Rohingya language

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Native to Burma, Bangladesh
Region Rakhine region of Burma, southeastern Chittagong region of Bangladesh
Native speakers
1.8 million  (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 rhg
Glottolog rohi1238[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Rohingya (/ˈrɪnə/, /ˈrhɪnə/, /ˈrɪŋjə/, or /ˈrhɪŋjə/),[3] or Ruáingga, is a language spoken by the Rohingya people of the Rakhine State in Burma.[4][5] It is related to the Chittagonian language spoken in the neighboring southeastern Chittagong Division of Bangladesh.


Rohingya people in Rakhine State

Various writing systems are used, including Arabic,[6] Urdu, Hanifi, and Burmese, and the newer Rohingyalish, based on the Latin script.

Arabic script[edit]

Written in Arabic script, the first Rohingya language texts are more than 200 years old.[7] While Arakan was under British rule (1826–1948), the Rohingya people used mainly English and Urdu for written communication. Since independence in 1948, Burmese has been used in all official communications. Since the early 1960s, Rohingya scholars have started to realize the need for a writing system suited to their own language.

In 1975 a writing system was developed using Arabic letters; other scholars adopted Urdu script to remedy some deficiencies of the Arabic. Neither proved satisfactory, however, and most Rohingyas found it difficult to read the language in either version.

Today, there are efforts for creating a Rohingya Unicode font based on Arabic letters (since those are far more understood by the people) with additional tone signs.[7]

Hanifi script[edit]

Molana Hanif and his colleagues developed a new set of right-to-left oriented characters based mainly on Arabic script, with a few borrowings from Roman and Burmese. This approach was an improvement and was appreciated by Rohingya Islamic scholars, used to studying in Arabic and Urdu. However, the new script was criticized because the characters were very similar to each other, requiring longer memorization time and careful writing to avoid confusion. Despite such criticism, the Hanifi script is currently in use and a Unicode standard for it is being developed.[8]

Roman script[edit]

Soon afterwards, E.M. Siddique took a different approach, using Latin letters only. The result is a writing system known as Rohingyalish that comprises 26 Roman letters, five accented vowels, and two additional Latin characters for retroflex and nasal sounds.

Rohingya character set
A a B b C c Ç ç D d E e F f
G g H h I i J j K k L l M m
N n Ñ ñ O o P p Q q R r S s
T t U u V v W w X x Y y Z z

The character set table of the Rohingya language writing system uses the Latin letters shown above (ç and ñ with green background). The vowels are written both unaccented (aeiou) and accented (áéíóú). The use of c, ç and ñ is adapted to the language; c represents /ʃ/ (English sh), ç is the retroflex r ([ɽ]),[7] and ñ indicates a nasalized vowel (e.g., fañs /faⁿs/ 'five'). Crucially, these can all be accessed from an English keyboard, for example by using the English (US) International keyboard.



Rohingya has primarily the following 25 native consonant phonemes. There are some other consonant phonemes which are from foreign languages such as Arabic, Bengali, Burmese and Urdu.

Rohingya consonants[9]
Bilabial Labio-
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p ʈ k ʔ
voiced b ɖ ɟ ɡ
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ x h
voiced z
Flap ɾ ɽ
Approximant central w j
lateral l


Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ɔ
Open a

There are six vowels and several diphthongs in the Rohingya language.[6] They contrast between "open-o" ([ɔ]) and "closed-o" ([o]) by using the different spellings o/ó and ou/óu respectively.


Accented vowels represent stressed (or "hard" vowels). Repeating a vowel lengthens it.[9] Thus, tonals are marked by arranging the location of a stressed vowel in a lengthened pair, like and áa.[9]


Definite articles[edit]

1. If a noun ends with a vowel then the article is either án or if singular, or ún if plural or uncountable.
Usually is used for round-fatty objects, and án for flat-thin objects.

