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Spoken in India and Bangladesh
Region Tripura, Assam, Mizoram, Bangladesh, Myanmar
Total speakers 950,000+

854,023 in India (2001); 105,000 in Bangladesh (1993)

Language family Sino-Tibetan
Official status
Official language in  India (Tripura)
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 sit
ISO 639-3 trp

Kok-borok (also spelled Kok Borok) is the native language of the Borok people in the Indian state of Tripura and its neighboring areas of Bangladesh. The word Kok-borok is a compound of the words kok, which means "language", and borok, which literally means "nation", but is used to denote the Borok people. Thus Kok-borok means "the language of Borok" or "the language of the Borok people".



Kok-borok has existed in its various forms since at least the 1st century AD, when the historical record of Twipra Kings began to be written down. The script of Kok-borok was called "Koloma". The Chronicle of the Borok Kings were written in a book called the Rajratnakar, this book was originally written down in Kokborok using the Koloma script by Durlobendra Chontai.

Later, two Brahmins, Sukreswar and Vaneswar translated it into Sanskrit and then again translated the chronicle into Bengali in the 14th century AD. The chronicle of Twipra in Kokborok and Rajratnakar are no longer available. Kokborok was relegated to a common people's dialect during the rule of the Borok Kings in the Kingdom of Twipra, in contrast to Bengali language, from the period of the 14th century till the 20th century.

Kokborok was recognised as an official language of Tripura state in 1979. There currently is a debate over giving the language recognition as a National language of India.

Classification and related languages

Kokborok is a Tibeto-Burman language falling under the Sino-Tibetan language family of East Asia and South East Asia.

It is closely related to the Bodo language and the Dimasa language of neighbouring state of Assam. The Garo language is also a related language as spoken in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Kokborok sounds and phonetics

It is a typical Tibeto-Burmese language and consists of the following sounds:



  Front Back
Unrounded Rounded Rounded
High i y u
High-mid e    
Low-mid     ɔ
Low a    

Original writers decided to use the letter w as a symbol for a vowel which does not exist in the English language.


  Labial Dental Apico-
Velar Glottal
Stops and
Aspirated t̪ʰ    
Voiceless p   t͡ʃ k  
Voiced b   d͡ʒ ɡ  
Fricatives Voiceless     s     h
Nasals m   n   ŋ  
Liquids     l, r      

N' is the pronunciation of the nasal sound; e.g., in' (yes).

Ng is a digraph and is generally used in the last syllable of a word; e.g., aming (cat), holong (stone).

Ua is often used initially; e.g., uak (pig), uah (bamboo), uatwi (rain).

Uo is often used finally; e.g., thuo (sleeping), buo (beat).


A diphthong is a group of 2 vowels. The wi diphthong is spoken as ui after sounds of the letters m and p. Two examples are: chumui (cloud) and thampui (mosquito). The ui diphthong is a variation of the wi diphthong. Other less frequently occurring diphthongs such as oi are called closing diphthongs. A closing diphthong refers to a syllable that does not end in a consonant.


A majority of words are formed by combining the root with an affix. Some examples are;

  • kuchuk is formed from the root chuk (to be high), with the prefix, ku.
  • phaidi (come) is formed from the root phai (to come), with the suffix di.

There are no Kokborok words beginning with ng. At the end of a syllable, any vowel except w can be found, along with a limited amount of consonants: p, k, m, n, ng, r and l. Y is found only in closing diphthongs like ai and wi.


"Clusters" are a group of consonants at the beginning of a syllable, like phl, ph + l, in phlat phlat (very fast), or sl in kungsluk kungsluk (foolish man). Clusters are quite impossible at the end of a syllable. There are some "false clusters" such as phran (to dry) which is actually phw-ran. These are very common in echo words : phlat phlat, phre phre, prai prai, prom prom, etc.


There are two tones in kokborok, a high and a low tone. To mark the high tone, the letter h is attached to the vowel with the high tone.

example: low tone High tone

  1. lai-easy laih-crossed
  2. bor-senseless bohr-to plant
  3. cha-correct chah-to eat
  4. nukhung-family nukhuhng-roof


Morphologically kok-borok words can be divided into five categories. They are the following.

(a) Original words: thang-go; phai-come; borok-nation; borog-men kotor-big; kuchu-youngest; kwrwi-not;etc.

(b) Compound words, that is, words made of more than one original words: nai-see; thok-testy; naithok-beautiful; mwtai-god; nog-house; tongthar-temple; bwkha-heart; bwkhakotor-brave; etc.

(c) Words with suffixes: swrwng-learn; swrwngnai-learner; nugjak-seen; kaham-good; hamya- bad; etc.

(d) Naturalized loan words: gerogo-to roll; gwdna-neck; tebil- table; puitu-faith; etc.

(e) Loan words: kiching-friend; etc.

Kokborok grammar

See full article Kokborok grammar

There is a clear cut difference in Kokborok between nouns and verbs. All true verbs are made with a verbal root followed by a number of suffixes, these suffixes are not placed at random but according to definite rules.

