Mayuree Thawornpat

Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University, Thailand

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Thai-Based Orthography as a Bridge to Written Mon


Mon is a written Austroasiatic language belonging to the Monic branch of the Mon-Khmer family. The Mon in Thailand, both long-term residents and recent migrants from Burma, have established themselves in many provinces, such as Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Kancanaburi, Ratchaburi, Samutsakhorn, Samutsongkhram, Samutprakarn, Nonthaburi and Pathumthani.  Most of the Mon who live in the central area have lost their language, and the young generation have moved up the social ladder by posing as modern Thai. Elderly Mon speakers in Ratchaburi have realized that their language is in decline and there are few people who can read and write Mon. Although the Mon language used to be taught in monasteries and schools, it was stopped and not very successful. With the efforts of the Ratchaburi Mon committee, a Mon community-based research project is being under taken to maintain, and revitalize both the spoken and written Mon language in cooperation with linguists with the aim to reverse the situation.

This paper discusses the sociolinguistic situation of Ratchaburi Mon. It explains the process of Mon revitalization through the development of a Thai-based orthography as a bridge to written Mon which reflects the unique world view of Mon socialization. It further describes the production of reading materials designed to appeal to the young generation of Mon and encourage an appreciation of Mon language and culture.