Native toLaos, Vietnam
Native speakers
20 (2015)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3aem
Arem is classified as Severely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

The Arem language (Cmbrau [cmrawˀ]) is an endangered language spoken by the Arem people in a small area on both sides of the LaosVietnam border. It belongs to the Vietic branch of the Austroasiatic language family. Specifically, it is a member of the Chut language group, which is one of the six Vietic languages. This language is considered severely endangered by UNESCO. Like other Vietic languages, the Arem language makes use of a tonal or phonational system that is unique to Vietic languages. Like many southern Vietic Languages, the Arem language also makes use of pre-syllables or sesquisyllables within the language.[2]

Arem lacks the breathy phonation common to most Vietic languages, but does have glottalized final consonants.[3]


Arem is an ethnographic term to describe a group of indigenous people that reside on the border of Southern Vietnam and Laos. The people prefer to call themselves Cmbrau [cmrawˀ].[2] However, because this is the only attested [cm-] sesquisyllabic structure in the language, it is theorized that this may also be an ethnographic term that was borrowed from another nearby language.[2]

Another name for the Arem is Umo, which literally means 'cave' or 'grotto'.[1]

History and demographics

The Arem people were only known to exist by local populations of Vietnam until 1959, when they were discovered by the Vietnamese military.[2] Previously, the local authorities had thought them members of the local Bru khùa community. The Arem population was only 53 people in 1960: 30 men and 23 women.[4] The most recent survey of the area in 1999 indicated that there were 102 Arem people.[5] Of these 102 Arem people, only around 25% of the population was estimated to be using the Arem language on a consistent basis.[5] All speakers of the Arem language are bilingual speakers of Vietnamese and some are also fluent in Khùa and/or Lao as well.[6]

In Vietnam, Arem is spoken in Bản Ban and in Tân Trạch communities.[7] In Tân Trạch, Arem is spoken in village no. 39, which also has Ma[ng] Coong people, who are a Bru–Van Kieu subgroup. As a result, Ma Coong is the most widely spoken in the village. As of 2015, there were only about 20 speakers of Arem remaining.[1]

Syllabic structure

The Arem language makes use of both monosyllabic words and sesquisyllabic words. It is estimated that 55-60% of the Arem language's consists of sesquisyllabic words. This is much higher than the majority of other Vietic languages that typically utilize sesquisyllables in only 35-40% of their lexicon, if the particular language contains any sesquisyllables at all.[2]

Notes and references


  1. ^ a b c Babaev, Kirill; Samarina, Irina (2021). Sidwell, Paul (ed.). A Grammar of May: An Austroasiatic Language of Vietnam. Brill. pp. 11–12. ISBN 978-9-00446-108-6.
  2. ^ a b c d e FERLUS, Michel. 2014. Arem, a Vietic Language. Mon-Khmer Studies 43.1:1-15 (ICAAL5 special issue)
  3. ^ "The Vietic Branch". Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  4. ^ Vương Hoàng Tuyên. 1963. Các dân tộc nguồn gốc Nam-Á ở miền bắc Việt-Nam [Ethnic groups of Austro-Asiatic origin in North Vietnam]. Nhà xuất bản Giáo Dục, Hà-Nội. [Arem: vocabulary p. 71; Compare list of a hundred words in Viet-Muong languages, including Arem; see fold-out page V-VIII, end of the book]
  5. ^ a b Trần Trí Dõi. 1999. Nghiên cứu ngôn ngữ các dân tộc thiểu số Việt Nam [Study of languages of ethnic minorities in Vietnam]. Nhà xuất bản đại học quốc gia Hà-Nội. [Arem: demography p.110; vocabulary p. 16 and 37]
  6. ^ Trần Trí Dõi. 1995. Thực trạng kinh tế và văn hóa của ba nhóm tộc người đang có nguy cơ bị biến mất [Actual state of the economy and culture of three endangered ethnic groups]. Nhà xuất bản văn hóa dân tộc. [Arem: population pp. 71-76; no vocabulary]
  7. ^ Babaev, Kirill Vladimirovich [Бабаев, Кирилл Владимирович]; Samarina, Irina Vladimirovna [Самарина, Ирина Владимировна]. 2019. Язык май. Материалы Российско-вьетнамской лингвистической экспедиции / Jazyk maj. Materialy Rossijsko-vetnamskoj lingvisticheskoj ekspeditsii. Moscow: Издательский Дом ЯСК. ISBN 978-5-907117-34-1. (in Russian). p.16.


External links