|Ethnicity||Moken people, Moklen people|
|Mergui Archipelago; Burma; Peninsular Thailand|
The Moklenic or Moken–Moklen languages consist of a pair of two closely related but distinct languages, namely Moken and Moklen. Larish (1999) establishes the two languages as forming two distinct subgroups of a larger Moken–Moklen branch. Larish (2005) suggests Moklenic as an alternative name for Moken–Moklen, the latter term which was originally used by Larish (1999).
There are two Moklenic languages.
Moken and Moklen are linguistically and culturally related but distinct from each other, with Moken speakers primarily being sea-based hunter-gatherers, while Moklen speakers are land-based people living in villages and towns of southern Thailand (Larish 2005). Comparative studies of Moken and Moklen include those of Leerabhandh (1984), Makboon (1981), and Larish (1999).
The Moklenic languages are spoken along a 650-kilometer stretch of the west coast of southern Myanmar and southern Thailand, from Tavoy Island, Burma to Phi Phi Island, Thailand (Larish 2005). Moken has a very wide distribution, while Moklen is exclusively spoken on the western coast of southern Thailand. Moklen displays heavy Southern Thai influence and is more endangered than Moken.
Urak Lawoi’ is spoken by another group of Sea Gypsies in southern Thailand. It is one of the Malayic languages, and is not a Moklenic language. On Phuket Island, Urak Lawoi’ is in contact with Moken.
Larish (1999, 2005) considers Moklenic to be a sister of the Chamic and Malayic languages rather than as part of them. Moklenic languages have also been strongly influenced by Austroasiatic languages, with many of those Austroasiatic loanwords, such as 'bird', also found in Chamic.
Larish (1999) classifies the two languages Moken and Moklen as part of a larger Moklenic–Acehnese-Chamic-Malayic ("MACM") subgroup.
While the Acehnese-Chamic-Malayic languages display a Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *q > *h sound change, Moklenic languages instead display a Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *q > *k sound change.
Larish (1999) also speculates that the unknown extinct language (or languages) of the Funan Empire in southern Vietnam may have been an early split from Proto-Moklenic–Acehnese-Chamic-Malayic.
In a recent classification of the western Malayo-Polynesian languages, Smith (2017: 459) argues based on phonological evidence that Moklenic is a primary branch from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian.
Proto-Moken-Moklen has been reconstructed by Larish (1999).