Hakha Chin language

Not to be confused with Hakka Chinese.
Hakha Chin
Native to Burma, India, Bangladesh[1]
Ethnicity Chin
Native speakers
(130,000 cited 1991–2001)[2]
Latin script (Hakha alphabet),Burmese script
Language codes
ISO 639-3 cnh
Glottolog haka1240[3]

or Lai, is a language spoken in southern Asia by 446,264 people.[1] The total figure includes 2,000 Zokhua, and 60,100 Lai speakers.[1] The speakers are largely concentrated in Mizoram in eastern India and Burma, with a small number of speakers in Bangladesh.

Even though there is no official language in Chin State (Burma), Lai holh is used as a communication language or lingua franca in most parts of Chin State. It is used as a native language in Hakha and Thantlang area. And it is used as a communication language or lingua franca in Matupi. As Hakha and Falam dialects are from the same Lai dialect and 85% of the phonetic and accent are exactly the same, people from Falam can easily communicate with Hakha language. Strictly speaking, as Hakha is the capital of Chin State; Chins people from many parts of Chin State settle down in Hakha, or serve or work temporarily as a government employee or business men and eventually they including their children learn and speak Hakha. In this way, nowadays Hakha (Lai) dialect is used as a communication or lingua franca in the present day Chin State.


Syllable structure

Words in the Hakha Chin language are predominantly monosyllabic, with some sesquisyllables featuring a "reduced syllable.[4]" Full syllables are either open or closed, with a tone.


The Hakha Chin language differentiates between voiced, voiceless and voiceless aspirated obstruents. Additionally, two sets of sonorants are realized.[5]

  Labial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasals voiced m n ŋ  
voiceless ŋ̊  
Plosives tenuis p t ʈ k ʔ
aspirated t ʈʰ  
voiced b (ɡ)  
Central affricates tenuis t͡s
aspirated t͡sʰ  
Lateral affricates tenuis
aspirated tɬʰ
Fricatives voiceless f   h
voiced v  
Approximants voiced l j
Trills voiced r

Consonants allowed in syllable codas are /p, t, k, m, n, ŋ, l, r, j, w/.

The unattested parent language, Proto-Chin, featured a voiced velar plosive ɡ. The phoneme itself was lost in all of its daughter languages, due to a spirantization to ɣ, which a labialization followed afterwards.[5] No native words have the voiced velar plosive, but it is found in loanwords.

In the Hakha alphabet, h transcribes the glottal fricative in initial position, but a glottal stop in coda position.[6] Voiceless approximants are distinguished in writing from their voiced counterparts with a prefixed h.


There are five vowels in Hakha Chin and may either be long or short. Allophones occur for closed syllables.[5]

Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a

Additionally, diphthongs exist in the Hakha language.[5]

Front Near-Front Central Near-Back Back
Close ia iu ui ua
Mid ei eu oi
Open ai au

Literacy and literature

The literacy rates are lower for the older people and higher in the younger generations.[1] The Hakha-Chin language uses the Latin script, unlike most languages of India and Bangladesh who use Devanagari or other southeast-Asian alphabets. Between 1978 and 1999 the Bible was translated into the language.[1]

Hakha Chin is reportedly representable, as are other Chin languages, by the Pau Cin Hau script.


There are many dialects varied from village to village usage.


The Hakha-Chin people and the Hakha-Chin speaking people are largely of the Lai tribe of people.[1] In the nation of India, they are a Scheduled Tribe, that is to say they have official government status as a separate and distinct community, people, and culture. These remote areas are very hilly and mountainous.[1] The livelihoods of most of them are based on swidden agriculture.[1] The predominant religion in practice by Hakha-Chin speakers is Christianity.[1]


The language is spoken by 100,000 in Burma in 1991 according to UBS.[1] In Burma, the language is also known as Haka, Hakha, Baungshe, and Lai.[1]


In 2000 1,264 spoke it in Bangladesh, according to World Christian Database.[1] The language is also known as simply Haka, Baungshe, or Lai here.[1] Bangladesh is where Shonshe is spoken and it may be a language in its own right.[1]


There were 345,000 speakers in India according to United Bible Societies in 1996.[1] It is also known as: Haka, Baungshe, Lai, Lai Pawi, Lai Hawlh.[1] The majority of the youth is literate in India.[1] It is taught in primary schools in this nation.[1] In India it is spoken in the Lawngtlai District, Chhimtuipui District and Aizawl district in addition to Meghalaya at the southernmost tip of Assam area.[1]


See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Hakha-China, Ethnologue, 1983, 1991, 1996, 2000, access date August 9, 2008
  2. Hakha Chin at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Haka Chin". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. http://www.ling.sinica.edu.tw/files/publication/j2004_4_05_8112.pdf
  5. 1 2 3 4 http://ic.payap.ac.th/graduate/linguistics/theses/Khoi_Lam_Thang_Thesis.pdf
  6. http://hobugt.dk/ordbog/artikler/pronunciation.htm

External links

Hakha Chin language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
Chin test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
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