I have always been interested in examining Tu/Mongour and Bonan language. Mongour is a Mongolic language which is spoken by Mongour people who may be the descendants of Xianbei people who moved from Eastern Mongolia to Gansu-Qinghai to establish Tanghut dynasty or they may be descendants of Mongolians left behind when Yuan dynasty collapsed. Bonan language is also Mongolic and spoken by Bonan people. Yet, interestingly, some of Mongour are Taoist and Bonan are Muslim as opposed by most of the Mongols being Tibetan Buddhist.

What are the percentages of Mongolian, Tibetan, Turkic, Chinese or Qiangic words used in Mongour and Bonan languages? Do someone has the answer or what are reliable resources?

2 Answers 2


I'm not aware of any publication which has exact percentages for the origins of Monguor vocabulary. There are, however, a number of linguistic papers and grammars of Monguor, some of which are available on the Internet. The following grammar, for example, contains a glossary which lists source languages for many Monguor words:

Language Materials of China’s Monguor Minority

As an example, here is the entry for "accustom":

accustom--darisuu (T:dar srol), suri, {SUER, XIGUANRA} (C:xiguan 习惯)

This indicates that the word darisuu is of Tibetan origin (from "dar srol") and that this word is used in Huzhu Mongghul. There is also a word xiguanra which is of Chinese origin ("xiguan") and used in Minhe Mangghuer.

The above-mentioned grammar also contains an extensive bibliography of Monguor language resources, some of which may contain glossaries or discussions of Monguor vocabulary.

Another publication that might be of use to you:

Tibeto-Mongolica : the Tibetan loanwords of Monguor and the development of the archaic Tibetan dialects by András Róna-Tas (The Hague : Mouton, 1966).

Also, if you can read Chinese, there is quite a lot of material written about the languages of the Monguor minority (Chinese: tuzuyu, 土族语) in Chinese publications, which might contain discussions of vocabulary/etymology.


RE: "some of Mongour are Taoist and Bonan are Muslim"

The Bao'an/Bonan who are officially classified as such live in Gansu. However, the place where they originated, which is called /Bao'an/ is in Tongren County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, China. The former group are Muslims. The latter group are Tibetan Buddhists. The Muslims left because of conflict with the Buddhists. The Buddhists are classified as /Tu/ as are the Chinese-speaking residents of Wutun, which is also in Tongren County. The Wutun people, though classified as /Tu/, are devout Tibetan Buddhists and, among their number, are some of the best thanka painters in the world.

Also in Tongren County are other Tu, who live in Gaomer and Niandehu. These Tu speak a language that is very close to what Bao'an residents speak.

Other Tu dialects are spoken in Huzhu and Minhe.

The contention that the Tu are descended from the Xianbei is questionable. This contention derives mostly from a sense of nationalism and the claim that /Tu/ is related to the /Tu/ in the term /Tuguhun/ /Tuyuhun/.

  • 1
    I'm downvoting, as this isn't really an answer to the question, but rather questioning something presupposed by the questioner. As such, it probably would've been more appropriate as a comment on the question than a full-blown answer. The downvote certainly isn't meant as reflection on the quality of your response.
    – P Elliott
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 19:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.