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Tripuri / Tripura, Tipra
Kok Borok
Native toTripura
RegionTripura, Assam, Mizoram, Burma, Chittagong hill tracts, Cumilla, Chadpur, Sylhet, Rajbari
EthnicityTripuri people
Native speakers
1,011,294 (India),[1] 400,000+ (Bangladesh) (2011)[2]
Early form
Early Tipra
Latin/Roman alphabet (official)
Eastern Nagari script (unofficial)
Koloma (original)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
trp – Kokborok
ria – Reang
tpe – Tripuri / Tripura
usi – Usui
xtr – Early Tripuri
xtr Early Tripuri
  regions where Tripuri is the language of the majority or plurality

Kokborok (also known as Tripuri or Tiprakok) is the main native language of the Tripuri people of the Indian state of Tripura and neighbouring areas of Bangladesh.[3] Its name comes from kok meaning "verbal" and borok meaning "people" or "human". Kokborok or Tripuri is one of the ancient language of North East India.


Kokborok was formerly known as Tripuri & Tipra kok, with its name being changed in the 20th century. The names also refers to the inhabitants of the former Twipra kingdom, as well as the ethnicity of its speakers.

Kókborok has been attested since at least the 1st century AD, when the historical record of Tripuri kings began to be written down. The script of Kókborok was called "Koloma". The Chronicle of the Tripuri kings were written in a book called the Rajratnakar. This book was originally written down in Kókborok using the Koloma script by Durlobendra Chontai.

Later, two Brahmins, Sukreswar and Vaneswar translated it into Sanskrit and then again translated the chronicle into Bengali in the 19th century. The chronicle of Tipra in Kókborok and Rajratnakar are no longer available. Kokborok was relegated to a common people's dialect during the rule of the Tripuri kings in the Kingdom of Tipra from the 19th century till the 20th century.

Kokborok was declared an official language of the state of Tripura, India by the state government in the year 1979.[4] Consequently, the language has been taught in schools of Tripura from the primary level to the higher secondary stage since the 1980s. A certificate course in Kokborok started from 1994 at Tripura University[5] and a post graduate diploma in Kokborok was started in 2001 by the Tripura University. Kokborok was introduced in the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in the colleges affiliated to the Tripura University from the year 2012, and a Masters of Arts (MA) degree in Kokborok was started by Tripura University from the year 2015.[6]

There is currently a demand for giving the language recognition as one of the recognised official languages of India as per the 8th schedule of the Constitution. The official form is the dialect spoken in Agartala, the state capital of Tripura.[4]

Classification and related languages[edit]

Kokborok is a Sino-Tibetan language of the Bodo–Garo branch.

It is related to the Bodo and Dimasa languages of neighbouring Assam. The Garo language is also a related language spoken in the state of Meghalaya and neighboring Bangladesh.

Kókborok is not a single language but a collective name for the several dialects spoken in Tripura. Ethnologue lists Usoi (Kau Brung), Riang (Polong-O), and Khagrachari ("Trippera") as separate languages; Mukchak (Barbakpur), though not listed, is also distinct, and the language of many Borok clans has not been investigated. The greatest variety is within Khagrachari, though speakers of different Khagrachari varieties can "often" understand each other. Khagrachari literature is being produced in the Naitong and Dendak varieties.[7]


Kókborok has the phonology of a typical Sino-Tibetan language.


Kokborok has six vowel (monophthong) phonemes: /i u e w o a/.

Front Central Back
High i [i] u [u]
High-mid e [e] ŵ [ə]  
Low-mid     o [o]
Low   a [a]  

Early scholars of Kokborok decided to use the letter w as a symbol for a vowel that does not exist in English. In some localities, it is pronounced closer to i, and in others, it is pronounced closer to o.[9]

In Kokborok spelling, u is used for the sound /w/ in the diphthongs /wa/ (used initially, spelled as ua) and /wo/ (used finally, spelled as uo). It is also used for the diphthong /ɔi/ (spelled wi) after m and p


  Labial Dental Apico-
Velar Glottal
Voiceless p   t͡ʃ k  
Aspirated t̪ʰ   t͡ʃʰ  
Voiced b   d͡ʒ ɡ  
Fricatives Voiceless     s     h
Nasals m   n   ŋ  
Liquids     l, r      
Approximants w     j    

Ch is used for /t͡ʃ/, while kh, ph, chh and th are used for /kʰ/, /pʰ/, /t͡ʃʰ/ and /tʰ/ respectively.

