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Tibetan (བོད་སྐད)   བོད་སྐད

Tibetan is Tibetic language spoken mainly in the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, and also in parts of India and Nepal. According to the 1990 census, there are 1.2 million speakers of Standard Tibetan, which is also known as Lhasa Tibetan, and is the Tibetic language with the most speakers.

Before 1949-50, Tibet comprised of three provinces: Amdo, now split between the Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces; Kham, now largely incorporated into the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai, and U-Tsang, which, together with western Kham, is now known as the Tibet Autonomous Region, which was created in 1965.

Standard Tibetan has three main registers: vernacular speech (Phal-skad), formal speech (Zhe-sa), and the formal literary and religious style (Chos-skad), which is used in religious and classical literature.

In the Tibet Autonomous Region Tibetan is an official language, and is the main language of instruction in primary schools. Some subjects can be studied through Tibetan in colleges as well, but the main language of instruction in secondary schools in Mandarin Chinese.

Written Tibetan

During the 7th Century AD Songstem Gampo [སྲོང་བཙན་སྒམ་པོ་] (569-649AD), the 33rd king of the Yarlung Dynasty of southern Tibet and the first Emperor of Tibet, sent Thonmi Sambhota, one of his ministers, to India to gather information on Buddhism. The minister then reputedly devised a script for Tibetan based on the Devanagari model and also wrote a grammar of Tibetan based on Sanskrit grammars.

The new Tibetan alphabet was used to write Tibetan translations of Buddhists texts. The first Sanskrit-Tibetan dictionary, Mahavyutpatti, appeared in the 9th century. Wood block printing, introduced from China, was used in Tibet from an early date and is still used in a few monasteries.

Tibetan literature is mainly concerned with Buddhist themes and includes works translated from Sanskrit and Chinese and original Tibetan works. There are also literary works about the Bon religion, a pre-Buddhist religion indigenous to Tibet. The most unusual genre of Tibetan literature is that of gter-ma (གཏེར་མ་) or 'rediscovered' texts - reputedly the work of ancient masters which have been hidden in remote caves for many centuries.

Notable features

The Tibetan alphabet

The form of the alphabet shown below, known as u-chen (དབུ་ཅན་) is used for printing. Cursive versions of the alphabet, such as the gyuk yig or 'flowing script' (རྒྱུག་ཡིག་) are used for informal writing.

Consonants

Tibetan consonants

How to pronounce and write Tibetan consonants:

Vowels diacritics

Tibetan vowel diacritics

How to pronounce Tibetan vowels:

Conjunct consonants

Standard letter combinations in Tibetan

Note

This table includes the standard consonant combinations used for native Tibetan words. It does not include other combinations found in common loan words or the thousands of combinations used for translitterating Sanskrit words in religious texts.

Source: http://sites.google.com/site/chrisfynn2/home/tibetanscriptfonts/thetibetanwritingsystem/tibetanlettercombinations

Numerals

Tibetan numerals

Punctuation and other symbols

Tibetan punctuation and other symbols

Downloads

Download a Tibetan alphabet chart in Excel, Word or PDF format

Sample text in the u-chen script (དབུ་ཅན་)

འགྲོ་བ་མིའི་རིགས་རྒྱུད་ཡོངས་ལ་སྐྱེས་ཙམ་ཉིད་ནས་ཆེ་མཐོངས་དང༌། ཐོབ་ཐངགི་རང་དབང་འདྲ་མཉམ་དུ་ཡོད་ལ། ཁོང་ཚོར་རང་བྱུང་གི་བློ་རྩལ་དང་བསམ་ཚུལ་བཟང་པོ་འདོན་པའི་འོས་བབས་ཀྱང་ཡོད། དེ་བཞིན་ཕན་ཚུན་གཅིག་གིས་གཅིག་ལ་བུ་སྤུན་གྱི་འདུ་ཤེས་འཛིན་པའི་བྱ་སྤྱོད་ཀྱང་ལག་ལེན་བསྟར་དགོས་པ་ཡིན༎

Sample text in the gyuk yig script (རྒྱུག་ཡིག་)

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Tibetan (gyuk yig script)

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample video in Tibetan

Tibetan script for Sanskrit

These are the Tibetan letters used to write Sanskrit. Some of them are not used in Tibetan.

Tibetan consonants for writing Sanskrit words

Information about Tibetan | Phrases | Numbers | Tower of Babel | Learning materials

Links

Information about the Tibetan language and alphabet
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Tibetan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_script
http://www.tibettravel.org/tibetan-language/tibetan-language-and-grammar.html

Online Tibetan lessons
http://www.memrise.com/courses/english/tibetan/
https://freelanguage.org/learn-tibetan
http://www.learntibetan.net/

Tibetan phrases
https://wikitravel.org/en/Tibetan_phrasebook
http://www.eclipse.co.uk/tibet/lang.html
http://www.oocities.com/tibetanlanguage/language.html
http://itibettravel.com/top-100-basic-tibetan-phrases-to-know-while-in-tibet/

Tibetan dictionaries
http://www.thlib.org/reference/dictionaries/tibetan-dictionary/translate.php
http://nitartha.pythonanywhere.com/search
http://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/Main_Page
http://www.freelang.net/online/tibetan.php

Nitartha international - Tibetan software and online dictionary
http://nitartha.org

The Tibetan language Institute - teaches Tibetan in Hamilton, Montana, USA
http://www.tibetanlanguage.org

PechaMaker - a tool for creation of Tibetan Pecha
http://www.pechamaker.com

Tibetan calligraphy
http://www.asianart.com/exhibitions/calligraphy
https://www.tashimannox.com
http://www.tibetan-calligraphy.com

Online Tibetan language news and radio
http://www.rfa.org/tibetan/
http://www.tibettimes.net

Tibetan fonts and software
http://www.wazu.jp/gallery/Fonts_Tibetan.html
http://tsampa.org/tibetan/software/
http://www.thlib.org/tools/scripts/wiki/Tibetan Fonts.html
http://www.aerifal.cx/~dalias/bodyig/fonts/

ATTU - ANSI Tibetan to Unicode font convertor
http://www.pechamaker.com/attu/

Tibetan & Himalayan Digital Library (THDL)
http://thdl.org

Tibetan Government in Exile's Official Web Site (includes information on Tibetan language and culture): http://www.tibet.net

Tibet Travel Tips
http://www.yowangdu.com/tibet_travel.html

Some of the writing systems used to write Sanskrit

Tibeto-Burman languages

Achang, Arakanese, Balti, Bantawa, Bisu, Drung, Dzongkha, Garo, Hajong, Hani, Hmar, Jingpho, Karen, Kayah Li, Ladakhi, Lahu, Lepcha, Limbu, Lipo, Lisu, Manipuri, Marma, Mro, Naxi, Nepal Bhasa / Newari, Sikkimese, Sunuwar, Tangkhul Naga, Tibetan, Tshangla, Tujia, Yi

Languages written with the Tibetan alphabet

Balti, Bokar, Dzongkha (Bhutanese), Ladakhi, Sikkimese, Tibetan, Tshangla

Syllabic alphabets / abugidas


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