Mongolian refers to a number of closely related languages and dialects. Mongolian, the official language of the independent nation of Mongolia, is properly called Khalkha Mongolian, after the four Khalkha provinces that were carved out of this region in the 17th century. Closely related dialects of Mongolian are spoken in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China, and more distantly related forms of Mongolian are spoken by the Buriats of Siberia, the Kalmyks of European Russia, and Oirats of Xinjiang and Tibet of China. Despite their linguistic differences, speakers of all these forms of Mongolian view themselves as people of one ethnicity and culture, a view encouraged by their common use of traditional Mongolian script until the breakup of the Mongolian cultural world in the 20th century.
In addition, a number of smaller Mongolic languages are spoken in southern and western China and in Afghanistan by descendants of Mongol soldiers stationed there during the Mongol Empire. All varieties of Mongolian share a number of important characteristics.
The Department of Central Eurasian Studies offers a full major in the language with tracks of two or three years of language study available. Learn more about the language and courses at IU from the Inner Asian & Uralic National Resource Center here on campus.