Rohingya Language Rules
Rohingyalish is the modern writing system for the true spoken language of Rohingyas, the indigenous but oppressed Muslim minority people of Arakan State in the north-western part of Burma (Myanmar). Rohingyalish uses Latin alphabets A-Z, and two other characters Ç and Ñ along with the five accented vowels Á, É, Í, Ó, Ú. Ç is a variant of R, used for rolling-tongue sound and pronounced as rd’i. Ñ is a variant of N, used for nasal sound and pronounced as an’h. While the normal vowels are used for soft sound, the accented vowels are used for stressed sound. C, though originally used for K and S sound, is now used only for the Sh sound and thus it is named to shi.
|Fig 1. Rohingyalish Character Set Table|
All the Rohingyalish alphabets (capital and small forms) with its proper arrangement are shown in Fig. 1 above followed by the rules 1 through 16 that explain in details how to write Rohingya words. For numbers, Rohingyalish uses Arabic numerals 0-9 as shown above and how to read and count them are shown at the end in rule number 16.
- The original English vowels (a, e, i, o, u) are used as soft vowels.
In English, the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) are used as hard (emphasized) vowels. But the Rohingyalish uses these vowels as soft (and also as short) vowels. Whenever hard vowels are required, Rohingyalish uses another set of vowels (á, é, í, ó, ú), which are normally known as accented (gutá) vowels.
These accented vowels (á, é, í, ó, ú) can be typed in Computer by simply choosing the keyboard type as United States-International through the Windows control panel. To set in Windows 98 follow the steps as “Start – Settings – Control Panel – Keyboard – Language – English (United States) – Properties –United States-International – OK – OK”. After setting the keyboard, you can get (á) by first typing a single quote ( ‘ ) followed by (a). Similarly, to get (ç) type ( ‘ ) followed by (c), and for (ñ) first type (~) followed by (n). For Windows 2000, and Windows Xp, add and select the “United States-International” as the default keyboard.
See below how Ba and Boo in English are written in Rohingyalish to get the same sound.
Ba (in English) = Bá (in Rohingyalish)
Boo (in English) = Bú (in Rohingyalish)
Rohingyalish words with soft vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and hard vowels (á, é, í, ó, ú) are shown below as examples along with the meaning. The last line in the example shows the 6th vowel (ou and óu are explained later) of the Rohingyalish.
- Rohingyalish has a total of ( 12 ) basic vowels where six are of the soft-sounds and the other six are of hard-sounds.
To understand here easily, the consonant K is used as reference to show the sound of each vowel.
In English, the sound of each vowel is not fixed to a particular sound. The sound of any vowel varies from words to words causing enormous difficulties to know which sound is the correct one, particularly for whom English is the 2nd language. Moreover, there is no method to know which vowel needs to be emphasized and which one is not to be emphasized depending on how the particular English word is pronounced. The five basic English vowels along with K are:-
|Ka||Ke||Ki||Ko||Ku||(vowels used as hard or soft sound)|
In Rohingyalish, the sound of each vowel is fixed to one particular sound. Therefore, Rohingyalish has 12 basic fixed sounds, where the first six are for the soft sounds and the other six are for the hard sounds as shown in the table below.
|Ka||Ke||Ki||Ko||Ku||Kou||(vowels used as soft sounds)|
|Ká||Ké||Kí||Kó||Kú||Kóu||(vowels used as hard sounds)|
The pronunciation of each soft sound can be represented with an English phrase “On Februari Tour” where Februari means the month February. Another similar one is “Put America on Tour”. The following are some comparative examples with English words:-
Ka is pronounced as Ca as in the word Calculator, but not to be pronounced as in the word Can.
Ke is pronounced as Kay as “e” is pronounced in English words Let, Bet, Get, Net, and Wet but in soft sound.
Ki is pronounced as it is pronounced in the word Kilo.
Ko will be pronounced as Kaw (but in short) as “o” is pronounced in English words Dot, Not, God, Lot, Rod but in soft sound.
Ku will be pronounced as Cu in the word Calculator.
Kou will be pronounced exactly as English Ko. Here Rohingyalish “ou” is made equal to English “o” as it is used in English words Go, Old, Won, Own, Toll, Sold, Bold, Mold, Fold but in soft sound.
- Rohingyalish words should not be read the same way English is read.
