Updated 12 May, 2021
This page gathers basic information about the Tai Tham script and its use for the Khün language. It aims (generally) to provide an overview of the orthography and typographic features, and (specifically) to advise how to write Khün using Unicode.
Phonetic transcriptions on this page should be treated as an approximate guide, only. Many are more phonemic than phonetic, and there may be variations depending on the source of the transcription.
ᨡᩳ᩶ 1 ᨣᩢ᩠ᨶᩉᩮᩖᩨᨠᩥ᩠ᨶ ᨣᩢᩐᩢᩣᨡᩣ᩠ᨿᨸᩮ᩠ᨶᨦᩫ᩠ᨶ ᨠᩮ᩠ᨷᩉᩬᨾᩋᩬᨾᩅᩱᩢᨯ᩠᩶ᨦᨶᩦ᩶ ᨴᩩᨠᪧᨸᩦᨾᩣᨷᩢᨡᩣ᩠ᨯ ᨧᩥ᩠᩵ᨦᨠ᩠ᨴᩣᩴᩉᩨ᩶ᨡᩮᩢᩣᨻᩳ᩵ᨾᩯ᩵ᩃᩪᨠ ᨷᩢᨯᩱᩢᨠᩢᩢ᩠ᨶᩈᩢ᩠ᨦᩈᩢ᩠ᨠᨩᩮᩨᩬ.
ᨡᩳ᩶ 2 ᨴᩩᨠᨤ᩠ᨶᩫᨾᩦᩈᩥᨴ᩠ᨵᩥᩓᩢᨻ᩠ᨦᩈᩁᨽᩣ᩠ᨷ ᨲᩣ᩠ᨾᨴᩦ᩵ᨯᩱᩢᨠ᩵ᩣ᩠ᩅᩅᩱᩢᨶᩱᨡᩳ᩶ᨠᨲᩥᨠᩣᩋ᩠ᨶᩢᨶᩦ᩶ ᨯᩰ᩠ᨿᨷᩢᨯᩱᩢᨲᩯ᩠ᨠᨲ᩵ᩣ᩠ᨦᨠ᩠ᨶᩢ ᨷᩢᩅᩤ᩵ᩋ᩠ᨶᩢᨯᩱ ᩉᩮ᩠ᨾᩨᩁᩅᩤ᩵ ᨩᩮ᩠ᩋᩨ᩶ᨩᩣ᩠ᨲ ᨹ᩠ᩅᩥ ᨻ᩠ᨿᨯ ᨽᩣᩈᩣ ᩈᩣᩈᨶᩣ ᨣ᩠ᩅᩣ᩠ᨾᨣ᩠ᨯᩧᩉ᩠ᨶᩢᨴᩤ᩠ᨦᨠᩣ᩠ᩁᨾᩮ᩠ᨦᩨ ᩉᩕᩨᨴᩤ᩠ᨦᩋ᩠ᨶᩨ᩵ᪧ ᨩᩣ᩠ᨲᨩᩮ᩠ᩋᩨ᩶ ᩈ᩠ᨦᩢᨣ᩠ᨾᩫ ᩈᩫ᩠ᨾᨷ᩠ᨲᩢ ᨩᩣ᩠ᨲᨠᩮ᩠ᨯᩨ ᩉᩕᩨᩈᨳᩣᨶᩋ᩠ᨶᩨ᩵ᪧ ᨳᩯ᩠ᨦᩢᨷᩕᨠᩣ᩠ᩁᩉ᩠ᨶᩧ᩵ᨦ ᨷᩢᨾᩦᨣ᩠ᩅᩣ᩠ᨾᨲᩯ᩠ᨠᨲ᩵ᩣ᩠ᨦᨠ᩠ᨶᩢ ᨷᩢᩅᩤ᩵ᨴᩤ᩠ᨦᨠᩣ᩠ᩁᨾᩮ᩠ᨦᩨ ᨠᩣ᩠ᩁᩈᩣ᩠ᩁᨠᩣ᩠ᩁᩃᩩᨾ ᨠᩣ᩠ᨦᨲ᩵ᩣ᩠ᨦᨷᩤ᩠ᨶᩢᨲ᩵ᩣ᩠ᨦᨾᩮ᩠ᨦᩨ ᩉᩕᩨᨠᩣ᩠ᩁᨶᩱᨯ᩠ᨶᩥᨯᩯ᩠ᨶᨴᩦ᩵ᨤ᩠ᨶᩫᩋᩣᩈᩱ᩠ᨿᩀᩪ᩵ ᨷᩢᩅᩤ᩵ᨯ᩠ᨶᩥᨯᩯ᩠ᨶᨶᩦ᩶ᨧᩢᨸᩮ᩠ᨶᩑᨠᩁᩣ᩠ᨩ ᩀᩪ᩵ᨶᩱᨣ᩠ᩅᩣ᩠ᨾᨸ᩠ᨠᩫᨣᩕ᩠ᩋᨦᨡ᩠ᩋᨦᨲ᩠ᨶᩫ ᩉᩕᩨᩀᩪ᩵ᨲᩱᩢᩋᩴᩣᨶᩣ᩠ᨧᨲ᩠ᨶᩫᨯᩱᪧᨴ᩠ᨦᩢᩈᩢ᩠ᨿᨦ
The Tai Tham or Lanna script is used for three living languages: Northern Thai (Kham Mueang), Tai Lü and Khün. It was also used for Lao Tham (or old Lao) and other dialect variants in Buddhist palm leaves and notebooks.
