Language & Scripts


The Chakmas have their own language known as Changma Bhajch or Changma Hodha. The language is tonal (not to be confused with intonations and inflections) and indeed many words are differentiated solely by their tones. This is in sharp contrast to the non-tonal nature of most Indo-Aryan languages in which many linguists tend to classify the Chakma language.

The Chakmas believe they originally spoke a language belonging to the Tibeto-Burman family. But centuries of contacts with the neighbouring Chittagonian population, the original Chakma language was heavily influenced by Chittagonian, a dialect of Bengali (a language belonging to the Eastern Indo-Aryan branch). Many linguists now consider the modern Chakma language a part of the Southeastern Bengali branch of Eastern Indo-Aryan language.

The Chakmas believe that the Chakma language contains strong evidences such as surviving original words and grammatical constructs which reveal the non Indo-Aryan origin of their language. Some progressive Chakmas have started efforts to document their original language and prevent it from further disintigration.


The Chakmas write their Changma Bhajch in the Chakma script (an abugida, also known as Aujhapaat or Ojhapath). The Chakma script bears striking similarity to the Khmer and the Lanna(Chiangmai) characters, which was formerly in use in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and southern parts of Burma. There are some amount of similarity between the modern Myanmar character set and the Chakma character set. The Chakma script was preserved by the BOIDYOS, the village medicine men, who used it to record a rich collection of medicinal plants, herbs and roots.

Unlike other writing systems of the Brahmic type, the inherent vowel in the Chakma script is the longer “ā”. This inherent vowel must be explicitly killed, which interestingly is also seen in the Dravidian scripts.Β  Although a variety of alphabetic conjuncts are possible, most conjuncts are not used. There also exists small amounts of regional variations in representing character symbols.