The Pahawh Hmong alphabet was invented in 1959 by Shong
Lue Yang (), an illiterate Hmong farmer living in northern Laos
close to the border with Vietnam. Shong Lue Yang believed that
the alphabet was revealed to him by God, a belief shared by many
among the Hmong.
Shong Lue Yang and his followers worked uncessingly to improve and
disseminate his alphabet, and to bring about a revival of Hmong culture.
In 1971 he was assassinated by government troops who were worried
about his increasing influence.
Shong Lue Yang also created an alphabet for the Khmu language (a member
of the Mon-Khmer family), but it never caught on and soon disappeared.
Type of writing system: syllabic alphabet
Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines
Syllables are written with the vowel first then the consonant, but
are pronounced with the consonant first.
Hmong has 8 tones which are indicated in the Pahawh Hmong alphabet with diacritics.
Though few Hmong use the Pahawh Hmong alphabet, they are very proud of the fact that
it exists and that is was created by one of their people.
Used to write
Hmong, a Hmong-Mien language spoken by about 2.6 million people
in China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, USA, and French Guiana.
There are two major varieties of Hmong: White Hmong (Hmoob Dawb)
and Green/Blue Hmong (Moob Leeg/Hmoob Ntsuab), which are named
after the traditional colours worn by women of the different groups.