Tai Lü (draft)
New Tai Lue

Updated 10 January, 2023

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

Sample

Select part of this sample text to show a list of characters, with links to more details. Source
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ᦅᧄ ᦺᦑ ᦁᧃ ᦕᦲᧁ ᦘᧃ ᦞᧃ ᦓᦱ ᧞ ᦐᧄ ᦇᦱᧄ ᦔᦲᧃ ᦅᧄ ᦔᦱᧅ ᦶᦠᧂᧈ ᦅᦳᧃ ᦺᦑ ᦺᦓ ᧑᧒ ᦗᧃ ᦓᦱ ᧞ ᦵᦙᦲᧂ ᦺᦂᧉ ᦂᦲᧄᧈ ᦠᧃᧉ: ᦵᦑᧄ ᦙᦱ ᦞᦱᧈ ᦕᦰ ᦵᦑᧆ ᦙᦱᧃᧈ (ᦵᦙᦲᧂ ᦍᦸᧂ), ᦕᦰ ᦵᦑᧆ ᦟᦱᧁ, ᧞ ᦕᦰ ᦵᦑᧆ ᦺᦒ.

ᦅᦳᧃ ᦺᦑ ᦟᦹᧉ ᦜᦻ ᦅᦳᧃ ᦔᦳᧅᧈ ᦃᧁᧉ ᧞ ᦙᦲ ᦺᦉᧃ ᦊᦱᧂ. ᦔᦲᧃ ᦅᦳᧃ ᦙᧅ ᦷᦙᧃᧈ ᧞ ᦺᦓ ᦔᦲ ᦺᦖᧈ ᦺᦑ ᦅᦸᧉ ᦷᦠᧆ ᦓᧄᧉ ᦂᧃ ᦋᦴᧈ ᦅᦳᧃ.

Usage & history

Dai Lue is spoken in the southern part of Yunnan, China, and in the surrounding countries by approximately 554,600 people.@Webonary,https://www.webonary.org/

The New Tai Lue script is a simplified version of the Tai Tham (Lanna) script, created in the 1950s, and mainly used by the Tai Lü people of Southern China for writing the Lü language. In 1987 the Old Tai Lü script was revived and widely used. However, the Chinese government once again promoted use of the New Tai Lü script in 1997, with the result that both scripts are currently in use in China.

The script is also known as Xishuangbanna Dai or Simplified Tai Tham.

᧑᧒ᦗᧃᦓᦱ

Although it is used for shop and street signs in some areas, few people can read the script.

Basic features

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

The orthography is syllable-based, and the language tonal.

New Tai Lü text runs left to right in horizontal lines.

Words are separated by spaces.

Each basic consonant is one of a pair, denoting either a high or low tonal register for the same phonetic sound. This is very regular – each sound is represented by 2 consonant letters. Tone is indicated by a combination of the consonant class and tone marks.ws ❯ consonants

No conjuncts are used for consonant clusters. Although, some clusters in Tai Tham are represented as single characters in New Tai Lü, in particular high tone variants such as and (ᩉᩖ and ᩉ᩠ᨾ in Tai Tham). ❯ clusters

Syllable-initial clusters use 6 dedicated letters (for 3 pairs of consonants). There are no medial consonant letters. ❯ onsets

Syllable-final consonant sounds use 7 dedicated letters, which cover all needs. ❯ finals

The New Tai Lü orthography has an inherent vowel a, and represents other vowels using 17 vowel signs (including 4 pre-base letters). However, unlike many other SE Asian scripts, all vowel signs are ordinary spacing characters (no combining marks), and are stored before or after the base character, as needed. ❯ vowels

All vowels are preceded by a consonant. What may be standalone vowels in other related languages are written after one of the 2 glottal stop consonant letters, and IPA transcriptions include a glottal stop. ❯ standalone

This page lists 9 composite vowels (made from 8 vowel signs). Composite vowels can involve up to 3 glyphs, and can surround the base consonant(s) on up to 2 sides (left and right only). ❯ composite_vowels

Tone is also marked by spacing characters, and only after unchecked syllables. There are 6 tones, which are marked by the onset class, the type of syllable, and where needed one of 2 tone marks. ❯ tones

One distinguishing feature of New Tai Lü is the regularity, and simplicity described above compared to Tai Tham, which can also be used for the Tai Lü language. Many of the glyphs resemble Tai Tham, but they are also simplified, commonly combining into a single code point what would be multiple characters in Tai Tham. For example, , , and .