      ( singular )                        ( plural )
 Kéti  án     (the farm)          Kéti  ún     (the farms)
 Fothú án     (the picture)       Fothú ún     (the pictures)
 Fata  wá     (the leaf)         Fata  ún     (the leaves)
 Boro  wá     (the large)         Boro  ún     (the large)
                                  Lou   ún     (the blood)

2. If a noun ends with a consonant then the article is the end-consonant plus án or for singular or ún for plural.

 Debal  lán   (the wall)          Debal  lún   (the walls)
 Mes    sán   (the table)         Mes    sún   (the tables)
 Kitap  p(the book)          Kitap  pún   (the books)
 Manúic c(the man)           Manúic cún   (the men)

3. If a noun ends with r, then the article is g plus án or for singular or ún for plural.

 Tar   gán    (the wire)          Tar   gún   (the wires)
 Duar  gán    (the door)          Duar  gún   (the doors)
 Kuñir g(the dog)           Kuñir gún   (the dogs)
 Faár  g(the mountain)      Faár  gún   (the mountains)

Indefinite articles[edit]

Indefinite articles can be used either before or after the noun. Uggwá usually is used for roll/round/fatty shaped objects and ekkán is for thin/flat shaped objects.

    ( singular )                     ( plural )
 Uggwá fata    (a leaf)           Hodún fata    (some leaves)
 Ekkán fothú   (a picture)        Hodún Fothú   (some pictures)
     -or-                               -or-
 Fata  uggwá   (a leaf)           Fata  hodún   (some leaves)
 Fothú ekkán   (a picture)        Fothú hodún   (some pictures)

Word order[edit]

Rohingya word order is subject–object–verb.

Subject       Object            Verb
Aññí(I)       bát(rice)         hái(eat).
Ite(He)       TV(TV)            saá(watches).
Ibá(She)      sairkél(bicycle)  soré(rides).
Ítara(They)   hamot(to work)    za(go).


Rohingya distinguishes 12 tenses, as shown in the examples below. In these tenses, the helping verb félai shows perfect action (comparable to English "has/have") and félaat shows perfect continuous action (compare English "has/have been"). The helping verb táki and táikki are comparable to English "be" and "been".

Verb-form-suffix (basic and/or helping verb) indicate both person and tense. The suffixes ~ir, ~yi, ~lám, ~youm are used for the first person, the suffixes ~or, ~yó, ~lá, ~bá for the 2nd person, and the suffixes ~ar, ~ye, ~l, ~bou for the 3rd person. Similarly ~ir, ~or, ~ar indicate present continuous tense, ~yi, ~yó, ~ye present perfect tense, ~lám, ~lá, ~l past tense, and ~youm, ~bá, ~bou future tense.

First person ( I ):

1. Present
(a)Aññí hái.                   (I eat.)
(b)Aññí háir.                  (I am eating.)
(c)Aññí hái félaiyi.           (I have eaten.)
(d)Aññí hái félair.            (I have been eating.)
2. Past
(a)Aññí háiyi.                 (I ate.) Note: refer near past.
   Aññí háailam.               (I ate.) Note: refer far past.
(b)Aññí háat táikkilám.        (I was eating.)
(c)Aññí hái  félailám.         (I had eaten.)
(d)Aññí hái  félaat táikkilám. (I had been eating.)
3. Future
(a)Aññí háiyoum.               (I will eat.)
(b)Aññí háat tákiyoum.         (I will be eating.)
(c)Aññí hái  félaiyoum.        (I will have eaten.)
(d)Aññí hái  félaat tákiyoum.  (I will have been eating.)

Second person ( You ):

1. Present
(a)Tuñí/Oñne hóo.                 [Tui hós.]                 (You eat.)
(b)Tuñí/Oñne hóor.                [Tui hóor.]                (You are eating.)
(c)Tuñí/Oñne hái  félai.        [Tui hái  félaiyós].       (You have eaten.)
(d)Tuñí/Oñne hái  féloor.         [Tui hái  féloor].         (You have been eating.)
2. Past
(a)Tuñí/Oñne háiyo.               [Tui háiyós.]              (You ate.) Note: refer near past.
   Tuñí/Oñne háai.              [Tui háai.]              (You ate.) Note: refer far past.
(b)Tuñí/Oñne háat táikki.       [Tui háat táikki.]       (You were eating.)
(c)Tuñí/Oñne hái  félai.        [Tui hái  félai.]        (You had eaten.)
(d)Tuñí/Oñne hái  félaat táikki.[Tui hái  félaat táikki.](You had been eating.)
3. Future
(a)Tuñí/Oñne hái.               [Tui hái.]               (You will eat.)
(b)Tuñí/Oñne háat táki.         [Tui háat táki.]         (You will be eating.)
(c)Tuñí/Oñne hái  félai.        [Tui hái  félai.]        (You will have eaten.)
(d)Tuñí/Oñne hái  félaat táki.  [Tui hái  félaat táki.]  (You will have been eating.)

