Northern Thai (draft)
Lanna (Tai Tham)

Updated 16 April, 2022

This page brings together basic information about the Tai Tham (Lanna) script and its use for the Northern Thai language. It aims to provide a brief, descriptive summary of the modern, printed orthography and typographic features, and to advise how to write Northern Thai using Unicode.

Sample

Select part of this sample text to show a list of characters, with links to more details.
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ᨣᩢ᩠ᨶᩉᩮᩖᩨᨠᩥ᩠ᨶ ᨣᩢᩐᩢᩣᨡᩣ᩠ᨿᨸᩮ᩠ᨶᨦᩫ᩠ᨶ ᨠᩮ᩠ᨷᩉᩬᨾᩋᩬᨾᩅᩱᩢᨯ᩠᩶ᨦᨶᩦ᩶ ᨴᩩᨠᪧᨸᩦᨾᩣᨷᩢᨡᩣ᩠ᨯ ᨧᩥ᩠᩵ᨦᨠ᩠ᨴᩣᩴᩉᩨ᩶ᨡᩮᩢᩣᨻᩳ᩵ᨾᩯ᩵ᩃᩪᨠ ᨷᩢᨯᩱ᩶ᨠᩢ᩠᩶ᨶᩈᩢ᩠ᨦᩈᩢ᩠ᨠᨩᩮᩬᩨ

Usage & history

Northern Thai is is spoken by the people of Lanna, Thailand, with a smaller community of Lanna speakers in northwestern Laos. 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. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Thai script has been used for the Northern Thai language, although the fact that Thai only has 5 tones to Northern Thai's 6 makes this problematic.

Use of the Lanna traditional script is now largely limited to Buddhist temples, where many old sermon manuscripts are still in active use. There is no active production of literature in the traditional alphabet. The modern pronunciation differs from that prescribed in spelling rules.

ᨲ᩠ᩅᩫᨾᩮᩥᩬᨦ tǔa.mɯ̄aŋ Northern Thai script ᨣᩤᩴᨾᩮᩬᩨᨦ kam˧.mɯːəŋ˧ Northern Thai language

In the Thai script this is คำเมือง.

The Lana script is derived from Mon, and before that Pallava.

Sources: Wikipedia, Unicode.

Basic features

The Tai Tham script is an abugida, ie. consonants carry an inherent vowel sound that is overridden using vowel signs. In Tai Tham, consonants carry an inherent vowel a. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features for the modern Northern Thai orthography.

Northern Thai 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 6 special diacritics, but otherwise use ordinary letters, which may or may not be subjoined depending on the context.

The Northern Thai orthography has an inherent vowel, and represents vowels using 18 vowel-signs (including 5 prescripts), and 3 consonants. However, unlike Thai and Lao, 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 [U+1A4B TAI THAM LETTER A].

This page lists 29 composite vowels (made from 9 vowel-signs, and 3 consonants/diacritics). Composite vowels can involve up to 5 glyphs, eg. ᨠᩮᩬᩨᩋᩡ kēɔ̄ɯ̄ʔ̯a which can surround the base consonant(s) on up to 4 sides.

Northern Thai and Khün not only use a slightly different set of characters, but a number of characters have consistently divergeant shapes.

Character index

Letters

Show

Basic consonants

ᨸ␣ᨹ␣ᨲ␣ᨭ␣ᨳ␣ᨮ␣ᨠ␣ᨷ␣ᨯ␣ᩋ␣ᨻ␣ᨽ␣ᨴ␣ᨵ␣ᨰ␣ᨣ␣ᨧ␣ᨩ␣ᨺ␣ᩈ␣ᩆ␣ᩇ␣ᨨ␣ᨡ␣ᨢ␣ᩉ␣ᨼ␣ᨪ␣ᨫ␣ᨥ␣ᨤ␣ᩌ␣ᨾ␣ᨶ␣ᨱ␣ᨬ␣ᨿ␣ᨦ␣ᩀ␣ᩅ␣ᩁ␣ᩃ␣ᩊ

Extended consonants

ᩓ␣ᩔ

Vowels

ᩍ␣ᩎ␣ᩏ␣ᩐ␣ᩑ

Other

Combining marks

Show

Vowels

ᩡ␣ᩢ␣ᩣ␣ᩤ␣ᩥ␣ᩦ␣ᩧ␣ᩨ␣ᩩ␣ᩪ␣ᩫ␣ᩬ␣ᩮ␣ᩯ␣ᩰ␣ᩱ␣ᩲ␣ᩳ

Tones

᩵␣᩶

Medials

ᩕ␣ᩖ

Finals

ᩴ␣ᩙ␣ᩘ␣ᩢ
ᩝ␣ᩞ

Invisible stacker

Other

᩺␣᩻␣᩿␣ᩛ

Numbers

Show
᪀␣᪁␣᪂␣᪃␣᪄␣᪅␣᪆␣᪇␣᪈␣᪉
᪐␣᪑␣᪒␣᪓␣᪔␣᪕␣᪖␣᪗␣᪘␣᪙

Punctuation

Show
᪨␣᪩␣᪪␣᪫␣“␣”
᪦␣᪬␣᪣␣᪤␣᪥␣᪭

ASCII

(␣)␣?␣!