The Unicode Standard says: "Few of the six million speakers of Northern Thai are literate in the Tai Tham script, although there is some rising interest in the script among the young. There are about 690,000 speakers of Tai Lue. Of those, many people born before 1950 are literate in the Tai Tham script, and newspapers and other literature are regularly produced in the Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan using the script. Younger speakers are taught the New Tai Lue script, instead. The Tai Tham script continues to be taught in the Tai Lue monasteries. There are 107,000 speakers of Khün, for which Tai Tham is the only script."
The repertoires and glyph shapes for Tai Khün and Northern Thai differ somewhat, although both languages can be written with the same script. Different fonts are required to service each.
The script is known by various language-specific and region-specific names, such as Old Xishuang banna Dai or Old Tai Lue in China, Khün in Myanmar, and Tua Mueang, Lanna, or Yuan in Thailand.
ᨴᩱ᩠ᨿᨡᩨ᩠ᨶ táj kʰɯ̌ːn Tai Khün ᨲ᩠ᩅᩫᨾᩮᩥᩬᨦ tǔa.mɯ̄aŋ Northern Thai (Tua Mueang)
The ancestor of the Tai Tham script is Mon, and before that Burmese, originally deriving from Brahmi. There is also a summary page for the New Tai Lü script, which is a simplified version of the Tai Tham script used in southern China.
Sources Unicode, Wikipedia.
The Tai Tham script is an abugida, ie. consonants carry an inherent vowel sound that is overridden using vowel signs. In Khün, consonants carry an inherent vowel a. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features of the modern Tai Khün orthography.
Show characters in the Tai Khün orthography described here, grouped by
Tai Tham text runs left to right in horizontal lines.
Words are not separated by spaces, however syllables may be separated by ZWSP, as long as they don't fall inside a stack.
Each onset consonant is associated with a high, mid, or low class related to tone. Tone is indicated by a combination of the consonant class, the syllable type (checked/unchecked), plus any tone mark.
Tai Tham has stacked consonants, but these do not necessarily indicate consonant clusters. The script is unusual in that any consonant in a stack can retain its inherent vowel, or be associated with a vowel-sign. The sakot, which produces stacks, is never visible.
Stacks can span word boundaries.
Syllable-initial clusters use 2 dedicated code points for the medial l, and a subjoined letter for medial w.
Syllable-final consonant sounds can be written using 7 special diacritics, but otherwise use ordinary letters, which may or may not be subjoined depending on the context.
The Tai Khün orthography has an inherent vowel, and represents vowels using 18 vowel-signs (including 4 prescripts), and 3 consonants. All vowel-signs are combining marks, and are stored after the base character. Vowels are often written differently when they appear in a closed vs. open syllable.
There is an incomplete set of independent vowels, and standalone vowel sounds are typically written using vowel-signs applied to ᩋ [U+1A4B TAI THAM LETTER A].