Third persons ( He/She/They ):

1. Present
(a)Ite/Ibá/Itará  há.                   (He/She/They eats/eats/eat.)
(b)Ite/Ibá/Itará  hár.                  (He/She/They is/is/are eating.)
(c)Ite/Ibá/Itará  hái félaiye.          (He/She/They has/has/have eaten.)
(d)Ite/Ibá/Itará  hái félaar.           (He/She/They has/has/have been eating.)
2. Past
(a)Ite/Ibá/Itará  háaiye.               (He/She/They ate.) Note: refer near past.
   Ite/Ibá/Itará  háail.                (He/She/They ate.) Note: refer far past.
(b)Ite/Ibá/Itará  háat táikkil.         (He/She/They was/was/were eating.)
(c)Ite/Ibá/Itará  hái  félail.          (He/She/They had eaten.)
(d)Ite/Ibá/Itará  hái  félaat táikkil.  (He/She/They had been eating.)
3. Future
(a)Ite/Ibá/Itará  háibou.               (He/She/They will eat.)
(b)Ite/Ibá/Itará  háat tákibou.         (He/She/They will be eating.)
(c)Ite/Ibá/Itará  hái  félaibou.        (He/She/They will has/has/have eaten.)
(d)Ite/Ibá/Itará  hái  félaat tákibou.  (He/She/They will has/has/have been eating.)


Number Person Gender Pronouns Possessive
Subject Object Possessive Reflexive
Singular 1st m/f (I) aññí añáre añár aññínize añár
2nd m/f (you) tuñí
3rd m (he) ite *
te *
uite **
íte **
m/f (he/she) ibá *
uibá **
íba **
n1 (it)
n2 (it)
Plural 1st m/f (we) añára añáráre añárár añáránize añárár
2nd m/f (you) tuáñrá tuáñráre tuáñrár tuáñránize tuáñrár
3rd m/f (they) itará *
tará *
uitará **
ítara **
n1 (they)
n2 (they)
iín *
uuín **

Gender: m=male, f=female, n=neuter., *=the person or object is near., **=the person or object is far.


The interrogative is indicated by at the end of the sentence.

Itattú gór ekkán asé ? [Does he have a house?]
Itattú gór ekkán asé. [He has a house.]
Ibá za ? [Does she go?]
Ibá za. [She goes.]
Itará giyé ? [Did they go?]
Itará giyé. [They went.]

Inflection for person[edit]

Rohingya verbs indicate person by suffixes.

Present Tense
lek = write (command to you sg.)
lekí = I/we write.
lekó = write (command to you pl.)
lekós = You write(sg./pl.).
leké = He/she/they write(s).

Present Continuous Tense
lekír = I/we am/are writing.
lekór = You(sg./pl.) are writing.
lekér = He/she/they is/are writing.

Present Perfect Tense
lekífélaiyi = I/we have written.
lekífélaiyo = You (sg./pl.) have written.
lekífélaiyós = You (sg.) have written. (used to very closed people)
lekífélaiye = He/she/they has/have written.

Future Tense
lekíyóum = I/we will write.
lekíbá = You (sg./pl.) will write.
lekíbi = You (sg.) will write. (used to very closed people)
lekíbóu = He/she/they will write.

Past Tense (Immediate/near past)
leikkí = I/we wrote.
leikkó = You (sg./pl.) wrote.
leikkós = You (sg.) wrote. (used to very closed people)
leikké = He/she/they wrote.

Past Tense (Remote past)
leikkílám = I/we wrote long ago.
leikkílá = You (sg./pl.) wrote long ago.
leikkílí = You (sg.) wrote long ago. (used to very closed people)
leikkíl = He/she/they wrote long ago.

Past Tense (If possibility)
lekítám = I/we would have written.
lekítá = You (sg./pl.) would have written.
lekítí = You (sg.) would have written. (used to very closed people)
lekítóu = He/she/they would have written.

Forming Noun, Doer, Tool, Action
lekóon = act of writing.
        e.g. Debalor uore lekóon gom noó. Writing on wall is not good.
lekóya = writer.
        e.g. Itaráttú lekóya bicí. They-have many writers.
lekóni = thing with which you write.
        e.g. Añártú honó lekóni nái. I-have no any writing-thing (i.e. pen, pencil)
lekát = in the action of writing.
        e.g. Tui lekát asós. You are busy-in-writing.

Rohingya grammatical case[edit]

Example of a Rohingya case inflection is given below, using the singular forms of the Rohingya term for "hóliba (tailor)" which belongs to Rohingya's first declension class.

