Linguistic classificationAustroasiatic
  • Pearic

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The Pearic languages (alternatively called the Chongic languages[1]) are a group of endangered languages of the Eastern Mon–Khmer branch of the Austroasiatic language family, spoken by Pear people (the Por, the Samré, the Samray, the Suoy, and the Chong) living in western Cambodia and eastern Thailand.[2][3]

Pearic languages are remnants of the aboriginal languages of much of Cambodia, but have dwindled in numbers due to assimilation. "Pear" is a pejorative term meaning 'slave' or 'caste'.


Paul Sidwell proposed the following classification of the Pearic languages in Sidwell (2009:137), synthesizing analyses from Headley (1985), Choosri (2002), Martin (1974), and Peiros (2004)[4] He divides Pearic into two primary branches (Pear and Chong), with Chong being further divided into four groups.

Pearic lexical innovations include 'fish', 'moon', 'water leech', 'chicken', and 'fire'.[5]


Headley (1985)

The Proto-Pearic language, the reconstructed ancestor of the Pearic languages, has been reconstructed by Robert Headley (1985).[6] The 149 Proto-Pearic forms below are from Headley (1985).

Sidwell & Rau (2015)

The following Proto-Pearic lexical proto-forms have been reconstructed by Sidwell & Rau (2015: 303, 340-363).[5]

Lexical innovations

Paul Sidwell (2015:203)[7] lists the following Pearic lexical innovations that had replaced original Proto-Austroasiatic forms.

Gloss Proto-Pearic Proto-Austroasiatic
fish *meːˀl *kaʔ
fire *pliːw *ʔus
bone *klɔːŋ *cʔaːŋ
chicken *hlɛːk[8] *ʔiər

Sidwell (2021) subsequently revised the list of Pearic lexical innovations as follows.[9]

Gloss Proto-Austroasiatic Proto-Pearic Kasong Chong Samre Pear of Kompong Thom
‘fish’ *kaʔ *meːˀw me̤ː⁴⁵³ me̤ːˀw miːɹ miəl
‘fire’ *ʔuːs *pleːw ple̤ːw²¹ ple̤ːw pliːw phlou
‘bone’ *cʔaːŋ *klɔːŋ klɔːŋ³³ klɑːŋ kluəŋ
‘chicken’ *ʔiər *hlɛːk lɛːk⁴⁵ læːk liək lék
‘banana’ *hlɔːŋ lɔːŋ³³ lɑːŋ luəŋ lâng


  1. ^ Sidwell, Paul. 2019. Proto-Pearic and the role of vowel height in register formation. Paper presented at the 8th International Conference on Austroasiatic Linguistics (ICAAL8), Chiang Mai, Thailand, August 29-31, 2019.
  2. ^ Ironside, Jeremy (April 2005). "Overview of the distribution of Pear (Por) people in Cambodia". Archived from the original on Jul 24, 2011. Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  3. ^ "Pearic languages". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-11-19.
  4. ^ Sidwell, Paul (2009). "Classifying the Austroasiatic languages: history and state of the art". LINCOM studies in Asian linguistics, 76. Munich: Lincom Europa.
  5. ^ a b Sidwell, Paul and Felix Rau (2015). "Austroasiatic Comparative-Historical Reconstruction: An Overview." In Jenny, Mathias and Paul Sidwell, eds (2015). The Handbook of Austroasiatic Languages. Leiden: Brill.
  6. ^ Headley, Robert K. 1985. "Proto-Pearic and the classification of Pearic." In Suriya Ratanakult et al. (eds.), Southeast Asian Linguistic Studies Presented to Andre-G. Haudricourt. Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development, Mahidol University. pp. 428-478.
  7. ^ Sidwell, Paul. 2015. "Austroasiatic classification." In Jenny, Mathias and Paul Sidwell, eds (2015). The Handbook of Austroasiatic Languages. Leiden: Brill.
  8. ^ Headley (1985)
  9. ^ Sidwell, Paul (2021). "Classification of MSEA Austroasiatic languages". The Languages and Linguistics of Mainland Southeast Asia. De Gruyter. pp. 179–206. doi:10.1515/9783110558142-011.

Further reading