This section lists 25 composite vowels (made from 13 vowel-signs, and 3 consonants/diacritics). Composite vowels can involve up to 5 glyphs, which can surround the base consonant(s) on up to 4 sides, eg. ᩮᨠᩬᩨᩡ᩠ᨿ ēkɔ̄ɯ̄a˖y̱
Northern Thai and Khün not only use a slightly different set of characters, but a number of characters have consistently divergeant shapes.
Dashes are used to indicate the location of a consonant or consonant cluster. Prescript vowel-signs have been stored before the hyphen because of the limitations of the font, but in reality all vowel-signs should occur after the consonant they modify.
The index points to locations where a character is mentioned in this page, and indicates whether it is used by the modern Tai Khün orthography described here.
These are sounds for the Tai Khün language.
Click on the sounds to reveal locations in this document where they are mentioned.
Phones in a lighter colour are non-native or allophones.
In the absence of any other consonant, short vowels are always followed by a glottal stop. Long vowels never occur before a glottal stop.o,143
With one exception, ia, Khün diphthongs all append j or w to a plain vowel.
Most rhymes ending in an approximant (j or w) are regular combinations of vowel nucleus and approximant coda, except that the j or w is usually subjoined to the preceding vowel-sign. These include -iw -e:w -ɛːw -aːw -ɯj -ɯːj -ɤj -ɤːj -aːj -uj.o,152
Owen says that most archaic diphthongs have morphed into plain vowels in Khün speech, however the remnants of the former sounds are seen in the duplication of written forms for e: ɤː oː in the earlier table which are represented by a sequence of vowel-signs.
cʰ seems to be regarded as not a native Khün sound, but rather associated with reading the alphabet out loud and in learned pronunciation of Pali loanwords.o,142
There seems to be general agreement that initial consonant clusters are limited to kw and kʰw, although some have found other sounds in words loaned from Burmese, Sanskrit or Pali.o,142
The initial glottal stop is also pronounced before independent vowels, though they are not listed here.
The glottal stop is unwritten and non-phonemic, but is pronounced after a short, open vowel.
Words in the Tai languages are mostly monosyllabic, however multi-syllable borrowings and compound words occur.
Owen describes the stressed phonological syllable in Khün as C(C)V(C)T. The second consonant in an initial cluster is highly restricted. The onset consonant can be a glottal stop. Unstressed syllables are CVT, where the vowel is normally a.
Dialects differ, and experts also differ, but the basic sounds of Khün appear to grosso-modo include the following.
p pʰ b k kʰ t tʰ d c cʰ ʔ
i iː ɯ ɯː u uː
|p t k ʔ|
f s h
|e eː ɤ ɤː o oː|
m n ŋ
|ɛ ɛː a aː ɔ ɔː||m n ŋ|
j r l w
|(r) l||w j|
Final ʔ occurs only after short vowels.
Dashes are used to indicate the location of a consonant or consonant cluster. Prescript vowel-signs have been stored before the hyphen because of the limitations of the font, but in reality all vowel-signs should occur after the consonant they modify.
a following a consonant is not written, but is seen as an inherent part of the consonant letter, so ka is written by simply using the consonant letter ᨠ [U+1A20 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KA].
Non-inherent vowel sounds that follow a consonant can be represented using vowel-signs, eg. ki is written ᨠᩥ [U+1A20 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KA + U+1A65 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN I].
Tai Khün uses the following vowel-signs. They may be used on their own, or in combination with others (see composite_vowels).
Characters that produce vowel signs are all combining characters.
In principle, all vowel-signs are typed and stored after the base consonant, whether or not they precede it when displayed. The font takes care of the glyph positioning. However, the Unicode Consortium is currently examining the coding model for Tai Tham. There is a possibility that prescript vowel-signs may be stored before the consonant in future.
Seven vowel-signs are spacing marks, meaning that they consume horizontal space when added to a base consonant.
ᩤ [U+1A64 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN TALL AA] and ᩣ [U+1A63 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN AA] are both used to represent the same phoneme. The choice of which is used is a matter of spelling. The taller version is typically (Owen says only, for Khün o,152) used after ᨷ ᩅ ᨴ ᨵ ᨣand avoids confusion with otherwise similar shapes, eg. ᩅᩣ looks like ᨲ. Some textbooks also recommend it's usee after ᨧ ᨻ ᩁ ᨽ
Northern Thai, also uses ᩲ [U+1A72 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN THAM AI], however, ᩭ [U+1A6D TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN OY] is not used in Northern Thai.u,655
Four vowel-signs appear to the left of the base consonant letter or cluster, eg. ᨠᩱ᩵
These combining marks are in principle stored after the base consonant: the font places the glyph before the base consonant. However, the Unicode Consortium is currently examining the coding model for Tai Tham. There is a possibility that prescript vowel-signs may be stored before the consonant in future. Also, some fonts already require this kind of handling, especially for dealing with complex combinations of characters.
