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Chakma
Changma Kodha
Spoken in Bangladesh and India
Region Chittagong Hill Tracts, Mizoram
Total speakers 612,207

312,207 in Bangladesh (2000 WCD), 300,000 in India (1987).

Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 sit
ISO 639-3 ccp

Contents

Introduction

The Chakma people were in origin Tibeto-Burman, related to the Burmese. The Chakma language (Changma Vaj or Changma Kodha) which they now speak is Indo-European, part of the Southeastern Bengali branch of Eastern Indo-Aryan. Its better-known closest relatives are Bengali, Assamese, Chittagonian, Bishnupriya, and Sylheti. It is spoken by nearly 310,000 people in southeast Bangladesh near Chittagong City, and another 300,000 in India in Mizoram, Assam, and Tripura. Literacy in Chakma script is low. The script itself is also called   Ajhā pāṭh, sometimes romanized Ojhopath.

Structure

Chakma is of the Brahmic type: the consonant letters contain an inherent vowel. Consonant clusters are written with conjunct characters, and a visible vowel killer shows the deletion of the inherent vowel when there is no conjunct.

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Vowels

Four independent vowels exist:  a,  i,  u, and  e. Other vowels in initial position are formed by adding the vowel sign to  a, as in  ī,  ū,  ai,  oi. Some modern writers are generalizing this spelling in  i,  u, and  e

Chakma vowel signs with the letter ka are given below

Chakmalanguage1b.png

One of the interesting features of Chakma writing is that CANDRABINDU (cānaphudā) can be used together with ANUSVARA (ekaphudā) and VISARGA (dviphudā):

Chakmalanguage1a.png

Consonants with killed Vowels and Conjunct Consonants

Like other Brahmic scripts, Chakma makes use of the MAAYYAA (killer) to invoke conjoined consonants. In the past, practice was much more common than it is today. Like the Myanmar script, Chakma is encoded with two vowel-killing characters in order to conform to modern user expectations. As shown above, most letters have their vowels killed with the use of the explicit Maayyaa

Chakmalanguage2.png

In 2001 an orthographic reform was recommended in the book Cāṅmā pattham pāt which would limit the standard repertoire of conjuncts to those composed with the five letters  yā,  rā,  lā,  wā, and  nā. The four here are the most widely-accepted repertoire of conjuncts. Chakmalanguage3a.png

No separate conjunct forms of subjoined full-form -yā or -rā appear to exist. The fifth of these conjuncts, the -na conjunct, is exemplary of the orthographic shift which has taken place in Chakma language.

Chakmalanguage3b.png

While some writers would indeed write kakna (in ligating style) as  or (in subjoining style) as , most now would probably expect it to be written as . The ligating style of glyphs is now considered old-fashioned. Thus, taking the letter  mā as the second element, while the glyph shapes  kmā,  tmā,  nmā,  bbā,  mmā,  llā,  smā, and  hmā are attested, most users now prefer the glyph shapes  kmā,  tmā,  nmā,  bbā,  mmā,  llā,  smā, and  hmā. Again, this distinction is stylistic and not orthographic

The 2004 book Phadagaṅ shows examples of the five conjuncts above together alongside conjuncts formed with  bā,  mā, and  hā. These are all formed by simple subjoining. Chakmalanguage4a.png

In the 1982 book Cāṅmār āg pudhi a much wider range of conjunct pairs is shown, some of them with fairly complicated glyphs

Chakmalanguage4b.png Chakmalanguage5.png

Collating order

As an Indo-European language, the standard Brahmic sorting order applies to Chakma language

Letter,Punctuation and Digit names

Chakma letters have a descriptive name followed by a traditional Brahmic consonant. These are given in annotations to the character names. Alongside a single and double danda punctuation, Chakma has a unique question mark, and a section sign, Phulacihna. There is some variation in the glyphs for the Phulacihna,some looking like flowers or leaves.A set of digits exists although Bengali digits are also used.

Chakmalanguage7.png Chakma8.png

Linebreaking

Letters and digits behave as in Bengali.

Chakma Letters & Digits

Chakmalanguage6.png

References

  • Cāṅmā, Cirajyoti and Maṅgal Cāṅgmā. 1982. Cāṅmār āg pudhi (Chakma primer). Rāṅamāṭi:

Cāṅmābhāṣā Prakāśanā Pariṣad.

  • Khisa, Bhagadatta. 2001. Cāṅmā pattham pāt (Chakma primer.) Rāṅamāṭi: Tribal Cultural Institute

(TCI).

  • Singā. 2004. Phagadāṅ

External links


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