From ancient Cham to modern dialects: two thousand years of language contact and change

Author: Graham Thurgood. 1999.

Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication No. 28. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press. xvii + 407 pp

Reviewed by R. A. Blust  at : Oceanic Linguistics
Volume 39, Number 2, December 2000

31ECT0C8QAL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_As early as 192 a.d., Chinese dynastic records refer to “Lin-yi,” a powerful Indianized state that ³ourished in coastal mainland southeast Asia south of the Vietnamese in the Red River delta and north of Funan in the Mekong delta. In this groundbreaking work, Thurgood (T) documents the remarkable linguistic history of Lin-yi, better known to Western historians as Champa. A bird’s-eye view of major events in the linguistic history of Champa can be summarized roughly as follows:

(1) Somewhat over 2,000 years ago, an Austronesian-speaking population that was not yet completely differentiated from those speaking Malayic languages of western Indonesia arrived on the coast of Vietnam. Continue reading

A Preliminary Sketch of Phan Rang Cham The Austronesian Languages of Asia and Madagascar

Graham Thurgood

California State University, Chico [in press].

Edited by K. Alexander Adelaar and Nikolaus Himmelmann. Curzon Press. 1.0


The extraordinary French scholar Coedès noted that Cham is the earliest attested Austronesian language. Coedès dated the Cham inscription found at Trakiêu near the old Cham capital of Indrapura as being from the middle of the fourth century, describing the inscription as “…the oldest text, presently known, written in a Malayo-Polynesian dialect”. The language of the text is associated with the once flourishing kingdom of Champa, a kingdom first mentioned by the Chinese around 190 to 193. Champa reached its zenith about the sixth century, continuing to flourish until the Vietnamese ‘push to the South’ in the tenth century began its slow demise. At the time of the first inscriptions, the Chamic languages were still a largely undifferentiated dialect continuum, but in the subsequent fifteen hundred or so years of change, realignments in patterns of affiliation and language contact restructured stretches of the original dialect chain into distinct languages and distributed the speakers over a much wider area. No longer functioning as the lingua franca of the kingdom of Champa, Chamic lives on in its modern descendants: the Tsat spoken on Hainan, the Rade, Jarai, Haroi, Chru, and Roglai spoken in the southern Vietnam highlands, the Phan Rang Cham spoken in Vietnam, the various Western Cham communities of Cambodia, and the Acehnese of north Sumatra

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