The following letters can be used with other vowel-signs or in subjoined form to represent a vowel sound.
The sequence ᩠ᨿ [U+1A60 TAI THAM SIGN SAKOT + U+1A3F TAI THAM LETTER LOW YA] is pronounced as the diphthong ia in Northern Thai and as eː in Khün.
The sequence ᩠ᩅ [U+1A60 TAI THAM SIGN SAKOT + U+1A45 TAI THAM LETTER WA] is pronounced as the diphthong ua.
Both of these characters also appear as a part of the combinations described below.
ᩋ [U+1A4B TAI THAM LETTER A] on its own represents the standalone version of the inherent vowel, ʔa. It is used as a base for other independentvowels.
All vowels represented by combinations of the above characters:
The following list shows where vowel-signs are positioned around a base consonant to produce vowels, and how many instances of that pattern there are. The figure after the + sign represents combinations of Unicode characters, The list includes subjoined WA and YAand the postfixed ᩋ.
Vowel components can occur concurrently on 4 sides of the base, eg. ᩅᩮᩬᩨᩡ.
Distribution of vowel elements is as follows:
|ᩢ ᩫ ᩳ ᩴᩘ|
|ᩮ ᩯ ᩱ ᩰ ᩲ||ᩡ ᩅ ᩣ ᩤ ᩋ||ᩡ|
|ᩩ ᩪ ᩬ||ᩭ ᩠ᨿ|
Characters that don't appear in the combinations:
The standard way to represent vowels not preceded by a consonant in Tai Khün is to use ᩋ [U+1A4B TAI THAM LETTER A] with a vowel-sign, eg. ᩋᩧ᩠ᨷ
Tai Tham also has an incomplete set of independent vowel letters. The set includes a character to represent the inherent vowel sound, but doesn't cover all such possible vowels.
The 6 vowel letters are used in syllable-initial position where there is no consonant onset, eg. ᩑᨠ
The use of independent vowels is lexically constrained.
ᩒ [U+1A52 TAI THAM LETTER OO] is not used in Northern Thai.u,654
With the high/low categorisation of consonants, Tai Tham writing needs only the two combining tone marks below to indicate one of 6 possible phonetic tones.
The Unicode block for Khün contains 3 more tone marks, although they are rarely used.
Owen describes various studies of tones in Khün which reach slightly different conclusions.oIn addition, some studies conclude that there are 6 tones in total, and others 5. The table below shows Owen's 6-tone system.
|mid glottalised||˧˧ʔ||33ʔ||kaː˧˧ʔ dance|
|high falling||˥˩||51||kaː˥˩ trade|
If there is a vowel over or below a consonant or consonant stack, the tone mark follows the vowel in storage, and is displayed above or alongside the vowel.
Otherwise, the tone is input after the consonant, ie. before a vowel sign that is displayed to the right or below, and appears over the consonant.e
The default fonts used here expect the tone to be typed after a lefted vowel if there is one; after a vowel above, if there is one; before a vowel to the right; and doesn't seem to matter wrt low vowel. See this test. Noto agrees except for lefted vowels.
The following chart shows how to tell which tones are associated with a syllable.
The following tables show how the above vowel sounds commonly map to characters or sequences of characters. Sounds are grouped according to whether they appear in open (o) or closed (c) syllables, or as a standalone vowel (s).
For some diphthongs ending in -j or -w, Owen indicates that phonetic sequences exist. but offers no examples. Based on other examples, it is assumed here that -j is formed using sakot+ya, and -w using sakot+wa, except where the preceding vowel-sign extends below the baseline (such as for uj).
–ᩥ [U+1A65 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN I], eg. ᨠᩥ᩠ᨶ .
