- The Issue of Unity between Written and Spoken Mongolian: Linguistic Norms in Inner Mongolia that Continues to Use “Pre-modern” Script
The Mongolian written language and the traditional Mongolian script were a “pre-modern” language and script that transcended ethnicity and dialect. The Mongolian script can be read in any dialect. However, modern languages demand pronunciation norms, making the Mongolian script unsuitable as the official script of a modern nation-state. The countries and regions that used the Mongolian script changed the script in the first half of the 20th century, except for the Mongolian ethnic areas of China which continued to use the original Mongolian script. This was possible as Mongolian was a minority language in China, and the scope of its use was limited. However, Inner Mongolia, too, faced the issue of the written language not conforming with the spoken language. Therefore, in the 1930s, Mongolian literary figures and others in Manchukuo attempted to unify the Mongolian written and spoken language based on the genbun itchi movement in Japan. Genbun itchi sought to unify the Japanese written and spoken language, and was translated literally as “üge üsüg-i nigen bolcaqui” in Mongolian. This effort was only partially successful in changing the Mongolian script to match the spoken pronunciation, and systematic genbun itchi could not be achieved. Since 1945, Inner Mongolia learned from the example of the Mongolian People’s Republic and transformed the style of Mongolian script to that of modern Mongolian while still using the Mongolian script. However, the discord between the Mongolian script and the spoken pronunciation remains unresolved, and to address this, changes are being made to the Mongolian script to this day as they have been for the last eight decades. It is important to know that the Mongolian script is not only the modern script used in Chinese territory, but also the traditional script of the written language common to areas using the Mongolian written language. For this reason, the Mongolian script must be passed on to future generations. A means for unifying the Mongolian language while using the Mongolian script is to follow the Hanyu Pinyin system, which has succeeded in standardizing pronunciation while using Chinese characters—namely, enhance the Inner Mongolian “standard-sounding” writing system so that it can also function at the sentence level. The orthography of the Cyrillic alphabet of Mongolia offers an objectively good example for the development of a standard-sounding writing system in Inner Mongolia. After all, the problem of the Mongolian script reform comes down to that of genbun itchi.
- 学苑 = Gakuen
学苑 = Gakuen 964 12-27, 2021-02-01