Devising an Orthography for the Cak Language by Using the Cak Script

Huziwara Keisukea


Cak (ISO 639-3 ckh) represents a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. The language is known as Sak in Rakhaing State, Burma. The total number of native speakers of the language is estimated at approximately 3,000 in Bangladesh and 1,000 in Burma (Simons and Fennig eds. 2017). Although Cak and Sak are mutually understandable where native words are concerned, comprehensibility becomes arduous with Bangla loan words in Cak, and with Arakanese/Burmese loan words in Sak.Until recently, Cak/Sakdid not have a script of its own. However, by the beginning of the 21st century, the Cak script was developed and finally published as Ong Khyaing Cak (2013), in which its fundamental system is described. Although well designed overall, the current Cak writing system found in Ong Khyaing Cak (2013) has several shortcomings.

Huziwara (2015) discusses the following five instances: (a) No independent letter for /v/, (b) unnecessary letters for the non-phonemic elements such as the voiced aspirated stops and the retroflexes, (c) the arbitrary use of short and long vowel signs, (d) a frequent omission of high tone marks in checked syllables, and (e) multiple ways to denote coda consonants. In this paper, Huziwara (2015) will first be reviewed. Then, the basic phonetic correspondences between Cak in Bangladesh and Sak in Burma will be examined. Finally, based on these two discussions, an orthography to be employed in the forthcoming Cak-English-Bangla-Burmese dictionary, a revised version of Huziwara (2016), will be demonstrated.