–ᩦ [U+1A66 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN II], eg. ᨶᩦ᩶
–ᩧ [U+1A67 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN UE], eg. ᩋᩧ᩠ᨷ .
–ᩨ [U+1A68 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN UUE], eg. ᩋᩨ᩠᩵ᨶ
–ᩩ [U+1A69 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN U], eg. ᩃᩩᨦ .
–ᩪ [U+1A6A TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN UU], eg. ᩃᩪᨠ .
ᩐ [U+1A50 TAI THAM LETTER UU], eg. ᩐ᩶ᩣ .
ᩮ– [U+1A6E TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN E], eg. ᩈᩮᩓ᩠ᩅ᩶ .
ᩑ [U+1A51 TAI THAM LETTER EE], eg. ᩑᨠ .
ᩰ– [U+1A70 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN OO], eg. ᨷᩕᩰ᩠ᨯ .
–ᩫ– [U+1A6B TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN O], eg. ᨤᩫ᩠ᨶ .
–ᩳ [U+1A73 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN OA ABOVE], eg. ᨻᩳ᩵ᨾᩯ᩵ .
–ᩬ– [U+1A6C TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN OA BELOW], eg. ᩉᩬᨷ .
–ᩢ– [U+1A62 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN MAI SAT], eg. ᩅᩢ᩠ᨶ .
ᩋ [U+1A4B TAI THAM LETTER A], eg. ᩋᨾᩛ .
–ᩭ [U+1A6D TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN OY], eg. ᨩᩭ᩵ .
The lists below show consonants in the Tai Khün repertoire.
High and low consonants usually come in pairs, but where they don't the high variant is normally given by subjoining the low consonant below ᩉ [U+1A49 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH HA], eg. ᩉ᩠ᨶᩧ᩵ᨦ
A few consonants have different phonetic realisations in Northern Thai, and ᨢ [U+1A22 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KXA] is used in Northern Thai but not by Tai Khün.
ᩋ [U+1A4B TAI THAM LETTER A] represents a glottal stop. It can be used with vowels at the beginning of a syllable, eg. ᩋᩧ᩠ᨷ
It can have very different shapes, as shown by the Northern Thai font and the Khün font (respectively):ᩋ ᩋ
The first of these is a special-use consonant diacritic. The second two are ligatures.
ᩛ [U+1A5B TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN HIGH RATHA OR LOW PA] represents two different functions with the same appearance. It represents ᨮ [U+1A2E TAI THAM LETTER HIGH RATHA]e in ᩈᨱᩛᩣ᩠ᨶ And it represents ᨻ [U+1A3B TAI THAM LETTER LOW PA] in ᩋᨾᩛ Compare with the somewhat rare subjoined form,e eg. ᨷᩢᨱ᩠ᨻᨷᩩᩁᩩᩇ
Khün uses ᨭᩛ [U+1A2D TAI THAM LETTER RATA + U+1A5B TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN HIGH RATHA OR LOW PA] instead of ᨮ [U+1A2E TAI THAM LETTER HIGH RATHA].e
ᩓ [U+1A53 TAI THAM LETTER LAE] represents the combination ᩃᩯ [U+1A43 TAI THAM LETTER LA + U+1A6F TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN AE], eg. ᩈᩮᩓ᩠ᩅ᩶
ᩔ [U+1A54 TAI THAM LETTER GREAT SA] represents geminated ᩈ [U+1A48 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SA].
ᩚ [U+1A5A TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN LOW PA] moves the stack upwards. The normal rendering of kp̄˖p̄ʰ would be ᨠᨻ᩠ᨽ but in some Tai Lü words this sign is used instead,e eg. ᨠᨽᩚNote, however, that this changes the typing order of the consonants, since a combining character has to be typed after the base. The transliteration now becomes kp̄ʰp̆.e
Tai Tham is unusual in that subjoined consonants do not only appear where there are consonant clusters. There is a natural tendency to attempt to stack consonants, usually 2 high, whenever possible.
᩠ [U+1A60 TAI THAM SIGN SAKOT] is an invisible character used to produce the subjoined form of a consonant, eg. compareᨠᨠ ᨠ᩠ᨠ
Unlike the virama in most brahmi-derived scripts, sakot doesn't necessarily kill the vowel between two consonants, nor does it create conjuncts in the sense of merged shapes. For example, in ᨨ᩠ᩃᩣ᩠ᨯ the inherent vowel after c is not suppressed.
