Name in Original Language
Area Where Played
Up to 13th century or until establishment of the Great Mongol Empire, Mongolian literature existed and developed only as pure folk literature of nomads. Main forms of folk literature are song, tale, myths, legend, and incantation of shaman, doctrine, eulogy and call for war or hunting. Main objective or role of these forms is directed to mending people’s way and it is moral and aesthetics powerful tool for engraining and educating children and youth and for development of their intellectual and mental powers and skills. Also there is children’s folk literature – an independent special branch of folk literature which can be called as “Word game”. The word game consists of tongue twisting words, patter, ambling words, plaything words and brainteaser and one example is “Dairaltsaa” or debating contest cantillation game. Debating contest has long historical tradition. It is believed that Debating contest stemmed from ancient people’s communications when they tried to overwhelm each other saying tags during not only debate or claim but also in everyday conversation such as greeting each other and being aware of each other’s homeland. Structure of Debating contest is wise, humorous, reciprocal poem said by participating children who are testing each other’s skill and talent of thinking on his feet and rhyming for wit contest. In some places, Dairaltsaa or cantillation game- debating contest is called as “Dandildakh” (D.Sampildendev).
Dairaltsaa or Debating contest is wise, humorous, reciprocal poem said by participating children who are testing each other’s skill and talent of thinking on his feet and rhyming for wit contest. Debate of the Arguing Contest is made in way of versifying. Therefore Debate contest is beneficial to children in learning folk literature poetry and building skills of reciting a poem and eloquence. In terms of objective, this cantillation game has the tendency in which two concurrents fight asking and answering promptly created and rhymed wise word and sentences which provoke the counterparty and in the end someone outmatches the other one. Arguing contest debate goes along with melody of Mongolian traditional musical instrument Morin khuur and two competing children cantillate eristic poems alternately. During the action of saying reciprocal poem, main theme of the contest, which was being cantillated at the beginning, will be said fast and stressed. Besides being disporting game for children and youth, this type of folk literature was important tool for checking their cleverness, practicing them in thinking on their feet as well as in creating new ideas, improving their tongue and speech and broadening their intelligence. As it is common that hundreds of sentences/verses are used in the game contest, both contenders are required to be eloquent, enough of circumlocution and have many poems knowing by heart. Main meaning of Debating game is contest of intelligence but not offending someone. Therefore main battling section consists of rebuses and brainteasers and this section tests contenders’ knowledge and skills of folk literature types such as rebuses, brainteasers, proverbs and old saws. Debating contest is quite advanced type of children’s folk literature which is suitable to play to teenage children who gained some life experience. Playing process of Arguing game goes as children of two khot ail /camp of nomadic families/ divides into two teams and selects the most eloquent one in the team to contest. This version of play seems to be widely spread in Dariganga and Inner Mongolian region but almost not spread in central khalkh and Oirad region. As debate is made by cantillation of poem, the game is significant for children in building their skills of reciting a poem and eloquence and learning folk literature poetry. Researcher Sh.Buyantogtokh and Wan Jing Hua stated about three types of Dairaltsaa/Debating game classified as Open, Closed and Regular Dairaltsaa/Debating Game in their Children’s Folk Literature Pamphlet. However, they did not enclose any explanation or justification and there is no any noticeable difference between poems taken. Scientists defined Dairaltsaa/Debating game as follows: i) Academician P.Khorloo: “It’s folk literature school to train children in reciting poems” (X-104-50); ii) Academician D.Tserensodnom: “Debating game has an advantage which builds quick thinking skills to children” (Ts-118-115); Kh.Sampildendev: “Dairaltsaa is wise, humorous, reciprocal poem said by children who are testing each other’s skill and talent of thinking on his feet and rhyming for wit contest.”(S-40-90).
Regarding the structure, Debating game’s poem has Beginning or Introduction, Current and Ending sections
Beginning or Introduction part:
What is your name?
The name is Bor
Where is your homeland?
Homeland is below
Where is below?
In Ocean ....... so contenders greet each other and continue to negotiate main theme of debate using cantillation words such as:
Hey pal, is it really so?
Let’s argue if you can
Let’s bet by our snuffboxes and its cloth bag
Let’s debate if you are brave to
Let’s bet by our decorated knives
then it goes further saying words to provoke each other like:
“Are there six channels
In suslik’s hole?
Are there six poems
In your young heart?
Then debate continues cantillating poem which tends to decide duration of debate:
Let’s debate untill
Moon of 15th day (Full moon) sets
Let’s debate untill
Horse and cattle go to pasture
Then debate cantillation, along with upper scale melody of morinkhuur, goes further to decide how to bet and define what will be the main theme of debate using words to provoke each other such as:
Can you go over the hill
When you are riding mare?
Can you debate with me
When you have farding-bag?
and these words are urging counterpart to aim at finding and saying more eloquent words in return. Furthermore Dairaltsaa continues approaching to certain things, for instance:
Let’s debate pressing stamps on
Various stones from steppe
Let’s debate about history of
Empires starting with Tang
Let’s debate pasting Goosh on
Various stones from rivers
Let’s debate about history of
Empires starting with Three States
and in above example it is shown that Dairaltsaa argument is made in vast area overrunning subsistence and tends to test each other’s education and knowledge. Also contenders may include everything around him/her such as family, camp, livestock, parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and spouse etc., in his/her poems and argue their virtue and knowledge and in the end they finish their debate saying:
Let’s debate until
Moon of 25th day (Crescent moon) sets
Let’s debate until
Sheep and goat go to pasture
And this end part indicates an idea that debate cannot be completed in one day/one night and it will continue next day. This enables further enrichment and development of Dairaltsaa/Debating game and development of children’s agility and brainpower. Words and sentences of Dairaltsaa/Debating game versions are different among themselves as in every debate contenders add new verse and stanza to overwhelm each other. Application of teasing or attacking words in such debate is a method to push contenders to compete on their last legs. Main meaning of Debating game is contest of intelligence but not offending someone. Therefore main battling section consists of rebuses and brainteasers and this section tests contenders’ knowledge and skills of folk literature types such as rebuses, brainteasers, proverbs and old saws. Main importance of Dairaltsaa/Debating game is attracting children’s interest and improving their speech by introducing them to rich and tuneful mother language and also Dairaltsaa/Debating game not only fosters children’s nurture and cognition but also becomes a foundation to children for composing poem themselves.