|Native to||Myanmar, Bangladesh, India|
|1 million (2011–2013)|
1 million second language speakers in Myanmar (2013)
Rakhine State shown within Myanmar
Arakanese (also known as Rakhine //; Burmese: ရခိုင်ဘာသာ, MLCTS: ra.hkuing bhasa [ɹəkʰàɪɴ bàθà]) is a language closely related to Burmese, of which it is often considered a dialect. "Arakan" is the former name for the Rakhine region. Arakanese can be divided into three dialects: Sittwe–Marma (about two thirds of speakers), Ramree, and Thandwe. It is the native language of the Rakhine, Marma and Kamein peoples. According to speakers of standard Burmese, Arakanese has an intelligibility of seventy-five percent with Burmese.
While Arakanese and Standard Burmese share the majority of lexicon, Arakanese has numerous vocabulary differences. Some are native words with no cognates in Standard Burmese, like "sarong" (လုံခြည် in Standard Burmese, ဒယော in Arakanese). Others are loan words from Bengali, English, and Hindi, not found in Standard Burmese. An example is "hospital," which is called ဆေးရုံ in Standard Burmese, but is called သိပ်လှိုင် (pronounced [θeɪʔ l̥àɪɴ]/[ʃeɪʔ l̥àɪɴ]) in Arakanese, from English "sick lines." Other words simply have different meanings (e.g., "afternoon", ညစ in Arakanese and ညနေ in Standard Burmese). Moreover, some archaic words in Standard Burmese are preferred in Arakanese. An example is the first person pronoun, which is အကျွန် in Arakanese (not ကျွန်တော်, as in Standard Burmese).
A gloss of vocabulary differences between Standard Burmese and Arakanese is below:
|go||သွား||လား||Arakanese for 'go' was historically used in Standard Burmese.|
|kick a ball||ဘောလုံးကန်||ဘောလုံးကျောက်|
|stomach ache||ဗိုက်နာ||ဝမ်းနာ||Arakanese prefers ဝမ်း to Standard Burmese ဗိုက် for 'stomach'.|
|guava||မာလကာသီး||ဂိုယံသီး||Standard Burmese for 'guava' is derived from the word Malacca, whereas Arakanese for 'guava' is from Spanish guayaba, from Taino: guayaba.|
|papaya||သင်္ဘောသီး||ပဒကာသီး||Standard Burmese for 'papaya' literally means 'boat'.|
|soap||ဆပ်ပြာ||သူပုန်||In Standard Burmese, 'သူပုန်' means 'rebel' or 'insurgent'.|
|blanket||စောင်||ပုဆိုး||ပုဆိုး in Standard Burmese refers to the male longyi (sarong).|
|dark||မှောင်||မိုက်||The compound word မှောင်မိုက် ('pitch dark') is used in both Standard Burmese and Arakanese.|
|pick a flower||ပန်းခူး||ပန်းဆွတ်||The compound word ဆွတ်ခူး ('pick') is used in both Standard Burmese and Arakanese.|
|wash [clothes]||လျှော်||ဖွပ်||The compound word လျှော်ဖွပ် ('wash') is used in both Standard Burmese and Arakanese.|
The phonological system described here is the inventory of sounds, represented using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).
The consonants of Arakanese are:
Arakanese largely shares the same set of consonant phonemes as standard Burmese, though Arakanese more prominently uses /ɹ/, which has largely merged to /j/ in standard Burmese (with some exceptions). Because Arakanese has preserved the /ɹr/ sound, the /-ɹ-/ medial (which is preserved in writing in Standard Burmese with the diacritic ြ) is still distinguished in the following Arakanese consonant clusters: /ɡɹ- kɹ- kʰɹ- ŋɹ- pɹ- pʰɹ- bɹ- mɹ- m̥ɹ- hɹ-/. For example, the word "blue," spelt ပြာ, is pronounced /pjà/ in standard Burmese, but pronounced /pɹà/ in Arakanese. Moreover, there is less voicing in Arakanese than in Standard Burmese, occurring only when the consonant is unaspirated. Unlike in Burmese, voicing never shifts from [θ] to [ð].