Also unusually, sakot can follow a vowel-sign. For example, in ᩈᩣ᩠ᨾ the sakot is used to position the final consonant in the syllable below the vowel-sign. This is quite common. A subjoined consonant can also follow a digit, eg. ᪓᩠ᨴ
Tai Tham will usually attempt to subjoin non-initial consonants, although generally only two characters deep. Sequences of 2 subjoined characters exist, but in Tai Khün the second subjoined character joins to the right of the stack, rather than sitting below it, eg. ᨠ᩠ᩅ᩠ᨿᩁ
In Northern Thai, however, they may all be stacked, eg. ᨠ᩠ᩅ᩠ᨿᩁ
A consequence of this shallow subjoining is that a subscript vowel will typically cause a final consonant to not be subjoined, eg. ᩃᩪᨠ However, this is not always the case. In Khün, ᨧ᩠ᨷᩪ the final b is subjoined under the onset consonant, and the normally subscript vowel is moved to the side.
In Northern Thai, however, this may be displayed as a single stack, ie. ᨧ᩠ᨷᩪ
This list shows consonants in their normal and subjoined forms. Not all consonants traditionally have subjoined forms, but modern innovations in borrowed terminology suggest that fonts should provide them for all consonants except the old vocalic letters. u,654 Nevertheless, the default A Tai Tham KH New font used on this page doesn't support subjoining for a number of glyphs that are supported in other fonts.
Subjoined consonants are not only syllable-final consonants. The first consonant in a following syllable may also be subjoined (final r is pronounced as n),e u,654 eg. ᨳ᩠ᨶ᩻ᩫᩁ
These combining characters are used to represent the second consonant in syllable-initial clusters.
In addition, a subjoined w̱ is often found in a syllable-initial cluster, eg. ᨣ᩠ᩅᩣ᩠ᨿ
Other syllable-initial clusters include the combination of ᩉ [U+1A49 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH HA] plus a subjoined low class consonant to give a high class version, as mentioned just above.
Medial characters are useful, as they can signal the difference between a consonant cluster and an initial-final sequence, ie. using a subjoined l. Some fonts, however, don't make that distinction clear.h
Tai Tham text commonly renders syllable-final consonants using regular consonant code points, eg. ᩑᨠ but sometimes the special combining characters shown below are used.
When regular consonants are used they are commonly subjoined, eg. ᨠᩣ᩠ᩁ but not always. For example, when preceded by a subscript vowel a final consonant may be rendered on the baseline, eg. ᩃᩪᨠ On the other hand, sometimes in Khün the consonant is subjoined and the subscript vowel is moved to the side of the stack, eg. ᨧ᩠ᨷᩪ
In Lanna, all three may be stacked, ie. ᨧ᩠ᨷᩪ
In either case, due to font design or USE (the Universal Shaping Engine) the characters may have to be typed in an order that departs from the spoken order so that they look as expected.
The following diacritics are sometimes used for syllable-final consonants. For more details about usage, click on the links to the character notes.
Owen says that the superscript consonants in Kühn are limited to final r ( ᩺ [U+1A7A TAI THAM SIGN RA HAAM]) and ŋ ( ᩙ [U+1A59 TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN FINAL NGA]) in syllables where a subscript vowel prevents the use of a subscript final consonant. Superscript forms are mainly found in handwritten text, whereas regular forms of these consonants in postscript position are the norm for printed texts.o,145
᩺ [U+1A7A TAI THAM SIGN RA HAAM], has a different shape in Northern Thai and is not used for syllable-final consonants, but rather as a silence marker. Note that a syllable-final r is pronounced n.
ᩴ [U+1A74 TAI THAM SIGN MAI KANG] may be regarded as a vowel, but it doesn't introduce any vowel sound other than the inherent vowel when used above a consonant on its own.
ᩘ [U+1A58 TAI THAM SIGN MAI KANG LAI], has very different shapes in Northern Thai and Khün:ᩅᩘ ᩅᩘ
ᩜ [U+1A5C TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN MA], ᩝ [U+1A5D TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN BA] and ᩞ [U+1A5E TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN SA] appear to be alternative shapes for the normal subjoined consonants, used per writer preference (follow the links for more information). The latter two are rarely used in Khün.
