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List of Bird Species of Mongolia

Note on languages represented


The Mongolian bird names section of the Sibagu site features eight languages (aside from Latin): Mongolian, English, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Kazakh, and Turkish. The justification for listing these specific languages is as follows:

Mongolian: Needless to say, Mongolian is listed as it is the language of the country in question. At the moment the site is based on the Cyrillic alphabet, but I am gradually implementing the traditional script using fonts from Mongolfont, which has miraculously overcome all kinds of difficulties to make the traditional script work on a Mac. Unfortunately there are still bugs and the traditional script will not appear properly in all media and all browsers. The best browsers are IE and Safari.

The bird names in the lists are those officially sanctioned in Mongolia, whose official language is based on the Khalkh dialect. To my knowledge, there are no complete Mongolian-language ornithological species lists for any other Mongolophone territories, the most notable of which are Inner Mongolia in China and Buryatia and Kalmykia in the Russian Federation. However, many individual species names are available in one Inner Mongolian source, and these are being added in order to provide a more rounded picture of Mongolian bird species names. The standard language in China is based on Chahar dialect. Some attempt has also been made to find names in the Buryat dialect, which has been standardised as a separate language in Russia.

English: Since English names appear to have become universal among ornithologists and birders, perhaps even more so than the Latin names, and since English is the native language of the creator of this site, English names are given to the right of the scientific names.

Russian: Although English is gaining ground recently, Russian is still the most widely understood and spoken foreign language in Mongolia. Moreover, a goodly portion of traditional Mongolian territory is now part of Russia and the Mongols there (mostly Buryats) are to a considerable extent Russified. Russian is thus essential for any multilingual list of Mongolian bird names.

Chinese: China is a country and Chinese a language that Mongolia can't ignore. Not only is China Mongolia's most populous and economically powerful neighbour, it is also a country with a long and close (if not particularly happy) historical relationship with Mongolia. In fact, a very large part of traditional Mongolian territory has been incorporated into China, with the result that, as China is fond of pointing out, there are more ethnic Mongols in Inner Mongolia than Mongolia itself (although there are doubts about the actual ethnicity of many of those claimed as Mongols). For these Chinese Mongols, the Chinese name is arguably even more relevant than the Mongolian. Chinese is thus listed for the benefit of Mongols in both Mongolia and Inner Mongolia.

Japanese: Japanese is a major Asian language that has played an important role in the naming of birds in East Asia, and one of the only ones with a world-wide list of bird names. If only to dispel any illusion that Russian and Chinese are the only local languages of relevance to Mongolia, Japanese is included here, too. One of Mongolia's more important "third neighbours".

Korean: Korean is a major Northeastern Asian language and Korea is a country with many links, both historical and contemporary, to Mongolia. As a major regional language, Korean is essential for inclusion.

Kazakh: This site tends to focus on East Asian languages as the site creator is most familiar with this area. But Kazakh is also essential to any multilingual list of Mongolian birds for three reasons: Kazakhstan is a close neighbour to Mongolia; Kazakhstan and other parts of Central Asia have close cultural ties to Mongolia, which can be seen in the borrowing of bird names; and the Kazakhs form a significant minority in the far west of Mongolia. Kazakh is also one of the only regional languages for which a scientific list of bird names is available. I've tried to provide a pronunciation or glossary for Kazakh names, with only limited success.

Turkish: Like Kazakh, Turkish is a Turkic language. While somewhat geographically removed from Mongolia, the strong Turkic element in Mongolian history, underlined by strong ties in the present, make Turkish an obvious candidate for inclusion. The Turkish is also very interesting from the point of view of Kazakh, which shows obvious similarities to and differences from Turkish in bird naming.

The seven languages in this section are thus there for a reason. The result is hopefully a more borderless view of the natural environment of Mongolia than is available from narrow territorially defined human languages.