  • hólibaye (nominative) "[the] hóliba" [as a subject] (e.g. hóliba tíai táikke éçe – the tailor is standing there)
  • hólibar (genitive) "[the] hóliba's / [of the] hóliba" (e.g. hólibar nam Ahmed – the tailor's name is Ahmed)
  • hóliballa (dative) "[to/for the] hóliba" [as an indirect object] (e.g. hóliballa hádiya ekkán diyí – I gave a present for the sailor)
  • hólibare (accusative) "[the] hóliba" [as a direct object] (e.g. Aññí hólibare deikkí – I saw the tailor)
  • hólibaloi (ablative) "[by/with/from/in the] hóliba" [in various uses] (e.g. Aññí hólibaloi duan ot giyí – I went to the shop with the tailor).'
  • óu hóliba / hóliba ya (vocative) "[you] the hóliba" [addressing the object] (e.g. "cúkuria tuáñre, óu hóliba (sáb)" - thank you, tailor).


Seventy or more different forms are available in Rohingya. Dash (-) between letters are to be removed, it is used for initial understanding only, how it is formed.


01 lek =write(sg.) Tui yián ehón lek. You write this right now.
02 lek-ó =write(pl.) Tuñí yián ehón lekó. You write this right now.
03 lek-á =cause to write Tui/Tuñí John ór áta leká/lekó. You ask John to write.
04 lek-í-de =help to write Tui/Tuñí ibáre lekíde/lekído. You help John in writing.


05 lek-í =write(I) Aññí hámicá gór ot lekí. I always write at home.
06 lek-ó =write(II) Tuñí hámicá gór ot lekó. You always write at home.
07 lek-ó-s =write(IIa) Tui hámicá gór ot lekós. You always write at home.
08 lek-é =write(III) Tará hámicá gór ot leké. They always write at home.


09 lek-í-r =writing(I) Aññí ciñçí ekkán lekír. I am writing a letter now.
10 lek-ó-or =writing(II) Tuñí/Tui ciñçí ekkán lekóor. You are writing a letter now.
11 lek-é-r =writing(III) Tará ciñçí ekkán lekér. They are writing a letter now.


12 lek-í-féla-iyi =have written(I) Aññí ciñçí lekífélaiyi. I have written a letter.
13 lek-í-féla-iyo =have written (II) Tuñí ciñçí lekífélaiyi. You have written a letter.
14 lek-í-féla-iyo-s =have written(IIa) Tui ciñçí lekífélaiyos. You have written a letter.
15 lek-í-féla-iye =has/have written (III) Tará ciñçí lekífélaiye. They have written a letter.


16 leik-kí =wrote(I) Aññí ciñçí ekkán leikkí. I wrote a letter.
17 leik-kó =wrote(II) Tuñí ciñçí ekkán leikkó. You wrote a letter.
18 leik-kó-s =wrote(IIa) Tui ciñçí ekkán leikkós. You wrote a letter.
19 leik-ké =wrote(III) Tará ciñçí ekkán leikké. They wrote a letter.


20 lek-í-youm =will write(I) Aññí ciñçí ekkán lekíyoum. I will write a letter.
21 lek-í-ba =will write(II) Tuñí ciñçí ekkán lekíba. You will write a letter.
22 lek-í-bi =will write(IIa) Tui ciñçí ekkán lekkíbi. You will write a letter.
23 lek-í-bou =will write(III) Tará ciñçí ekkán lekíbou. They will write a letter.
24 leik-kyóum =will write(I) Aññí ciñçí ekkán leikkyóum. I will write a letter.
25 leik-bá =will write(II) Tuñí ciñçí ekkán leikbá. You will write a letter.
26 leik-bí =will write(IIa) Tui ciñçí ekkán leikbí. You will write a letter.
27 leik-bóu =will write(III) Tará ciñçí ekkán leikbóu. They will write a letter.


28 lek-á-giye =(passive I,II,III) Ciñçí ekkán lekágiyé. A letter is/was written.


29 lek-á-za =being writable Ciñçí yián leká za. This letter is not writable.
30 lek-á-za-ibou =being writable in future Ciñçí yián leká zaibou. This letter will be writable.
31 lek-á-di-ya-za =can be made writable Ciñçí yián lekádiyaza. This letter can be made writable.