᩼ [U+1A7C TAI THAM SIGN KHUEN-LUE KARAN] is written over a consonant (normally in final position) when that consonant is not to be pronounced.
Frequently used in loans from languages with consonant clusters in the coda such as Pali,o,149 eg. ᩈᩫ᩠ᨾᨷᩪᩁ᩠᩼ᨱ or English ᨼᩥ᩠ᩃ᩼ᨾ Northern Thai would use ᩺ [U+1A7A TAI THAM SIGN RA HAAM], ie. ᨼᩥ᩠ᩃ᩺ᨾ f̱i˖ḻ˟m̱ fim²
The following tables show how Khün consonant sounds commonly map to characters or sequences of characters. Entries for a phoneme are split to show usage for high (h), mid (m), and low (l) classes, and also finals (f).
ᨸ [U+1A38 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH PA], eg. ᨸ᩶ᩣ .
ᨷ [U+1A37 TAI THAM LETTER BA], eg. ᨷᩕᩰ᩠ᨯ .
ᨹ [U+1A39 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH PHA], eg. ᨲᩯ᩠ᨠᨹᩯ᩵ .
ᨽ [U+1A3D TAI THAM LETTER LOW PHA], eg. ᨽᩥ᩠ᨠ .
ᨲ [U+1A32 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH TA], eg. ᨲᩫ᩠ᩅ .
ᨭ ᩠ᨭ [U+1A2D TAI THAM LETTER RATA]
ᨯ ᩠ᨯ [U+1A2F TAI THAM LETTER DA], eg. ᨠᩣ᩠ᨯ .
ᩇ ᩠ᩇ [U+1A47 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SSA], eg. ᨷᩢᨱ᩠ᨻᨷᩩᩁᩩᩇ .
ᨯ [U+1A2F TAI THAM LETTER DA], eg. ᨯᩱ᩶ .
ᨠ [U+1A20 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KA], eg. ᨠᩱ᩵ .
ᨣ [U+1A23 TAI THAM LETTER LOW KA], eg. ᨣᩮᩢᩤ .
ᨡ [U+1A21 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KHA], eg. ᨡᩮᩢᩣ .
ᩋ [U+1A4B TAI THAM LETTER A], eg, ᩋᩨ᩠᩵ᨶ .
Pronounced but not written after a short, open vowel.
ᨧ [U+1A27 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH CA], eg. ᨧ᩠ᨷᩪ .
ᨩ [U+1A29 TAI THAM LETTER LOW CA], eg. ᨩᩭ᩵ .
ᨨ [U+1A28 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH CHA], eg. ᨨ᩠ᩃᩣ᩠ᨯ .
ᨼ [U+1A3C TAI THAM LETTER LOW FA], eg. ᨼᩥ᩠ᩃ᩼ᨾ .
ᩈ [U+1A48 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SA], eg. ᩈᩣ᩠ᨾ .
ᩔ [U+1A54 TAI THAM LETTER GREAT SA] (ligated double-s).
ᨪ [U+1A2A TAI THAM LETTER LOW SA], eg. ᨪᩨ᩶ .
ᩉ [U+1A49 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH HA], eg. ᩉᩬᨷ .
ᨦ [U+1A26 TAI THAM LETTER NGA], eg. ᨦᩫ᩠ᨶ .
ᨦ ᩠ᨦ [U+1A26 TAI THAM LETTER NGA], eg. ᨴᩢ᩠ᨦ .
ᩴ [U+1A74 TAI THAM SIGN MAI KANG] in Pali words with the short vowels a, i, u.
ᩙ [U+1A59 TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN FINAL NGA] (mostly used in handwriting).
ᩘ [U+1A58 TAI THAM SIGN MAI KANG LAI] with the short vowels a, i, u in non-final syllables preceding a velar plosive in polysyllabic Pali morphemes.
ᩅ ᩠ᩅ [U+1A45 TAI THAM LETTER WA], eg. ᩈᩮᩓ᩠ᩅ᩶ .
As part of a diphthong, this is typically rendered using the subjoined form. See the vowels section.
ᩁ [U+1A41 TAI THAM LETTER RA], eg. ᩁᩮᩨ᩠ᨶ .
