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Kokborok, Tiprakok
Tripuri, Tripura, Tipra, Tippera
Native toIndia, Bangladesh
Native speakers
1,300,000 (2011)[1][2]
Early form
Early Tipra
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
trp – Kokborok
ria – Riang
tpe – Tippera
usi – Usui
xtr – Early Tripuri
xtr Early Tripuri
Map of Kokborok speaking areas
Kokborok is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

Kokborok (or Tripuri) is a Tibeto-Burman language of the Indian state of Tripura and neighbouring areas of Bangladesh.[3] Its name comes from kok meaning "verbal" and borok meaning "people" or "human",[citation needed] It is one of the ancient languages of Northeast India.[4]


Its name comes from kok meaning "verbal" and borok meaning "people" or "human".[citation needed]


Kokborok was formerly known as Tripuri and Tipra kok, with its name being changed in the 20th century. The names also refer to the inhabitants of the former Twipra kingdom, as well as the ethnicity of its speakers.

Kókborok has been attested since at least the 1st century AD, when the historical record of Tripuri kings began to be written down. The script of Kókborok was called "Koloma". The Chronicle of the Tripuri 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. Kokborok was relegated to a common people's dialect during the rule of the Tripuri 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.[5][6] 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[7] 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 Master of Arts (MA) degree in Kokborok was started by Tripura University from the year 2015.[8]

There is currently a demand for giving the language recognition as one of the recognized 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.[5]

Classification and related languages[edit]

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

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

Kókborok consists of several dialects spoken in Tripura. Ethnologue lists Usoi (Kau Brung), Riang (Kau Bru), and Khagrachari ("Trippera") as separate languages; Mukchak (Barbakpur), though not listed, is also distinct, and the language of many Tripuri 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.[9]


Kókborok has the phonology of a typical Sino-Tibetan language.[clarification needed]


Kokborok has six (monophthong) vowel phonemes: /i u e ə o a/.

Front Central Back
Close i [i] u [u]
Mid e [e] w [ə] o [ɔ]
Open a [a]

Early scholars of Kokborok decided to use the letter w as a symbol for a vowel that does not exist in English. In some localities, it is pronounced closer to [ɨ],[11] and in others, it is pronounced closer to o.[12]

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


Labial Alveolar Lamino-
Velar Glottal
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k
aspirated t͡ʃʰ
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricatives s h
Nasals m n ŋ
Lateral l
Rhotic r
Approximants w j

Ch is used for /t͡ʃ/, while kh, ph, chh and th are used for /kʰ/, /pʰ/, /t͡ʃʰ/ 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 two vowels. The wi diphthong is pronounced ui after /m/ and /p/. Two examples are chumui (cloud) and thampui (mosquito). The ui diphthong is a variation of the wi diphthong. Other less frequent diphthongs, such as oi and ai, are closing diphthongs.


Most words are formed by combining the root with an affix:

  • 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.[13] At the end of a syllable, any vowel except w can be found, along with a limited number of consonants: p, k, m, n, ng, r and l. /j/ 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: high tone and low tone. To mark the high tone, the letter h is written after the vowel with the high tone. These examples have low tone preceding high tone to show that tone changes the meaning:

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


There is a clear-cut difference between nouns and verbs. All true verbs are made with a verbal root followed by a number of suffixes, which are placed not randomly but according to definite rules.


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

  1. Original words: thang-go; phai-come; borok-nation; bororok-men kotor-big; kuchuk-high; kwrwi-not; etc.
  2. Compound words, that is, words made of more than one original words: nai-see; thok-tasty; naithok-beautiful; mwtai-God; nok-house; tongthar-religion; bwkha-heart; bwkhakotor-brave; etc.
  3. Words with suffixes: swrwng-learn; swrwngnai-learner; nukjak-seen; kaham-good; hamya- bad; etc.
  4. Naturalized loan words: gerogo-to roll; gwdna-neck; tebil- table; poitu-faith; etc.
  5. Loan words: kiching-friend; etc.


Counting in Kókborok is called lekhamung.

