Yurt or Ger? That Is the Question!

mongolian man in front of mongolian yurt



Which one is the right pronunciation?

The answer depends on a number of things, such as where you are and where you’re referring to.

Let’s take a closer look into the Yurt vs Ger debate, in this edition of the Groovy Yurts blog.

Mongolian Ger

our mongolian turt delivery truck

Twice a year we receive a very offended e-mail from someone who has recently returned from Mongolia.

They write to tell us that we are insulting Mongolians by calling their traditional dwelling a yurt, rather than a ger.

However, we know that this is only a sign that our passionate writer has had a good time in Mongolia and feels like protecting it’s perfectly simplistic and millenary way of life, any way they can.

We encourage such enthusiasm, as we ourselves are quite fond of this amazing country and its rich culture.

“Ger” in Mongolian means home and refers to the traditional dwelling.

Fun fact: “Ger” can also serve as a reference to a flat in an old soviet-style apartment building in Ulaanbaatar, the capital.

Specifically, Mongolians will refer to their felted abode as a “traditional Mongolian ger” or a “national Mongolian ger.”

Saying ‘Yurt’ Isn’t Wrong

mongolian family in front of house

‘Yurt,’ meanwhile, is a word of Turkik origin, and has been adopted in other languages, such as Russian, and means ‘home’ or ‘where one sleeps.’

Since the English word that best describes this sturdy tent is ‘yurt’, we decided to adopt it for a better general understanding.

Rather than trying to educate the English or French speaking population on a Mongolian word, we have decided to concentrate our energy in distributing quality yurts, alongside the wonderful Mongolian culture.

I have asked this very question to Bataa, the man behind many of our gers, and a proud Mongolian nomad. He said to me: “In Mongolia we use the word ger, but you are welcome to call it anything you want, as long as the product makes you happy.”

The few Mongolians that we have met on the road in North America with our big ‘yurt’ branded truck seemed quite enthusiastic, thankful even, that we promote their culture.

To date, I have never heard otherwise from a Mongolian national and will continue interchanging the use of “yurt” or “ger.” I believe it to be one of the many examples of why Mongolia is the perfect model of pride, tolerance, living in the moment, sense of responsibility to oneself, respect for nature and all living beings, and a love for the eternal blue sky.

Happy yurting…or ger-ing!