Rakhine Language
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Rakhine Language
PronunciationIPA: [k?àbà?à]
Native toMyanmar, Bangladesh, India
EthnicityRakhine, Marma, Kamein
Native speakers
1 million (2011-2013)[1]
1 million second language in Myanmar (2013)
Burmese script
Rakhawunna (historical)
Language codes
rki - Rakhine ("Arakanese")
rmz - Marma ("Burmese")

Arakanese (also known as Rakhine ; Burmese: ?, MLCTS: ra.hkuing bhasa [k?à bà?à]) 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.[3]


There are significant vocabulary differences from Standard Burmese. Some are native words with no cognates in Standard Burmese, like "sarong" (? in Standard Burmese, ? in Arakanese). Others are loan words from Bengali, English, and Hindi, not found in Standard Burmese. An example is "hospital," which is called in Standard Burmese, but is called ? (pronounced [?e l?à]/[?e l?à]) in Arakanese, from English "sick lines." Other words simply have different meanings (e.g., "afternoon", in Arakanese and in Standard Burmese). Moreover, some archaic words in Standard Burmese are preferred in Arakanese. An example is the first person pronoun, which is in Arakanese (not , as in Standard Burmese).


A gloss of vocabulary differences between Standard Burmese and Arakanese is below:[4]

English Standard Burmese Arakanese Notes
thirsty ?
go ? Arakanese for "go" was historically used in Standard Burmese.
kick a ball ? ?
stomach ache ? Arakanese prefers ? to Standard Burmese for "stomach."
guava Standard Burmese for "guava" is derived from the word Malacca, whereas Arakanese for "guava" is from Spanish guayaba.
papaya ? ? Standard Burmese for "papaya" literally means "boat."
superficial ? ?[5]
blanket [5] in Standard Burmese refers to the male longyi (sarong).
dark The compound word ("pitch dark") is used in both Standard Burmese and Arakanese.
pick a flower ? [5] The compound word ? ("pick") is used in both Standard Burmese and Arakanese.
wash [clothes] ?[5] The compound word ? ("wash") is used in both Standard Burmese and Arakanese.


Arakanese prominently uses the /r/ sound, which has merged to the /j/ sound in standard Burmese. This is particularly interesting because the use of the 'r' sound is something that is avoided with Burmese speakers. For example, Burmese pronounce the words, "tiger" or "to hear" (both words have similar pronunciation) as "kya," where in Arakanese, it would be pronounced as, "kra."[6] Also, Arakanese has merged various vowel sounds like ? ([e]) vowel to ? ([i]). Hence, a word like "blood" is ? ([?wé]) in standard Burmese while it pronounced [?wí] in Arakanese. According to speakers of standard Burmese, Arakanese only has an intelligibility of seventy-five percent with Burmese.[7] Moreover, there is less voicing in Arakanese than in Standard Burmese, occurring only when the consonant is unaspirated.[8] Unlike in Burmese, voicing never shifts from [?] to [ð].[9]

Because Arakanese has preserved the /r/ sound, the /-r-/ medial (preserved only in writing in Standard Burmese with the diacritic ?) is still distinguished in the following consonant clusters: /?r- kr- k?r- ?r- pr- p?r- br- mr- m?r- hr-/.

The Arakanese dialect has a higher frequency of open vowels weakening to /?/. An example is the word for "salary," () which is [laa?] in standard Burmese, but [l?kha?] in Arakanese.

The following are consonantal, vowel and rhyme changes found in the Arakanese dialect:[10][11]

Written Burmese Standard Burmese Arakanese Notes
- /-/ /-a/ e.g. ("genuine") and ("plant") are both pronounced [sa] in Arakanese
? /-a/
- - -
- /-/ /-a/ e.g. ("garden"), from Standard Burmese [? j] -> [w?jà].
Irregular rhyme, with various pronunciations.
In some words, it is /-/ (e.g. "soul", from Standard Burmese [wè ?] -> [w? ?]).
In a few words, it is /-i -e/ (e.g. "oppress", from Standard Burmese [] -> [í, é]).
? /-a/
- /-/ /-/
- /-a? -/ is /-w/
- /-i, -e, -?/ /-e/ A few exceptions are pronounced /-a/, like ? ("clear"), pronounced [krà]
-? /-e/ /-i/ e.g. ("carry") and ("cancel") are pronounced [tì] and [tè] respectively in Standard Burmese, but merged to [tì] in Arakanese
- /-a? -/ /-a?/
/-e/ /-/
- /-o/ /-/
Nasal initial + -?
Nasal initial + -?
/-i/ /-e/ e.g. ("red") is [nì] in Standard Burmese, but [nè] in Arakanese
In some words, the rhyme is unchanged from the standard rhyme (e.g. "land", usually pronounced [mrì], not [mrè], or "mother", usually pronounced [?m?], not [?m]
There are few exceptions where the nasal rhyme is /-e-/ even without a nasal initial (e.g. "thread", from Standard Burmese [?ì] -> [?è]).
Nasal initial + -? -? - /-u/ /-o/ e.g. ("tender") is [n?] in Standard Burmese, but [no] in Arakanese
/-wá/ /-/ e.g. ("bamboo") is [wá] in Standard Burmese, but [w] in Arakanese
/-w-/ /-rw-/ Occurs in some words (e.g. ? ("snake") is [mwè] in Standard Burmese, but [mrwè] in Arakanese)
- /?-/ /hr-/
- /t-/ /?-/ Occasionally occurs (e.g. ? ("want") is [t] in Standard Burmese, but [?]~[t] in Arakanese)
?- -> ?- /t- d-/ /r-/ e.g. The present tense particle ([d]) corresponds with ([r]) in Arakanese

e.g. The plural particle ? ([do?]) corresponds with ? ([ro?]) in Arakanese

- - - /?-/ /h-/ Found in some words only
- ? -? -e
Written ? ? ? ?
Standard Burmese mè ?a? ð?d?à? pw dw w jà? tmè t pé la pà s?ò d
Arakanese mì ?a? ?krà? pwé hmà wa? p?o? d?j ?a t?è pí la? pà s?ò rì
Arakanese (written) ? ? ? ? ?
English Mother says "Give me eight pasos for wearing during the Thingyan festival."
Open syllables weak = ?
full = i, e, ?, a, ?, o, u
Closed nasal = e, , a, a, , o
stop = e, , a, a, , o


  1. ^ Rakhine ("Arakanese") at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Marma ("Burmese") at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Arakanese-Marma". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Okell 1995, p. 3.
  4. ^ "? ?". BBC Burmese. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d (1994). (in Burmese). Burma.
  6. ^ "The Arakanese dialect". Fifty Viss. 2007-07-02. Retrieved .
  7. ^ Information on Arakanese
  8. ^ Okell 1995, p. 4, 14.
  9. ^ Okell 1995, p. 14.
  10. ^ Okell 1995.
  11. ^ Houghton 1897, pp. 453-61.


  • 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.

External links

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