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Lisu (LI-SU)

Lisu is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by about 940,000 people in Yunnan in the south west of China, in northern Burma (Myanmar), in Thailand and in India. It is closely related to Lahu and Akha, and also to Burmese, Kachin and Yi.

Lisu has been written with a number of different scripts, including the Pollard Script, the Fraser alphabet, the Lisu syllbary and the Latin Lisu alphabet.

Fraser alphabet

The Fraser alphabet or Old Lisu Alphabet was invented in about 1915 by Sara Ba Thaw, a Karen preacher from Myanmar, and improved by the missionary James O. Fraser, a missionary who lived and worked with the Lisu people in China from 1910 to 1949. During his time in China, Fraser learnt to speak Chinese and Lisu and produced a Lisu translation of the New Testament using his alphabet. He also devised a system of muscial notation for the Lisu to use.

In 1992 the Chinese government recognised the Fraser alphabet as the official script for the Lisu language and has encouraged its use since then.

Notable features

Fraser alphabet

Lisu Latin alphabet

The Lisu Latin alphabet is based on Pinyin and was introduced in China in 1964, however most Lisu speakers continued to use the Fraser alphabet.

Lisu Latin alphabet


Sample text in the Fraser alphabet

ꓖꓳ ꓡꓱ ꓠꓬꓲ ꓠꓴ ꓪ ꓪꓝꓽ ꓘꓴꓝˍ ꓠꓬ ꓕꓱ ꓡꓱ ꓐꓯ -· ꓟꓴ ꓗꓪ ꓕꓯ ꓢꓲ ꓗꓪ ꓔꓬꓝˍ ꓟ ꓮꓪ ꓠꓴꓝꓽ ꓐꓝꓹ ꓐꓝꓽꓳ -· ꓠꓴ ꓟꓬꓱꓝꓺ ꓢꓲ ꓫꓬꓝˍ ꓟ ꓕꓯ ꓒꓵꓝꓽ ꓔꓬ ꓩꓲ ·· ꓠꓴ ꓗꓴꓷ ꓓꓳ ꓡ ꓩꓲ = ꓟꓴ ꓗꓪ ꓕꓯ ꓢꓲ ꓗꓪ ꓠꓴ ꓠꓲꓝꓹ ꓡꓶꓝꓽ ꓒꓬꓱꓝꓼ ꓡꓝˍ ꓟꓝˍ ꓡꓰ ꓐꓰ -· ꓟꓲ ꓠꓯ ꓗꓪꓝˍ ꓟꓲ ꓒꓬꓷꓝꓼ ꓡ ꓩꓲ = * ꓕꓲ ꓠꓬꓲ ꓡꓰ ꓕꓲ ꓠꓬꓲ ꓥꓪ ꓠꓴꓝꓽ ꓣꓱꓝꓽ ꓬꓯꓝꓼꓝˍ ꓟ ꓤꓝꓽ ꓓꓴ -· ꓠꓬꓲꓝꓸ ꓠꓬꓲ ꓥꓪ ꓠꓴꓝꓽ ꓔꓯ ꓖꓶ ꓤꓝꓽ ꓡꓯ =· ꓥꓪ ꓠꓴꓝꓽ ꓔꓯ ꓛꓬꓝꓻ ꓡ ꓢꓴ ꓔꓯ ꓥꓪ ꓠꓴꓝꓽ ꓖꓝꓽ ꓖꓶꓝˍ ꓟꓝˍ ꓡꓰ ꓐꓰ -· ꓠꓴ ꓡꓰ ꓥꓪ ꓠꓴ ꓛꓬꓝꓻ ꓗꓷ ꓟ ꓖꓝꓽ ꓖꓶ ꓡꓯ = ꓤꓝꓹ ꓠꓬꓲꓝˍ ꓟ ꓗꓪ ꓥꓪ ꓠꓴꓝꓽ ꓔꓯ ꓕꓝꓽ ꓧꓳꓝꓽ ꓓꓵ ꓙꓰ -· ꓥꓶꓝˍ ꓟ ꓗꓪ ꓐꓰ ꓠꓝꓽ ꓥꓪ ꓠꓴꓝꓽ ꓔꓯ ꓚꓬꓴ ꓓꓳ ꓖꓶ ꓡꓯ = ꓮ ꓡꓲꓳ ꓐꓯ ꓠꓬ ꓗꓴꓳꓝꓼꓝˍ ꓐꓰ ꓪꓝꓽ ꓠꓬꓲꓝˍ ꓟꓝˍ ꓐꓰ ꓟꓬꓱ ꓓꓳꓝꓽ ꓠꓬ -· ꓕꓲ ꓞꓲꓝꓼ ꓕꓲ ꓑ ꓠꓴ ꓔꓯ ꓟ ꓥ ꓡꓳ -· ꓐꓰ -· ꓐꓯ ꓠꓯꓝˍ ꓡꓳ = · ꓮ ꓡꓲꓳ ꓐꓯ ꓠꓬ ꓢꓴ ꓛꓬꓝꓻ ꓗꓷ ꓟ ꓔꓯ ꓠꓴ ꓪꓝꓽ ꓖꓝꓽ ꓖꓶꓝˍ ꓕꓯ ꓠꓝꓽ -· ꓟꓴ ꓗꓪ ꓕꓯ ꓢꓲ ꓗꓪ ꓟ ꓠꓴ ꓪ ꓐꓝꓹ ꓐꓝˍ ꓟꓲ ꓠꓴ ꓪ ꓛꓬ ꓗꓷ ꓟ ꓖ ꓖꓶ ꓡꓝˍ ꓥꓳ = ꓢꓴ ꓛꓬ ꓗꓷ ꓟ ꓕꓯ ꓠꓴ ꓪ ꓟꓝꓽ ꓖ ꓖꓶ ꓕꓯ ꓠꓝꓽ -· ꓠꓴ ꓪ ꓐꓝꓹ ꓐꓝˍ ꓟꓝꓽ ꓠꓴ ꓪ ꓛꓬ ꓗꓷ ꓟ ꓔꓯ ꓟꓝꓽ ꓖ ꓖꓶ ꓡꓝꓻ =


So when you pray, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, we pray that your name will always be kept holy. We pray that your kingdom will come, and that the things you want will be done here on earth, the same as in heaven. Give us the food we need for each day. Forgive the sins we have done, the same as we have forgiven the people that did wrong to us. Don't let us be tempted, but save us from the Evil One. Yes, if you forgive other people for the things they do wrong, then your Father in heaven will also forgive you for the things you do wrong.


Information about Lisu and the Fraser Alphabet | Pollard Script | Tower of Babel in Lisu


Information about the Fraser alphabet

Information about the Lisu language

Information about J. O. Fraser

Tibeto-Burman languages

Arakanese, Bantawa, Burmese, Dzongkha, Garo, Karbi, Karen, Kayah Li, Ladakhi, Lahu, Lepcha, Limbu, Lisu, Manipuri, Marma, Mizo, Mro, Naxi, Nepal Bhasa / Newari, Sikkimese, Sunuwar, Tibetan, Tshangla, Tujia, Yi

Syllabic alphabets / abugidas