Haner language

From Academic Kids

The Haner language (漢兒言語) was a Chinese language heavily influenced by non-Han Chinese languages, especially Mongolian.


Terms and Concepts

The term "Haner language" appears at the Nogeoldae and Bak Tongsa, and refers to the colloquial Han language of Northern China. "Haner" is an informal form of Hanren (Han Chinese people) 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 Khitan, the Jurchen and the Mongols. Since no ethnic group had overwhelming population, however, Han Chinese language kept its status as the lingua franca. This caused interference 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.

There is another concept called the "Crude Mongol-(Han) Chinese Translation of Official Documents" (硬譯公牘文體) 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-(Han) 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 SOV language while Han Chinese language is basically a SVO 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" (每) even if it sounds unnatural in Han Chinese language. For example, Mongolian "čerig-üd" (soldiers) was translated into "junmei" (軍每).


Possessive pronouns are postpositioned in Mongolian. The crude translation sometimes translates it in the original order. For example, "jarlig-man-u" (imperial edict ← our) is "shengzhi andi" (聖旨俺的) in the crude translation. Due to its ambiguity, however, possessive prounouns were often reversed (e.g. 俺的聖旨) 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.

case Mongolian crude translation
genitive -yin, -u2, -un2 -的 (di), -
dative-locative -dur2, -tur2, -da2, -a2 -根底 (gendi), -裏 (li)
ablative -ača2, -ča2, -dača2 -根底 (gendi), -
accusative -yi, -i -根底 (gendi), -
instrumental -bar2, -iyar2 依着- (yizhao), -裏 (li), 依着-...-裏
comitative -lua2 -與 (yu), -和 (he), -共 (gong)

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 (行).


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" (的) comes after verbal phrases. Depending on tense, "laidi" (來的) "ledi" (了的) "lailedi" (來了的) "quledi" (去了的) were also used. The plural ending "mei" can be added. For example, "changchuan chirou di mei" (常川喫肉的每) 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.


Chinese: spoken varieties

Mandarin | Jin | Wu | Hui | Xiang | Gan | Hakka | Yue | Pinghua | Min
Danzhouhua | Shaozhou Tuhua | Xianghua

Subcategories of Min: Min Dong | Min Bei | Min Zhong | Pu Xian | Min Nan | Qiong Wen | Shao Jiang
Note: The above is only one classification scheme among many.
Comprehensive list of Chinese dialects
Official spoken varieties: Standard Mandarin | Standard Cantonese
Historical phonology: Old Chinese | Middle Chinese | Proto-Min | Proto-Mandarin | Haner
Chinese: written varieties
Official written varieties: Classical Chinese | Vernacular Chinese
Other varieties: Written Cantonese

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