In English, the words are read after analyzing the whole word and then pronounced correctly. This is not required in Rohingyalish. Simply read the consonant vowel pairs from left to right. Apply the following methods in the order shown to get the best possible results:
(a) If the word follows the sequence of one consonant and one vowel then pronounce one consonant and one-vowel pairs individually and then combine the results. For example;
Mazé = Ma + Zé = Ma Zé (middle)
Fala = Fa + La = Fa La (pillar)
Salu = Sa + Lu = Sa Lu (moving)
Thalasabí = Tha + La + Sa + Bí=ThaLaSaBí (lock and keys)
(b) If the word follows the sequence of one consonant and one vowel followed by another consonant then pronounce the three combined together. Do the same for the rest. Finally combine the results. For example;
Sultán = Sul + Tán = Sul Tán (the name Sultan)
Tormus = Tor + Mus = Tor Mus (water melon)
Bañdor = Bañ + Dor = Bañ Dor (monkey)
Fandhúk = Fan + Dhúk = Fan Dhúk (pipe)
(c) The word may follow both rules mentioned above. For example;
Burus = Bu + Rus (brush)
Gorom = Go + Rom (hot)
Hañdá = Hañ + Dá (shoulder)
Fonná = Fon + Ná (education)
(d) There may be two vowels together side by side. For example;
Sail = Sai + L (trick)
Beil = Bei + L (sun)
Soil = Soi + L (rice)
Tui = Tui (you)
Gouru = Gou + Ru (cow)
Mouloi = Mou + Loi (Arabic Teacher)
Maana = Maa + Na (free)
- New Alphabets ( Ñ ) and ( Ç ) pronounced as an’h and rd’a.
These two new alphabets are taken from Latin Alphabets and are very important for Rohingyalish to produce nasal sound using (Ñ), and a variant of R sound(i.e. tongue rolling sound) using(Ç). These two sounds are not used in English Language. A list of Rohingyalish words are shown below as examples:
|Nasal sound examples: normal without ñ (left) and nasal with ñ (right):|
|Tongue rolling sound examples: normal with r (left) and tongue rolling with ç (right):|
|Bara||=||fishing fence||Baça||=||exchange rate|
|Fara||=||Village||Faça||=||chili grinding flat rock|
|More nasal sound examples: normal without ñ (left) and nasal with ñ (right):|
|Sáda||=||White||Sañda||=||donation or tax|
|Kurá||=||chicken||Kuñra||=||bring together/chicken food|
|More nasal and tongue rolling sound examples:|
|Keñça||=||fish bone||Meçá||=||bottle cap|
|Suañ||=||bamboo pipe||Meçi||=||soil, ground|
- The alphabet ( C ) has been used differently.
Rohingyalish does not need the alphabet C because it has two different sounds which can be replaced with K and S. However, Rohingyalish words have a lot of ‘sh’ sounds and it would be easier to use a single character ‘C’ instead of two characters ‘sh’. Therefore, ‘C’ is made equal to ‘sh’ and named as ‘shi’. See Examples:
|Cícciçi mas (shíshshiiçi mas)||=||a kind of fish|
|Cóccoçar (shóshshoçar)||=||ducks looking food in shallow water|
- The differences in ( T ), ( Th ) and ( D ), ( Dh )
The T sound is taken as the sound of Th as used in the English word Think. Alternatively, the Th sound is taken as the sound of T that is used in the English word Total.
See examples of Rohingyalish words with meaning in English:
The normal D sound is taken exactly the same sound of the word The in English. The Dh sound is taken as the sound of the normal D in English, i.e. as in the word Donut. See examples of Rohingyalish words with meaning in English:
|Dándah||=||profession||Dhandha||=||short rod for beating|
|Duwa||=||prayer||Dhuwa||=||soil container at the root of a plant|
- Three kinds of ( H ) sounds
The three kinds of H sounds are produced by a single quoted H’, a single H, and Kh respectively as shown below in examples.
H’a = sound produced at the beginning of the mouth by blowing air out, as in the word H’ava meaning air in Rohingyalish. There are a few words only with this sound. Because of very few words a single quote requirement is made optional unless necessary. In the case where there are two alternative saying for the same thing such as áñti or háñti (meaning elephant), áñcor háñc (meaning duck), the single quote will be always omitted. Interestingly, the saying difference is based on either he/she is from north or south of Arakan. Examples: háva, howá, háñala, háñc, háñtih, hórin, húñciar, háff, hála, hál, hoñsu, hoñiçá, hoñinya, hoñroi, hámbah, hóraf, hottú.