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 Kokborok-speaking people in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, and Mizoram. But, there are also speakers in the neighboring provinces in the country of Bangladesh, mainly in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

There are three main dialects of Kokborok, which are mutually intelligible.[14] The standard one is Debbarma (Puratan Tripuri), which is spoken by the royal family and is understood by all the dialect groups.[15] It is the medium of instruction up to class five and is taught as a subject up to graduate level.[citation needed] The two other major dialects are Riang (or Reang) and Noatia. Smaller dialects are Jamatia, Koloi and Rupini.[14]


The first efforts of writing Kokborok were made by Radhamohan Thakur. He wrote the grammar of Kokborok named "Kókborokma" published in 1900, as well as two other books: "Tripur Kothamala" and "Tripur Bhasabidhan". Tripur Kothamala was the Kokborok-Bengali-English translation book published in 1906. The "Tripur Bhasabidhan" was published in 1907.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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

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.[citation needed]

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 groundbreaking 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.[16] 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.[citation needed]

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

Educational institutions[edit]

There are two universities in Tripura which provide Kokborok language courses as part of Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees. There are more than 16 colleges in Tripura state where Kokborok is taught as part of the undergraduate courses. Also, there are more than 30 Government schools where Kokborok is taught in the higher secondary school level under the Tripura Board of Secondary Education.[17]

Department of Kokborok, Tripura University[edit]

The Department of Kokborok in Tripura University, Agartala is responsible for the teaching of Kokborok 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-month Certificate course.[18][19]

The university grants Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degrees with Kokborok as an elective subject [20] in its various constituent colleges since 2012. The colleges affiliated to the university where Kokborok is taught in the B.A degree are:

Department of Kokborok, Maharaja Bir Bikram (MBB) University[edit]

The Department of Kokborok in Maharaja Bir Bikram University, Agartala is responsible for the teaching of Kokborok language and literature.[34] This was made a State University in 2015.

MBB university has two affiliated colleges where Kokborok courses are available:


2011 Census of India[edit]

The details as per the Census of India, 2011 regarding Tripuri language is given as follows:[1]

Tripuri 1,011,294

  1. Kokborok 917,900
  2. Reang 58,539
  3. Tripuri 33,138
  4. Others 1,717

2001 Census of India[edit]

Tripuri 854,023

  1. Kokborok 761,964
  2. Reang 76,450
  3. Tripuri 15,002
  4. Others 607[37]


Kokborok had a script known as Koloma, developed in the 1st century CE and used by the Royal Family of Tripura.[citation needed] The Rajratnakar is believed to have originally been written in Koloma.[citation needed] This script fell out of use after the 14th century,[38] and is widely considered to have been lost.[39][40]

From the 19th century, the Kingdom of Twipra used the Bengali script to write in Kokborok, but since the independence of India and the merger with India, the Roman script is being promoted by non-governmental organizations. The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council government made regulations in 1992 and 2000 for adoption of the Roman script in the school education system in its areas.[41]

