Ruanruan, Ruan-ruan, Juan-juan
Native toRouran Khaganate
RegionMongolia and northern China
Era4th century AD – 6th century AD
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Rouran (Chinese: 柔然), also called Ruanruan, Ruan-ruan or Juan-juan (Chinese: 蠕蠕), is an unclassified extinct language of Mongolia and northern China, spoken in the Rouran Khaganate from the 4th to the 6th centuries AD, considered a likely early precursor to Mongolic.[1]

Peter A. Boodberg claimed in 1935 that the Rouran language was Mongolic by analysing Chinese transcriptions of Rouran names.[2] Atwood (2013) notes that Rourans calqued the Sogdian word pūr "son" into their language as *k’obun (Chinese transliteration: 去汾 MC *kʰɨʌH-bɨun > Mandarin qùfén); which, according to Atwood, is cognate with Middle Mongol kö'ün "son".[3] Alexander Vovin noted that Old Turkic had borrowed some words from an unknown non-Altaic language that might have been Rouran,[4] arguing that if so, the language would be non-Altaic, unrelated to its neighbours and possibly a language isolate, though evidence was scant.[2] In 2019, with the emergence of new evidence through the analysis of the Brāhmī Bugut and Khüis Tolgoi, Vovin changed his view, suggesting Rouran was, in fact, a Mongolic language, close but not identical to Middle Mongolian.[1] Pamela Kyle Crossley (2019) wrote that the Rouran language itself has remained a puzzle, and leading linguists consider it a possible isolate.[5]


Features of Rouran included:[2]


Rouran had the feminine gender suffix -tu-.[2]


Rouran vocabulary included:[2][1]


  1. ^ a b c Vovin, Alexander (2019). "A Sketch of the Earliest Mongolic Language: the Brāhmī Bugut and Khüis Tolgoi Inscriptions". International Journal of Eurasian Linguistics. 1 (1): 162–197. doi:10.1163/25898833-12340008. ISSN 2589-8825. S2CID 198833565.
  2. ^ a b c d e Vovin, Alexander (3–5 December 2010). "Once Again on the Ruanruan Language". Ötüken'den İstanbul'a Türkçenin 1290 Yılı (720–2010) Sempozyumu From Ötüken to Istanbul, 1290 Years of Turkish (720–2010).
  3. ^ Christopher P., Atwood (2013). "Some Early Inner Asian Terms Related to the Imperial Family and the Comitatus". Central Asiatic Journal. Harrassowitz Verlag. 56: 49–86.
  4. ^ Vovin, Alexander (2004). "Some thoughts on the origins of the old Turkic 12-year animal cycle". Central Asiatic Journal. 48 (1): 118–132. ISSN 0008-9192.
  5. ^ Crossley, Pamela Kyle (2019). Hammer and Anvil: Nomad Rulers at the Forge of the Modern World. p. 49.
  6. ^ Clauson, Gerard (1972). "yunt". An Etymological Dictionary of pre-thirteenth-century Turkish. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 946.