32 lek-á =writing Leká yián bicí cúndor. This writing is very beautiful.
33 lek-ó-on =act of writing Email beggún óttu lekóon saá. All should write emails.
34 lek-ó-ya =person who writes Ahmed bála lekóya. Ahmed is a good writer.
35 lek-ó-ni =thing used to write Añártu honó lekóni ciz nái. I do not have anything to write with.
36 lek-á-ni =tool used to write Añártu honó lekáni boudh nái. I do not have any writing board.
37 lek-á-lekí =activities to write Tuáñrár bútore lekáleki tákoon saá. There should be writing between you.


38 lek-é-de =thing used for writing Añártu honó lekéde ciz nái. I do noy have any writable thing.
39 leik-kyá =of written Kitab ibá fura leikká. This book is fully written.
40 leik-kyé-dé=of that written Añártu honó leikkyéde juab nái. I do not have any written answer.


41 lek-í lek-í =by writing & writing/while writing Ite gór ottu lekí lekí aiyér. He is coming from home while writing.

Immediate present

42 lek-í-lam =acted to write(I) Aññí habos sán lekílam. I write the letter.
43 lek-í-la =acted to write(II) Tuñí habos sán lekíla. You write the letter.
44 lek-í-li =acted to write(II) Tui habos sán lekíli. You write the letter.
45 lek-í-lou =acted to write(III) Tará habos sán lekílou. They write the letter.
46 leik-lám =acted to write(I) Aññí habos sán lekílam. I write the letter.
47 leik-lá =acted to write(II) Tuñí habos sán lekíla. You write the letter.
48 leik-lí =acted to write(II) Tui habos sán lekíli. You write the letter.
49 leik-lou =acted to write(III) Tará habos sán lekílou. They write the letter.

Long past

50 leik-kí-lam =had written(I) Aññí habos sán leikkílam. I had written this paper long ago.
51 leik-kí-la =had written(II) Tuñí habos sán leikkíla. You had written this paper long ago.
52 leik-kí-li =had written(II) Tui habos sán leikkíli. You had written this paper long ago.
53 leik-kí-l =had written(III) Tará habos sán leikkíl. They had written this paper long ago.

Remote future

54 lek-í-youm éri =will write later(I) Aññí habos sán lekíyoum éri. I will write the paper sometime later.
55 lek-í-ba ri =will write later(II) Tuñí habos sán lekíba ri. You will write the paper sometime later.
56 lek-í-bi ri =will write later(IIa) Tui habos sán lekíbi ri. You write the paper sometime later.
57 lek-í-bou ri =will write later(III) Tará habos sán lekíbou ri. They will write the paper sometime later.


58 lek-í-tam =would have written(I) Aññí email lán lekítam. I would have written the email.
59 lek-í-ta =would have written(II) Tuñí email lán lekíta i. You would have written the email.
60 lek-í-ti =would have written(IIa) Tui email lán lekíti. You would have written the email.
61 lek-í-tou =would have written(III) Tará email lán lekítou. They would have written the email.
62 leik-tám =would have written(I) Aññí email lán leiktám. I would have written the email.
63 leik-tá =would have written(II) Tuñí email lán leiktá. You would have written the email.
64 leik-tí =would have written(IIa) Tui email lán leiktí. You would have written the email.
65 leik-tóu =would have written(III) Tará email lán leiktóu. They would have written the email.


66 lek-ó-na =please write Meérbanigorí lekóna. Please write the letter.
67 lek-ó-goi =allowed to write Tuñí lekó gói. Let you write.
68 lek-se-ná =please write Meérbanigorí leksená. Please write the letter.
69 lek-gói =allowed to write Tui lek gói. Let you write.


70 lek-í-le =if (I/II/III) person write Tuñí lekíle gom óibou. It will be good if you write.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rohingya at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Rohingya". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ "Rohingya". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ What is Rohingyalish or Rohingya Language?,, retrieved 2012-06-11 
  5. ^ Rohingya Language,, retrieved 2012-06-11 
  6. ^ a b Mohammed Siddique Basu. Starting with Rohingyalish. 
  7. ^ a b c Priest, Lorna A.; Hosken, Martin; SIL International (2010-08-12). "Proposal to add Arabic script characters for African and Asian languages" (PDF). pp. 13–18, 34–37. 
  8. ^ Pandey, Anshuman (2012-06-20). "Preliminary Proposal to Encode the Rohingya Script" (PDF). 
  9. ^ a b c

External links[edit]

For further information on Rohingya Language please refer the following links.