Mongolian dog

by Christina
(Vancouver, Canada)

Mongolian dog

Mongolian dog

Mongolian dog

May 1, 2006

Last Sunday I was out with one of the geologists marking some new holes for the drill. The really nice thing about drilling in Mongolia is you can just drive straight there. No cutting down trees or wading through swamps. And you can say, put it near the tree, and there’s no confusion because chances are you can only see one tree. The camp dog followed us out there and we asked the Mongolian geologist to tell us what the word for dog was. I thought I’d be all smart and repeat it to my teacher later that day, but apparently the word for dog is one syllable off the word for husband. Nohoi, dog. Nohor, husband. (Maybe they’re on to something?) At any rate I made the wrong choice, causing a small giggle fit on the part of my teacher (she’s prone to giggle fits).

I’ll send a picture of the nohoi, still no nohor. Also, interestingly, the word for east is the same as the word for left (zuun) and the word for west is the same for right (baruun). There’s some cultural significance to facing south here, all the ger doors face south, I’m guessing it has something to do with the cold winds from Siberia. Damn Siberia! Not much else new with the lessons, I’ve been trying to pick up a bit of grammar and the Cyrillic alphabet (its easier than you’d think). My teacher is still trying to get me to say “you’re handsome” to guys, as well, “I’d like to kiss you”, and, “would you like to come home with me?” Though I haven’t memorized those yet.

been sick the last couple of days so I don’t have much else to report that hasn’t taken place inside my ger. Everyone was checking on me, bringing me meals in bed and chocolates and honey water and homemade chicken soup (VERY garlicky chicken soup).

I am so spoiled. We have a doctor here so its all good. He’s been watching me, nothing to worry about. Its not the plague! I’ve been watching lots of movies and am almost done the books I brought here. I’m okay though. I’m back at the office after an impromptu long weekend (it is May Day today).

Its been nice off and on here, today its actually nice. Really, on paper it looks nice every day, blue skies, etc etc, but the winds are a killer. And they’ve been knocking out the internet, damn Siberia.

My gramma has spotted a ger in Nanaimo, BC. Though the locals say its more of a Kazak style ger than a Mongolian one. Who can tell? I think the fact that it has a cedar deck alone means its not quite authentic. Not too many cedar trees here. I’ll attach that picture as well.

I guess I’m a little famous in Canada? There’s a podcast (CBC Radio 3 podcast) that showcases independent Canadian music, and because you can download them anywhere they were asking people to e-mail them if they were listening to it somewhere far off. I won, I think! I even got the episode named “Choibalsan or Bust” (Episode 49). They even started a contest because of me J You can download it from or from itunes (its free). Its easiest to get from itunes.

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Feb 24, 2015
by: annmariapeter

Actually the nohoi was came from the word nohor, that means the friend. Not from the word meaning husband. I read it in a book of Mongolia.

Oct 22, 2011
What breed is this dog?
by: Anonymous

Do you by any chance know the breed of this dog? If you do, would you please email me at thankyou very much

Aug 07, 2010
re correction
by: Graeme

she didnt say that husband and dog have the same meaning you tawt, she said their was one syllable
off, nohoi dog, nohor husband.So dont sit around on your pc all day criticizing others.
Good on you Christine.If you ever see this.I am reading Totem Wolf at the moment and are enjoying it very much, the spiritul conection the people have with the land reminds me my own country.New Zealand. Is a Yurt the sam as a ger.
Regards Graeme

May 25, 2009
by: Anonymous

i would like to make some correction on word "Dog" having a same meaning as a "husband ".The word "nohoi" which means dog has its roots from the word "nohor" which also has a meaning "friend " in Mongolia.So whoever translated the meaning of the word did a very poor job,indeed.GL

Jan 12, 2009
Good job!
by: Anonymous

Hi Christina,

Thanks for writing about your experiences with a Mongolian language. I can not imagine how challenging it must have been for you. Not to mention big cultural gap.

As a Mongolian I can understand how close the words for husband and dog are, but you got it all right. Specially, with all gers' doors facing the south.

I just wanted to assure you that when Mongols laugh at miss-pronounced words, they are not making you down or scolding you in some ways, they just having a friendly fun.

As you may have noticed the closer our friendships are, the tougher the jokes can become and sometimes it reaches the limits.

Thanks for writing,


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