Moken is an Austronesian language spoken in southern Thailand and in the Mergui Archipelago of southern Burma. It is closely related to but distinct from Moklen.

Native toBurma, Thailand
RegionMergui Archipelago, west of the Kra Isthmus
Native speakers
(8,000 cited 1984–2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mwt


From north to south the known Moken dialects are:

  • Dung (635 speakers[3])
  • Jait (331 speakers[3])
  • Lebi, L'be (980 speakers[3])
  • Niawi
  • Jadiak

Dung, Jait, Lebi, and Niawi are spoken in Burma, and Jadiak in Thailand. The Burmese varieties have not been adequately investigated.

In Ranong Province, Thailand, the main Moken dialects spoken are (Larish 2005):

  • Northern Jadiak (Ko Surin Moken). This variety has been studied by Ivanoff (1988)[4] and Hinshiranan (1996).[5]
  • Southern Jadiak (Rawai Moken), spoken at southern end of Phuket Island in proximity with Urak Lawoi' speakers. It has been documented by Chantanakomes (1980).[6]


  1. ^ Moken at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Moken". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c Naw Say Bay. 2015. The process of preserving Moken from extinction. Paper presented at SoLE-4, Payap University.
  4. ^ Hinshiranan, N. (1996) The analysis of Moken opportunistic foragers’ intragroup and intergroup relations, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hawai'i.
  5. ^ Ivanoff, J. (1988) Moken: Les naufragés de l’histoire, Ph.D. dissertation, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
  6. ^ Chantanakomes, Veena. 1980. A description of Moken: a Malayo-Polynesian language. MA thesis, Mahidol University.
  • Larish, Michael. 2005. "Moken and Moklen." in Alexander Adelaar and Nikolaus P. Himmelmann (eds.), The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar, 513-533. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-7007-1286-0.
  • Naw Say Bay. 1995. "The phonology of the Dung dialect of Moken", in Papers in Southeast Asian Linguistics No. 13, Studies in Burmese Languages, ed. D. Bradley, vol. 13, pp. 193–205. Pacific Linguistics, the Australian National University.