Cham alphabet

The Cham script is an abugida used to write the Cham language, an Austronesian language that is spoken by some 230,000 people to the Cham people in Vietnam and Cambodia. It is written horizontally from left to right.


The Cham script is a descendant of the Brahmi script of India, which in turn. From the Aramaic script Cham was one of the first writings from the South Indian Brahmi script Vatteluttu sometime around the year 200 AD. developed. It came as part of the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism in South India. Hindu stone temples of the Champa civilization include both Sanskrit and chamische stone inscriptions. The earliest inscriptions in Vietnam were found in Mỹ Sơn temple complex. Dated to 400 AD, is the oldest written in faulty Sanskrit. Later inscriptions switch between Sanskrit and the Cham language of those times.

Cham kings studied classical Indian texts such as the Dharmaśāstra and inscriptions refer to the Sanskrit literature. Finally - while the Cham languages ​​and Sanskrit influence each other - took over the Cham culture Hinduism and Cham people were finally able to Hindu religion adequately express themselves in their own language with the 8th century AD. was the Cham script outgrown Sanskrit and Cham language was in full use. Most extant manuscripts focus on religious rituals, epic battles and poems, and myths.

Modern Cham languages ​​have the südöstasiatischen Sprachbund characteristics of monosyllabic ( Monosyllabizität ), tonality and Glottalisierung. Nevertheless, the Cham languages ​​have reached the Southeast Asian mainland disyllabic and non- tonal. The script had to be modified to meet these changes justice.

The people of Cham currently lives in two groups: The Western Cham in Cambodia and the Eastern Cham ( Phan Rang Cham) in Vietnam. In the first millennium AD. were the Cham language a dialect chain along the Vietnamese coast. Breaking this chain into distinct languages ​​occurred after the Vietnamese pushed southward and the Cham people brought to retreat to the highlands, with some such as the Phan Rang Cham were part of the dominated by the Vietnamese society in the lowlands. The separation of the Cham people in took place immediately after the fall of the capital by the Vietnamese. Both use distinct varieties of the Cham script, the Western Cham are predominantly Muslim, and nowadays prefer to write their language in Arabic. The eastern group are mainly Hindus and continue the Cham script. During the French colonial period, both groups had to use the Latin alphabet.


The writing is highly valued in the Cham culture, which does not mean that many people learn. There have been efforts to simplify the spelling and to promote the learning of writing, but these met with limited success. Traditionally, boys learned the writing at the age of about 12 years, when they were old enough and strong enough to guard the water buffalo. Women and girls, however, did not learn to read normally.


As Abugida Cham writes only the single consonant followed by a mandatory diacritics for vowels, which are the consonants added.

Most consonant letters, for example, [b ], [ t], or [p ] include the inherent vowel [ a], which does not need to be written. The nasal consonants [m ], [ n ], [ ɲ ] and [ ŋ ] (the last two are in Latin script with nh and ng transliterated ) are the exceptions and have the inherent vowel [ ɨ ] ( transliterated with eu ). A diacritical mark called kai, which will not occur with the other consonants written under a Nasalkonsonten to write the [ a] vowel.

Cham words contain only vowel syllables or consonant-vowel ( consonant ) syllables (V and CV ( C)). There are some characters for final consonants in the Cham - writing; other consonants simply get a longer tail on the right Siet to indicate the absence of a Endvokales ..


The Unicode block for the Cham - Cham script is U U AA00 .. AA5F. Grey shading indicates non- assigned code points.