There is no currently no official, standardized roman transcription for the Cham script. However, there have been multiple attempts to introduce a roman transliteration, beginning in 1906 when the French scholars √Čtienne Aymonier and Antoine Cabaton devised a system of romanization to use in their Cham-French dictionary. At that time, and until the mid-20th century, it appears that Cham speakers were somewhat ambivalent towards romanization.

In the 1970s the Vietnamese government launched a project to allow minority language education at the preschool / primary level. A number of minority groups began using romanized orthographies to teach their languages, and Doris and David Blood, who were working with the Cham people, began developing a system of transcription for use in Cham education also. However, largely under the influence of one prominent Cham official, the new transcription met with rigid opposition, with Cham speakers of all ages and from diverse educational backgrounds resisting it as a threat to their heritage.

Marc Brunelle noted that misgivings concerning a roman-based script were so strong that even the IPA transcriptions he made in his field notes while studying the Cham language invited suspicion 1.

In recent years, Cham intellectuals have begun to recognize the advantages of having a fully-functioning romanized writing system to facilitate analysis of ancient Cham texts. Such a system would likely only be formally accepted by the people as a secondary script to the Cham script. However, on an informal level, young people have begun to use an ad-hoc romanized script for writing Cham text messages, emails and web content. This is based on the roman-based Vietnamese script, but is in no way standardized.


1 Marc Brunelle. 2008. Diglossia, Bilingualism and Literacy: can written Eastern Cham be revitalized? Presented at the conference on Socio-cultural issues of Champa 175 Years after its disappearance, San Jose, CA