Native toChina
RegionGansu, Qinghai
Native speakers
(123,000 cited 1982 census)[1]
  • Central
    • Ordos
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Ordos Mongolian (also Urdus; Mongolian ᠣᠷᠳᠣᠰ; Chinese 鄂尔多斯 È'ěrduōsī) is a variety of Central Mongolic spoken in the Ordos City region in Inner Mongolia and historically by Ordos Mongols. It is alternatively classified as a language within the Mongolic language family or as a dialect of the standard Mongolian language.[2] Due to the research of Antoine Mostaert,[3] the development of this dialect can be traced back 100 years.

The Ordos vowel-phoneme system in word-initial syllables is similar to that of Chakhar Mongolian, the most notable difference being that it has [e] and [e:] instead of [ə] and [ə:].[4] In southern varieties, merged into /ʊ/, e.g. while you still say ɔrtɔs in Ejin Horo Banner, it has become ʊrtʊs in Uxin or the Otog Front Banner.[citation needed] In contrast to the other dialects of Mongolian proper, it retains this distinction in all following syllables including in open word-final syllables, thus resembling the syllable and phoneme structure of Middle Mongolian more than any other Mongolian variety. E.g. MM /ɑmɑ/ Ordos /ɑmɑ/ Khalkha /ɑm/ 'mouth', Ordos /ɑxʊr/ Khalkha /ɑxr/ ([ɑxɑ̯r]) 'short; short sheep's wool'.[5] Accordingly, it could never acquire palatalized consonant phonemes. Due to their persistent existence as short non-initial phonemes, /u/ and /ʊ/ have regressively assimilated *ø and *o, e.g. *otu > /ʊtʊ/ 'star', *ɡomutal > /ɡʊmʊdal/ 'offence', *tʰøry > /tʰuru/ 'power'. An analogous change took place for some sequences of *a and *u, e.g. *arasu > /arʊsʊ/.[6]

Ordos retains a variant of the old comitative case and shares the innovated directive case.[7] The verb system is not well researched, but employs a notable innovated suffix, ⟨guːn⟩, that does not seem to adhere to the common division into three Mongolic verb suffix classes.[8]

The lexicon of Ordos is that of a normal Mongolian dialect, with some Tibetan and Chinese loanwords.[9]


  1. ^ Peripheral Mongolian at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005)
  2. ^ Georg 2003: 193, Sečenbaγatur et al. 2005: 167–168
  3. ^ e.g. Mostaert 1937, 1941-1944
  4. ^ Sečen et al. 2002: 5
  5. ^ see Sečen et al. 2002: 19, 38
  6. ^ Sečen 2003: 35-36
  7. ^ see Sečen et al. 2002: 122
  8. ^ Soyultu 1982
  9. ^ Georg 2003: 193-194 (implicitly) based on Mostaert 1941-1944, Sonum 2008: 21-26 (together with C. Norǰin)