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Kok Borok
Tripuri, Tipra
Native to India and Bangladesh
Region Tripura, Assam, Mizoram, Bangladesh, Burma
Ethnicity Borok
Native speakers
917,900 (2011)[1]
Early form
Early Borok
Latin alphabet (Roman Script)
Eastern Nagari script
(Bengali alphabet)
Koloma (original)
Official status
Official language in
 India (Tripura)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
trp – Kokborok
ria – Riang
tpe – Tippera (Khagrachari)
usi – Usui
xtr – Early Tripuri
xtr Early Tripuri
Glottolog tipp1238[2]

Kok Borok (/ˈkkvɔːrk/ (About this sound listen)) is the native language of the Borok (Tripura) people of the Indian state of Tripura and neighbouring areas of Bangladesh. The word Kok stands for "Language" and borok stands for "Human", which is used specifically by the Tripuri people. Kokborok is closely related to the Bodo, Dimasa and Kachari languages of the neighbouring state of Assam.


Kókborok has been attested since at least the 1st century AD, when the historical record of Tipra Kings began to be written down. The script of Kókborok was called "Koloma". The Chronicle of the Borok kings were written in a book called the Rajratnakar. This book was originally written down in Kókborok using the Koloma script by Durlobendra Chontai.

Later, two Brahmins, Sukreswar and Vaneswar translated it into Sanskrit and then again translated the chronicle into Bengali in the 19th century. The chronicle of Tipra in Kókborok and Rajratnakar are no longer available. Kókborok was relegated to a common people's dialect during the rule of the Borok kings in the Kingdom of Tipra from the 19th century till the 20th century.

Kokborok was declared an official language of the state of Tripura, India by the state government in the year 1979. Consequently, the language has been taught in schools of Tripura from the primary level to the higher secondary stage since the 1980s. A certificate course in Kokborok started from 1994 at Tripura University and a post graduate diploma in Kokborok was started in 2001 by the Tripura University. Kokborok was introduced in the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in the colleges affiliated to the Tripura University from the year 2012, and a Masters of Arts (MA) degree in Kokborok was started by Tripura University from the year 2015.

There is currently a demand for giving the language recognition as one of the recognised official languages of India as per the 8th schedule of the Constitution. The official form is the dialect spoken in Agartala, the state capital of Tripura.

Classification and related languages[edit]

Kokborok is a Sino-Tibetan language of the Bodo–Garo branch.

It is closely related to the Bodo and Dimasa languages of neighbouring Assam. The Garo language is also a related language spoken in neighbouring Bangladesh and the state of Meghalaya.

Kókborok is not a single language but a collective name for the several languages and dialects spoken in Tripura. Ethnologue lists Usoi (Kau Brung), Riang (Polong-O), and Khagrachari ("Trippera") as separate languages; Mukchak (Barbakpur), though not listed, is also distinct, and the language of many Borok clans has not been investigated. The greatest variety is within Khagrachari, though speakers of different Khagrachari varieties can "often" understand each other. Khagrachari literature is being produced in the Naitong and Dendak varieties.[3]


Debbarma Kókborok is a typical Sino-Tibetan language and consists of the following sounds:


Kokborok consists of six vowel (monophthong) phonemes namely, /i u e w o a/. The phonetic status of these vowel phonemes are provided in the table below.

Front Central Back
High i [i] u [u]
High-mid e [e] w [ə]  
Low-mid     o [o]
Low   a [a]  

Early scholars of Kokborok decided to use the letter w as a symbol for a vowel which does not exist in the English language. In some localities it is pronounced closer to i, in others closer to o.[5]

In Kokborok spelling, u is used for the sound /w/ in the diphthongs /wa/ (used initially, spelled as ua) and /wo/ (used finally, spelled as uo). It is also used for the diphthong /ɔi/ (spelled wi) after m and p


  Labial Dental Apico-
Velar Glottal
Stops and
Aspirated t̪ʰ    
Voiceless p   t͡ʃ k  
Voiced b   d͡ʒ ɡ  
Fricatives Voiceless     s     h
Nasals m   n   ŋ  
Liquids     l, r      

Ch is used for /t͡ʃ/, while kh, ph, and th are used for /kʰ/, /pʰ/, and /tʰ/ respectively.

N' is the pronunciation of the nasal sound; e.g., in' (yes).[clarification needed]

Ng is a digraph and is generally used in the last syllable of a word; e.g., aming (cat), holong (stone).

Ua is often used initially; e.g., uak (pig), uah (bamboo), uatwi (rain).

Uo is often used finally; e.g., thuo (sleeping), buo (beat).


A diphthong is a group of 2 vowels. The wi diphthong is spoken as ui after sounds of the letters m and p. Two examples are: chumui (cloud) and thampui (mosquito). The ui diphthong is a variation of the wi diphthong. Other less frequently occurring diphthongs such as oi and ai are called closing diphthongs. A closing diphthong refers to a syllable that does not end in a consonant.


A majority of words are formed by combining the root with an affix. Some examples are;

  • kuchuk is formed from the root chuk (to be high), with the prefix, ku.
  • phaidi (come) is formed from the root phai (to come), with the suffix di.

There are no Kókborok words beginning with ng.[6] At the end of a syllable, any vowel except w can be found, along with a limited amount of consonants: p, k, m, n, ng, r and l. Y is found only in closing diphthongs like ai and wi.


"Clusters" are a group of consonants at the beginning of a syllable, like phl, ph + l, in phlat phlat (very fast), or sl in kungsluk kungsluk (foolish man). Clusters are quite impossible at the end of a syllable. There are some "false clusters" such as phran (to dry) which is actually phw-ran. These are very common in echo words : phlat phlat, phre phre, prai prai, prom prom, etc.


There are two tones in Kókborok, a high and a low tone. To mark the high tone, the letter h is attached to the vowel with the high tone.

example: low tone High tone

  1. lai-easy laih-crossed
  2. bor-senseless bohr-to plant
  3. cha-correct chah-to eat
  4. nukhung-family nukhuhng-roof


Morphologically Kókborok words can be divided into five categories. They are the following.

(a) Original words: thang-go; phai-come; borok-nation; borog-men kotor-big; kuchu-youngest; kwrwi-not;etc.

(b) Compound words, that is, words made of more than one original words: nai-see; thok-testy; naithok-beautiful; mwtai-god; nog-house; tongthar-temple; bwkha-heart; bwkhakotor-brave; etc.

(c) Words with suffixes: swrwng-learn; swrwngnai-learner; nugjak-seen; kaham-good; hamya- bad; etc.

(d) Naturalized loan words: gerogo-to roll; gwdna-neck; tebil- table; puitu-faith; etc.

(e) Loan words: kiching-friend; etc.

Kókborok grammar[edit]

There is a clear cut difference in Kókborok between nouns and verbs. All true verbs are made with a verbal root followed by a number of suffixes, these suffixes are not placed at random but according to definite rules.

Counting and numbering[edit]

Counting in Kókborok is called lekhamung. The basic numbers are:

1. sa (one)
2. nwi (two)
3. tham
4. brwi
5. ba
6. dok
7. sni
8. char
9. chuku
10. chi
20. nwichi (khol)
100. ra
101. ra sa
200. nwira
1000. sai
1001. sai sa
2000. nwi sai
10,000. chisai
20,000. nwichi sai
100,000. rasai
200,000. nwi rasai
1,000,000. chirasai
2,000,000. nwichi rasai
10,000,000. rwjak
20,000,000. nwi rwjak
1,000,000,000. rarwjak
1,000,000,000,000. sai rarwjak
100,000,000,000,000,000,000. rasaisai rarwjak


There are many Kókborok-speaking tribes in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Mizoram and the neighbouring provinces of the country Bangladesh mainly in Chittagong Hill Tracts. There are three main dialects which are not mutually intelligible, though the western dialect of the royal family, Debbarma, is a prestige dialect understood by everyone. It is the standard for teaching and literature. It is taught as the medium of instruction up to class fifth and as subject up to graduate level. The other dialects are Jamatia, Kalai and Noatia.


First effort for giving the language in printed book form and creation of literature of language Radhamohan Thakur wrote the grammar of Kókborok named "Kókborokma" published in 1900 AD. He wrote two other books: "Tripur Kothamala" and "Tripur Bhasabidhan". Tripur Kothamala was the Kókborok-Bengali-English translation book published in 1906. The "Tripur Bhasabidhan" was published in 1907.

Daulot Ahmed was a contemporary of Radhamohan Thakur and was a pioneer of writing Kókborok Grammar jointly with Mohammad Omar. The Amar jantra, Comilla published his Kókborok grammar book "KOKBOKMA" in 1897.

On 27 December 1945 the "Tripura Janasiksha Samiti" came into being, and it established many schools in different areas of Tripura.

