Ruanruan language

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Native toRouran Khaganate
RegionMongolia and northern China
Era4th century CE – 6th century CE
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Ruan-ruan (Chinese: 蠕蠕; also called Rouran) is an unclassified extinct language of Mongolia and northern China, spoken in the Rouran Khaganate from the 4th to the 6th centuries CE.

Peter A. Boodberg claimed in 1935 that the Ruan-ruan language was Mongolic by analysing Chinese transcriptions of Ruan-ruan names.[1] Alexander Vovin noted that Old Turkic had borrowed some words from an unknown non-Altaic language that may have been Ruan-ruan.[2] arguing the If so, the language would be non-Altaic language, unrelated to its neighbours and possibly a language isolate, though evidence was scant.[1] He had previously suggested Ruan-ruan could be related to the Yeniseian languages.[3][failed verification][4] In 2019, with the emergence of new evidence through the analysis of the Brāhmī Bugut and Khüis Tolgoi, Vovin changed his view, suggesting Ruan-ruan was, in fact a Mongolic language, close but not identical to Middle Mongolian.[5] Pamela Kyle Crossley (2019) The Rouran language itself has remained a puzzle, and leading linguists consider it a possible isolate.[6]


Features of Ruan-ruan included:[1]

  • no mid vowels
  • initial l-
  • final consonantal cluster -nd


Ruan-ruan had the feminine gender suffix -tu-.[1]


Ruan-ruan vocabulary included:[1]

  • küskü – 'rat'
  • ud – 'ox'
  • luu – 'dragon' < Middle Chinese luŋ – 'dragon'
  • yund – 'horse'
  • laγzïn – 'pig'
  • qaγan – 'emperor'
  • qan – 'khan'
  • qaγatun – 'empress'
  • qatun – 'khan's wife'
  • aq – 'dung'
  • and – 'oath'


  1. ^ a b c d e Vovin, Alexander (3–5 December 2010). "Once Again on the Ruan-ruan Language". Ötüken’den İstanbul’a Türkçenin 1290 Yılı (720–2010) Sempozyumu From Ötüken to Istanbul, 1290 Years of Turkish (720–2010).CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  2. ^ Vovin, Alexander (2004). "Some thoughts on the origins of the old Turkic 12-year animal cycle". Central Asiatic Journal. 48 (1): 118–132. ISSN 0008-9192.
  3. ^ Vovin, Alexander (2000). "Did the Xiongnu speak a Yeniseian language?". Central Asiatic Journal. 44 (1): 87–104. ISSN 0008-9192.
  4. ^ Vajda, Edward J. (2013). Yeniseian Peoples and Languages: A History of Yeniseian Studies with an Annotated Bibliography and a Source Guide. Oxford/New York: Routledge.
  5. ^ Vovin, Alexander (2019). "A Sketch of the Earliest Mongolic Language: the Brāhmī Bugut and Khüis Tolgoi Inscriptions". International Journal of Eurasian Linguistics. 1 (1): 162–197. ISSN 2589-8825.
  6. ^ Crossley, Pamela Kyle (2019). Hammer and Anvil: Nomad Rulers at the Forge of the Modern World. p. 49.