Logographs

᪠␣᪡␣᪢
Items to show in lists

Structure

See Tai Tham/Khün.

Phonology

These are sounds for the Northern Thai 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.

Vowel sounds

Plain vowels

i ɯ ɯː ɯ ɯː u e o ɛ ɛː ɔ ɔː a

Diphthongs

ia ɯ ɯː ɯa ɯaː ua uaː uai aw aj

Consonant sounds

labial dental alveolar post-
alveolar
palatal velar glottal
stops p b t d       k ʔ
aspirated          
affricates       t͡ɕ      
fricatives f   s     x h
nasals m   n   ɲ ŋ
approximants w   l   j  

The glottal stop is pronounced after short open vowels. An initial glottal stop is also pronounced before independent vowels (see independentvowels).

Syllable-final

labial dental alveolar post-
alveolar
palatal velar glottal
stop       ʔ
nasal m   n     ŋ
approximant w       j  

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.

Vowel sounds mapped to characters

This section maps Northern Thai vowel sounds to common graphemes in the Lanna orthography, where o indicates an open syllable, c a closed syllable, and s a standalone vowel. Click on a grapheme to find other mentions on this page (links appear at the bottom of the page). Click on the character name to see examples and for detailed descriptions of the character(s) shown.

Sounds listed as 'infrequent' are allophones, or sounds used for foreign words, etc.

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).

Plain vowels

i
o/c

–ᩥ [U+1A65 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN I], eg. ᨠᩥ᩠ᨶ.

 o/c

–ᩦ [U+1A66 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN II], eg. ᨾᩦ᩠ᨯ.

ɯ
o/c

–ᩧ [U+1A67 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN UE], eg. ᨾᩧ᩠ᨦ .

ɯː
o/c

–ᩨ [U+1A68 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN UUE], eg. ᩉᩨ᩶

u
o/c

–ᩩ [U+1A69 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN U], eg. ᨿᩩᨦ .

o/c

–ᩪ [U+1A6A TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN UU], eg. ᩁᩪ᩶ .

a
o

Inherent vowel

 
c

–ᩢ– [U+1A62 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN MAI SAT], eg. ᩉᩖᩢᨠ .

ɑː
o/c

Diphthongs and other combinations

Inherent vowel

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 [U+1A20 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KA].

Vowel-signs

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].

Northern Thai 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.

Eight 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 used after ᨷ ᩅ ᨴ ᨵ ᨣ and avoids confusion with otherwise similar shapes, eg. ᩅᩣ looks like Some textbooks also recommend it's use aftere ᨧ ᨻ ᩁ ᨽ

[U+1A62 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN MAI SAT] is commonly used as a vowel, but it also sometimes functions to indicate a final -k sound, eg. ᨯᩬᩢ d̯ɔ̄á dɔːk flower

Northern Thai doesn't use the letter [U+1A6D TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN OY​] which is found in Tai Kühn.u,665

Pre-base vowel-signs

ᩮ␣ᩰ␣ᩯ␣ ␣ᩱ␣ᩲ

Five vowel-signs appear to the left of the base consonant letter or cluster, eg. ᨯᩱ᩶

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.

[U+1A72 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN THAM AI] is not used by Tai Khün.

Consonants pronounced as vowels

The following letters can be used with other vowel-signs or in subjoined form to represent a vowel sound.

᩠ᨿ␣᩠ᩅ␣ᩋ

The sequence  ᩠ᨿ [U+1A60 TAI THAM SIGN SAKOT + U+1A3F TAI THAM LETTER LOW YA] is pronounced as the diphthong ia when it appears alone after a consonant.

The sequence  ᩠ᩅ [U+1A60 TAI THAM SIGN SAKOT + U+1A45 TAI THAM LETTER WA] is pronounced as the diphthong ua when it appears alone.

Both of these characters also appear as a part of the vowel-sign combinations described below.

[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.

Composite vowels

Vowels represented by combinations of the above characters (this list is probably incomplete):

ᩮᩢ␣ᩮᩡ␣ᩰᩡ␣ᩰᩫ␣ᩯᩢ␣ᩯᩡ␣ᩮᩥᩢ␣ᩮᩬᩥᩡ␣ᩮᩥ␣ᩮᩬᩥ␣ᩬᩢ␣ᩰᩬᩡ␣ᩬᩴ␣ ␣᩠ᨿᩮ␣᩠ᨿᩮᩡ␣ᩢ᩠ᨿ␣ᩮᩬᩥᩢ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩢ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩋᩡ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩋ␣ᩮᩬᩨ␣᩠ᩅᩫᩡ␣᩠ᩅᩫ␣᩠ᩅᩢ␣᩠ᩅ᩠ᨿ␣ᩱ᩠ᨿ␣ᩣ᩠ᨿ␣ᩮᩢᩣ␣ᩮᩢᩤ
Show which combinations contain a given character:
ᨿ
᩠ᨿᩮ␣᩠ᨿᩮᩡ␣ᩢ᩠ᨿ␣᩠ᩅ᩠ᨿ␣ᩱ᩠ᨿ␣ᩣ᩠ᨿ
᩠ᩅᩫᩡ␣᩠ᩅᩫ␣᩠ᩅᩢ␣᩠ᩅ᩠ᨿ
ᩮᩬᩨᩋᩡ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩋ
ᩮᩡ␣ᩰᩡ␣ᩯᩡ␣ᩮᩬᩥᩡ␣ᩰᩬᩡ␣ ␣᩠ᨿᩮᩡ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩋᩡ␣᩠ᩅᩫᩡ
ᩮᩢ␣ᩯᩢ␣ᩮᩥᩢ␣ᩬᩢ␣ ␣ᩢ᩠ᨿ␣ᩮᩬᩥᩢ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩢ␣᩠ᩅᩢ␣ᩮᩢᩣ
ᩮᩢᩣ␣ᩣ᩠ᨿ
ᩮᩢᩤ
ᩮᩥᩢ␣ᩮᩬᩥᩡ␣ᩮᩥ␣ᩮᩬᩥ␣ ␣ᩮᩬᩥᩢ
ᩮᩬᩨᩢ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩋᩡ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩋ␣ᩮᩬᩨ
ᩰᩫ␣᩠ᩅᩫᩡ␣᩠ᩅᩫ
ᩮᩬᩥᩡ␣ᩮᩬᩥ␣ᩬᩢ␣ᩰᩬᩡ␣ᩬᩴ␣ ␣ᩮᩬᩥᩢ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩢ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩋᩡ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩋ␣ᩮᩬᩨ
ᩮᩢ␣ᩮᩡ␣ᩮᩥᩢ␣ᩮᩬᩥᩡ␣ᩮᩥ␣ᩮᩬᩥ␣ ␣᩠ᨿᩮ␣᩠ᨿᩮᩡ␣ᩮᩬᩥᩢ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩢ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩋᩡ␣ᩮᩬᩨᩋ␣ᩮᩬᩨ␣ᩮᩢᩣ␣ᩮᩢᩤ
ᩯᩢ␣ᩯᩡ
ᩰᩡ␣ᩰᩫ␣ᩰᩬᩡ
ᩱ᩠ᨿ
ᩬᩴ
Show details about vowel glyph positioning.

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 .

  • 5 prescript, eg. ᨠᩮ keː
  • 3+1 postscript, eg. ᨠᩣ kaː
  • 7 superscript, eg. ᨠᩥ ki
  • 3+1 subscript, eg. ᨠᩩ ku
  • +4 sub+superscript, eg. ᨠᩬᩴ kɔ̱ŋ̊ kɔː
  • +1 sub+super+postscript, eg. ᨠ᩠ᩅᩫᩡ k˖w̱ɔ̈a kuaʔ
  • +1 sub+postscript, eg. ᨠ᩠ᩅ᩠ᨿ k˖w̱˖y̱ kuaj
  • +1 super+postscript, eg. ᨠᩢ᩠ᨿ ká˖ȳ kia-
  • +4 pre+postscript, eg. ᨠᩮᩡ keȧʷ keʔ
  • +2 pre+sub+superscript, eg. ᨠᩮᩬᩥ keɔ̱i kɜː
  • +1 pre+super+postscript, eg. ᨠᩮᩢᩣ keáā kaw
  • +1 pre+sub+postscript, eg. ᨠᩰᩬᩡ koɔ̱a kɔʔ
  • +2 pre+sub+super+postscript, eg. ᨠᩮᩬᩥᩋ keɔ̱iʔ̯ kɜː
  • +1 pre+post+postscript, eg. ᨠ᩠ᨿᩮᩡ k˖y̱eȧʷ kiaʔ
  • +1 pre+sub+super+post+postscript, eg.ᨠᩮᩬᩨᩋᩡ keɔ̄ɯ̄ʔ̯ȧʷ kɯa
  • +4 pre+superscript, eg. ᨠᩮᩢ keá ke-
  • +1 pre+super+superscript, eg. ᨠᩮᩥᩢ keiá kɜ-
  • +2 pre+sub+super+superscript, eg. ᨠᩮᩬᩨᩢ keɔ̄ɯ̄á kia-

Distribution of vowel elements is as follows:

 ᩢ  ᩫ  ᩳ  ᩴᩘ  
ᩮ ᩯ ᩱ ᩰ ᩲ ᩡ ᩅ ᩣ ᩤ ᩋ
   ᩩ  ᩪ  ᩬ ᩠ᨿ  
Locations where vowel elements can appear, including in complex vowels.

Vowel components can occur concurrently on 4 sides of the base, eg. ᩮᩬᩥᩡ.

Characters that don't appear in the combinations:

ᩦ␣ᩧ␣ᩩ␣ᩪ␣ᩲ␣ᩳ

Standalone vowels

Vowel-signs

For vowels not preceded by a consonant Northern Thai uses [U+1A4B TAI THAM LETTER A] with a vowel-sign, eg. ᩋᩧ᩠ᨷ

Independent vowels

Some standalone vowels can be represented using a set of independent vowel letters. The set includes a character to represent the inherent vowel sound, but doesn't cover all such possible vowels.

ᩍ␣ᩎ␣ᩏ␣ᩐ␣ᩑ␣ᩋ

The 5 vowel letters are used in syllable-initial position where there is no consonant onset, eg. ᩑᨠ ẹk eːk³ one

[U+1A52 TAI THAM LETTER OO] is not used in Northern Thai.u,654

Tones

With the high/low categorisation of consonants, Northern Thai writing generally needs only the two combining tone marks below to indicate one of the possible phonetic tones.

᩵␣᩶

Wikipedia lists the following 6 phonemic tones for unchecked syllables in the Changmai dialect of Northern Thai. (It also has sound recordings.)wnl,#Consonants

ToneRepresentationsExample
low-rising˨˦24ᩉᩮᩖᩢᩣ hel̆áā lǎw sharpen
mid-low ˨ 22 ᩉᩮᩖᩢ᩵ᩣ hel̆á¹ā làw forest 
high-falling
glottalised
˥˧ 53 ᩉᩮᩖᩢ᩶ᩣ hel̆á²ā la᷇w liquor 
mid-high ˧ 33 ᩃᩮᩢᩣ ḻeáā lāw beautiful 
falling ˥˩ 51 ᩃᩮᩢ᩵ᩣ ḻeá¹ā lâw tell (story) 
high rising-falling
glottalised
˦˥˦ 545 ᩃᩮᩢ᩶ᩣ ḻeá²ā láw coop, pen 

This is the list for checked syllables.wnl,#Consonants

Tone Representations Example
low-rising ˨˦ 24 ᩉᩖᩢᨠ hl̆ák lǎk post
high-falling ˥ 55 ᩃᩢ᩠ᨠ ḻá˖k la᷇k steal
low ˨ 22 ᩉᩖᩣ᩠ᨠ hl̆ā˖k làːk differ from others
falling ˥˩ 51 ᩃᩣ᩠ᨠ ḻā˖k lâːk drag

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.

'Checked' means ending in the sound -p, -t, or -k.

Consonant Checked? Tone mark Tone
high checked short 2
long 3
open - 1
3
5
mid checked short 2
long 3
open - 2
3
5
2
1
6
low checked short 6
long 4
open - 2
4
6

 

Consonants

Consonant to script mapping

This section maps Northern Thai consonant vowel sounds to common graphemes in the Lanna orthography, where h indicates high class, m is mid class, l is low class, and f indicates a final consonant. Click on a grapheme to find other mentions on this page (links appear at the bottom of the page). Click on the character name to see examples and for detailed descriptions of the character(s) shown.

Sounds listed as 'infrequent' are allophones, or sounds used for foreign words, etc.

Stops

p
h

  -᩠ᨸ [U+1A38 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH PA], eg. ᨸᩮ᩠ᨶ .

 
l

  -᩠ᨻ [U+1A3B TAI THAM LETTER LOW PA], eg. ᨻᩬ᩵ᩴ .

-ᩛ [U+1A5B TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN HIGH RATHA OR LOW PA], eg. ᩋᨾᩛ

 
f

-ᨸ   -᩠ᨸ [U+1A38 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH PA]

-ᨻ   -᩠ᨻ [U+1A3B TAI THAM LETTER LOW PA]

-ᨷ   -᩠ᨷ [U+1A60 TAI THAM SIGN SAKOT + U+1A37 TAI THAM LETTER BA], eg. ᨠᩕᩣ᩠ᨷ

b
m

  -᩠ᨷ [U+1A37 TAI THAM LETTER BA], eg. ᨷᩴ᩵.

-ᩝ [U+1A5D TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN BA] as an optional alternative to the normal subjoined form of   ᩠ᨷ [U+1A37 TAI THAM LETTER BA].

h
t
h

  -᩠ᨲ [U+1A32 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH TA], eg. ᨲ᩵ᩣ᩠ᨦ.

-ᩛ [U+1A5B TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN HIGH RATHA OR LOW PA], eg. ᩈᨱᩛᩣ᩠ᨶ

 
l

  -᩠ᨭ [U+1A2D TAI THAM LETTER RATA], eg. ᩁᨭᩛᨷᩣ᩠ᩃ .

  -᩠ᨴ [U+1A34 TAI THAM LETTER LOW TA] , eg. ᨴᩢ᩠ᨦ .

 
f

-ᨧ   -᩠ᨧ [U+1A27 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH CA]

-ᨩ   -᩠ᨩ [U+1A29 TAI THAM LETTER LOW CA] 

-ᨭ   -᩠ᨭ [U+1A2D TAI THAM LETTER RATA], eg.

-ᨯ   -᩠ᨯ [U+1A2F TAI THAM LETTER DA], eg. ᨾᩦ᩠ᨯ .

-ᨰ   -᩠ᨰ [U+1A30 TAI THAM LETTER LOW RATHA]

-ᨲ   -᩠ᨲ [U+1A32 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH TA]

-ᨳ   -᩠ᨳ [U+1A33 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH THA]

-ᨴ   -᩠ᨴ [U+1A34 TAI THAM LETTER LOW TA], eg.

-ᨵ   -᩠ᨵ [U+1A35 TAI THAM LETTER LOW THA]

-ᩆ   ᩠ᩆ [U+1A46 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SHA]

-ᩇ   -᩠ᩇ [U+1A47 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SSA], eg.

-ᩈ   -᩠ᩈ [U+1A48 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SA] 

d
m

  -᩠ᨯ [U+1A2F TAI THAM LETTER DA], eg. ᨯᩱ᩶ .

k
h

  -᩠ᨠ [U+1A20 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KA], eg. ᨠᩣ᩠ᩁ .

 
l

  -᩠ᨣ [U+1A23 TAI THAM LETTER LOW KA], eg. ᨣᩴ .

 
f

-ᨠ   -᩠ᨠ [U+1A20 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KA], eg. ᨾᩢ᩠ᨠ .

-ᨣ   -᩠ᨣ [U+1A23 TAI THAM LETTER LOW KA]

-ᩢ [U+1A62 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN MAI SAT], eg. ᨯᩬᩢᩡ.  Also used as a vowel.

ʔ
m

[U+1A4B TAI THAM LETTER A], eg. ᩋᩯ᩠᩵ᩅ .

 
f

Pronounced but not written after a short, open vowel.

Affricates

t͡ɕ
h

  -᩠ᨧ [U+1A27 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH CA], eg. ᨧ᩠ᨷᩪ .

 
l

  -᩠ᨩ [U+1A29 TAI THAM LETTER LOW CA], eg. ᨩᩨ᩵ .

Fricatives

f
h
 
l

  -᩠ᨼ [U+1A3C TAI THAM LETTER LOW FA], eg. ᨼᩥᩃ᩠ᨾ᩺ .

s
h

  -᩠ᩈ [U+1A48 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SA], eg. ᩈᩣ᩠ᨾ.

  -᩠ᩆ [U+1A46 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SHA]

  -᩠ᩇ [U+1A47 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SSA] 

  -᩠ᨨ [U+1A28 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH CHA]

 -ᩞ [U+1A5E TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN SA] as an optional alternative to the normal subjoined form of   ᩠ᩈ [U+1A48 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SA].

In ligated double-s, [U+1A54 TAI THAM LETTER GREAT SA]

 
l
x

  -᩠ᨡ [U+1A21 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KHA], eg. ᨡᩮᩢ᩶ᩣ .

  -᩠ᨤ [U+1A24 TAI THAM LETTER LOW KXA], eg.  ᨤᩥ᩠ᨦ .

ᨠᩕ [U+1A20 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KA + U+1A55 TAI THAM CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL RA], eg.  ᨠᩕᩣ᩠ᨷ .

h

  -᩠ᩉ [U+1A49 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH HA], eg. ᩉᩱ᩵ .

 
l

  -᩠ᩌ [U+1A4C TAI THAM LETTER LOW HA], eg. ᩌᩣᩴ .

  -᩠ᩁ [U+1A41 TAI THAM LETTER RA], eg.  ᩁᩪ᩶.

Nasals

 
l

  -᩠ᨾ [U+1A3E TAI THAM LETTER MA], eg. ᨾᩯ᩵.

 
f

-ᨾ   -᩠ᨾ [U+1A3E TAI THAM LETTER MA], eg. ᩈᩣ᩠ᨾ .

-ᩴ [U+1A74 TAI THAM SIGN MAI KANG], eg. ᩌᩣᩴ.

 
l

  -᩠ᨶ [U+1A36 TAI THAM LETTER NA], eg. ᨶᩣᩴ.

  -᩠ᨱ [U+1A31 TAI THAM LETTER RANA]

 
f

-ᨱ   -᩠ᨱ [U+1A31 TAI THAM LETTER RANA], eg. ᩈᨱᩛᩣ᩠ᨶ.

-ᨶ   -᩠ᨶ [U+1A36 TAI THAM LETTER NA], eg. ᩃᩫ᩠᩵ᨶ.

-ᩁ   -᩠ᩁ [U+1A41 TAI THAM LETTER RA], eg. ᨠᩣ᩠ᩁ.

-ᩃ   -᩠ᩃ [U+1A43 TAI THAM LETTER LA]

-ᩊ   -᩠ᩊ [U+1A4A TAI THAM LETTER LLA] 

 
l

ᨿ   -᩠ᨿ [U+1A3F TAI THAM LETTER LOW YA], eg. ᨿᩩᨦ.

  -᩠ᨬ [U+1A2C TAI THAM LETTER NYA]

 
l

  -᩠ᨦ [U+1A26 TAI THAM LETTER NGA]

 
f

-ᨦ -᩠ᨦ [U+1A26 TAI THAM LETTER NGA], eg. ᨿᩩᨦ.

-ᩴ [U+1A74 TAI THAM SIGN MAI KANG]

 -ᩘ [U+1A58 TAI THAM SIGN MAI KANG LAI] esp. before s, h and l. 

Other

 
l

  -᩠ᩅ [U+1A45 TAI THAM LETTER WA]

 
f

-ᩅ   -᩠ᩅ [U+1A45 TAI THAM LETTER WA], eg. ᩈᩮᩓ᩠ᩅ᩶.

As part of a diphthong, this is typically rendered using the subjoined form. See consonant_vowels.

 
m

-᩠ᩅ [U+1A60 TAI THAM SIGN SAKOT + U+1A45 TAI THAM LETTER WA], eg. ᨣ᩠ᩅᩣ᩠ᨿ .

 
l

  -᩠ᩃ [U+1A43 TAI THAM LETTER LA], eg. ᩃᩪᨠ.

  -᩠ᩊ [U+1A4A TAI THAM LETTER LLA] 

  -᩠ᩁ [U+1A41 TAI THAM LETTER RA]

In ligature for lɛː, [U+1A53 TAI THAM LETTER LAE], eg. ᩈᩮᩓ᩠ᩅ᩶ .

j
h
 
f

-ᨬ   -᩠ᨬ [U+1A2C TAI THAM LETTER NYA] 

-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 consonant_vowels.

Basic consonants

The lists below show consonants in the Northern Thai repertoire. A few consonants have different phonetic realisations in Tai Khün, and [U+1A22 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KXA] is not used by Tai Khün.

Stops

high class
ᨸ␣ᨹ␣ᨲ␣ᨭ␣ᨳ␣ᨮ␣ᨠ
mid class
ᨷ␣ᨯ␣ᩋ
low class
ᨻ␣ᨽ␣ᨴ␣ᨵ␣ᨰ␣ᨣ

Affricates

high class
low class

Fricatives

high class
ᨺ␣ᩈ␣ᩆ␣ᩇ␣ᨨ␣ᨡ␣ᨢ␣ᩉ
low class
ᨼ␣ᨪ␣ᨫ␣ᨥ␣ᨤ␣ᩌ

Nasals

high class
ᩉ᩠ᨾ␣ᩉ᩠ᨶ
low class
ᨾ␣ᨶ␣ᨱ␣ᨬ␣ᨿ␣ᨦ

Other sonorants

high class
ᩀ␣ᩉᩖ
low class

ᩅ␣ᩁ␣ᩃ␣ᩊ

ʨʰ is not a native Northern Thai sound, but rather associated with reading the alphabet out loud and in learned pronunciation of Pali loanwords.o,142

High class nasals & liquids with HA

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 [U+1A49 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH HA], eg. ᩉ᩠ᨶᩧ᩵ᨦ

A few consonants have different phonetic realisations in Northern Thai, and [U+1A22 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH KXA] is used in Northern Thai but not by Tai Khün.

The letter A

[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

Special consonants

ᩛ␣ᩓ␣ᩔ

The first two of these are special-use consonant diacritics. 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 [U+1A2E TAI THAM LETTER HIGH RATHA] in eᩈᨱᩛᩣ᩠ᨶ sṇ̱ᵽā˖ṉ shape And it represents [U+1A3B TAI THAM LETTER LOW PA] in ᩋᨾᩛ ʔ̯m̱ᵽ mangoCompare with the somewhat rare subjoined form,e eg. ᨷᩢᨱ᩠ᨻᨷᩩᩁᩩᩇ b̯áṇ̱˖p̄b̯uruṣ disciple

[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 selₔ˖w̱² seː¹lɛːw⁶ already

[U+1A54 TAI THAM LETTER GREAT SA] represents geminated [U+1A48 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SA].

Subjoined consonants

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

Sakot doesn't always kill the vowel between two consonants, nor does it create conjuncts, in the sense of merged shapes.

Sakot can follow a vowel-sign. For example, in ᩈᩣ᩠ᨾ sā˖m̱ saːm¹ three 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 3̣˖ṯ saːm tiː three times

ᩈᩣ᩠ᨾ

A subjoined consonant positioned below a vowel-sign.

Subjoined consonants are not only syllable-final consonants. The first consonant in a following syllable may also be subjoined, eg. (final r is pronounced as n). e u,654 ᨳ᩠ᨶ᩻ᩫᩁ tʰ˖ṉʻoṟ tʰanon path

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

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 You may find that the font applied here doesn't handle all combinations well.

high class letters
ᨸ᩠ᨸ␣ᨹ᩠ᨹ␣ᨲ᩠ᨲ␣ᨭ᩠ᨭ␣ᨳ᩠ᨳ␣ᨮ᩠ᨮ␣ᨠ᩠ᨠ␣ᨧ᩠ᨧ␣ᨺ᩠ᨺ␣ᩈ᩠ᩈ␣ᩆ᩠ᩆ␣ᩇ᩠ᩇ␣ᨨ᩠ᨨ␣ᨡ᩠ᨡ␣ᨢ᩠ᨢ␣ᩉ᩠ᩉ␣ᩀ᩠ᩀ
mid class letters
ᨷ᩠ᨷ␣ᨯ᩠ᨯ␣ᩋ᩠ᩋ
low class letters
ᨻ᩠ᨻ␣ᨽ᩠ᨽ␣ᨴ᩠ᨴ␣ᨵ᩠ᨵ␣ᨰ᩠ᨰ␣ᨣ᩠ᨣ␣ᨩ᩠ᨩ␣ᨼ᩠ᨼ␣ᨪ᩠ᨪ␣ᨫ᩠ᨫ␣ᨥ᩠ᨥ␣ᨤ᩠ᨤ␣ᩌ᩠ᩌ␣ᨾ᩠ᨾ␣ᨶ᩠ᨶ␣ᨱ᩠ᨱ␣ᨬ᩠ᨬ␣ᨿ᩠ᨿ␣ᨦ᩠ᨦ␣ᩅ᩠ᩅ␣ᩁ᩠ᩁ␣ᩃ᩠ᩃ␣ᩊ᩠ᩊ

  [U+1A7B TAI THAM SIGN MAI SAM​] is used in Northern Thai to identify double-acting consonants, or to indicate that a subjoined consonant begins a new syllable, eg. compare ᨳᩫ᩠ᨶᩁ tʰo˖ṉṟ tʰonra ᨳᩫ᩠ᨶ᩻ᩁ tʰo˖ṉʻṟ tʰanon path (final r is pronounced as n).e (It is also used to repeat a word.)

Onset consonants

These combining characters are used to represent the second consonant in syllable-initial clusters.

ᩕ␣ᩖ

In addition, a subjoined is often found in a syllable-initial cluster, eg. ᨣ᩠ᩅᩣ᩠ᨿ ḵ˖w̱ā˖ȳ kwaːj² buffaloThese initial consonant clusters are limited to kw and xw, although some others are occasionally found and appear to be tending to obsoletion.wnl,#Consonants

Other syllable-initial clusters include the combination of [U+1A49 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH HA] plus a subjoined low class consonant to give a high class version, though they are not pronounced as multiple consonants.

Final consonants

Northern Thai text commonly renders syllable-final consonants using regular consonant code points, eg. ᩑᨠ ẹk eːk³ one but sometimes the special combining characters shown below are used.

When regular consonants are used they are commonly subjoined, eg. ᨠᩣ᩠ᩁ kā˖r kan¹ work but not always. For example, when preceded by a subscript vowel a final consonant may be rendered on the baseline, eg. ᩃᩪᨠ ḻūk luːk⁴ offspringOn the other hand, whereas sometimes in Khün the consonant is subjoined and the subscript vowel is moved to the side of the stack, eg. ᨧ᩠ᨷᩪ c˖b̯ū cuːp³ kiss in Northern Thai 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 characters and follow the links to the character notes.

ᩴ␣ᩙ␣ᩘ␣ᩢ␣ᩝ␣ᩞ

 ᩴ [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 ᩅᩘᩅᩘ

[U+1A62 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN MAI SAT] is commonly used as a vowel, but it also sometimes functions to indicate a final -k sound, eg. ᨯᩬᩢ d̯ɔ̄á dɔːk flower

[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). 

[U+1A7A TAI THAM SIGN RA HAAM​] is not used for syllable-final consonants in Northern Thai, but rather as a silence marker.

Silent consonants

  [U+1A7A TAI THAM SIGN RA HAAM​] is used in Northern Thai to silence one or more characters in a word. (In Lü it is used as a final n; in Khün it is used as a final r.)

Symbols

Logographs

᪠␣᪡␣᪢

The meaning of each of the logographs is shown above.

Cryptography

᩿

 ᩿ [U+1A7F TAI THAM COMBINING CRYPTOGRAMMIC DOT​] is used singly or multiply beneath letters to give each letter a different value according to some hidden agreement between reader and writer. u,665

Numbers

Digits

᪀␣᪁␣᪂␣᪃␣᪄␣᪅␣᪆␣᪇␣᪈␣᪉
᪐␣᪑␣᪒␣᪓␣᪔␣᪕␣᪖␣᪗␣᪘␣᪙

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,665

Text direction

Northern Thai text runs left to right in horizontal lines.

