Mongolia Names, Personal

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The use of surnames was prohibited along with many other aspects of Mongolian culture beginning in 1924. From 1924 through the 1990s, Mongolians used only given names. The father’s given name or its initial was placed before the given name on official documents or in other circumstances where more than just a given name was needed. Many ancestral family names have been forgotten.

Since 1990, Mongolians have been encouraging national identity and culture, including the use of surnames denoting affiliation to one of the country's ancient families. All of Mongolia’s 2.5 million citizens have been ordered to search for their roots to determine their family surname. But, as of July of 1998, so few people were ready for the change to surnames that the government opted for a phased introduction of the naming rule. Most Mongolians still do not know their surname, let alone use it. It has now been decided that all Mongolians must select a surname at the end of the year 2000. Because of lack of information, many families are simply selecting a surname from a list or manufacturing a new one.[1]

Instead of using a given first name followed by a family surname, Mongolians use a system called patronymics, which denotes lineage through the father.

This explains why married Mongolian couples and even mothers and children can have different last names.

For example, if a man in Mongolia named Joseph had a son named Michael, the child's full name would be possessive: Joseph's Michael. But when that same name is expressed in English, it is reversed and becomes Michael Joseph.

Most Mongolians, however, tend to use only their given name in their daily lives, so a member of the Church like Bumbagerel Norov (Norov's Bumbagerel in Mongolian) is known simply as Brother Bumbagerel.

In addition, Mongolians may abbreviate their names, add extra vowels, or attach suffixes to convey special meanings. A name like "Enkhzul," can become simply "Zulaa" by dropping the first syllable and adding vowels to the end.[2]


References[edit | edit source]

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  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Mongolia,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 2001.
  2. This Article, by Page Johnson, appeared in the LDS Church News, weekend April 24, 2010