N' is the pronunciation of the nasal sound; e.g., in' (yes).[clarification needed]

Ng is a digraph and is generally used in the last syllable of a word; e.g., aming (cat), holong (stone).

Ua is often used initially; e.g., uak (pig), uah (bamboo), uatwi (rain).

Uo is often used finally; e.g., thuo (sleeping), buo (beat).


A diphthong is a group of two vowels. The wi diphthong is spoken as ui after sounds of the letters m and p. Two examples are chumui (cloud) and thampui (mosquito). The ui diphthong is a variation of the wi diphthong. Other less frequent diphthongs, such as oi and ai, are called closing diphthongs. A closing diphthong refers to a syllable that does not end in a consonant.


Most words are formed by combining the root with an affix:

  • kuchuk is formed from the root chuk (to be high), with the prefix, ku.
  • phaidi (come) is formed from the root phai (to come), with the suffix di.

There are no Kókborok words beginning with ng.[10] At the end of a syllable, any vowel except w can be found, along with a limited amount of consonants: p, k, m, n, ng, r and l. Y is found only in closing diphthongs like ai and wi.


"Clusters" are a group of consonants at the beginning of a syllable, like phl, ph + l, in phlat phlat (very fast), or sl in kungsluk kungsluk (foolish man). Clusters are quite impossible at the end of a syllable. There are some "false clusters" such as phran (to dry) which is actually phw-ran. These are very common in echo words : phlat phlat, phre phre, prai prai, prom prom, etc.


There are two tones in Kókborok: high tone and low tone. To mark the high tone, the letter h is written after the vowel with the high tone. These examples have low tone preceding high tone to show that tone changes the meaning:

  1. lai easy laih crossed
  2. bor senseless bohr to plant
  3. cha correct chah to eat
  4. nukhung family nukhuhng roof


There is a clear cut difference between nouns and verbs. All true verbs are made with a verbal root followed by a number of suffixes, which are placed not randomly but according to definite rules.


Morphologically Kókborok words can be divided into five categories. They are the following.

(a) Original words: thang-go; phai-come; borok-nation; bororok-men kotor-big; kuchuk-high; kwrwi-not; etc.

(b) Compound words, that is, words made of more than one original words: nai-see; thok-tasty; naithok-beautiful; mwtai-god; nok-house; tongthar-religion; bwkha-heart; bwkhakotor-brave; etc.

(c) Words with suffixes: swrwng-learn; swrwngnai-learner; nukjak-seen; kaham-good; hamya- bad; etc.

(d) Naturalized loan words: gerogo-to roll; gwdna-neck; tebil- table; poitu-faith; etc.

(e) Loan words: kiching-friend; etc.


Counting in Kókborok is called lekhamung.

1. sa (one)
2. nwi (two)
3. tham
4. brwi
5. ba
6. dok
7. sni
8. char
9. chuku
10. chi
20. nwichi (khol)
100. ra
101. ra sa
200. nwira
1000. sai
1001. sai sa
2000. nwi sai
10,000. chisai
20,000. nwichi sai
100,000. rasai
200,000. nwi rasai
1,000,000. chirasai
2,000,000. nwichi rasai
10,000,000. rwjak
20,000,000. nwi rwjak
1,000,000,000. rarwjak
1,000,000,000,000. sai rarwjak
100,000,000,000,000,000,000. rasaisai rarwjak

Common Phrases[edit]

English Tripuri (Kokborok)
Hello Khulumkha
Welcome Lamsogo
Thank you Hambai
Thank you very much Belaikheno Hambai
Good bye Thangkha
Good morning Phung kaham
Good afternoon Dibor kaham
Good evening Sanja/Sarik kaham
Good night Hor kaham
How are you? Nwng bahai tong?/Bahai tong?
Fine Kahamno
I love Tripura Ang Tripurano hamjakgo


There are many Kokborok-speaking people in the Indian states. West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Mizoram, and the neighboring provinces of Country Bangladesh, mainly in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. There are three main dialects, which are not mutually intelligible, though the western dialect of the royal family, Debbarma, is a prestigious dialect understood by everyone. It is the standard for teaching and literature. It has taught as the medium of instruction up to 5th class and as a subject up to the graduate level. The other dialects are Jamatia, Kalai, Bru (Reang), Tripura, Rupini and Noatia.


