ɛ/, /ɛː/, /ʊ/, /ʊː/, /u/, /uː/, /y/, /yː/, /i/, /iː/, /ɔ/, /ɔː/, /œ/, /œː/, /ə/,/əː/, /ɚ/[8][lower-alpha 2]

The large vowel system developed through the depalatalization of consonants that phonemicized formerly allomorphic vowels, hence /œ/ and /ɛ/. On the other hand, *ö is absent, e.g. Proto-Mongolic *ɵŋke > Kalmyk /ɵŋ/, Khalkha /oŋk/ 'colour',[9] but Khorchin /uŋ/, thus merging with /u/.[10] /y/ is absent in the native words of some varieties and /ɚ/ is completely restricted to loanwords from Chinese,[11] but as these make up a very substantial part of Khorchin vocabulary, it is not feasible to postulate a separate loanword phonology. This also resulted in a vowel harmony system that is rather different from Chakhar and Khalkha: /u/ may appear in non-initial syllables of words without regard for vowel harmony, as may /ɛ/ (e.g. /ɑtu/ 'horses' and /untʰɛ/ 'expensive';[12] Khalkha would have /ɑtʊ/ 'horses' and /untʰe/). On the other hand, /u/ still determines a word as front-vocalic when appearing in the first syllable, which doesn't hold for /ɛ/ and /i/.[13] In some subdialects, /ɛ/ and /œ/ which originated from palatalized /a/ and /ɔ/, have changed vowel harmony class according to their acoustic properties and become front vowels in the system, and the same holds for their long counterparts. E.g. *mori-bar 'by horse' > Khorchin [mœːrœr] vs. Jalaid subdialect [mœːrər].[14]


Khorchin uses the old comitative /-lɛ/ to delimit an action within a certain time. A similar function is fulfilled by the suffix /-ɑri/ that is, however, restricted to environments in the past stratum.[15] In contrast to other Mongolian varieties, in Khorchin Chinese verbs can be directly borrowed; other varieties have to borrow Chinese verbs as Mongolian nouns and then derive these to verbs. Compare the new loan /t͡ʃɑŋlu-/ 'to ask for money' < zhāngluó (张罗) with the older loan /t͡ʃəːl-/ 'to borrow' < jiè (借)[16] that is present in all Mongolian varieties and contains the derivational suffix /-l-/.


  1. Bayančoγtu sometimes uses other symbols.
  2. Bayančoγtu also assumes a phoneme /ё/ (~ [ɤ]), but following the analysis of Svantesson et al. 2005 that claims that Mongolian (except for Ordos) only distinguishes phonemic and non-phonemic vowels in non-initial syllables, we arrive at an analysis where [ɤ] and [ə] are in complementary distribution, thus constituting a single phoneme. We thus arrive at the similar phoneme system as that of Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 317 who, however, don't mention the vowel /ɚ/ that is restricted to loanwords and doesn't play a role in the vowel harmony system of Khorchin.



  1. Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 565
  2. Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 317
  3. Bayančoγtu 2002: Todurqayilalta 2-3.
  4. Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 327
  5. Qai yan 2005: 92
  6. Bayančoγtu 2002: 79
  7. Bayančoγtu 2002: 109-110
  8. Bayančoγtu 2002: 1, 80.
  9. Svantesson et al. 2005:135, 171
  10. Bayančoγtu 2002: 15
  11. Bayančoγtu 2002: 28-29
  12. Bayančoγtu 2002: 89, 91
  13. Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 328-329
  14. Bayančoγtu 2002: 93
  15. Bayančoγtu 2002: 149
  16. Bayančoγtu 2002: 529, 531-532


  • Bayančoγtu (2002): Qorčin aman ayalγun-u sudulul. Kökeqota: Öbür mongγul-un yeke surγaγuli-yin keblel-ün qoriy-a.
  • Qai yan (2003): Qorčin aman ayalγu ba aru qorčin aman ayalγun-u abiyan-u ǰarim neyitelig ončaliγ. In: Öbür mongγul-un ündüsüten-ü yeke surγaγuli 2005/3: 91-94.
  • Sečenbaγatur et al. (2005): Mongγul kelen-ü nutuγ-un ayalγun-u sinǰilel-ün uduridqal. Kökeqota: Öbür mongγul-un arad-un keblel-ün qoriy-a.
  • Svantesson, Jan-Olof, Anna Tsendina, Anastasia Karlsson, Vivan Franzén (2005): The Phonology of Mongolian. New York: Oxford University Press.
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