Mon language

Mon language

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Mon language'
Start a new discussion about 'Mon language'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Mon language is an Austroasiatic language spoken by the Mon
Mon people
The Mon are an ethnic group from Burma , living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai–Burmese border. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and Thailand...

, who live in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. Mon, like the related language Cambodian—but unlike most languages in Mainland Southeast Asia—is not tonal. Mon is spoken by more than a million people today. In recent years, usage of Mon has inclined rapidly, especially among the younger generation. Many ethnic Mon are monolingual in Burmese
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

. In Burma, the majority of speakers live in Mon State
Mon State
Mon State is an administrative division of Myanmar. It is sandwiched between Kayin State on the east, the Andaman Sea on the west, Bago Region on the north and Tanintharyi Region on the south, and has a short border with Thailand's Kanchanaburi Province at its south-eastern tip. The land area is...

, followed by Tanintharyi Division
Tanintharyi Division
Tanintharyi Region , is an administrative region of Myanmar, covering the long narrow southern part of the country on the Kra Isthmus. It borders with the Andaman Sea to the west and with the Tenasserim Hills, beyond which lies Thailand, to the east. To the north is the Mon State. The capital of...

 and Kayin State
Kayin State
Kayin State is a state of Burma . The capital city is Hpa-an.-History:The region that forms today's Kayin State was part of successive Burmese kingdoms since the formation of the Pagan Empire in mid-11th century...

.

The Mon script is derived from Indian Brahmi script
Brāhmī script
Brāhmī is the modern name given to the oldest members of the Brahmic family of scripts. The best-known Brāhmī inscriptions are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka in north-central India, dated to the 3rd century BCE. These are traditionally considered to be early known examples of Brāhmī writing...

 and is the source of the Burmese script.

History


Mon is an important language in Burmese history. Up until the 12th century AD, it was the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 of the Irrawaddy valley
Ayeyarwady River
The Irrawaddy River or Ayeyarwady River is a river that flows from north to south through Burma . It is the country's largest river and most important commercial waterway. Originating from the confluence of the N'mai and Mali rivers, it flows relatively straight North-South before emptying through...

—not only in the Mon kingdoms of the lower Irrawaddy valley but also of upriver Burman
Bamar
The Bamar are the dominant ethnic group of Burma , constituting approximately two-thirds of the population. The Bamar live primarily in the Irrawaddy basin, and speak the Burmese language, which is also the official language of Burma. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with general...

 kingdom of Pagan
Pagan Kingdom
The Pagan Kingdom or Pagan Dynasty was the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute the modern-day Burma...

 (Bagan). Mon, especially written Mon, continued to be the primary language even after the fall of the Mon kingdom of Thaton
Thaton
Thaton is a town in Mon State, in southern Myanmar on the Tenasserim plains. Thaton lies along the National Highway 8 and is also connected by the National Road 85.-Etymology:...

 to Pagan in 1057. Pagan king Kyansittha
Kyansittha
Kyansittha was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma from 1084 to 1113, and is considered one of the greatest Burmese monarchs. He continued the social, economic and cultural reforms begun by his father, King Anawrahta. Pagan became an internationally recognized power during his 28-year reign...

 (r. 1084–1113) admired the Mon culture, and the Mon language was patronized. The Mon script was the source of the Burmese script created during his reign. Kyanzittha left many inscriptions in Mon. During this period, the Myazedi inscription
Myazedi inscription
Myazedi inscription , inscribed in 1113, is the oldest surviving stone inscription of the Burmese. "Myazedi" means "jade stupa" , and the name of the inscription comes from a pagoda located nearby...

, which contains identical inscriptions of a story in Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

, Pyu
Pyu
Pyu city states were a group of city-states that existed from c. 2nd century BCE to late 9th century CE in present-day Upper Burma . The city-states were founded as part of the southward migration by the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu, the earliest inhabitants of Burma of whom records are extant...

, Mon, and Burmese on the four sides was carved. However, after Kyansittha's death, usage of the Mon language declined among the Burmans. Old Burmese
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

 began to replace Mon and Pyu as lingua franca.

Mon inscriptions from the Dvaravati
Dvaravati
The Dvaravati period lasted from the 6th to the 13th centuries. Dvaravati refers to both a culture and a disparate conglomerate of principalities.- History :...

 kingdom's ruins also litter Thailand. However it is not clear if the inhabitants were Mon, a mix of Mon and Malay, or Khmer. Later inscriptions and kingdoms like Lavo were subservient to the Khmer
Khmer Empire
The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia. The empire, which grew out of the former kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over and/or vassalized parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Malaysia. Its greatest legacy is Angkor, the site of the capital city...

.

After the fall of Pagan, the Mon language again became the lingua franca of independent Mon kingdom of Hanthawaddy Bago (1287–1539) in the present day Lower Burma
Lower Burma
Lower Burma is a geographic region of Burma and includes the low-lying Irrawaddy delta , as well as coastal regions of the country ....

. The language long continued to be prevalent in Lower Burma until the mid-19th century for the region was still mainly populated by the Mon. This changed after the British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 captured Lower Burma in 1852, and encouraged immigration to develop Irrawaddy delta
Irrawaddy Delta
The Irrawaddy Delta or Ayeyarwady Delta lies in the Ayeyarwady Region , the lowest expanse of land in Burma that fans out from the limit of tidal influence at Myan Aung to the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, 290 km to the south at the mouth of the Ayeyarwady River...

 for farming. The ensuing mass migration of peoples into the region from other areas of Burma as well as India and China relegated the Mon language to a tertiary status.

The language languished during British colonial rule, and has experienced a rapid decline in the number of speakers since the Burmese independence in 1948. With little or no support from successive Burmese governments, the Mon language (especially written Mon) continues to be propagated mostly by Mon monks. The Mon language instruction survives in the Thai-Burmese border inside the Mon rebel controlled areas.

Dialects


Mon has three primary dialects in Burma, coming from the various regions the Mon inhabit. They are the Central (areas surrounding Mottama
Mottama
Mottama, formerly Martaban, is a small town in the Thaton district of Mon State, Myanmar. Located on the north bank of the Thanlwin river, on the opposite side of Mawlamyaing, Mottama was the first capital of the Hanthawaddy Kingdom in the 13th and 14th centuries, and an entrepôt of international...

 and Mawlamyaing), Bago, and Ye dialects. All are mutually intelligible. Thai Mon has some differences from the Burmese dialects of Mon, but they are mutually intelligible.

Script


The Old Mon script, which has been dated to the 6th century, with the earliest inscriptions found in Nakhon Pathom
Nakhon Pathom
Nakhon Pathom is a city in central Thailand, capital of the Nakhon Pathom Province. One of the most important landmarks is the giant Phra Pathom Chedi...

 and Saraburi
Saraburi
Saraburi is a town in central Thailand, capital of the Saraburi Province. As of 2005, it has a population of 61,900, and covers the complete tambon Pak Phriao of the Mueang Saraburi district....

 (in Thailand), is ancestral to the Burmese script
Burmese alphabet
The Burmese script is an abugida in the Brahmic family used for writing Burmese. Furthermore, various other scripts share some aspect and letters of the Burmese script, though they should not be considered strictly Burmese, including Mon, Shan, S'gaw Karen, Eastern and Western Pwo Karen and Geba...

 and the Tai Tham script, a liturgical script used in Northern Thailand and Laos. The modern Mon script, however, utilises several different letters and diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

s that represent phonemes that do not exist in Burmese, such as the diacritic of the simplified medial 'l', which is placed underneath the letter. Furthermore, there is a great discrepancy between the written and spoken forms of Mon, with a single pronunciation capable of having several multiple spellings. The Mon script also makes prominent use of consonant stacking, to represent consonant cluster
Consonant cluster
In linguistics, a consonant cluster is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel. In English, for example, the groups and are consonant clusters in the word splits....

s found in the language.

The Mon alphabet contains 35 consonants (including 1 vowel treated as a nominal consonant), as follows, with consonants belonging to the breathy register indicated in gray:

k (/kaˀ/)

kh (/kʰaˀ/)

g (/kɛ̀ˀ/)

gh (/kʰɛ̀ˀ/)

ṅ (/ŋɛ̀ˀ/)

c (/caˀ/)

ch (/cʰaˀ/)

j (/cɛ̀ˀ/)

jh (/cʰɛ̀ˀ/)

ñ (/ɲɛ̀ˀ/)

ṭ (/taˀ/)

ṭh (/tʰaˀ/)

ḍ (/ɗaˀ/)

ḍ (/tʰaˀ/)

ṇ (/naˀ/)

t (/taˀ/)

th (/tʰaˀ/)

d (/tɛ̀ˀ/)

dh (/tʰɛ̀ˀ/)

n (/nɛ̀ˀ/)

p (/paˀ/)

ph (/pʰaˀ/)

b (/pɛ̀ˀ/)

bh (/pʰɛ̀ˀ/)

m (/mɛ̀ˀ/)

y (/yɛ̀ˀ/)

r (/rɛ̀ˀ/)

l (/lɛ̀ˀ/)

w (/wɛ̀ˀ/)

s (/saˀ/)

h (/haˀ/)

ḷ (/laˀ/)

b (/baˀ/)

a (/aˀ/)

mb (/bɛ̀ˀ/)


In the Mon script, consonants belong to one of two registers: clear and breathy, each of which has different inherent vowels and pronunciations for the same set of diacritics. For instance, , which belongs to the clear register, is pronounced /kaˀ/, while is pronounced /ɡɛ̀ˀ/, to accommodate the vowel complexity of the Mon phonology. The addition of diacritics makes this obvious. Whereas in Burmese, spellings with the same diacritics are rhyming, in Mon, this depends on the consonant's inherent register. A few examples are listed below: + → , pronounced /kɔe/ + → , pronounced /kì/ + → , pronounced /kao/ + → , pronounced /kù/

Mon uses the same diacritics and diacritic combinations as in Burmese to represent vowels, with the addition of a few diacritics unique to the Mon script, including (/ɛ̀a/), and (/i/), since the diacritic represents /ìˀ/. Also, (/e/) is used instead of , as in Burmese.

The Mon language has 8 medials, as follows: (/-ŋ-/), (/-n-/), (/-m-/), (/-j-/), (/-r-/), (/-l-/), (/-w-/), and (/-hn-/). Consonantal finals are indicated with a virama
Virama
Virama is a generic term for the diacritic in many Brahmic scripts, including Devanagari and East Nagari, that is used to suppress the inherent vowel that otherwise occurs with every consonant letter. The name is Sanskrit for "cessation, termination, end"...

 , as in Burmese. Furthermore, consonant stacking is possible in Mon spellings, particularly for Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 and Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

-derived vocabulary.

Consonants

Bilabial
Bilabial consonant
In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Dental Palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Stops
Stop consonant
In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or an oral stop, is a stop consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases. The occlusion may be done with the tongue , lips , and &...

p pʰ ɓ t tʰ ɗ c cʰ k kʰ ʔ
Fricatives
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

s ç 1 h
Nasals
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m n ɲ ŋ
Sonorant
Sonorant
In phonetics and phonology, a sonorant is a speech sound that is produced without turbulent airflow in the vocal tract; fricatives and plosives are not sonorants. Vowels are sonorants, as are consonants like and . Other consonants, like or , restrict the airflow enough to cause turbulence, and...

s
w l, r j

1/ç/ is only found in Burmese loans.

Vowels

Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid e ə o
Open-mid ɛ ɐ ɔ
Open a

Vocalic register


Unlike the surrounding Burmese and Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

 languages, Mon is not a tonal language
Tone (linguistics)
Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning—that is, to distinguish or inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information, and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called...

. As in many Mon–Khmer languages, Mon uses a vowel-phonation or vowel-register
Register (phonology)
In linguistics, a register language, also known as a pitch-register language, is a language which combines tone and vowel phonation into a single phonological system. Burmese and the Chinese dialect Shanghainese are examples...

 system in which the quality of voice in pronouncing the vowel is phonemic. There are two registers in Mon:
  1. Clear (modal) voice, analyzed by various linguists as ranging from ordinary to creaky
    Creaky voice
    In linguistics, creaky voice , is a special kind of phonation in which the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx are drawn together; as a result, the vocal folds are compressed rather tightly, becoming relatively slack and compact...

  2. Breathy voice
    Breathy voice
    Breathy voice is a phonation in which the vocal cords vibrate, as they do in normal voicing, but are held further apart, so that a larger volume of air escapes between them. This produces an audible noise...

    , vowels have a distinct breathy quality


In the examples below, breathy voice is marked with a grave accent.

Verbs and verb phrases


Mon verbs do not inflect for person. Tense is shown through particles.

Some verbs have a morphological causative, which is most frequently a /pə-/ prefix (Pan Hla 1989:29):
Underived verb Gloss Causative verb Gloss
chɒt to die kəcɒt to kill
lɜm to be ruined pəlɒm to destroy
khaɨŋ to be firm pəkhaɨŋ to make firm
tɛm to know pətɛm to inform

Singular and Plural


Mon nouns do not inflect for number. That is, they do not have separate forms for singular and plural:
}
|
|
|-
| sɔt pakaw
| mòa
| mèa
|-
| apple
| one
| classifier
|}
'one apple'
}
|
|
|-
| sɔt pakaw
| ɓa
| mèa
|-
| apple
| two
| classifier
|}
'two apples'

Adjectives


Adjectives follow the noun (Pan Hla p. 24):
prɛa ce
woman beautiful

'beautiful woman'

Demonstratives


Demonstratives follow the noun:
ŋoa nɔʔ
day this
this day

Classifiers


Like many other Southeast Asian languages, Mon has classifiers
Classifier (linguistics)
A classifier, in linguistics, sometimes called a measure word, is a word or morpheme used in some languages to classify the referent of a countable noun according to its meaning. In languages that have classifiers, they are often used when the noun is being counted or specified...

 which are used when a noun appears with a numeral. The choice of classifier depends on the semantics of the noun involved.
IPA kaneh mòa tanəng
Gloss pen one classifier

'one pen'
IPA chup mòa tanɒm
Gloss tree one classifier

'one tree'

Prepositions and prepositional phrases


Mon is a prepositional language.
ɗoa əma
in lake
'in the lake'

Sentences


The ordinary word order for sentences in Mon is subject–verb–object, as in the following examples
Mon
}
|
|-
!IPA
|ʔoa
|ran
|hau
|toa
|ya.
|-
!Gloss
|I
|buy
|rice
|completive
|affirmative
|}

'I bought rice.'
Mon
}
|
|
|
|-
!IPA
|Nyeh
|tɔʔ
|paton
|kɒ
|ʔua
|pàsa
|ʔengloit
|-
!Gloss
|3rd
|plur
|teach
|to
|1st
|language
|English
|}
'They taught me English.'

Questions


Yes-no questions are shown with a final particle ha
Mon
IPA ɓè ʃìa pəng toa ya ha?
Gloss you eat rice com aff q


‘Have you eaten rice?’

IPA əha a ha?
Gloss father go q


‘Will father go?’ (Pan Hla, p. 42)

Wh-questions show a different final particle, rau. The interrogative word does not undergo wh-movement
Wh-movement
Wh-movement is a syntactic phenomenon found in many languages around the world, in which interrogative words or phrases show a special word order. Unlike ordinary phrases, such wh-words appear at the beginning of an interrogative clause...

. That is, it does not necessarily move to the front of the sentence:
Mon
IPA Tala Ong kratkraw mu ràu?
Gloss Tala Ong wash what wh:q

'What did Tala Ong wash?'

Further reading


The Mon language is an Austroasiatic language spoken by the Mon
Mon people
The Mon are an ethnic group from Burma , living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai–Burmese border. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and Thailand...

, who live in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. Mon, like the related language Cambodian—but unlike most languages in Mainland Southeast Asia—is not tonal. Mon is spoken by more than a million people today. In recent years, usage of Mon has inclined rapidly, especially among the younger generation. Many ethnic Mon are monolingual in Burmese
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

. In Burma, the majority of speakers live in Mon State
Mon State
Mon State is an administrative division of Myanmar. It is sandwiched between Kayin State on the east, the Andaman Sea on the west, Bago Region on the north and Tanintharyi Region on the south, and has a short border with Thailand's Kanchanaburi Province at its south-eastern tip. The land area is...

, followed by Tanintharyi Division
Tanintharyi Division
Tanintharyi Region , is an administrative region of Myanmar, covering the long narrow southern part of the country on the Kra Isthmus. It borders with the Andaman Sea to the west and with the Tenasserim Hills, beyond which lies Thailand, to the east. To the north is the Mon State. The capital of...

 and Kayin State
Kayin State
Kayin State is a state of Burma . The capital city is Hpa-an.-History:The region that forms today's Kayin State was part of successive Burmese kingdoms since the formation of the Pagan Empire in mid-11th century...

.

The Mon script is derived from Indian Brahmi script
Brāhmī script
Brāhmī is the modern name given to the oldest members of the Brahmic family of scripts. The best-known Brāhmī inscriptions are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka in north-central India, dated to the 3rd century BCE. These are traditionally considered to be early known examples of Brāhmī writing...

 and is the source of the Burmese script.

History


Mon is an important language in Burmese history. Up until the 12th century AD, it was the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 of the Irrawaddy valley
Ayeyarwady River
The Irrawaddy River or Ayeyarwady River is a river that flows from north to south through Burma . It is the country's largest river and most important commercial waterway. Originating from the confluence of the N'mai and Mali rivers, it flows relatively straight North-South before emptying through...

—not only in the Mon kingdoms of the lower Irrawaddy valley but also of upriver Burman
Bamar
The Bamar are the dominant ethnic group of Burma , constituting approximately two-thirds of the population. The Bamar live primarily in the Irrawaddy basin, and speak the Burmese language, which is also the official language of Burma. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with general...

 kingdom of Pagan
Pagan Kingdom
The Pagan Kingdom or Pagan Dynasty was the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute the modern-day Burma...

 (Bagan). Mon, especially written Mon, continued to be the primary language even after the fall of the Mon kingdom of Thaton
Thaton
Thaton is a town in Mon State, in southern Myanmar on the Tenasserim plains. Thaton lies along the National Highway 8 and is also connected by the National Road 85.-Etymology:...

 to Pagan in 1057. Pagan king Kyansittha
Kyansittha
Kyansittha was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma from 1084 to 1113, and is considered one of the greatest Burmese monarchs. He continued the social, economic and cultural reforms begun by his father, King Anawrahta. Pagan became an internationally recognized power during his 28-year reign...

 (r. 1084–1113) admired the Mon culture, and the Mon language was patronized. The Mon script was the source of the Burmese script created during his reign. Kyanzittha left many inscriptions in Mon. During this period, the Myazedi inscription
Myazedi inscription
Myazedi inscription , inscribed in 1113, is the oldest surviving stone inscription of the Burmese. "Myazedi" means "jade stupa" , and the name of the inscription comes from a pagoda located nearby...

, which contains identical inscriptions of a story in Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

, Pyu
Pyu
Pyu city states were a group of city-states that existed from c. 2nd century BCE to late 9th century CE in present-day Upper Burma . The city-states were founded as part of the southward migration by the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu, the earliest inhabitants of Burma of whom records are extant...

, Mon, and Burmese on the four sides was carved. However, after Kyansittha's death, usage of the Mon language declined among the Burmans. Old Burmese
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

 began to replace Mon and Pyu as lingua franca.

Mon inscriptions from the Dvaravati
Dvaravati
The Dvaravati period lasted from the 6th to the 13th centuries. Dvaravati refers to both a culture and a disparate conglomerate of principalities.- History :...

 kingdom's ruins also litter Thailand. However it is not clear if the inhabitants were Mon, a mix of Mon and Malay, or Khmer. Later inscriptions and kingdoms like Lavo were subservient to the Khmer
Khmer Empire
The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia. The empire, which grew out of the former kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over and/or vassalized parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Malaysia. Its greatest legacy is Angkor, the site of the capital city...

.

After the fall of Pagan, the Mon language again became the lingua franca of independent Mon kingdom of Hanthawaddy Bago (1287–1539) in the present day Lower Burma
Lower Burma
Lower Burma is a geographic region of Burma and includes the low-lying Irrawaddy delta , as well as coastal regions of the country ....

. The language long continued to be prevalent in Lower Burma until the mid-19th century for the region was still mainly populated by the Mon. This changed after the British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 captured Lower Burma in 1852, and encouraged immigration to develop Irrawaddy delta
Irrawaddy Delta
The Irrawaddy Delta or Ayeyarwady Delta lies in the Ayeyarwady Region , the lowest expanse of land in Burma that fans out from the limit of tidal influence at Myan Aung to the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, 290 km to the south at the mouth of the Ayeyarwady River...

 for farming. The ensuing mass migration of peoples into the region from other areas of Burma as well as India and China relegated the Mon language to a tertiary status.

The language languished during British colonial rule, and has experienced a rapid decline in the number of speakers since the Burmese independence in 1948. With little or no support from successive Burmese governments, the Mon language (especially written Mon) continues to be propagated mostly by Mon monks. The Mon language instruction survives in the Thai-Burmese border inside the Mon rebel controlled areas.

Dialects


Mon has three primary dialects in Burma, coming from the various regions the Mon inhabit. They are the Central (areas surrounding Mottama
Mottama
Mottama, formerly Martaban, is a small town in the Thaton district of Mon State, Myanmar. Located on the north bank of the Thanlwin river, on the opposite side of Mawlamyaing, Mottama was the first capital of the Hanthawaddy Kingdom in the 13th and 14th centuries, and an entrepôt of international...

 and Mawlamyaing), Bago, and Ye dialects. All are mutually intelligible. Thai Mon has some differences from the Burmese dialects of Mon, but they are mutually intelligible.

Script


The Old Mon script, which has been dated to the 6th century, with the earliest inscriptions found in Nakhon Pathom
Nakhon Pathom
Nakhon Pathom is a city in central Thailand, capital of the Nakhon Pathom Province. One of the most important landmarks is the giant Phra Pathom Chedi...

 and Saraburi
Saraburi
Saraburi is a town in central Thailand, capital of the Saraburi Province. As of 2005, it has a population of 61,900, and covers the complete tambon Pak Phriao of the Mueang Saraburi district....

 (in Thailand), is ancestral to the Burmese script
Burmese alphabet
The Burmese script is an abugida in the Brahmic family used for writing Burmese. Furthermore, various other scripts share some aspect and letters of the Burmese script, though they should not be considered strictly Burmese, including Mon, Shan, S'gaw Karen, Eastern and Western Pwo Karen and Geba...

 and the Tai Tham script, a liturgical script used in Northern Thailand and Laos. The modern Mon script, however, utilises several different letters and diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

s that represent phonemes that do not exist in Burmese, such as the diacritic of the simplified medial 'l', which is placed underneath the letter. Furthermore, there is a great discrepancy between the written and spoken forms of Mon, with a single pronunciation capable of having several multiple spellings. The Mon script also makes prominent use of consonant stacking, to represent consonant cluster
Consonant cluster
In linguistics, a consonant cluster is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel. In English, for example, the groups and are consonant clusters in the word splits....

s found in the language.

The Mon alphabet contains 35 consonants (including 1 vowel treated as a nominal consonant), as follows, with consonants belonging to the breathy register indicated in gray:

k (/kaˀ/)

kh (/kʰaˀ/)

g (/kɛ̀ˀ/)

gh (/kʰɛ̀ˀ/)

ṅ (/ŋɛ̀ˀ/)

c (/caˀ/)

ch (/cʰaˀ/)

j (/cɛ̀ˀ/)

jh (/cʰɛ̀ˀ/)

ñ (/ɲɛ̀ˀ/)

ṭ (/taˀ/)

ṭh (/tʰaˀ/)

ḍ (/ɗaˀ/)

ḍ (/tʰaˀ/)

ṇ (/naˀ/)

t (/taˀ/)

th (/tʰaˀ/)

d (/tɛ̀ˀ/)

dh (/tʰɛ̀ˀ/)

n (/nɛ̀ˀ/)

p (/paˀ/)

ph (/pʰaˀ/)

b (/pɛ̀ˀ/)

bh (/pʰɛ̀ˀ/)

m (/mɛ̀ˀ/)

y (/yɛ̀ˀ/)

r (/rɛ̀ˀ/)

l (/lɛ̀ˀ/)

w (/wɛ̀ˀ/)

s (/saˀ/)

h (/haˀ/)

ḷ (/laˀ/)

b (/baˀ/)

a (/aˀ/)

mb (/bɛ̀ˀ/)


In the Mon script, consonants belong to one of two registers: clear and breathy, each of which has different inherent vowels and pronunciations for the same set of diacritics. For instance, , which belongs to the clear register, is pronounced /kaˀ/, while is pronounced /ɡɛ̀ˀ/, to accommodate the vowel complexity of the Mon phonology. The addition of diacritics makes this obvious. Whereas in Burmese, spellings with the same diacritics are rhyming, in Mon, this depends on the consonant's inherent register. A few examples are listed below: + → , pronounced /kɔe/ + → , pronounced /kì/ + → , pronounced /kao/ + → , pronounced /kù/

Mon uses the same diacritics and diacritic combinations as in Burmese to represent vowels, with the addition of a few diacritics unique to the Mon script, including (/ɛ̀a/), and (/i/), since the diacritic represents /ìˀ/. Also, (/e/) is used instead of , as in Burmese.

The Mon language has 8 medials, as follows: (/-ŋ-/), (/-n-/), (/-m-/), (/-j-/), (/-r-/), (/-l-/), (/-w-/), and (/-hn-/). Consonantal finals are indicated with a virama
Virama
Virama is a generic term for the diacritic in many Brahmic scripts, including Devanagari and East Nagari, that is used to suppress the inherent vowel that otherwise occurs with every consonant letter. The name is Sanskrit for "cessation, termination, end"...

 , as in Burmese. Furthermore, consonant stacking is possible in Mon spellings, particularly for Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 and Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

-derived vocabulary.

Consonants

Bilabial
Bilabial consonant
In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Dental Palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Stops
Stop consonant
In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or an oral stop, is a stop consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases. The occlusion may be done with the tongue , lips , and &...

p pʰ ɓ t tʰ ɗ c cʰ k kʰ ʔ
Fricatives
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

s ç 1 h
Nasals
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m n ɲ ŋ
Sonorant
Sonorant
In phonetics and phonology, a sonorant is a speech sound that is produced without turbulent airflow in the vocal tract; fricatives and plosives are not sonorants. Vowels are sonorants, as are consonants like and . Other consonants, like or , restrict the airflow enough to cause turbulence, and...

s
w l, r j

1/ç/ is only found in Burmese loans.

Vowels

Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid e ə o
Open-mid ɛ ɐ ɔ
Open a

Vocalic register


Unlike the surrounding Burmese and Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

 languages, Mon is not a tonal language
Tone (linguistics)
Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning—that is, to distinguish or inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information, and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called...

. As in many Mon–Khmer languages, Mon uses a vowel-phonation or vowel-register
Register (phonology)
In linguistics, a register language, also known as a pitch-register language, is a language which combines tone and vowel phonation into a single phonological system. Burmese and the Chinese dialect Shanghainese are examples...

 system in which the quality of voice in pronouncing the vowel is phonemic. There are two registers in Mon:
  1. Clear (modal) voice, analyzed by various linguists as ranging from ordinary to creaky
    Creaky voice
    In linguistics, creaky voice , is a special kind of phonation in which the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx are drawn together; as a result, the vocal folds are compressed rather tightly, becoming relatively slack and compact...

  2. Breathy voice
    Breathy voice
    Breathy voice is a phonation in which the vocal cords vibrate, as they do in normal voicing, but are held further apart, so that a larger volume of air escapes between them. This produces an audible noise...

    , vowels have a distinct breathy quality


In the examples below, breathy voice is marked with a grave accent.

Verbs and verb phrases


Mon verbs do not inflect for person. Tense is shown through particles.

Some verbs have a morphological causative, which is most frequently a /pə-/ prefix (Pan Hla 1989:29):
Underived verb Gloss Causative verb Gloss
chɒt to die kəcɒt to kill
lɜm to be ruined pəlɒm to destroy
khaɨŋ to be firm pəkhaɨŋ to make firm
tɛm to know pətɛm to inform

Singular and Plural


Mon nouns do not inflect for number. That is, they do not have separate forms for singular and plural:
}
|
|
|-
| sɔt pakaw
| mòa
| mèa
|-
| apple
| one
| classifier
|}
'one apple'
}
|
|
|-
| sɔt pakaw
| ɓa
| mèa
|-
| apple
| two
| classifier
|}
'two apples'

Adjectives


Adjectives follow the noun (Pan Hla p. 24):
prɛa ce
woman beautiful

'beautiful woman'

Demonstratives


Demonstratives follow the noun:
ŋoa nɔʔ
day this
this day

Classifiers


Like many other Southeast Asian languages, Mon has classifiers
Classifier (linguistics)
A classifier, in linguistics, sometimes called a measure word, is a word or morpheme used in some languages to classify the referent of a countable noun according to its meaning. In languages that have classifiers, they are often used when the noun is being counted or specified...

 which are used when a noun appears with a numeral. The choice of classifier depends on the semantics of the noun involved.
IPA kaneh mòa tanəng
Gloss pen one classifier

'one pen'
IPA chup mòa tanɒm
Gloss tree one classifier

'one tree'

Prepositions and prepositional phrases


Mon is a prepositional language.
ɗoa əma
in lake
'in the lake'

Sentences


The ordinary word order for sentences in Mon is subject–verb–object, as in the following examples
Mon
}
|
|-
!IPA
|ʔoa
|ran
|hau
|toa
|ya.
|-
!Gloss
|I
|buy
|rice
|completive
|affirmative
|}

'I bought rice.'
Mon
}
|
|
|
|-
!IPA
|Nyeh
|tɔʔ
|paton
|kɒ
|ʔua
|pàsa
|ʔengloit
|-
!Gloss
|3rd
|plur
|teach
|to
|1st
|language
|English
|}
'They taught me English.'

Questions


Yes-no questions are shown with a final particle ha
Mon
IPA ɓè ʃìa pəng toa ya ha?
Gloss you eat rice com aff q


‘Have you eaten rice?’

IPA əha a ha?
Gloss father go q


‘Will father go?’ (Pan Hla, p. 42)

Wh-questions show a different final particle, rau. The interrogative word does not undergo wh-movement
Wh-movement
Wh-movement is a syntactic phenomenon found in many languages around the world, in which interrogative words or phrases show a special word order. Unlike ordinary phrases, such wh-words appear at the beginning of an interrogative clause...

. That is, it does not necessarily move to the front of the sentence:
Mon
IPA Tala Ong kratkraw mu ràu?
Gloss Tala Ong wash what wh:q

'What did Tala Ong wash?'

Further reading


The Mon language is an Austroasiatic language spoken by the Mon
Mon people
The Mon are an ethnic group from Burma , living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai–Burmese border. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and Thailand...

, who live in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. Mon, like the related language Cambodian—but unlike most languages in Mainland Southeast Asia—is not tonal. Mon is spoken by more than a million people today. In recent years, usage of Mon has inclined rapidly, especially among the younger generation. Many ethnic Mon are monolingual in Burmese
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

. In Burma, the majority of speakers live in Mon State
Mon State
Mon State is an administrative division of Myanmar. It is sandwiched between Kayin State on the east, the Andaman Sea on the west, Bago Region on the north and Tanintharyi Region on the south, and has a short border with Thailand's Kanchanaburi Province at its south-eastern tip. The land area is...

, followed by Tanintharyi Division
Tanintharyi Division
Tanintharyi Region , is an administrative region of Myanmar, covering the long narrow southern part of the country on the Kra Isthmus. It borders with the Andaman Sea to the west and with the Tenasserim Hills, beyond which lies Thailand, to the east. To the north is the Mon State. The capital of...

 and Kayin State
Kayin State
Kayin State is a state of Burma . The capital city is Hpa-an.-History:The region that forms today's Kayin State was part of successive Burmese kingdoms since the formation of the Pagan Empire in mid-11th century...

.

The Mon script is derived from Indian Brahmi script
Brāhmī script
Brāhmī is the modern name given to the oldest members of the Brahmic family of scripts. The best-known Brāhmī inscriptions are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka in north-central India, dated to the 3rd century BCE. These are traditionally considered to be early known examples of Brāhmī writing...

 and is the source of the Burmese script.

History


Mon is an important language in Burmese history. Up until the 12th century AD, it was the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 of the Irrawaddy valley
Ayeyarwady River
The Irrawaddy River or Ayeyarwady River is a river that flows from north to south through Burma . It is the country's largest river and most important commercial waterway. Originating from the confluence of the N'mai and Mali rivers, it flows relatively straight North-South before emptying through...

—not only in the Mon kingdoms of the lower Irrawaddy valley but also of upriver Burman
Bamar
The Bamar are the dominant ethnic group of Burma , constituting approximately two-thirds of the population. The Bamar live primarily in the Irrawaddy basin, and speak the Burmese language, which is also the official language of Burma. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with general...

 kingdom of Pagan
Pagan Kingdom
The Pagan Kingdom or Pagan Dynasty was the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute the modern-day Burma...

 (Bagan). Mon, especially written Mon, continued to be the primary language even after the fall of the Mon kingdom of Thaton
Thaton
Thaton is a town in Mon State, in southern Myanmar on the Tenasserim plains. Thaton lies along the National Highway 8 and is also connected by the National Road 85.-Etymology:...

 to Pagan in 1057. Pagan king Kyansittha
Kyansittha
Kyansittha was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma from 1084 to 1113, and is considered one of the greatest Burmese monarchs. He continued the social, economic and cultural reforms begun by his father, King Anawrahta. Pagan became an internationally recognized power during his 28-year reign...

 (r. 1084–1113) admired the Mon culture, and the Mon language was patronized. The Mon script was the source of the Burmese script created during his reign. Kyanzittha left many inscriptions in Mon. During this period, the Myazedi inscription
Myazedi inscription
Myazedi inscription , inscribed in 1113, is the oldest surviving stone inscription of the Burmese. "Myazedi" means "jade stupa" , and the name of the inscription comes from a pagoda located nearby...

, which contains identical inscriptions of a story in Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

, Pyu
Pyu
Pyu city states were a group of city-states that existed from c. 2nd century BCE to late 9th century CE in present-day Upper Burma . The city-states were founded as part of the southward migration by the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu, the earliest inhabitants of Burma of whom records are extant...

, Mon, and Burmese on the four sides was carved. However, after Kyansittha's death, usage of the Mon language declined among the Burmans. Old Burmese
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

 began to replace Mon and Pyu as lingua franca.

Mon inscriptions from the Dvaravati
Dvaravati
The Dvaravati period lasted from the 6th to the 13th centuries. Dvaravati refers to both a culture and a disparate conglomerate of principalities.- History :...

 kingdom's ruins also litter Thailand. However it is not clear if the inhabitants were Mon, a mix of Mon and Malay, or Khmer. Later inscriptions and kingdoms like Lavo were subservient to the Khmer
Khmer Empire
The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia. The empire, which grew out of the former kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over and/or vassalized parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Malaysia. Its greatest legacy is Angkor, the site of the capital city...

.

After the fall of Pagan, the Mon language again became the lingua franca of independent Mon kingdom of Hanthawaddy Bago (1287–1539) in the present day Lower Burma
Lower Burma
Lower Burma is a geographic region of Burma and includes the low-lying Irrawaddy delta , as well as coastal regions of the country ....

. The language long continued to be prevalent in Lower Burma until the mid-19th century for the region was still mainly populated by the Mon. This changed after the British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 captured Lower Burma in 1852, and encouraged immigration to develop Irrawaddy delta
Irrawaddy Delta
The Irrawaddy Delta or Ayeyarwady Delta lies in the Ayeyarwady Region , the lowest expanse of land in Burma that fans out from the limit of tidal influence at Myan Aung to the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, 290 km to the south at the mouth of the Ayeyarwady River...

 for farming. The ensuing mass migration of peoples into the region from other areas of Burma as well as India and China relegated the Mon language to a tertiary status.

The language languished during British colonial rule, and has experienced a rapid decline in the number of speakers since the Burmese independence in 1948. With little or no support from successive Burmese governments, the Mon language (especially written Mon) continues to be propagated mostly by Mon monks. The Mon language instruction survives in the Thai-Burmese border inside the Mon rebel controlled areas.

Dialects


Mon has three primary dialects in Burma, coming from the various regions the Mon inhabit. They are the Central (areas surrounding Mottama
Mottama
Mottama, formerly Martaban, is a small town in the Thaton district of Mon State, Myanmar. Located on the north bank of the Thanlwin river, on the opposite side of Mawlamyaing, Mottama was the first capital of the Hanthawaddy Kingdom in the 13th and 14th centuries, and an entrepôt of international...

 and Mawlamyaing), Bago, and Ye dialects. All are mutually intelligible. Thai Mon has some differences from the Burmese dialects of Mon, but they are mutually intelligible.

Script


The Old Mon script, which has been dated to the 6th century, with the earliest inscriptions found in Nakhon Pathom
Nakhon Pathom
Nakhon Pathom is a city in central Thailand, capital of the Nakhon Pathom Province. One of the most important landmarks is the giant Phra Pathom Chedi...

 and Saraburi
Saraburi
Saraburi is a town in central Thailand, capital of the Saraburi Province. As of 2005, it has a population of 61,900, and covers the complete tambon Pak Phriao of the Mueang Saraburi district....

 (in Thailand), is ancestral to the Burmese script
Burmese alphabet
The Burmese script is an abugida in the Brahmic family used for writing Burmese. Furthermore, various other scripts share some aspect and letters of the Burmese script, though they should not be considered strictly Burmese, including Mon, Shan, S'gaw Karen, Eastern and Western Pwo Karen and Geba...

 and the Tai Tham script, a liturgical script used in Northern Thailand and Laos. The modern Mon script, however, utilises several different letters and diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

s that represent phonemes that do not exist in Burmese, such as the diacritic of the simplified medial 'l', which is placed underneath the letter. Furthermore, there is a great discrepancy between the written and spoken forms of Mon, with a single pronunciation capable of having several multiple spellings. The Mon script also makes prominent use of consonant stacking, to represent consonant cluster
Consonant cluster
In linguistics, a consonant cluster is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel. In English, for example, the groups and are consonant clusters in the word splits....

s found in the language.

The Mon alphabet contains 35 consonants (including 1 vowel treated as a nominal consonant), as follows, with consonants belonging to the breathy register indicated in gray:

k (/kaˀ/)

kh (/kʰaˀ/)

g (/kɛ̀ˀ/)

gh (/kʰɛ̀ˀ/)

ṅ (/ŋɛ̀ˀ/)

c (/caˀ/)

ch (/cʰaˀ/)

j (/cɛ̀ˀ/)

jh (/cʰɛ̀ˀ/)

ñ (/ɲɛ̀ˀ/)

ṭ (/taˀ/)

ṭh (/tʰaˀ/)

ḍ (/ɗaˀ/)

ḍ (/tʰaˀ/)

ṇ (/naˀ/)

t (/taˀ/)

th (/tʰaˀ/)

d (/tɛ̀ˀ/)

dh (/tʰɛ̀ˀ/)

n (/nɛ̀ˀ/)

p (/paˀ/)

ph (/pʰaˀ/)

b (/pɛ̀ˀ/)

bh (/pʰɛ̀ˀ/)

m (/mɛ̀ˀ/)

y (/yɛ̀ˀ/)

r (/rɛ̀ˀ/)

l (/lɛ̀ˀ/)

w (/wɛ̀ˀ/)

s (/saˀ/)

h (/haˀ/)

ḷ (/laˀ/)

b (/baˀ/)

a (/aˀ/)

mb (/bɛ̀ˀ/)


In the Mon script, consonants belong to one of two registers: clear and breathy, each of which has different inherent vowels and pronunciations for the same set of diacritics. For instance, , which belongs to the clear register, is pronounced /kaˀ/, while is pronounced /ɡɛ̀ˀ/, to accommodate the vowel complexity of the Mon phonology. The addition of diacritics makes this obvious. Whereas in Burmese, spellings with the same diacritics are rhyming, in Mon, this depends on the consonant's inherent register. A few examples are listed below: + → , pronounced /kɔe/ + → , pronounced /kì/ + → , pronounced /kao/ + → , pronounced /kù/

Mon uses the same diacritics and diacritic combinations as in Burmese to represent vowels, with the addition of a few diacritics unique to the Mon script, including (/ɛ̀a/), and (/i/), since the diacritic represents /ìˀ/. Also, (/e/) is used instead of , as in Burmese.

The Mon language has 8 medials, as follows: (/-ŋ-/), (/-n-/), (/-m-/), (/-j-/), (/-r-/), (/-l-/), (/-w-/), and (/-hn-/). Consonantal finals are indicated with a virama
Virama
Virama is a generic term for the diacritic in many Brahmic scripts, including Devanagari and East Nagari, that is used to suppress the inherent vowel that otherwise occurs with every consonant letter. The name is Sanskrit for "cessation, termination, end"...

 , as in Burmese. Furthermore, consonant stacking is possible in Mon spellings, particularly for Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 and Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

-derived vocabulary.

Consonants

Bilabial
Bilabial consonant
In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Dental Palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Stops
Stop consonant
In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or an oral stop, is a stop consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases. The occlusion may be done with the tongue , lips , and &...

p pʰ ɓ t tʰ ɗ c cʰ k kʰ ʔ
Fricatives
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

s ç 1 h
Nasals
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m n ɲ ŋ
Sonorant
Sonorant
In phonetics and phonology, a sonorant is a speech sound that is produced without turbulent airflow in the vocal tract; fricatives and plosives are not sonorants. Vowels are sonorants, as are consonants like and . Other consonants, like or , restrict the airflow enough to cause turbulence, and...

s
w l, r j

1/ç/ is only found in Burmese loans.

Vowels

Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid e ə o
Open-mid ɛ ɐ ɔ
Open a

Vocalic register


Unlike the surrounding Burmese and Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

 languages, Mon is not a tonal language
Tone (linguistics)
Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning—that is, to distinguish or inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information, and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called...

. As in many Mon–Khmer languages, Mon uses a vowel-phonation or vowel-register
Register (phonology)
In linguistics, a register language, also known as a pitch-register language, is a language which combines tone and vowel phonation into a single phonological system. Burmese and the Chinese dialect Shanghainese are examples...

 system in which the quality of voice in pronouncing the vowel is phonemic. There are two registers in Mon:
  1. Clear (modal) voice, analyzed by various linguists as ranging from ordinary to creaky
    Creaky voice
    In linguistics, creaky voice , is a special kind of phonation in which the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx are drawn together; as a result, the vocal folds are compressed rather tightly, becoming relatively slack and compact...

  2. Breathy voice
    Breathy voice
    Breathy voice is a phonation in which the vocal cords vibrate, as they do in normal voicing, but are held further apart, so that a larger volume of air escapes between them. This produces an audible noise...

    , vowels have a distinct breathy quality


In the examples below, breathy voice is marked with a grave accent.

Verbs and verb phrases


Mon verbs do not inflect for person. Tense is shown through particles.

Some verbs have a morphological causative, which is most frequently a /pə-/ prefix (Pan Hla 1989:29):
Underived verb Gloss Causative verb Gloss
chɒt to die kəcɒt to kill
lɜm to be ruined pəlɒm to destroy
khaɨŋ to be firm pəkhaɨŋ to make firm
tɛm to know pətɛm to inform

Singular and Plural


Mon nouns do not inflect for number. That is, they do not have separate forms for singular and plural:
}
|
|
|-
| sɔt pakaw
| mòa
| mèa
|-
| apple
| one
| classifier
|}
'one apple'
}
|
|
|-
| sɔt pakaw
| ɓa
| mèa
|-
| apple
| two
| classifier
|}
'two apples'

Adjectives


Adjectives follow the noun (Pan Hla p. 24):
prɛa ce
woman beautiful

'beautiful woman'

Demonstratives


Demonstratives follow the noun:
ŋoa nɔʔ
day this
this day

Classifiers


Like many other Southeast Asian languages, Mon has classifiers
Classifier (linguistics)
A classifier, in linguistics, sometimes called a measure word, is a word or morpheme used in some languages to classify the referent of a countable noun according to its meaning. In languages that have classifiers, they are often used when the noun is being counted or specified...

 which are used when a noun appears with a numeral. The choice of classifier depends on the semantics of the noun involved.
IPA kaneh mòa tanəng
Gloss pen one classifier

'one pen'
IPA chup mòa tanɒm
Gloss tree one classifier

'one tree'

Prepositions and prepositional phrases


Mon is a prepositional language.
ɗoa əma
in lake
'in the lake'

Sentences


The ordinary word order for sentences in Mon is subject–verb–object, as in the following examples
Mon
}
|
|-
!IPA
|ʔoa
|ran
|hau
|toa
|ya.
|-
!Gloss
|I
|buy
|rice
|completive
|affirmative
|}

'I bought rice.'
Mon
}
|
|
|
|-
!IPA
|Nyeh
|tɔʔ
|paton
|kɒ
|ʔua
|pàsa
|ʔengloit
|-
!Gloss
|3rd
|plur
|teach
|to
|1st
|language
|English
|}
'They taught me English.'

Questions


Yes-no questions are shown with a final particle ha
Mon
IPA ɓè ʃìa pəng toa ya ha?
Gloss you eat rice com aff q


‘Have you eaten rice?’

IPA əha a ha?
Gloss father go q


‘Will father go?’ (Pan Hla, p. 42)

Wh-questions show a different final particle, rau. The interrogative word does not undergo wh-movement
Wh-movement
Wh-movement is a syntactic phenomenon found in many languages around the world, in which interrogative words or phrases show a special word order. Unlike ordinary phrases, such wh-words appear at the beginning of an interrogative clause...

. That is, it does not necessarily move to the front of the sentence:
Mon
IPA Tala Ong kratkraw mu ràu?
Gloss Tala Ong wash what wh:q

'What did Tala Ong wash?'

Further reading



  • Bauer, Christian. 1982. Morphology and syntax of spoken Mon. Ph.D. thesis, University of London (SOAS).
  • Bauer, Christian. 1984. A guide to Mon studies. Working Papers, Monash U.
  • Bauer, Christian. 1986. The verb in spoken Mon. Mon–Khmer Studies 15.
  • Bauer, Christian. 1986. Questions in Mon: Addenda and Corrigenda. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area v. 9, no. 1, pp. 22–26.
  • Diffloth, Gerard. 1984. The Dvarati Old Mon language and Nyah Kur. Monic Language Studies I, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. ISBN 974-563-783-1
  • Diffloth, Gerard. 1985. The registers of Mon vs. the spectrographist's tones. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 60:55-58.
  • Ferlus, Michel. 1984. Essai de phonetique historique du môn. Mon–Khmer Studies, 9:1-90.
  • Guillon, Emmanuel. 1976. Some aspects of Mon syntax. in Jenner, Thompson, and Starosta, eds. Austroasiatic Studies. Oceanic linguistics special publication no. 13.
  • Halliday, Robert. 1922. A Mon–English dictionary. Bangkok: Siam society.
  • Haswell, James M. 1901. Grammatical notes and vocabulary of the Peguan language. Rangoon: American Baptist Mission Press.
  • Huffman, Franklin. 1987–1988. Burmese Mon, Thai Mon, and Nyah Kur: a synchronic comparison. Mon–Khmer Studies 16-17.
  • Jenny, Mathias. 2005. The Verb System of Mon. Arbeiten des Seminars für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Zürich, Nr 19. Zürich: Universität Zürich. ISBN 3-9522954-1-8
  • Lee, Thomas. 1983. An acoustical study of the register distinction in Mon. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 57:79-96.
  • Pan Hla, Nai. 1986. Remnant of a lost nation and their cognate words to Old Mon Epigraph. Journal of the Siam Society 7:122-155
  • Pan Hla, Nai. 1989. An introduction to Mon language Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University.
  • Pan Hla, Nai. 1992. The Significant Role of the Mon Language and Culture in Southeast Asia. Tokyo, Japan: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa.
  • Shorto, H.L. 1962. A dictionary of modern spoken Mon. Oxford University Press.
  • Shorto, H.L.; Judith M. Jacob; and E.H.S. Simonds. 1963. Bibliographies of Mon–Khmer and Tai linguistics. Oxford University Press.
  • Shorto, H.L. 1966. Mon vowel systems: a problem in phonological statement. in Bazell, Catford, Halliday, and Robins, eds. In memory of J.R. Firth, pp. 398–409.
  • Shorto, H.L. 1971. A dictionary of the Mon inscriptions from the sixth to the sixteenth centuries. Oxford University Press.
  • Thongkum, Therapan L. 1987. Another look at the register distinction in Mon. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics. 67:132-165

External links