The script issue is highly politicized, with the Left Front government advocating usage of the Bengali script and all the regional indigenous parties and student organizations (INPT, IPFT, NCT, Twipra Students Federation, etc.) and ethnic nationalist organizations (Kokborok Sahitya Sabha, Kokborok tei Hukumu Mission, Movement for Kokborok etc.) advocating for the Roman script.[41] Both scripts are now used in the state in education as well as in literary and cultural circles.[41] Proposals have previously been made for the adoption of scripts other than the Bengali or Roman scripts, such as Ol Chiki.[42] There have also been scripts created specifically for Kokborok in modern times.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Census of India 2011 - Languages and Mother tongues
  2. ^ Kokborok at Ethnologue (27th ed., 2024) Closed access icon
    Riang at Ethnologue (27th ed., 2024) Closed access icon
    Tippera at Ethnologue (27th ed., 2024) Closed access icon
    Usui at Ethnologue (27th ed., 2024) Closed access icon
    Early Tripuri at Ethnologue (27th ed., 2024) Closed access icon
  3. ^ "Kokborok - Sorosoro Sorosoro". Sorosoro.org. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  4. ^ Verghese, B. G. (2020) [First published 2011]. "Foreword". In Sarangi, Asha; Pai, Sudha (eds.). Interrogating reorganisation of states : culture, identity and politics in India. Taylor & Francis. p. xiv. ISBN 978-1-000-08407-8. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  5. ^ a b "In Tripura, a musician's bid to preserve the language of the tribes". The Indian Express. 22 May 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  6. ^ Deb Barma, Aloy (1 July 2024). "Talking Back through Peripheral Visions and Negotiating Identity: Kokborok and Bengali Films and Music Videos in Tripura". Journal of Film and Video. 76 (2): 33–48. doi:10.5406/19346018.76.2.05. ISSN 0742-4671.
  7. ^ "Tribal Language". tripurauniv.in. Archived from the original on 24 September 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Department of Kokborok". tripurauniv.in. Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  9. ^ "The Tripura of Bangladesh: A Sociolinquistic Survey" (PDF). SIL International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 July 2012.
  10. ^ Veikho, Sahiinii Lemaina; Mushahary, Jitamoni (2015). "A preliminary acoustic study of vowels and tones in Kokborok". Nepalese Linguistics. 30: 161–166.
  11. ^ Jacquesson, François (2008). A Kokborok Grammar (Agartala dialect). Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC).
  12. ^ Jacquesson, François (2003). "Kókborok, a short analysis". Hukumu, 10th anniversary volume. Kokborok Tei Hukumu Mission. pp. 109–122. OCLC 801647829.
  13. ^ "Concise Kokborok-English-Dictionary" (PDF).
  14. ^ a b Bradley, David (2002). "The subgrouping of Tibeto-Burman". In Beckwith, Christopher I. (ed.). Medieval Tibeto-Burman Languages. Brill. p. 83. ISBN 978-90-474-0130-8.
  15. ^ Karapurkar, Pushpa (1976). Kokborok Grammar. Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages. p. 1. OCLC 5750101.
  16. ^ "Baibel Kwthar – Release of the Bible in Kokborok". Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  17. ^ Directorate of Kokborok, School list
  18. ^ "Department of Kokborok, Tripura University". Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  19. ^ "Center of Tribal Language, Tripura University". Archived from the original on 24 September 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  20. ^ "Syllabus, Tripura University". Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  21. ^ Dept of Kokborok, Ramthakur College, Agartala
  22. ^ Dept of Kokborok, Govt Degree College, Khumulwng
  23. ^ Dept of Kokborok, NS Mahavidyala, Udaipur
  24. ^ "Dept of Kokborok, Govt Degree College, Dharmanagar". Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  25. ^ Dept of Kokborok, RS Mahavidyala, Kailasahar
  26. ^ Dept of Kokborok, Govt Degree College, Kamalpur
  27. ^ Kokborok, Govt degree college, Teliamura
  28. ^ "Dept of Kokborok, Govt Degree. College, Santirbazar". Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  29. ^ Dept of Kokborok, Govt Degree. College, Longtharai Valley
  30. ^ Dept of Kokborok, SV Mahavidyalaya, Mohanpur
  31. ^ Dept of Kokborok, MMD GDC, Sabroom
  32. ^ Dept of Kokborok, RT Mahavidyalaya, Bishalgarh
  33. ^ Dept of Kokborok, Dasarath Deb Memorial College, Khowai
  34. ^ "Department of Kokborok, MBB University advertisement" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 March 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  35. ^ Dept of Kokborok, BBM College, Agartala
  36. ^ "Dept of Kokborok, MBB College". Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  37. ^ Census of India 2001 language report
  38. ^ "Bonhams : TRIPURA [The "Rajratnakar", Chronicle of Borok Kings of Tripura], in Sanskrit". www.bonhams.com. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  39. ^ Debbarma, Khapang (22 November 2021). "How The Tripuris Lost Their Ancient Script To A Goat: Myth Or Reality?". Adivasi Lives Matter. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  40. ^ Minahan, James (2012). Ethnic groups of South Asia and the Pacific : an encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598846607. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  41. ^ a b c "Revival of Tripura's ancient literature". The Statesman. 22 June 2020.
  42. ^ Debnath, Rupak (1 January 2013). "Kokborok Language Planning and Development". Report of the Seminar on Language Planning for Development of Kokborok [Appendix-C]. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  43. ^ "Aima script". omniglot.com. Retrieved 17 April 2022.

Further reading[edit]

  • Jacquesson, François (2003). "Kókborok, a short analysis". Hukumu, 10th anniversary volume. Kokborok Tei Hukumu Mission. pp. 109–122. OCLC 801647829.
  • Jacquesson, François (2008). A Kokborok Grammar (Agartala dialect). Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC)
  • Binoy Debbarma. 2002. Anglo-Kókborok-Bengali Dictionary. 2nd edition. Agartala: Kókborok Tei Hukumu Mission (KOHM).
  • Barma, Aloy Deb. Reading Contemporary Kokborok, and Bengali Films, and Music Videos: History, Technology, and Infrastructure. 2022. Jadavpur U.

External links[edit]