"That's because" in Mongolian: "Genitive + х"
21 April 2017
In a utopian world where language was precise and methodical, stating a reason would require nothing more than a clause with "because", e.g., "I like her because she's friendly".
But real language is not so cut and dried. In order to express afterthoughts, add focus or impact, or vary their style, people speaking English say things like: "I like her. That's because she's friendly" or "The reason I like her is because she's friendly".
In spoken Mongolian, one way of explaining an earlier statement is to add the possessive suffix + х to the past tense of the verb that is doing the explaining. This is usually the verb at the end of the sentence.
For example, it might be used to explain why a person is sleepy in the afternoon:
The two can be condensed into a single sentence. The first part gives the situation and is followed by нь. The second part is the explanation and ends in "past tense + genitive + х":
The genitive + х can also be added to the negative -аагүй:
What is most useful about this pattern is that it reverses the normal Mongolian order of clauses, which puts the reason clause first:
A few more examples of genitive + х are:
Using a non-verbal (adjectival) + байна:
The form can be used in answering questions:
- Их хөдөлмөрлсөнийх.
- It's because he worked hard.
It can be quoted, as in this sentence (which uses чинь for the situation, recapitulated with энэ нь):
In the following sentence it is followed by юм байна, meaning that the content of the sentence is something suddenly realised by the speaker:
The following examples come from a story about two counsellors advising the khan. Both are nonsensical answers by a counsellor attempting to ingratiate himself with the sovereign:
- ᠠ ᠬᠦᠭᠡᠷᠦᠬᠦᠢ ᠣᠯᠠᠨ ᠬᠡᠦᠬᠡᠳ ᠲᠥᠷᠦᠭᠦᠯᠦᠭᠰᠡᠨ ᠦ ᠬᠢ᠃
- А хөөрхий олон хүүхэд төрүүлснийх.
- It's because she bore so many children.
- ᠬᠠᠭᠠᠨ ᠲᠠ ᠪᠣᠣᠪᠤ ᠶᠡᠬᠡ ᠵᠣᠭᠣᠭᠯᠠᠭᠰᠠᠨ ᠦ ᠬᠢ᠃
- Хаан та боов их зооглосных.
- Khan, it's because you dined on a lot of cakes.