USAGE BY COUNTRY (OFFICIAL LANGUAGE)Official Language: Republic of Mongolia Officially Recognized Language: Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region/China
BACKGROUNDMongolian belongs to the Mongolian branch of the Altaic family of languages. It is spoken in both Mongolia and China. In Mongolian there are about 2 million speakers, while the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China (traditionally known as Inner Mongolia) has another 2 million. With an additional 200,000 speakers in northwest China, and another 150,000 in Manchuria, the total number of speakers of Mongolian is slightly over 4 million. Standard Mongolian is often referred to as "Khalkha" to distinguish it from a number of related languages and dialects. These include "Buryat" and "Kalmyk". All of these belong to the Mongolian branch of the Altaic family of languages. The original Mongolian alphabet was adapted from that of the Uyghurs in the 13th century. It is written vertically but unlike most vertical scripts it begins at the left. It was used in Outer Mongolia until 1941, and is still used among Mongolian speakers in China, though in a somewhat modified form. In 1941 Mongolia replaced the old alphabet with a new one based on Cyrillic. It was the first appearance of Cyrillic in Asia outside the former Soviet Union.