Chong language

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Western Chong
Native to Cambodia and into Thailand
Region Pursat Province, Chantaburi
Native speakers
unknown (undated figure of 500)[1]
  • Pearic
    • Chong languages
      • Chong
Trat Chong, Kasong, and Chung dialects are closer to other Pearic languages that to Western Chong
Thai, Khmer
Language codes
ISO 639-3 cog
Glottolog chon1284[2]

Chong, or more specifically Western Chong (also spelled Chawng, Shong, Xong), is an endangered language spoken in Cambodia and southeastern Thailand. It is a Western Pearic language in the Eastern Mon–Khmer language family branch.[3] Chong is currently the focus of a language revitalization project in Thailand.

The Chong language is marked by its unusual 4-way contrast in register. Its grammar has not been extensively studied, but it is unrelated to the Thai language which is in the Tai–Kadai language family. Chong had no written form until 2000, when researchers at Mahidol University used a simplified version of standard Thai characters to create a Chong writing system, after which the first teaching materials in the language appeared.[4] Chong is currently considered to be at stage 7 in Joshua Fishman's Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (GIDS), where stage 8 is the closest to extinction.[5]

The language only has about 5500 speakers remaining, 5000 in Cambodia and 500 in Thailand. The Chong community in Thailand is primarily located in and around Chanthaburi.[4] While the language spoken in Thailand has been studied recently, the Chong language in Cambodia has not been investigated yet.


Main article: Pearic languages

A number of varieties of Pearic are called "Chong", and they do not constitute a single language. The majority of varieties are what Sidwell (2009) labeled "Western Chong". This includes the main dialect around Chantaburi on the Thai–Cambodian border. However, the variety called "Chong" in Trat Province of western Thailand, as well as "Kasong" Chong, were classified as "Central Chong" along with Samre, and so should perhaps be considered dialects of Samre rather than of Chong. Similarly, varieties called "Chung" in neighboring Kanchanaburi, but also in Cambodia, were classified as "Southern Chong" along with Suoi and Saoch. The Western Chong dialects are as follows:[6]

  • Chong of Chantaburi (Baradat ms.)
  • (Branch)
    • Chong həəp (Martin 1974)
    • Khlong Phlu Chong (Siripen Ungsitibonporn 2001)
  • (Branch)
    • Chong lɔɔ (Martin 1974)
    • Wang Kraphrae Chong (Siripen Ungsitibonporn 2001)
    • Chong (Huffman 1983)

Chong Phonology[edit]

Consonants (Dicanio, 2009)[edit]


Consonant phonemes of Chong
  Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p  pʰ t  tʰ c,  cɕ k  kʰ ʔ
Trill r
Fricative s h
Approximant w j
Lateral l

Vowels (Dicanio, 2009)[edit]


Vowel phonemes of Chong
Front Central Back Unrounded Back Rounded
Close i, ii u, uu
Close-Mid e, ee ə, əə ɤ, ɤɤ o, oo
Mid-Open ɛ, ɛe ɔ, ɔɔ
Open a, aa
DIPHTHONGS iə, iu ai, ao ɤə

Further reading[edit]

  • Isarangura, N. N. (19XX.). Vocubulary of Chawng words collected in Krat Province. [S.l: s.n.].
  • DiCanio, C.T. (2009) The Phonetics of Register in Takhian Thong Chong, Journal of the International. Phonetic Association, 39(2): 162–188


  1. ^ Chong at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Chong". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ "Austro-Asiatic, Mon–Khmer, Eastern Mon–Khmer, Pearic". ethnologue. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  4. ^ a b Lim Li Min (October 23, 2006). "Saving Thailand's Other Languages". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 
  5. ^ "Chong Language Revitalization Project (PDF)". June 2005. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 
  6. ^ Sidwell, Paul (2009). Classifying the Austroasiatic languages: history and state of the art. LINCOM studies in Asian linguistics, 76. Munich: Lincom Europa.
  7. ^ Dicanio, C. T., The Phonetics of Register in Takhian Thong Chong;
  8. ^ Dicanio, C. T., The Phonetics of Register in Takhian Thong Chong;