Devising an orthography for the Cak language by using the Cak script

Author: HUZIWARA Keisuke (Kyoto University)
Speaker: HUZIWARA Keisuke
Topic: General Sociolinguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


Cak (ISO 639-3 ckh) is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. It is known as Sak in Rakhaing State, Burma. The total number of native speakers is estimated to be around 3,000 in Bangladesh while 1,000 in Burma (Simons and Fennig eds. 2017). Although Cak and Sak are mutually understandable as long as native words are concerned, it can be difficult due to Bangla loans in Cak and Arakanese/Burmese loans in Sak.

Until recently, Cak/Sak did not have a script of its own. However, by the beginning of the 21st century, the Cak script is developed and finally published as Ong Khyaing Cak (2013) in which its fundamental system is explained.

Although well designed overall, the current Cak writing system found in Ong Khyaing Cak (2013) has several shortcomings. Huziwara (2015) points out following five instances: (A) no independent letter for /v/, (B) unnecessary letters for the non-phonemic elements such as the voiced aspirated stops and the retroflexes, (C) the arbitrary use of short and long vowel signs, (D) the frequent omission of high tone marks in checked syllables, and (E) multiple ways to denote coda consonants.

In this paper, Huziwara (2015) will be first reviewed. Then, the basic phonetic correspondences between Cak in Bangladesh and Sak in Burma will be examined.

Finally, based on these two discussions above, an orthography to be employed in the forthcoming Cak-English-Bangla-Burmese dictionary, a revised version of Huziwara (2016), will be demonstrated.


Huziwara, Keisuke 2015. Tyakkumozi ni yoru tyakkugo hyooki zyoo no kadai. (Cak script: problems and proposals) Kyoto University Linguistic Research 34: 1–24. [in Japanese]
Huziwara, Keisuke 2016. Cak-English-Bangla dictionary: a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Bangladesh. Dhaka: A H Development Publishing House.
Ong Khyaing Cak 2013. ʔanɯ́tu səniŋ gá. (We learn mother tongue) [in Bangla and Cak]
Simons, Gary F. and Charles D. Fennig (eds.) 2017. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Twentieth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: