Cham script


Cham script

Infobox Writing system
name=Cham
type=Abugida
time=3rd century–present
fam1=Proto-Canaanite alphabet
fam2=Phoenician alphabet
fam3=Aramaic alphabet
fam4=Brāhmī
languages=Cham
unicode= [http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/UAA00.pdf U+AA00–U+AA5F]
iso15924=Cham

The Cham script is an abugida used to write Cham, an Austronesian language spoken by the Cham people in Vietnam and Cambodia. Cham has about 230,000 speakers.

The Cham script is one of the first scripts to develop from the latter southern Brahmi alphabet called Vatteluttu of South India, beginning by 200 AD. It is written horizontally, and left to right, as in English. There are numerous spelling rules that make learning to use the script daunting (Blood 2008).

The Cham now live in two isolated groups: Western Cham in Cambodia, and Eastern Cham in Vietnam. Each uses a distinct variety of the script, although the former are mostly Muslim (Trankell & Ovesen 2004) and now prefer to use the Arabic alphabet. The latter are mostly Hindu, and still use their own script. During French colonial times, both groups had to use the Latin alphabet.

The script is highly valued in Cham culture, but this does not mean that many people are learning it. There have been efforts to simplify the spelling and to promote learning the script, but these have met with limited success (Blood 1980a,b, 2008, Brunelle 2008).

Cham in Unicode

The Unicode range for Cham is U+AA00 .. U+AA5F. Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points.

Published sources

*Blood, Doris (1980a). Cham literacy: the struggle between old and new (a case study). "Notes on Literacy" 12, 6-9.
*Blood, Doris (1980b). The script as a cohesive factor in Cham society. In "Notes from Indochina", Marilyn Gregersen and Dorothy Thomas (eds.), 35-44. Dallas: International Museum of Cultures.
*Blood, Doris E. 2008. The ascendancy of the Cham script: how a literacy workshop became the catalyst. "International Journal of the Sociology of Language" 192:45-56.
*Brunell, Marc. 2008. Diglossia, Bilingualism, and the Revitalization of Written Eastern Cham. "Language Documentation and Conservation" 2.1: 28-46. (Web based journal)
*Moussay, Gerard (1971). "Dictionnaire Cam-Vietnamien-Français". Phan Rang: Centre Culturel Cam.
*Trankell, Ing-Britt and Jan Ovesen (2004). Muslim minorities in Cambodia. NIASnytt 4, 22-24. (Also on Web)

External links

* [http://www.omniglot.com/writing/cham.htm Omniglot Entry on Cham]
* [http://www.proel.org/alfabetos/cham.html more info on Cham alphabet (in Spanish)]
* [http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/1848 Brunelle's article]


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