The vowels of Arakanese are:
|Front||Central||Back||Front offglide||Back offglide|
While Arakanese shares the same set of vowels as Burmese, Arakanese rhymes also diverge from Standard Burmese for a number of open syllables and closed syllables. For instance, Arakanese has also merged various vowel sounds like ဧ ([e]) to ဣ ([i]). Hence, a word like "blood", which is spelt သွေး is pronounced is ([θwé]) in standard Burmese, is pronounced [θwí] in Arakanese. Similarly, Arakanese has a number of closed syllable rhymes that do not exist in Standard Burmese, including /-ɛɴ -ɔɴ -ɛʔ -ɔʔ/.
The Arakanese dialect also has a higher frequency of open vowels weakening to /ə/ than Standard Burmese. An example is the word for "salary," (လခ) which is [la̰ɡa̰] in standard Burmese, but [ləkha̰] in Arakanese.
Differences from standard Burmese
|Written Burmese||Standard Burmese||Arakanese||Notes|
|-စ်||/-ɪʔ/||/-aɪʔ/||e.g. စစ် ("genuine") and စိုက် ("plant") are both pronounced [saɪʔ] in Arakanese|
|-ဉ်||/-ɪɴ/||/-aɪɴ/||e.g. ဥယျာဉ် ("garden"), from Standard Burmese [ṵ jɪ̀ɴ] → [wəjàɪɴ].|
Irregular rhyme, with various pronunciations.
In some words, it is /-ɛɴ/ (e.g. ဝိညာဉ် "soul", from Standard Burmese [wèɪɴ ɲɪ̀ɴ] → [wḭ ɲɛ̀ɴ]).
In a few words, it is /-i -e/ (e.g. ညှဉ်း "oppress", from Standard Burmese [ɲ̥ɪ́ɴ] → [ɲ̥í, ɲ̥é]).
|-န် ွန်||/-aɴ -ʊɴ/||ွန် is /-wɔɴ/|
|-ည်||/-i, -e, -ɛ/||/-e/||A few exceptions are pronounced /-aɪɴ/, like ကြည် ("clear"), pronounced [kɹàɪɴ]|
|-ေ||/-e/||/-i/||e.g. ချီ ("carry") and ချေ ("cancel") are pronounced [tɕʰì] and [tɕʰè] respectively in Standard Burmese, but merged to [tɕʰì] in Arakanese|
|-တ် ွတ်||/-aʔ -ʊʔ/||/-aʔ/|
|Nasal initial + -ီ
Nasal initial + -ေ
|/-i/||/-eɪɴ/||e.g. နီ ("red") is [nì] in Standard Burmese, but [nèɪɴ] in Arakanese|
In some words, the rhyme is unchanged from the standard rhyme (e.g. မြေ "land", usually pronounced [mɹì], not [mɹèɪɴ], or အမိ "mother", usually pronounced [əmḭ], not [əmḛɪɴ]
There are few exceptions where the nasal rhyme is /-eɪɴ-/ even without a nasal initial (e.g. သီ "thread", from Standard Burmese [θì] → [θèɪɴ]).
