Koho language

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Native toVietnam
Native speakers
200,000 (1999 & 2009 censuses)[1]
Latin script
Language codes
ISO 639-3
kpm – Kơho

Koho is a South Bahnaric language spoken by the Koho people, mainly in the Lâm Đồng Province of Vietnam.

The autonym of the Koho people is kon chau (IPA: [kɔn.caw]) while Kơho (IPA: [kə’hɔ]) is a Cham exonym.[3]

Subgroups and dialects[edit]

There are at least twelve Kơho dialect groups for the area: Chil (Cil, Til); Kalop (Tulop); Kơyon (Kodu, Co-Don); Làc (Làt, Lach); Mà (Mạ, Maa); Nồp (Nop, Xre Nop, Noup); Pru; Ryông Tô (Riồng, Rion); Sop, Sre (Chau Sơre, Xrê); Talà (To La); and Tring (Trinh). Although Mạ/Maa is a Koho dialect group, the Mạ people identify as a separate ethnic group.[4][3]


Datas below are from H. Olsen (2015).[3]


Initial consonants[edit]

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop Voiceless p t c k ʔ
Voiced b d ɟ g
Implosive ɓ ɗ
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Fricative s h
Rhotic r
Approximant w l j
  • Before the palatal finals /c/ and /ɲ/, there is an audible palatal offglide after the vowel [Vʲ], so that /pwac/ ‘flesh’ is pronounced as [pwaʲc] and /ʔaɲ/ ‘I (1st person singular)’ as [ʔaʲɲ].
  • The phoneme /r/ is commonly a voiced alveolar trill [r] but also often reduces to a flap [ɾ] when it occurs as the second segment in a consonant cluster.

Final consonants[edit]

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop p t c k ʔ
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Fricative s h
Rhotic r
Approximant w l j


  Front Central Back
High /i/ /ɨ~ɯ/ /u/
Close-mid /e/ /ǝ/ /o/
Open-mid /ɛ/ /ɔ/
Low /a/ /ɑ/



Compounding is a common way of coining new words in Koho. Some examples:

  • muh mat ‘face’ < muh ([muh]) ‘nose’ + mat ([mat]) ‘eye’
  • phe mbar ‘sticky rice’ < phe ([phɛ]) ‘husked rice’ + mbar ([mbar]) ‘sticky’
  • oui ao ‘clothes’ < oui ([ʔoːj]) ‘blanket’ + ao ([ʔaːw]) ‘shirt’


One of the more productive prefixes in Sre is the causative tön- [tən-], converts intransitive verbs to causative verbs. If the prefixed verbs have a nasal initial, then the nasal cluster avoidance rule applied.

Word Meaning Prefixed form Meaning
duh [duh] to be hot tönduh [tənduh] to make hot
chöt [cʰət] to die tönchöt [təncʰət] to kill
ring [riŋ] to be flat, level, equal tönring [tənriŋ] to equalize, make right
mut [mut] to enter tömut [təmut] to make enter
muu [muː] to descend, go down tömuu [təmuː] to make descend, to lower


  1. ^ Kơho at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Koho-Maa". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c H. Olsen, Neil. 2015. "Kơho-Sre." In Jenny, Mathias and Paul Sidwell, eds (2015). The Handbook of Austroasiatic Languages. Leiden: Brill.
  4. ^ Le, Tan Duong (2003) A phonological comparison of Maa and Koho varieties. Master’s thesis, Payap University.


  • Olsen, Neil H. 2014. A descriptive grammar of Koho-Sre: A Mon-Khmer language. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Utah.