Saturday, October 4, 2008

Han'er language

The Han'er language is a pre-modern Sino-Korean term used to denote a medieval Chinese language heavily influenced by non-Han Chinese languages, especially , during an era of non-Han Chinese domination of China. It roughly means "Han Chinese speech".

Terms and Concepts

Spoken Haner

The term "Haner language" appears in the Korean works ''Nogeoldae'' and ''Bak Tongsa'', and refers to the colloquial Han language of Northern China. "Haner" is an informal form of Hanren and its use can be traced back to the Han Dynasty period. During the Northern and Southern Dynasties, it came to refer to the Han people under non-Han domination. Northern China experienced long and frequent conquests by non-Han including the , the Jurchen and the Mongols. However, Han Chinese language kept its status as the lingua franca. This caused by Altaic languages. At the same time, the Haner language exposed colloquial features that have almost always been obscured by the tradition of Classical Chinese, so it is sometimes considered in relation to modern Mandarin.

Written Haner

There is another concept called the "Crude Mongol- Chinese Translation of Official Documents" by Yekemingghadai Irinchin. It is the written language used in imperial edicts, laws and other official documents during the Yuan Dynasty. These documents were written in highly formalized translation from Mongolian so that they cannot be understood with the grammar and vocabulary of Classical Chinese.

The Haner language and the Crude Mongol- Chinese Translation are different concepts. The latter is a written language but the former is a colloquial language or includes both. However, they clearly share many features in grammar and vocabulary. The development of the written language seems to have been based on the Haner language.


There are two methods to study the Haner language: the comparison of the crude translation with original Mongolian, and the analysis of colloquial style books like the Nogeoldae. Although their similarities have been pointed out, there is not yet any detailed comparison between the two forms. Here we mainly deal with the crude translation.

Word order

The crude translation tries to keep the same word order to Mongolian unless it is too confusing or unnatural. This means reverse order in Han Chinese language because Mongolian is a language while Han Chinese language is basically a language. It also adopts some postpositions.


Mongolian distinguishes singular and plural forms although it is not as strict as in English. In the Haner language, Mongolian plural endings technically correspond to "mei" even if it sounds unnatural in Han Chinese language. For example, Mongolian "?erig-üd" was translated into "junmei" .


Possessive pronouns are postpositioned in Mongolian. The crude translation sometimes translates it in the original order. For example, "jarlig-man-u" is "shengzhi andi" in the crude translation. Due to its ambiguity, however, possessive prounouns were often reversed or simply dropped.


Although the ordinary Han Chinese language does not mark cases or uses prepositions like 把-, the crude translation frequently used postpositions that correspond to the Mongolian ones.

The genitive and comitative case suffixes follow the orinary Han Chinese grammar, but the rest is not. The extensive use of -gendi is one of remarkable features of the crude translation and it can also be found in the colloquial form. There seems a loose distinction between the -gendi and the -li: the -gendi tends to mark dative case whereas the -li marks locative case in general. Note that in ''the Secret History of the Mongols'', -gendi is replaced by the -hang .


Mongolian verbs can be nominalized in some inflected forms and refer to persons performing/having performed the actions. In the Haner language, the character "di" comes after verbal phrases. Depending on tense, "laidi" "ledi" "lailedi" "quledi" were also used. The plural ending "mei" can be added. For example, "changchuan chirou di mei" means "persons who habitually eat meat."


Auxiliary verbs

The Haner language is most known for its use of "有" at the end of a sentence.


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