Daur language

Native to China, Mongolia
Region Inner Mongolia, Hailar District; Heilongjiang Province, Qiqihar Prefecture; Xinjiang, Tacheng Prefecture
Native speakers
96,000 in China (1999)[1]
  • Daurian
Language codes
ISO 639-3 dta
Glottolog daur1238[2]

The Daur /ˈdaʊər/[3] or Daghur language is a Mongolic language primarily spoken by members of the Daur ethnic group.


Daur is a Mongolic language consisting of four dialects: Amur Daur in the vicinity of Heihe, the Nonni Daur on the west side of the Nonni River from south of Qiqihaer up to the Morin Dawa Daur Autonomous Banner, Hailar Daur to the south-east of Hailar and far off in Xinjiang in the vicinity of Tacheng.[4] There is no written standard in use, although a Pinyin-based orthography has been devised; instead the Daur make use of Mongolian or Chinese, as most speakers know these languages as well.[5] During the time of the Qing dynasty, Daur has been written with the Manchu alphabet.[6]


Daur phonology is peculiar in that some of its dialects have developed a set of labialized consonants (e.g. /sʷar/ 'flea' vs. /sar/ 'moon'),[7] while it shares palatalized consonants[8] with most Mongolian dialects that have not been developed in the other Mongolic languages. It also has /f/, which is, however, limited to loan words.[9] Word-final short vowels were lost[10] and historically short vowels in non-initial syllables have lost phoneme status.[11] Daur is the only Mongolic language to share this development with Mongolian (i.e. Mongolian proper, Oirat, Buryat). Due to the merger of /ɔ/ and /ʊ/ with /o/ and /u/, vowel harmony was lost.[12]

Table of consonants

Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Voiceless stop p t k
Voiced stop b d g
Voiceless affricate ch
Voiced affricate j
Voiceless fricative s sh x
Nasal m n, ñ
Lateral l
Flap or trill r
Semivowel w y


Daur has a pronominal system that distinguishes between first person plural inclusive /bed/ and exclusive /baː/ and, even more archaic, it distinguishes between third person singular /iːn/ and plural /aːn/.[13] While the phoneme /t͡ʃ/ (< *t͡ʃʰ) has been retained, the second person singular pronoun has become /ʃiː/ nevertheless,[14] resembling a more thorough sound change in Khorchin Mongolian. The second person plural is retained as /taː/.[14] The genitive and accusative have fused in some variants, becoming –ji, and the ablative may assume the form of the instrumental case. The old comitative has been lost, while the innovated comitative is the same as in Mongolian.[15] In addition, several other cases have been innovated that are not shared by Mongolian, including a new allative, -maji.[16]

Daur has a fairly simple tense-aspect system consisting of the nonpast markers -/bəi/ and (marginally) -/n/ and the past forms -/sən/ and (marginally) /la/ and the non-finite imperfective marker -/d͡ʒa/-. These may be inflected for person. The attributive particle forms are limited to –/ɡʷ/ (< Written Mongolian -γ-a) for imperfective aspect and future tense, -sən (< -γsan) for perfective aspect, -/ɡat͡ʃ/ (< -gči) for habituality (instead of -daγ which used to fulfil this function) and -/mar/ for potential and probable actions. It has acquired a highly complex converbal system containing several innovations. Notably, -mar which is a participle in Mongolian serves as a converb as well.[17]

Table of personal pronouns [18]

Singular Plural
Case 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person (exclusive) 1st Person (inclusive) 2nd Person 3rd Person
Nominative bii šii ing biede baa taa aang
Genitive minii šinii inii biednii (maanii) taanii aanii
Dative namd šamd yamd (ind) biedende maande taande aande
Accusative namii šamii yamii biednii (maanii) taanii aanii
Ablative namaase šamaase yamaas biedenaas maanaas taanaas aanaas
Instrumental namaare šamaare yamaar biedenaar maanaar taanaar aanaar
Comitative namtij šamtij yamtij biedentij maantij taantij aantij


Daur has 50% common Mongolic vocabulary, while it has borrowed 5[19] to 10% of its words from Chinese, 10% of its words from Manchu and also some vocabulary from Evenki and Russian – leaving about 20% vocabulary that is specific to Daur only.[20]


All basic numerals are of Mongolic origin.

EnglishClassical MongolianDaur


  1. Daurian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Daur". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  4. Tsumagari 2003: 129, Sengge 2004: 616
  5. Tsumagari 2003: 129
  6. Engkebatu 2001
  7. Chuluu 1994: 5, but for example not the Tacheng dialect, see Yu et al. 2008: 25-26
  8. Sengge 2004a, Tsumagari 2003: 133
  9. Namcarai and Qaserdeni 1983: 66-67, cp. Tsumagari 2003: 131
  10. Tsumagari 2003: 131
  11. cp. Namcarai and Qaserdeni 1983: 84
  12. Tsumagari 2003: 131 basically in agreement with Sengge 2004a; in contrast, Namcarai and Qaserdeni 1983: 37 give a pretty standard Mongolian vowel harmony system with the pharyngeal vowels /ɑ/, /ɔ/, /ʊ/ contrasting with the non-pharyngeal vowels /ə/, /o/, /u/, while /i/ is neutral.
  13. Namcarai and Qaserdeni 1983: 211-126, cp. Tsumagari 2003: 141
  14. 1 2 Sengge 2004c: 621
  15. Namcarai and Qaserdeni 1983: 110-121, Sengge 619-620
  16. Sengge 2004c: 620
  17. Tsumagari 2003: 144-148 supplemented with Sengge 2004c. The exact form of the plosive in -/ɡat͡ʃ/ is unclear as these two sources and Namcarai and Qaserdeni 1983 give different phones.
  18. Tsumagari 2003: 141
  19. Sengge 2004b
  20. Tsumagari 2003: 151-152


External links

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