Staunton, January 14 – In another move that erodes Russian cultural influence abroad, the Mongolian parliament has voted to make the study of the ancient Mongolian vertical script obligatory in all educational programs as preparation for dispensing with the Cyrillic-based alphabet Moscow imposed during Soviet times.
The new law will allow students at higher educational institutions to use the old Mongolian script rather than Cyrillic in their examinations and diploma work. To make this possible, the government is organizing special seminars to boost the teaching of this script now and in the future (montsame.mn/ru/read/250142).
Since the fall of communism in Mongolia, many people in that country have talked about the need to restore the Mongol Biching as the old vertical Mongolian alphabet is known as a matter of national dignity (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2014/12/window-on-eurasia-will-mongolia-have.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/01/ulan-bator-moves-to-restore-use-of-old.html).
But they have been constrained by three things. First, making such a change will be expensive. Second, unlike many Soviet republics, the Mongols aren’t shifting to an international script like Latin but to a unique alphabet of their own, thus limiting the extent to which the shift will provide them with the opportunity to expand ties to the outside world.
And third, Moscow is very much opposed not only because of the symbolism involved but because such a shift will further tilt Mongolia away from Russia and potentially at least toward China where some people in Inner Mongolia also continue to use the vertical Biching script.