Xtiêng, ស្ទៀង
Native toVietnam, Cambodia, possibly also Laos
EthnicityStieng people
Native speakers
90,000 in Vietnam and Cambodia (2008 & 2009 censuses)[1][2]
Khmer, Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
sti – Bulo Stieng
stt – Budeh Stieng
ELPBulo Stieng

Stieng (IPA: [stiə̯ŋ], Vietnamese: Xtiêng, Khmer: ស្ទៀង) is the language of the Stieng people of southern Vietnam and adjacent areas of Cambodia, and possibly Laos (under the name Tariang). Along with Chrau and Mnong, Stieng is classified as a language of the South Bahnaric grouping of the Mon–Khmer languages within the Austroasiatic language family. In the Austroasiatic scheme, the Bahnaric languages are often cited as being most closely related to the Khmer language.

There are noted dialects of Stieng, some of which may not be mutually intelligible. However, due to the lack of widely available research, this article will primarily describe the dialect known as Bulo Stieng spoken in the provinces of Bình Phước, Lâm Đồng, Tây Ninh in southwestern Vietnam and Kratié (Snuol District) and Mondulkiri provinces in adjacent areas of eastern Cambodia.[3][4] Bulo Stieng is spoken in more remote areas of the mountains and jungles alongside its close relative, Mnong. Other dialects, including Bu Dek and Bu Biek, are spoken in the lowlands and exhibit more influence from Vietnamese.

Unlike many other Mon–Khmer languages, Stieng does not distinguish voice quality, nor is it a tonal language like Vietnamese.[3] Words may be either monosyllabic or sesquisyllabic.



Haupers (1969) analyzes Stieng as having 25 consonant phonemes with three-way contrasts of voiced, unvoiced and pre-glottalized with aspiration described as a consonant cluster involving simple (i.e. not pre-glottalized) stops plus /h/.[3] Analyses which include the aspirated series as independent phonemes yield 33 consonants and a five-way contrast.

Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive Voiceless p t c k ʔ
Voiceless aspirated
Voiced b d ɟ ɡ
Voiced aspirated ɟʰ ɡʰ
Pre-glottalized ʔb ʔd
Nasal Voiced m n ɲ ŋ
Preglottalized ʔm ʔn
Fricative Voiceless s (ç) h
Approximant Voiced w l r (ɾ) j
Preglottalized ʔl ʔj

Consonants appearing in syllable coda are devoiced and unreleased. For the alveolar approximate, the trilled [r] is found in free variation with the flapped [ɾ]. The voiceless palatal fricative [ç] appears only in syllable coda as a complementary allophone of [s].


The Stieng vowel system consists of fifteen monophthongs and two diphthongs. In addition to vowel quality, quantitative length (duration) is also phonemic for vowels other than [ɛ] ([æ]) in closed syllables. The vowel [ɛ] ([æ]) is short before h and long elsewhere. This lack of minimal pairs for [ɛ] ([æ]) and [ɛː] ([æː]) suggests that [ɛ], [æ], [ɛː] and [æː] are all allophones.[3]

Front Central Back
short long short long short long
Close i iə̯ ɨ ɨː u uː uə̯
Close-mid e (ɪ) eː (ɪː)
Open-mid ɛ (æ) ɛː (æː) ʌː ɔː
Open a ɑ

Symbols in parenthesis represent allophonic variations.


  1. ^ General Statistics Office of Vietnam 2009 Census
  2. ^ Cambodian Government National Institute of Statistics 2008 Census Archived 2012-02-29 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c d Haupers, Ralph. "Stieng Phonemes." The Mon-Khmer Studies Journal. 3. (1969): 131-137.
  4. ^ Ethnologue