New Akha   New Akha

The New Akha alphabet is an alternative way of writing the Akha language, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken Yunnan province of China, Thailand and Burma by about 1 million people. It was devised by Ian James. There are a number of other methods of writing Akha using the Latin alphabet.

Part of Ian's aim was to create a script which looked both authentically historic and reasonably sophisticated. The design is based on ancient Pallava/Brahmi, the parent of almost all scripts of Southeast Asia. But while the consonants are clearly derived (and will be somewhat familiar to readers of Tai- and Mon-based languages), the vowels and tones are necessarily specific to Akha.

Notable features

Used to write

Akha and related languages of the South Loloish branch of the Tibeto-Burman family.

New Akha alphabet

Consonants and vowls

The consonant phonemes are listed here with the international phonetic symbol and the 'Baptist Akha' romanization. Some of these can be devoiced, shown by the addition of a dot above. Unless in the presence of a creaky vowel-tone (see below), those will also be aspirated (breathy):

Syllables end in vowels (are coda-less), except for those few with final /-m/. Some vowels are paired with lip-rounded versions. A few diphthongs are used in borrowed words.

New Akha consonants and vowels

If one syllable glides smoothly into a second syllable which has only a vowel, the bridging vowel-holder consisting of a vertical bar is used in lieu of a consonant. Otherwise, initial vowels have the glottal plosive as their consonant.


Tones are at one of 3 pitches. Their markers are written as joiners between the consonant and vowel, helping to shape a syllable into a unit glyph. The addition of a 'creaky' symbol over the basic tone symbol gives a shorter, throaty effect to the vowel. If one of the devoiced consonants is involved, the creakiness caps any aspiration.

Here, the vowel /o/ is used as an example to hang off the tone marker. The /m/ phoneme can also fill a syllable, and then like a vowel can also take a tone; there are special forms for solo low and high syllabic /m/.

New Akha vowels and tone indication

Numerals and numbers

For numerals, it may be sufficient to borrow the local Burmese (modified slightly), or try a new set based loosely on the Thai:

New Akha numerals and numbers

Sample text in the New Akha alphabet

Sample text in the New Akha alphabet


Transliteration of the sample text in the New Akha alphabet

The romanized extract represents the opening passages of the Bible (Genesis) is the sample given at


Information about the Akha language

Information about the Akha people

The Akha Language Podcast : Learn Akha Online

Download a font for the New Akha alphabet (TrueType, 11K)

Alphabets by Ian James

Akkhara Muni, Amethyst, Bostani, Elektrum, Fontok, Klaekson-Zaen, Maui, New Akha, New Maori, New Mong, Pranish, SIGIL, Sigil Panel Script, Slinseng-Fi, Tengwar for Scottish Gaelic, Xylphika

See also:

Constructed scripts for: Ainu | Arabic | Chinese languages | Dutch | English | Hawaiian | Hungarian | Japanese | Korean | Lingala | Malay & Indonesian | Persian | Tagalog / Filipino | Russian | Sanskrit | Spanish | Taino | Turkish | Vietnamese | Welsh | Other natural languages | Colour-based scripts | Tactile scripts | Phonetic/universal scripts | Constructed scripts for constructed languages | Adaptations of existing alphabets | Fictional alphabets | Magical alphabets | A-Z index | How to submit a constructed script


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