ᨿ ᩠ᨿ [U+1A3F TAI THAM LETTER LOW YA], eg. ᨣ᩠ᩅᩣ᩠ᨿ.
As part of a diphthong, this is typically rendered using the subjoined form. See the vowel section.
The meaning of each of the logographs is shown above.
Two sets of digits are in common use: a secular set (Hora) and an ecclesiastical set (Tham). European digits are also found in books. u,655
Tai Tham script is written horizontally and left to right.
bidi_class properties for characters in the Tai Khün orthography described here.
This section brings together information about the following topics: writing styles; cursive text; context-based shaping; context-based positioning; baselines, line height, etc.; font styles; case & other character transforms.
You can experiment with examples using the Tai Khün character app.
The orthography has no case distinction, and no special transforms are needed to convert between characters.
Although the same code points are used, there are some significant and consistent differences in the glyphs shapes used for characters in the Tai Khün (top) and Northern Thai (bottom) repertoires.
fig_writing_mode shows the differences for the consonants of the fonts used for this page.
There is not so much contextual shaping in Tai Tham as in many other Brahmi-descended scripts. One particularly noticeable example of contextual shaping is the realisation of ᨬ + ᩠ + ᨬ [U+1A2C TAI THAM LETTER NYA + U+1A60 TAI THAM SIGN SAKOT + U+1A2C TAI THAM LETTER NYA], which moves the initial character upwards rather than subjoining the second, ie. ᨬ᩠ᨬ
Another common ligature is ᨶᩣ which is composed of ᨶ + ᩣ [U+1A36 TAI THAM LETTER NA + U+1A63 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN AA]. It forms even when NA has non-spacing subscripts, and even MEDIAL RA, eg. ᩋᩫᨶ᩠ᨲᩕᩣ᩠ᨿ Pali must regularly handle the nominative singular ending for present participles,r ᨶ᩠ᨲᩮᩣ ṉ˖teā
Placement of tone marks often involves special shaping and positioning. See the positions in the examples in fig_tone_plus_vowel.
In the A Tai Tham KH New font, a 2nd-tone mark following ᩢ [U+1A62 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN MAI SAT] loses its uptick to create two parallel lines, eg. ᨡᩮᩢ᩶ᩣ
Spaces separate phrases. There is no separation of individual words.
A new word may start with a subjoined consonant. Stacking is performed across word boundaries. This means that operations such as line-breaking, word highlighting, etc. have to use an orthographic syllable unit which differs from the underlying phonetic syllables.
The following punctuation marks have "progressive values of finality".
European punctuation such as question marks and exclamation marks are also used.
᪣ [U+1AA3 TAI THAM SIGN KEOW], ᪤ [U+1AA4 TAI THAM SIGN HOY], ᪥ [U+1AA5 TAI THAM SIGN DOKMAI], and ᪭ [U+1AAD TAI THAM SIGN CAANG] are all used as section starters, sometimes in conjunction with other punctuation,e eg. ᪩᪥᪩᪭ᩣ
To close a section, use ᪦ [U+1AA6 TAI THAM SIGN REVERSED ROTATED RANA] and/or ᪬ [U+1AAC TAI THAM SIGN HANG], eg. ᪦᪦᪩᪩᪦᪩᪩᪦᪩᪬᪦᪦᪬
|initial||” [U+201D RIGHT DOUBLE QUOTATION MARK]|
ᪧ [U+1AA7 TAI THAM SIGN MAI YAMOK] indicates reduplication of the preceding word, eg. ᨴᩩᨠᪧ ṯukᪧ tuk⁶tuk⁶ every Adverbs, for example, are often derived by reduplicating an adjective.o,149
Opportunities for line breaking are lexical, but a line break may not be inserted between a base letter and a combining diacritic.u,656
Show (default) line-breaking properties for characters in the Tai Khün orthography.
There is no insertion of visible hyphens at line boundaries.u,656
This section is for any features that are specific to Tai Khün and that relate to the following topics: general page layout & progression; grids & tables; notes, footnotes, etc; forms & user interaction; page numbering, running headers, etc.
The Tai Tham script characters in Unicode 13.0 are in the following block:
Show characters used for the Tai Khün orthography described here:
See also the Script Comparison Table.
According to ScriptSource, the Tai Tham script is used for the following languages: