Chong language

Chong, Western Chong
Native to Cambodia and into Thailand
Region Pursat Province, Chantaburi
Ethnicity 1,500 in Cambodia (2015)[1]
Native speakers
(possibly 500 in Thailand cited 1981?[2])[3]
  • Pearic

    • Chong languages
      • Chong, Western Chong
  • Trat Chong, Kasong, and Chung dialects are closer to other Pearic languages that to Western Chong
Thai, Khmer
Language codes
ISO 639-3 cog
Glottolog chon1284[4]

Chong, (Thai: ภาษาชอง) or more specifically Western Chong (also spelled Chawng, Shong, Xong), is an endangered language spoken in Cambodia and southeastern Thailand. It is a Western Pearic language in the Mon–Khmer language family.[4] Chong is currently the focus of a language revitalization project in Thailand.

The Chong language is marked by its unusual four-way contrast in register. Its grammar has not been extensively studied, but it is unrelated to the Thai language which is in the Tai–Kadai language family. Chong had no written form until 2000, when researchers at Mahidol University used a simplified version of standard Thai characters to create a Chong writing system, after which the first teaching materials in the language appeared.[5] Chong is currently considered to be at stage 7 in Joshua Fishman's Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (GIDS), where stage 8 is the closest to extinction.[6]

The Chong community in Thailand is primarily located in and around Chanthaburi.[5] While the language spoken in Thailand has been studied recently, the Chong language in Cambodia has not been investigated yet.


Main article: Pearic languages

A number of Pearic languages are called "Chong", and they all do not constitute a single language. Chong proper consists of the majority of varieties which Sidwell (2009) labeled "Western Chong". This includes the main dialect around Chanthaburi Province (mostly in southern Khao Khitchakut District and western Pong Nam Ron District[7]). on the Thai–Cambodian border. These should not be confused with the variety called "Chong" in Trat Province of western Thailand, nor with "Kasong" Chong, both of which were classified as "Central Chong" along with Samre, and so should perhaps be considered dialects of Samre rather than of Chong. Similarly, the languages called "Chung" in Kanchanaburi Province and in Cambodia are dialects of Sa'och, and were classified as "Southern Chong" along with Suoi. The Western Chong dialects (Chong proper) are as follows:[8]

Isara Choosri (2002) lists the following dialects of Chong spoken in Chanthaburi Province.[7]

Chong Phonology


[9] [10]

Consonant phonemes of Chong
  Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p    b t    d c   k   ʔ
Trill ɲ
Fricative f s h
Approximant w j
Lateral l

Vowels (Dicanio, 2009)


Vowel phonemes of Chong
Front Central Back Unrounded Back Rounded
Close i, ii u, uu
Close-Mid e, ee ə, əə ɤ, ɤɤ o, oo
Open-mid ɛ, ɛe ɔ, ɔɔ
Open a, aa
Diphthongs iə, iu ai, ao ɤə

Further reading


  1. Chong at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. not clear if this date applies to the Thai population
  3. Chong, Western Chong at Ethnologue (10th ed., 1984). Note: Data may come from the 9th edition (1978).
  4. 1 2 Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Chong". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. 1 2 Lim Li Min (October 23, 2006). "Saving Thailand's Other Languages". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2006-10-24.
  6. "Chong Language Revitalization Project (PDF)" (PDF). June 2005. Retrieved 2006-10-24.
  7. 1 2 Choosri, Isara. 2002. Mapping dialects of Chong in Chanthaburi province, Thailand: an application of Geographical Information System (GIS). M.A. dissertation, Mahidol University.
  8. Sidwell, Paul (2009). Classifying the Austroasiatic languages: history and state of the art. LINCOM studies in Asian linguistics, 76. Munich: Lincom Europa.
  9. 1 2 Dicanio, C. T., The Phonetics of Register in Takhian Thong Chong;
  10. Suwilai Premsrirat, Chong Language Revitalization Project;
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