Counting and numbering

Counting in Kokborok is called lekhamung. The basic numbers are:

1. sa
2. nwi
3. tham
4. brwi
5. ba
6. dok
7. sni
8. char
9. chuku
10. chi
20. nwichi(khol)
100. ra
101. sara sa
200. nwira
1000. sai
1001. sa sai
2000. nwi sai
10,000. chisai
20,000. nwichi sai
100,000. rasai
200,000. nwi rasai
1,000,000. chirasai
2,000,000. nwichi rasai
10,000,000. rwjak
20,000,000. nwi rwjak
1,000,000,000. rarwjak
1,000,000,000,000. Sai rarwjak
1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. rasaisai rarwjak


The Borok nation consists of many community and sub-communities in the Indian state of Tripura, Assam, Mizoram and the neighbouring provinces of the country Bangladesh mainly in Chittagong Hil Tracts. The main nation have their own dialects, which differ only slightly among each other, though the dialect spoken around the capital Agartala, the western dialect spoken by the common people is taken as the standard for teaching and in literary writings. It is taught as medium of instruction up to class fifth and as subject language up to Graduate level.

The community and their dialects are listed as follows:

Institutions and organisations

Some Tripuri cultural organisations have been working fruitfully for the development of the language since the last century. Foremost among them are the:


See main article Kokborok literature

First effort for giving the language in printed book form and creation of literature of language Radhamohan Thakur wrote the grammar of Kokborok named "Kok-Borokma" published in 1900 AD. Beside he wrote two other books "Traipur Kothamala" and "Traipur Bhasabidhan". Traipur Kothamala was the Kokborok-Bengali-English translation book published in 1906 AD. The "Traipur Bhasabidhan" was published in 1907. Daulot Ahmed was a contemporary of Radhamohan Thakur and was a pioneer of writing Kokborok Grammar jointly with Mohammad Omar. The Amar jantra, Comilla published his Kokborok grammar book "KOKBOKMA" in 1897 AD. On 27 December 1945 AD the "Tripura Janasiksha Samiti" came into being and it established amny schools in different areas of Tripura. The first Kokborok magazine "Kwtal Kothoma" was first edited and published in 1954 by Sudhanya Deb Barma, who was a founder of the Samiti. "Hachuk Khurio" (In the lap of Hills) by Sudhanya Deb Barma is the first modern Kokborok novel. It was published by the Kokborok Sahitya Sabha and Sanskriti Samsad in 1987 AD.

The biggest and greatest Kokborok literary work of this century was the "Smai Kwtal", the New Testament of the Bible in Kokborok language, published in 1976 AD by the Bible Society of India. The "Smai Kwtal" benchmarked all other works in the coming years and was the first popular literature to have seen the day-to-day use among the Tripuri community.


The 21st century began for Kokborok literature with the monumental work, the Anglo-Kokborok-Bengali Dictionary compiled by Binoy Deb Barma and published in 2002 A.D. by the Kokborok tei Hukumu Mission. This is the 2nd edition of his previous ground breaking dictionary published in 1996 and is a trilingual dictionary. Twiprani Laihbuma (The Rajmala - History of Tripura) translated by R.K Debbarma and published in 2002 AD by KOHM.

The present trend of development of the Kokborok literary works show that the Kokborok literature is moving forward slowly but steadily with its vivacity and distinctive originality to touch the rich literature of the rich languages. The Department of Kokborok in Tripura University is responsible for the teaching and training of Kokborok language and literature.


Tripura 854,023

  1. Kok-barak 761,964
  2. Others 607

-Census of India 2001 language report[1]

KOK-BOROK 78,000 in Bangladesh (1993 Johnstone); 658,000 in India (1994 IMA); 736,000 in all countries. Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Baric, Konyak-Bodo-Borok-Garo dialects.

TIPPERA (TIPPERA, TIPPERAH, TIPRA,TRIPERAH) [TPE] 105,000 (1993 Johnstone). Chittagong Hills. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Unclassified. Many men can speak Bengali. 36 dialects.

-Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor, 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc.


Kok-borok had a script known as Koloma which has disappeared now. Since the 19th century the Kingdom of Twipra used the Bengali script for writing in Kok-borok. But, since the independence of India and Twipra's merger with India the Roman Script is being promoted by non-governmental organizations. The script issue is highly politicized, with the Left Front government advocating usage of Bengali script and the Twipra Christians and ethno-nationalists are advocating for the Roman script.

At present both the scripts are being used in the state, in education as well as in literary and cultural circles.

Language school

Kokborok tei Hukumu Mission is a Tripuri cultural organization which has been established to promote the language and culture of the Tripuri people.

The mission was started by Naphurai Jamatia. It has its office in Krishnanagar in Agartala. It publishes many books in Kokborok, most notable of which is the Anglo-Kokborok Dictionary by Binoy Debbarma.

See also


  • Pushpa Pai (Karapurkar). 1976. Kokborok Grammar. (CIIL Grammar series ; 3). Mysore: Central Inst. of Indian Languages.
  • Dr. François Jacquesson. 2003. Kokborok, a short analysis. [2] Paris.
  • Binoy Debbarma. 2002. Anglo-Kokborok-Bengali Dictionary. 2nd edition. Agartala: Kokborok Tei Hukumu Mission (KOHM).
  • Article in KOHM Anniversary magazine
  • KOHM website

External links

Simple English

Kok-borok (also spelled Kok Borok) is the native language of the Borok people in the disputed territory of the Tripura Division and its neighboring areas of Bangladesh and the Republic of India. The word Kok-borok is a compound of the words kok, which means "language", and borok, which literally means "nation", but is used to denote the Borok people. Thus Kok-borok means "the language of Borok" or "the language of the Borok people".

There are more than 950.000 people speaking Kokborok. Kokporok is an official language in India, in the Tripura division.


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