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The History and the Political Character of the Name of ‘Nei Menggu’ (Inner Mongolia)

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image of Inner Asia

After the independence of ‘Outer Mongolia’ in 1911, and especially after the founding of the Mongolian People's Republic in 1924, ‘Outer Mongolia’ (Wai Menggu in Chinese or Gadaad Mongol and Ar Mongol in Mongolian) became a historical term. Inner Mongolia, on the other hand, became the focal point of the so–called ‘Mongolian problem’, and its name Nei Menggu (C) or Dotood Mongol (M) remained sinocentric, denoting direct rule as it did in the Qing geographical– administrative demarcation of the Mongols. The question of naming Inner Mongolia in both Chinese and Mongolian has thus become significant not only for the Mongols in China, but also for Mongols in the independent state of Mongolia. The founding of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Government in 1947 introduced a new name in Mongolian: instead of Dotood Mongol, it is now called Öbör (the sunny side of mountain) Mongol, thereby forming a geobody with Ar Mongol (formerly Outer Mongolia), and it no longer connotes internal administration within China. However, this change has not been reflected in Chinese translation, as Inner Mongolia continues to be called Nei Menggu and historicist Chinese continue to refer to Mongolia as Wai Menggu. In recent years, some Mongols began to call Inner Mongolia ‘Nan Menggu’, and with it came the change of English translation from Inner Mongolia to Southern Mongolia.


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