The first efforts of writing Kokborok were made by Radhamohan Thakur. He wrote the grammar of Kókborok named "Kókborokma" published in 1900, as well as two other books: "Tripur Kothamala" and "Tripur Bhasabidhan". Tripur Kothamala was the Kókborok-Bengali-English translation book published in 1906. The "Tripur Bhasabidhan" was published in 1907.

Daulot Ahmed was a contemporary of Radhamohan Thakur and was a pioneer of writing Kókborok Grammar jointly with Mohammad Omar. The Amar jantra, Comilla published his Kókborok grammar book "KOKBOKMA" in 1897.

On 27 December 1945 the "Tripura Janasiksha Samiti" came into being, and it established many schools in different areas of Tripura.

The first Kókborok magazine "Kwtal Kothoma" was edited and published in 1954 by Sudhanya Deb Barma, who was a founder of the Samiti. "Hachuk Khurio" (In the lap of Hills) by Sudhanya Deb Barma is the first modern Kókborok novel. It was published by the Kókborok Sahitya Sabha and Sanskriti Samsad in 1987. One major translation of the 20th century was the "Smai Kwtal", the New Testament of the Bible in Kókborok language, published in 1976 by the Bible Society of India.

The 21st century began for Kókborok literature with the monumental work, the Anglo-Kókborok-Bengali Dictionary compiled by Binoy Deb Barma and published in 2002 A.D. by the Kókborok tei Hukumu Mission. This is the 2nd edition of his previous ground breaking dictionary published in 1996 and is a trilingual dictionary. Twiprani Laihbuma (The Rajmala – History of Tripura) translated by R. K. Debbarma and published in 2002 by KOHM.

The full Holy Bible in Kokborok language was finally published for the first time in the year 2013 by the Bible Society of India.[11] The Baibel Kwthar is currently the largest work and biggest book published in the language with more than 1,300 pages and is now the benchmark for publications in the language.

The present trend of development of the Kókborok literary works show that Kókborok literature is moving forward slowly but steadily with its vivacity and distinctive originality to touch the rich literature of the rich languages.


Many Tripuri cultural organisations have been working fruitfully for the development of the language since the last century. A list of the present organisations and publication houses are:

Government Organisations[edit]

Government research and publications organisations working in Kokborok development are:

  • Directorate of Kokborok, Government of Tripura[13]
  • Tribal Research Institute (TRI), Agartala
  • Language Wing, Education department of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC)

Kokborok Tei Hukumu Mission (KOHM)[edit]

'Kokborok Tei Hukumu' Mission is a Tripuri cultural organisation which has been established to promote the language and culture of the Tripuri people. The mission was started by Naphurai Jamatia. It has its office in Krishnanagar in Agartala.

It is the largest publisher of books in Kokborok, most notable of which is the Kokborok Dictionaries by Binoy Debbarma, Anglo-Kokborok Dictionary (1996) and Anglo-Kokborok-Bengali Trilingual Dictionary (2002). Kok Dictionary, the online Kokborok Dictionary is largely based on it.

Kokborok Library, Khumulwng[edit]

A library of Kokborok books has been functioning in Khumulwng town since 2015. It has been set up by the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) through Government funding and is functioning in a building constructed for the library in Khumulwng town near the Khumulwng stadium.

The library currently holds more than 5,000 books of Kokborok language and related topics.

Educational institutions[edit]

There are two universities in Tripura which provide Kokborok language courses as part of Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees. There are more than 15 colleges in Tripura state where Kokborok is taught as part of the undergraduate courses. Also, there are more than 30 Government schools where Kokborok is taught in the higher secondary school level under the Tripura Board of Secondary Education.[14]

Department of Kokborok, Tripura University[edit]

The Department of Kokborok in Tripura University, Agartala is responsible for the teaching of Kókborok language and literature and started functioning in 2015.