|Nasal initial + -ု -ူ -ူး||/-u/||/-oʊɴ/||e.g. နု ("tender") is [nṵ] in Standard Burmese, but [no̰ʊɴ] in Arakanese|
|ွား||/-wá/||/-ɔ́/||e.g. ဝါး ("bamboo") is [wá] in Standard Burmese, but [wɔ́] in Arakanese|
|ြွ||/-w-/||/-ɹw-/||Occurs in some words (e.g. မြွေ ("snake") is [mwè] in Standard Burmese, but [mɹwèɪɴ] in Arakanese)|
|ချ-||/tɕʰ-/||/ʃ-/||Occasionally occurs (e.g. ချင် ("want") is [tɕʰɪ̀ɴ] in Standard Burmese, but [ʃɔ̀ɴ]~[tɕʰɔ̀ɴ] in Arakanese)|
|တ- → ရ-||/t- d-/||/ɹ-/||e.g. The present tense particle တယ် ([dɛ̀]) corresponds with ရယ် ([ɹɛ̀]) in Arakanese|
e.g. The plural particle တို့ ([do̰]) corresponds with ရို့ ([ɹo̰]) in Arakanese
|ရှ- ယှ- ယျှ-||/ʃ-/||/h-/||Found in some words only|
|Standard Burmese||ʔəmè ɡa̰||ðədʒàɴ pwɛ́ dwɪ̀ɴ||wʊʔ jàɴ||tʰəmèɪɴ||ʃɪʔ tʰɛ̀||pé laɪʔ pà||sʰò dɛ̀|
|Arakanese||ʔəmì ɡa̰||θɔ́ɴkràɴ pwé hmà||waʔ pʰo̰||dəjɔ̀||ʃaɪʔ tʰè||pí laʔ pà||sʰò ɹì|
|English||Mother says "Give me eight pasos for wearing during the Thingyan festival."|
Arakanese is written using the Burmese script, which descends from Southern Brahmi. Rakhine speakers are taught Rakhine pronunciations using written Burmese, while most Marma speakers is are only literate in Bengali.
The first extant Arakanese inscriptions - the Launggrak Taung Maw inscription and the Mahathi Crocodile Rock inscription (1356) - date to the 1300s, and the epigraphic record of Arakanese inscriptions is unevenly distributed between the 1400s to 1800s. In the early 1400s, Arakanese inscriptions began to transition from the square letters associated with stone inscriptions (kyauksa), to rounder letters that is now standard for the Burmese script. This coincided with developments in Arakanese literature, which was stimulated by the rise of Mrauk Oo during the 1400s.
Modern-day Rakhine State is home to Sanskrit inscriptions that date from the first millenium to the 1000s, and were written in Northern Brahmic scripts (namely Siddham or Gaudi), which are ancestral to the Bengali script. These inscriptions are not ancestral to Arakanese epigraphy, which uses a Southern Brahmi script much like Burmese and Mon. While some Arakanese have coined the term Rakkhawanna (Rakkhavaṇṇa) to reference a script that predates the usage of written Burmese, there is no contemporary lithic evidence to support the existence of such a script.
- Rakhine ("Arakanese") at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
Marma ("Burmese") at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
- Okell 1995, p. 3.
- Information on Arakanese
- "ရခိုင်စကားနဲ့ ဗမာစကား". BBC Burmese. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- အသျှင်စက္ကိန္ဒ (1994). ရခိုင်ဘာသာစကားလမ်းညွှန် (in Burmese). Burma – via Scribd.
- Okell 1995, p. 4, 14.
- Okell 1995, p. 14.
- Okell 1995.
- Houghton 1897, pp. 453–61.
- Davis, Heidi A (2014). "Consonant correspondences of Burmese, Rakhine and Marma with initial implications for historical relationships". The University of North Dakota.
- Minn Htin, Kyaw; Leider, Jacques (2018), Perret, Daniel (ed.), "The Epigraphic Archive of Arakan/Rakhine State (Myanmar): A Survey", Writing for Eternity: A Survey of Epigraphy in Southeast Asia, Etudes thématiques, Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient, vol. 30, pp. 73–85, retrieved 2022-08-07
- Singer, Noel F. (2008). Vaishali and the Indianization of Arakan. APH Publishing. ISBN 978-81-313-0405-1.
- Houghton, Bernard (1897). "The Arakanese Dialect of the Burman Language". The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland: 453–461. JSTOR 25207880.
- Okell, John (1995). "Three Burmese Dialects" (PDF). Papers in Southeast Asian Linguistics. 13.