Show default bidi_class properties for characters in the Northern Thai orthography described here.

Glyph shaping & positioning

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 Northern Thai character app.

The orthography has no case distinction, and no special transforms are needed to convert between characters.

Since there are no conjuncts, there is not so much contextual shaping in Tham as in many other Brahmi-descended scripts.

Placement of tone marks often involves special shaping and positioning. See the positions in the examples below.

ᨠᩥ᩶ ᨠᩥ᩵

Positioning of tone marks next to a superscript vowel in the Lanna Alif font.

Font styles

tbd

Text segmentation

Grapheme boundaries

tbd

Word boundaries

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.

Punctuation & inline features

Phrase & section boundaries

᪨␣᪩␣᪪␣᪫␣?␣!␣᪣␣᪤␣᪥␣᪭␣᪦␣᪬
phrase

[U+0020 SPACE]

[U+1AA8 TAI THAM SIGN KAAN]

[U+1AA9 TAI THAM SIGN KAANKUU]

[U+1AAA TAI THAM SIGN SATKAAN]

[U+1AAB TAI THAM SIGN SATKAANKUU]

sentence

? [U+003F QUESTION MARK]

! [U+0021 EXCLAMATION MARK]

section open

[U+1AA3 TAI THAM SIGN KEOW]

[U+1AA4 TAI THAM SIGN HOY]

[U+1AA5 TAI THAM SIGN DOKMAI]

[U+1AAD TAI THAM SIGN CAANG]

᪩᪥᪩ [U+1AA9 TAI THAM SIGN KAANKUU + U+1AA5 TAI THAM SIGN DOKMAI + U+1AA9 TAI THAM SIGN KAANKUU]

 ᪭ᩣ [U+1AAD TAI THAM SIGN CAANG + U+1A63 TAI THAM VOWEL SIGN AA]

section close

[U+1AA6 TAI THAM SIGN REVERSED ROTATED RANA]

[U+1AAC TAI THAM SIGN HANG]

᪦᪦᪩ [U+1AA6 TAI THAM SIGN REVERSED ROTATED RANA + U+1AA6 TAI THAM SIGN REVERSED ROTATED RANA + U+1AA9 TAI THAM SIGN KAANKUU]

 ᪩᪦᪩ [U+1AA9 TAI THAM SIGN KAANKUU + U+1AA6 TAI THAM SIGN REVERSED ROTATED RANA + U+1AA9 TAI THAM SIGN KAANKUU]

᪩᪦᪩᪬ [U+1AA9 TAI THAM SIGN KAANKUU + U+1AA6 TAI THAM SIGN REVERSED ROTATED RANA + U+1AA9 TAI THAM SIGN KAANKUU + U+1AAC TAI THAM SIGN HANG]

 ᪦᪦᪬ [U+1AA6 TAI THAM SIGN REVERSED ROTATED RANA + U+1AA6 TAI THAM SIGN REVERSED ROTATED RANA + U+1AAC TAI THAM SIGN HANG]

The following punctuation marks have "progressive values of finality".

  1. [U+1AA8 TAI THAM SIGN KAAN]
  2. [U+1AA9 TAI THAM SIGN KAANKUU]
  3. [U+1AAA TAI THAM SIGN SATKAAN]
  4. [U+1AAB TAI THAM SIGN SATKAANKUU] 

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. ᪩᪥᪩ and ᪭ᩣ

To close a section, use [U+1AA6 TAI THAM SIGN REVERSED ROTATED RANA] and/or [U+1AAC TAI THAM SIGN HANG], eg. ᪦᪦᪩᪩᪦᪩᪩᪦᪩᪬᪦᪦᪬

Parentheses & brackets

(␣)
  start end
standard

( [U+0028 LEFT PARENTHESIS]

) [U+0029 RIGHT PARENTHESIS]

Quotations

“␣”
  start end
initial

[U+201C LEFT DOUBLE QUOTATION MARK]

[U+201D RIGHT DOUBLE QUOTATION MARK]

Emphasis

tbd

Other inline ranges

tbd

Text spacing

tbd

Abbreviation, ellipsis & repetition

Repetition

[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

  [U+1A7B TAI THAM SIGN MAI SAM​] is also used in Northern Thai to indicate repetition of a word,e eg. ᨲ᩵ᩣ᩠ᨦ᩻ t¹ā˖ŋ̱ʻ taːŋ taːŋ different in my view

Inline notes & annotations

tbd

Other punctuation

tbd

Line & paragraph layout

See Tai Tham/Khün.

Show (default) line-breaking properties for characters in the Northern Thai orthography.

Page & book layout

This section is for any features that are specific to Northern Thai and that relate to the following topics: general page layout & progression; grids & tables; notes, footnotes, etc; forms & user interaction; page numbering, running headers, etc.

References

Acknowledgements

Many thanks are due to Richard Wordingham and Patrick Chew for reviewing the initial draft of this material and sending suggestions.