Ha = Rohingyalish adopted this sound to work like Kha (below) which produces sound from the middle of the mouth, as in the words hána (Khána) and holom (Kholom) meaning food and Pen respectively. Since more than 90% of the all Ha sounds are in this category, Rohingyalish uses more simpler method which is hána and holom. Many Languages have only one variety of Ha sounds with the most exception being Arabic language having three distinct Ha(s). Examples: hala, holom, háiye, hosóm, hóbor.
Kha = sound produced from the middle of the mouth as above. But this is to be used only for Arabic name such as “Khaled” instead of writing “Haled”.
- The most useful vowel ( o ) and its replacement ( ou ) in Rohingyalish.
O, used as au, is 40% of all the vowels used in Rohingyalish words. Most European and Asian languages use sounds either vertical (such as Bu) or horizontal (such as Ba). However, in Rohingyalish there are many sounds that are neither complete vertical nor complete horizontal and it is rather exactly in between which can be said, in other words, 45 degree sounds (0 degree means horizontal and 90 means vertical). Examples are Baw, Daw, Naw, Saw, etc.. These can be better spelled as Bau, Dau, Nau, Sau etc. by using both horizontal and vertical vowels together. Since 40% of the words in Rohingyalish will have these sounds in average, it is better if we can adopt only one vowel instead of the two vowels a and u together, so that the word will be short and easier to read. Therefore o is adopted to pronounce as au always, as it is pronounced in the English word For. While doing that ou is adopted to pronounce as the true sound of the English o as found in the English words Go, No, Bother, Old, Won but in soft way. See examples below.
|Fourís||=||read||Gourís||=||do it; perform it, act on it|
|Foouli||=||mad lady||Tooul||=||in perfect mix or balance|
- Extending sound using long vowel that is ( 2 ) vowels side by side.
Like the soft and hard vowels change the meaning of the word, short vowels like (a) and long vowels like (aa) do change the meaning too such as Mana (=let accept) and Maana (=free) are not the same. We extend the sound by placing two vowels side by side. For example:
|Neel||=||leave||Biili||=||birth given (lady)|
- Ascending ( aá )and Descending ( áa ) long vowels.
Sometimes two soft-vowels used side-by-side as above is not enough to get exact sound and the meaning. In some place we need the 1st vowel as a soft and the second vowel as a hard vowel. For example, in Rohingyalish the word Saá, which means tea, requires two vowels but the 1st one soft and the 2nd one hard. This arrangement is known as ascending long vowels. Similarly, the two vowels when arranged the other way around such as in the word Sáa (where the 1st vowel is hard and the second vowel is soft) is known as descending long vowels. See the examples below.
|Keén||=||how||Théer||=||stop , wait|
|Muúntu||=||in front||Súura||=||verses of Quran|
- Using ( ai ) instead of y.
Though y is a consonant, it is also used as a semi-vowel in words such as By, My etc. Since Rohingyalish understand y as a consonant only, ai is used instead of y is used as a vowel. Therefore instead of My, By, Fy it will be used as Mai, Bai, Fai.
|Félaidé||=||throw it||Hálaide||=||make the skin removed|
|Solaiféla||=||make it move||Fúaiyé||=||has been dried|
- Using ( oi, ói ) to get rolling sounds.
|Touloi||=||bamboo mat||Mouloi||=||religious teacher|
|Hoñroi||=||heated rice grain||Óroói||=||grain for mustard oil|
|Soil||=||rice||Boil||=||fruit in flower stage|
- Usages of ( ei ) and ( ui )
|Beil||=||sun||Dheil||=||upper level land area|
|Plein||=||aero plane||Teilla||=||cooking oil producer|
|Kéil||=||game||Théil||=||branch of trees|
|Neillé||=||has leaved||Féillé||=||has dropped|
|Meillé||=||opened||Neiththé||=||has laid down|
|Muic||=||jungle cow||Tuñic||=||rice skin|
|Fúñic||=||needle||Tuñí||=||you (used to call elders)|
|Súille||=||skinned||Kuiththa||=||get things ready, in cut|
- ( Ñg ), ( Ñy ), and ( Ts ) sounds
Ñgapúra, Ñgapali, and Ñyong-Cóng are the area names in Myanmar (Burma). These names can be also written as Ngapúra, Ngapali and Nyong-Cóng because Ng and Ny are used as international standard.
Ts is a variant of S producing sound with tongue out as in the word Tsúmma meaning ‘then’ in Arabic language. Ts is rarely used by Rohingyas.
- Ending the word with double consonants to get echo, vibrating or trailing effect
- The counting system.
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