Moghol language

Endangered Mongolic language native to Herat Province, Afghanistan
Native toAfghanistan
RegionNear Herat Province
Native speakers
200 (2003)[2]
Language family
  • Mogholi
Language codes
ISO 639-3mhj

Moghol (or Mogholi; Dari: مُغُلی) is a critically endangered or possibly extinct Mongolic language spoken in the province of Herat, Afghanistan, in the villages of Kundur and Karez-i-Mulla. The speakers were the Moghol people, who numbered 2,000 members in the 1970s. They descend from the remnants of Genghis Khan's Mongol army stationed in Afghanistan in the 13th century.[3]

In the 1970s, when the German scholar Michael Weiers did fieldwork on the language, few people spoke it, most knew it passively and most were older than 40. It is unknown if there are still speakers of the language.[4]

The language has been strongly influenced by Persian in its phonology, morphology and syntax, causing Weiers to state that it has the appearance of a "true Inner Asian creole language".[4]


Historically, the Moghol language was written using a modified version of the Perso-Arabic script.[5] Extant Moghol literature included Islamic texts, poetry, Mogholi-Persian vocabularies, and Mogholi grammars.[6]

ح چ ج ث ت پ ب ا
ش س ژ ز ر ذ د خ
ق ف غ ع ظ ط ض ص
ی و ه ن م ل گ ك


Moghol grammar shows substantial influence from Persian languages, having borrowed even word classes not found in other Mongolic languages: the parts of speech are nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, adverbs and conjunctions.

Nouns are marked for number and case. Verbs are marked for person, number, tense-aspect and mode. Adjectives inflect for the comparative and superlative degree with the Persian suffixes -tar and -tariin, but not for number and case.


Moghol's phonology is influenced by Persian. It has a system of six vowel qualities with no length contrast: /i e a u o ɔ/.[4]

Labial Alveolar Postalveolar/
Velar Uvular Glottal
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k q ʔ
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced z ʒ
Nasal m n
Approximant l j w
Trill r ʀ


Weiers noted down the following poem by the Moghol poet Abd Al-Qadir.

Weiers' Moghol text:

Dotanamni dog baina
Hawoi ukini aimag baina
Nesoni ugunambi agar toni baiji
Mota giri qara qurgani baina.

Ekimni dard kina halmini geibe
Bemoor boljambi kam khormini geibe
Bemoor boljambi kam khormini khodai jaan
Ena bemoreztu parwoimini geibe.

English translation from Weiers' German:

Inside my heart there is a wound
The girl I search and long for is of the Aimaq tribe
One sign I give you, if near her you happen to be
Know that in her ger (yurt) there is a black lamb

My head hurts, my condition is bad
I'm sick and do not care
I'm sick, but my concern is the love of God
This disease I give (therefore) no attention.

Another Moghol poem or song of Abd Al-Qadir written in Arabic alphabet (from Weiers):

Weiers' Moghol text:

Argun-i kulkah utalat Cingiz kulkah ulu’at
Nirah-ci-du kulkah gahat ya gaut al-a’zam gar bari
Karyas-du-ci kibah nudun lar-i dazam iz abatun
Mun abd qadir gai urun ya gaut al-a’zam gar bari

English translation from Weiers' German:

Lord of lords Arghun of old, Genghis king of kings
Under your name is all things old oh supreme mediator hold (my) hand
In your fence (camp) the eyes of suffering friends will rest
That same Abd Qadir rests peacefully oh supreme mediator hold (my) hand


The Moghol personal pronouns are:[4]

person singular plural
1st bi bidah ~ bidat (inclusive);
mån (exclusive)
2nd ci tå ~ tåd
3rd i ~ ih tid ~ tit

The demonstrative pronouns are:[4]

  • inah ~ enah ‘this’
  • inat ~ enad ‘these’
  • mun ~ munah ‘that’
  • munat ~ mutah ~ mutat ‘those’

The interrogative pronouns are:[4]

  • emah ~ imah ~ imas ‘what’
  • ken ~ kiyan ‘who’
  • kenaiki ‘whose’
  • emadu ~ imadu ~ emaji ~ imaji ~ emagalah ‘why’
  • emaula- ‘to do what’
  • ked ~ keddu ‘how much’
  • keja ‘when’
  • oshtin ‘how’

The reflexive pronouns are:[4]

  • orin ‘self’
  • orindu-nah ‘for oneself’
  • usa-nah ‘self’


The Moghol numerals are Janhunen (2003):

English gloss Moghol[4] Proto-Mongolic[7] Modern Mongolian
1 one nikah ~ nika/n *nike/n neg
2 two qeyår ~ qiar *koxar ~ *koyar khoyor
3 three ghorbån ~ qurban *gurba/n gurav
4 four dorbån ~ durba/n *dörbe/n döröv
5 five tåbun ~ tabun *tabu/n tav
6 six åsun ~ essun ~ jurghan ~ shish *jirguxa/n zurgaa
7 seven dålån ~ húft *doluxa/n doloo
8 eight sålån ~ húshtu *na(y)ima/n naym
9 nine tåsån ~ no *yersü/n yös
10 ten arbån ~ arban ~ dá *xarba/n arav


  1. ^ Moghol language at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  2. ^ "UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in danger". UNESCO. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  3. ^ Sayed Zaki Faqerzai (n.d.). "Language of Speaking in Afghanistan". Archived from the original on 2014-04-13. Retrieved 2014-04-12.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Weiers, Michael. 2003. "Moghol," The Mongolic Languages. Ed. Juha Janhunen. Routledge Language Family Series 5. London: Routledge. Pages 248–264.
  5. ^ Mogholi alphabet is in Omniglot shown:
  6. ^ Sanders, Alan J. K. (2017). Historical Dictionary of Mongolia. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 530. ISBN 978-1-5381-0227-5.
  7. ^ Janhunen, Juha. 2003. The Mongolic Languages, p.16. Routledge Language Family Series 5. London: Routledge.

See also

Further reading

  • G. J. Ramstedt. 1906. "Mogholica. Beiträge zur kenntnis der moghol-sprache in Afghanistan." JSFOu 23-4.
  • Louis Ligeti. 1954. "Le lexique moghol de R. Leech," AOH 4.
  • Л. Лигети. 1954. "О монгольских и тюркиских языках и диалектах Афганистана," AOH 4.
  • Sh. Iwamura and H. F. Schurmann. 1954. "Notes on Mongolian Groups in Afghanistan," Silver Jubilee Volume of the Zinbun-Kagaku-Kenkyusyo, Kyoto University. Kyoto University.
  • Shinobu Iwamura. 1961. The Zirni Manuscript: A Persian-Mongolian Glossary and Grammar. Kyoto University.
  • H. F. Schurmann. 1962. The Moghols of Afghanistan. Mouton & Co.
  • Michael Weiers. 1972. Die Sprache der Moghol der Provinz Herat in Afghanistan (Sprachmaterial, Grammatik, Wortliste). Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.

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