Jarai language

Native to Vietnam, Cambodia
Region Central Highlands
Native speakers
260,000 (2007–2008)[1]
Vietnam: modified Vietnamese alphabet; Cambodia: none
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jra
Glottolog jara1266[2]

The Jarai language is a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken by the Jarai people of Vietnam and Cambodia. The speakers of Jarai number approximately 332,557. They are the largest of the upland ethnic groups of Vietnam's Central Highlands known as Degar or Montagnards.

The language is in the Chamic subgroup of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, and is thus related to the Cham language of central Vietnam.

A number of Jarai also live in the United States, having resettled there following the Vietnam War.


Dao (1998)[3] lists the following subgroups of Jarai and their respective locations.

Other related groups include:


Influenced by the surrounding Mon–Khmer languages, words of the various Chamic languages of Southeast Asia, including Jarai, have become disyllabic with the stress on the second syllable. Additionally, Jarai has further evolved in the pattern of Mon–Khmer, losing almost all vowel distinction in the initial syllable. While trisyllabic words do exist, they are all loanwords. The typical Jarai word may be represented:


where the values in parentheses are optional and "(C)" in the cluster "C(C)" represents a liquid consonant /l/, /r/ or a semivowel /w/, /j/. In Jarai dialects spoken in Cambodia, the "(C)" in the cluster "C(C)" can also be the voiced velar fricative /ɣ/, a phoneme used by the Jarai in Cambodia, but not attested in Vietnam. The vowel of the first syllable in disyllabic words is most often the mid-central unrounded vowel, /ə/, unless the initial consonant is the glottal stop /ʔ/. The second vowel of the stressed syllable produces a diphthong.


  1. Jarai at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Jarai". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Đào Huy Quyền. 1998. Nhạc khí dân tộc Jrai và Bahnar [Musical instruments of the Jrai and Bahnar]. Hanoi: Nhà xuất bản trẻ.

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