World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Moken language

Native to Burma, Thailand
Region Mergui Archipelago, west of the Kra Isthmus
Ethnicity Moken people
Native speakers
unknown (8,000 cited 1984–2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
mwt – Moken
mkm – Moklen
Glottolog moke1241[2]

The Moken language is a half dozen closely related varieties spoken by the Moken "Sea Gypsies" off the coast of Burma and Thailand. It is somewhat divergent from other Austronesian languages, and has been strongly influenced by Mon–Khmer languages.


The Moken or Moklen–Moken dialects are typically divided into two languages, Moken and Moklen, corresponding to the two varieties spoken in Thai waters. However, Moklen is just one of half a dozen Moken dialects, most of which are spoken in Burma (Naw Say Bay 1995). The Burmese varieties have not been adequately investigated, but from north to south the known dialects are:

  • Dung
  • Jait
  • Lebi
  • Niawi
  • Jadiak
  • Moklen

Dung through Niawi are spoken (mostly) in Burma, Jadiak and Moklen mostly in Thailand. (Jadiak is also spoken in a second area to the south of Moklen.)


Moken is often classified in a group with the other Malayo-Polynesian languages of Southeast Asia, Chamic and Malayic, but Larish (2005) concludes that they do not belong together. Another language spoken by Sea Gypsies of the same islands, Urak Lawoi’, is one of the Malayic languages.


  1. ^ Moken at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Moklen at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Moken". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  • Michael Larish, 2005. "Moken and Moklen", in Adelaar & Himmelmann, eds, The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar
  • Naw Say Bay. 1995. "The phonology of the Dung dialect of Moken", in Papers in Southeast Asian Linguistics No. 13, Studies in Burmese Languages, ed. D. Bradley, vol. 13, pp. 193–205. Pacific Linguistics, the Australian National University.

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Fair are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.