Katuic languages

Ethnicity: Katuic peoples
Linguistic classification:


  • Katuic
  • Katu
  • Kui–Bru (West)
  • Pacoh
  • Ta'Oi–Kriang
Glottolog: katu1271[1]

The fifteen Katuic languages form a branch of the Austroasiatic languages spoken by about 1.3 million people in Southeast Asia. People who speak Katuic languages are called the Katuic peoples. Paul Sidwell is the leading specialist on the Katuic languages. He notes that Austroasiatic/Mon–Khmer languages are lexically more similar to Katuic and Bahnaric the closer they are geographically. He says this geographic similarity is independent of which branch of the family each language belongs to. He also says Katuic and Bahnaric do not have any shared innovations, so they do not form a branch of the Austroasiatic family.


In 1966, a lexicostatistical analysis of various Mon-Khmer languages in Indochina was performed by SIL linguists David Thomas and Richard Phillips. This study resulted in the recognition of two distinct new subbranches of Mon-Khmer, namely Katuic and Bahnaric (Sidwell 2009).

Data for adequate classification of the Mon–Khmer Katuic languages only become available after the opening of Laos to foreign researchers in the 1990s. The following classification is that of Sidwell (2005). Sidwell (2005) casts doubt on Diffloth's Vieto-Katuic hypothesis, saying that the evidence is ambiguous, and that it is not clear where Katuic belongs in the family. Additionally, Sidwell (2009) considers the Katu branch to be the most conservative subgroup of Katuic, while all the other branches have developed more innovations.

Ethnologue also lists Kassang, but that is a Bahnaric language (Sidwell 2003). Lê, et. al (2014:294)[2] reports a Katu subgroup called Ba-hi living in mountainous areas of Phong Điền District, Vietnam.

Kuy and Bru each have around half a million speakers, while the Ta’Oi cluster has around 200,000 speakers.


Reconstructions of Proto-Katuic, or its sub-branches, include:

Sidwell (2005) reconstructs the consonant inventory of proto-Katuic as follows:

*w*l, *r*j
*s *h

This is identical to reconstructions of Proto-Mon Khmer except for , which is better preserved in the Katuic languages than in other branches of Austro-Asiatic, and which Sidwell believes was also present in Proto-Mon Khmer.

Further reading


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Katuic". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Lê Bá Thảo, Hoàng Ma, et. al; Viện hàn lâm khoa học xã hội Việt Nam - Viện dân tộc học. 2014. Các dân tộc ít người ở Việt Nam: các tỉnh phía nam. Ha Noi: Nhà xuất bản khoa học xã hội. ISBN 978-604-90-2436-8

External links

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