It runs an M.A (Master of Arts) in Kokborok language, a one-year PG Diploma and a 6 months Certificate course.[15][16]

The university grants Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degrees with Kokborok as an elective subject [17] in its various constituent colleges since 2012. The colleges affiliated to the university where Kokborok is taught in the B.A degree are:

  • Ramthakur College, Agartala [18]
  • Government Degree College, Khumulwng [19]
  • NS Mahavidyalaya, Udaipur [20]
  • Government Degree College, Dharmanagar [21]
  • RS Mahavidyala, Kailasahar [22]
  • Government Degree College, Kamalpur [23]
  • Government Degree College, Teliamura [24]
  • Government Degree College, Santirbazar [25]
  • Government Degree College, Longtharai Valley[26]
  • SV Mahavidyalaya, Mohanpur[27]
  • MMD Government Degree College, Sabroom[28]
  • RT Mahavidyalaya, Bishalgarh[29]
  • Dasarath Deb Memorial College, Khowai [30]

Department of Kokborok, Maharaja Bir Bikram (MBB) University[edit]

The Department of Kokborok in Maharaja Bir Bikram University, Agartala is responsible for the teaching of Kókborok language and literature.[31] The State University was established in 2015.

MBB university has three affiliated colleges where Kokborok courses are available:


2011 Census of India[edit]

The details as per the Census of India, 2011 regarding Tripuri language is given as follows:[1]

TRIPURI 10,11,294

  1. Kokborok 9,17,900
  2. Reang 58,539
  3. Tripuri 33,138
  4. Others 1,717

2001 Census of India[edit]

Tripura 854,023

  1. Kókborok 761,964
  2. Others 607



Kók-borok has a script known as Koloma, which is not in popular use. From the 19th century, the Kingdom of Twipra used the Bengali script to write in Kók-borok, but since the independence of India and the merger with India, the Roman script is being promoted by non-governmental organisations. The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) government made regulations in 1992 and 2000 for adoption of the Roman script in the school education system in its areas.[35]

The script issue is highly politicised, with the Left Front government advocating usage of the Asian Bengali script and all the regional indigenous parties and student organisations (INPT, IPFT, NCT, Twipra Students Federation, etc.) and ethnic nationalist organisations (Kokborok Sahitya Sabha, Kokborok tei Hukumu Mission, Movement for Kokborok etc.) advocating for the Roman script.[35]

Both scripts are now used in the state in education as well as in literary and cultural circles.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Census of India 2011 - Languages and Mother tongues
  2. Kokborok at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Reang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Tripuri / Tripura at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Usui at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Early Tripuri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. https://www.sorosoro.org/en/kokborok/
  4. 4.0 4.1 "In Tripura, a musician's bid to preserve the language of the tribes". The Indian Express. 22 May 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  5. "Tribal Language". www.tripurauniv.in. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  6. "Department of Kokborok". www.tripurauniv.in. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  7. http://www.sil.org/silesr/2011/silesr2011-038.pdf
  8. Veikho, Sahiinii Lemaina; Mushahary, Jitamoni (2015). "A preliminary acoustic study of vowels and tones in Kokborok". Nepalese Linguistics. 30: 161–166.
  9. Jacquesson, François (2003). "Kókborok, a short analysis". Hukumu, 10th anniversary volume. Kokborok Tei Hukumu Mission. pp. 109–122. OCLC 801647829.
  10. "Concise Kokborok-English-Dictionary" (PDF).
  11. "Baibel Kwthar – Release of the Bible in Kokborok". Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  12. [1]
  13. Directorate of Kokborok, Government of Tripura
  14. Directorate of Kokborok, School list
  15. Department of Kokborok, Tripura University
  16. Center of Tribal Language, Tripura University
  17. Syllabus, Tripura University
  18. Dept of Kokborok, Ramthakur College, Agartala
  19. Dept of Kokborok, Govt Degree College, Khumulwng
  20. Dept of Kokborok, NS Mahavidyala, Udaipur
  21. Dept of Kokborok, Govt Degree College, Dharmanagar
  22. Dept of Kokborok, RS Mahavidyala, Kailasahar
  23. Dept of Kokborok, Govt Degree College, Kamalpur
  24. Kokborok, Govt degree college, Teliamura
  25. Dept of Kokborok, Govt Degree. College, Santirbazar
  26. Dept of Kokborok, Govt Degree. College, Longtharai Valley
  27. Dept of Kokborok, SV Mahavidyalaya, Mohanpur
  28. Dept of Kokborok, MMD GDC, Sabroom
  29. Dept of Kokborok, RT Mahavidyalaya, Bishalgarh
  30. Dept of Kokborok, Dasarath Deb Memorial College, Khowai
  31. Department of Kokborok, MBB University advertisement
  32. Dept of Kokborok, MBB College
  33. Dept of Kokborok, BBM College, Agartala
  34. Census of India 2001 language report
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 https://www.thestatesman.com/supplements/north/revival-of-tripuras-ancient-literature-1502902441.html

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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