Mon Grammar

An ongoing long term project is the compilation of a comprehensive reference grammar of Mon, including both the spoken language and literary Mon, taking into account all documented stages of the language from Old Mon to present usage. Material for this grammar is being collected during regular visits to Mon areas in Thailand and Myanmar. Mon is one of the main cultural languages (and one of the earliest to be written) of Southeast Asia. Most of its former area was lost to invading Tibeto-Burman (Bama, Karen) and Tai (Thai, Lao) peoples, as well as to the expanding Khmer kingdom of Angkor at the beginning of the second millennium. A number of Old and Middle Mon inscriptions survive, enough to give us a rather clear picture of the development of the language during the past 1500 years. Today Mon is spoken mostly in southern Myanmar by some 800,000 to one million speakers, with up to 100,000 more in Thailand, many of which are semi-speakers or mere rememberers. In spite of its large number of speakers, the future of Mon has often been predicted to be less than bright, as most Mon are to some degree bilingual, speaking also Burmese and/or Thai. Political pressure by the Burmese regime has led to an increase in Mon language use in recent years as part of non-violent resistance. Mon is now taught at a number of schools throughout Mon State and the Mon entertainment business is producing popular and classical music on CD and VCD. Western interest in Mon has been rather low in the recent past, with only a handful of international academics working on Mon linguistic issues. There are a number of dictionaries available, but no reference grammar in a Western language. Presentation: Mon - an endangered language? (download at the bottom of the page).