The first Kókborok magazine "Kwtal Kothoma" was edited and published in 1954 by Sudhanya Deb Barma, who was a founder of the Samiti. "Hachuk Khurio" (In the lap of Hills) by Sudhanya Deb Barma is the first modern Kókborok novel. It was published by the Kókborok Sahitya Sabha and Sanskriti Samsad in 1987. One major translation of the 20th century was the "Smai Kwtal", the New Testament of the Bible in Kókborok language, published in 1976 by the Bible Society of India.

The 21st century began for Kókborok literature with the monumental work, the Anglo-Kókborok-Bengali Dictionary compiled by Binoy Deb Barma and published in 2002 A.D. by the Kókborok tei Hukumu Mission. This is the 2nd edition of his previous ground breaking dictionary published in 1996 and is a trilingual dictionary. Twiprani Laihbuma (The Rajmala - History of Tripura) translated by R. K. Debbarma and published in 2002 by KOHM.

The full Holy Bible in Kokborok language was finally published for the first time in the year 2013 by the Bible Society of India.[7] The Baibel Kwthar is currently the largest work and biggest book published in the language with more than 1,300 pages and is now the benchmark for publications in the language.

The present trend of development of the Kókborok literary works show that Kókborok literature is moving forward slowly but steadily with its vivacity and distinctive originality to touch the rich literature of the rich languages.

Institutions and organisations[edit]

Many Tripuri cultural organisations have been working fruitfully for the development of the language since the last century. A list of the present organisations and publication houses are:

Government research and publications organisations working in Kokborok development are:

  • Tribal Research Institute (TRI), Agartala
  • Language Wing, Education department of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC)

Department of Kokborok, Tripura University[edit]

The Department of Kokborok in Tripura University, Agartala is responsible for the teaching of Kókborok language and literature and started functioning in 2015.

It runs an M.A (Master of Arts) in Kokborok language, a one-year PG Diploma and a 6 months Certificate course.[8][9]

The University grants Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degrees with Kokborok as an elective subject [10] in its various constituent colleges since 2012. The colleges affiliated to the University where Kokborok is taught in the B.A degree are:

  • MBB College, Agartala [11]
  • BBM College, Agartala [12]
  • Ramthakur College, Agartala [13]
  • Government Degree College, Khumulwng [14]
  • NS Mahavidyalaya, Udaipur [15]
  • Government Degree College, Dharmanagar [16]
  • RS Mahavidyala, Kailasahar [17]
  • Government Degree College, Kamalpur [18]
  • Government Degree College, Teliamura [19]
  • Government Degree College, Santirbazar [20]

Kokborok Library, Khumulwng[edit]

A library of Kokborok books has been functioning in Khumulwng town since 2015. It has been set up by the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) through Government funding and is functioning in a building constructed for the library in Khumulwng town near the Khumulwng stadium.

The library currently holds more than 5,000 books of Kokborok language and related topics.

Kokborok Tei Hukumu Mission (KOHM)[edit]

'Kokborok Tei Hukumu' Mission is a Tripuri cultural organisation which has been established to promote the language and culture of the Tripuri people. The mission was started by Naphurai Jamatia. It has its office in Krishnanagar in Agartala.

It is the largest publisher of books in Kokborok, most notable of which is the Kokborok Dictionaries by Binoy Debbarma, Anglo-Kokborok Dictionary (1996) and Anglo-Kokborok-Bengali Trilingual Dictionary (2002).


Tripura 854,023

  1. Kókborok 761,964
  2. Others 607

-Census of India 2001 language report[1]

Kokborok script (Koloma)[edit]

Kók-borok has a script known as Koloma which is not in popular use. Since the 19th century the Kingdom of Twipra used the Bengali script for writing in Kók-borok. But since the independence of India and merger with India, the Roman Script is being promoted by non-governmental organisations. The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) government had made regulations in 1992 and 2000 for adoption of Roman Script in the school education system in its areas.[citation needed]

The script issue is highly politicised, with the Left Front government advocating usage of the Asian Bengali script and all the regional indigenous parties and student organisations such as INPT, IPFT, NCT, Twipra Students Federation, etc along with ethnonationalists organisations such as Kokborok Sahitya Sabha, Kokborok tei Hukumu Mission and Movement for Kokborok advocating for the European Roman script.[citation needed]

At present both scripts are used in the state in education as well as in literary and cultural circles.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]