Samre (Samre pronunciation: [samɣeː]), is a nearly extinct Pearic language of Thailand and, formerly, Cambodia. The language is evidently extinct in Cambodia, but a 1998 survey found 20–30 speakers across the border in Thailand and estimated the total number of people able to speak the language to be 200.
The phonemic inventory is typical of modern Mon-Khmer languages and, along with the other Pearic languages, shows some phonological influences from the late Middle Khmer of the 17th century. Samre also shows influence from Thai in that it has a developing tonal system. Like many other Austroasiatic languages in general, and the Pearic languages in particular, Samre vowels may differ in voice quality, a system known as "register", or "phonation". However, the breathy voice versus clear voice distinction is no longer contrastive and is secondary to a word's tone.
Samre has 21 consonant phonemes with [ɹ] and [ɰ] occurring as allophones of /ɣ/. They are listed in table form below.
The Samre recognize [ɣ] as a sound unique to their language in comparison to Thai and other surrounding indigenous languages. This voiced velar fricative occurs in free variation with the voiced alveolar approximant, [ɹ], except when following /a/ or /aː/ word-finally, in which case it is pronounced as [ɰ], the voiced velar approximant. The pronunciation [ɣ] is mostly heard among the older generation who consider it to be the "correct" pronunciation. It can be considered a "harsh" sound and [ɹ] is sometimes used when the speaker wishes to sound "softer" or "soothing". The [ɣ] sound is not often heard among younger or less fluent speakers who use [ɹ] or replace the sound with a tapped or trilled /r/ due to influence from Thai.
Samre contrasts nine vowel qualities which can be either short or long, yielding a total of 18 vowel phonemes. There are three diphthongs: /iə/, /ɨə/, and /uə/. The vowels of Samre are:
- Samre language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Pornsawan Ploykaew. 2001, "The phonology of Samre", in The Mon-Khmer Studies Journal, vol. 31, pp. 15-27
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Samre". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Ferlus, Michel (2011). "Toward Proto Pearic: problems and historical implications". Mon-Khmer Studies Journal. Mon-Khmer Studies Special Issue No. 2: Austroasiatic Studies - papers from ICAAL4. Retrieved 30 November 2015.