Character index

Letters

Show

Basic consonants

ᦔ␣ᦢ␣ᦕ␣ᦎ␣ᦡ␣ᦏ␣ᦂ␣ᦦ␣ᦀ␣ᦗ␣ᦥ␣ᦘ␣ᦑ␣ᦤ␣ᦒ␣ᦅ␣ᦨ␣ᦁ␣ᦈ␣ᦋ␣ᦚ␣ᦉ␣ᦪ␣ᦃ␣ᦧ␣ᦠ␣ᦝ␣ᦌ␣ᦫ␣ᦆ␣ᦩ␣ᦣ␣ᦖ␣ᦐ␣ᦄ␣ᦙ␣ᦓ␣ᦇ␣ᦛ␣ᦜ␣ᦊ␣ᦞ␣ᦟ␣ᦍ

Final consonants

ᧇ␣ᧆ␣ᧅ␣ᧄ␣ᧃ␣ᧂ␣ᧁ

Vowels

ᦵ␣ᦷ␣ᦶ␣ᦺ␣ᦲ␣ᦹ␣ᦳ␣ᦴ␣ᦸ␣ᦰ␣ᦱ␣ᦻ␣ᦿ␣ᦼ␣ᦽ␣ᦾ␣ᧀ

Tones

ᧈ␣ᧉ

Numbers

Show
᧐␣᧑␣᧒␣᧓␣᧔␣᧕␣᧖␣᧗␣᧘␣᧙␣᧚

Punctuation

Show
!␣?␣:␣;␣。␣、␣,␣.␣〈␣〉␣《␣》␣(␣)

Symbols

Show
᧞␣᧟
Items to show in lists

Phonology

These are sounds for the Tai Lü language. For more details, see the Phonology pages of the @SIL Dai Lue Dictionary,https://www.webonary.org/dailu/language/phonology/?lang=en

Click on the sounds to reveal locations in this document where they are mentioned.

Phones in a lighter colour are non-native or allophones. Source Wikipedia.

Vowel sounds

Plain vowels

i ɯ ɯː ɯ ɯː u e ɤ ɤː ɤ ɤː o ɛ ɛː ː ɔ ɔː a

Diphthongs

ɯi̯ ɯi̯ ui̯ ɤi̯ ɤi̯ oi̯ əi̯ əi̯ ɔi̯ ai̯ aːi̯

Vowels in open syllables are long, whereas ones in closed syllables are short, except for and .

All diphthongs are plain vowels followed by .

Consonant sounds

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

Initials t͡s and s are palatalised before front vowels i, e, ɛ, and become t͡ɕ and ɕ, respectively. For example, t͡síŋ hard and si᷄p ten are pronounced as t͡ɕiŋ˥ and ɕip˧˥, respectively.

Finals

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

Tones

Tai Lü has 2 tones in checked syllables, and 6 tones in unchecked syllables. See tones.ws

Structure

The script is syllable-based.

Syllables. A syllable's phonetic structure is C(ʷ)(V)(C) (unchecked) or C(ʷ)(V)C (checked). Unchecked syllables end with a vowel or one of the sonorants m, n, ŋ, w, j. Checked syllables end with one of ʔ, p, t, k.

The onset consonant sequence may be one of kʷ, xʷ, sʷ.

Tai Lü has 6 tones in unchecked syllables. In checked syllables there are two tones.ws

The characters used to represent the phonetics follow the model
(pV) C (V) (VS) (Fs|Fp) (T)
where: pV is a pre-base vowel, VS is the vowel shortener , Fs is one of the set of final sonorants, Fp is one of the set of final plosives, and T is a tone marker.

There are no medial consonant letters. Single characters are available for the onset sequences.

An onset consonant may represent a high or low register. Every consonant sound is represented by a pair of letters.

Syllable-final consonants are one of a small set of dedicated letters.

There are two tone marks, which combine with the register of the onset consonant to determine one of the 6 tone values.

Words. Many words are single syllables, but also many are composed of multiple syllables. Multi-syllabic words may have one or more 'minor' syllables, which have the form CV and can only have one of the following short vowels: a, i, or u. All CV syllables in the following examples are minor syllables.@SIL Dai Lue Dictionary,https://www.webonary.org/dailu/language/phonology/?lang=en

ᦔᦞᦎᦲᦰ

ᦉᦳᦟᦱ

ᦗᧃᦒᦓᧂ

There are also many compound words. The following words are, respectively, compounds of thing:eat, and word:think.@SIL Dai Lue Dictionary,https://www.webonary.org/dailu/language/phonology/?lang=en

ᦃᦸᧂᦂᦲᧃ

ᦅᧄᦅᦹᧆ

Vowels

The New Tai Lü orthography has an inherent vowel a, and represents vowels using 17 vowel signs (including 4 pre-base letters). However, unlike many other SE Asian scripts, all vowel signs are ordinary spacing characters (no combining marks), and are stored before or after the base character, as needed.

All vowels are preceded by a consonant. What may be standalone vowels in other related languages are written after one of the 2 glottal stop consonant letters, and IPA transcriptions include a glottal stop.

This page lists 9 composite vowels (made from 8 vowel signs). Composite vowels can involve up to 3 glyphs, and can surround the base consonant(s) on up to 2 sides (left and right only).

For a mapping of sounds to graphemes see vowel_mappings.

Inherent vowel

ka U+1982 NEW TAI LUE LETTER HIGH KA

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.

Other vowels

ᦂᦲ ki U+1982 NEW TAI LUE LETTER HIGH KA + U+19B2 NEW TAI LUE VOWEL SIGN II

Non-inherent vowel sounds that follow a consonant are represented using spacing, non-combining vowel signs.

All vowel signs in New Tai Lü are ordinary spacing characters, rather than combining characters, and may appear before or after the base.

New Tai Lü uses a visual encoding model, so vowel signs that appear before the base must also be typed and stored before the base (see prebase).

New Tai Lue uses the following vowel signs. They may be used on their own, or in combination with others (see composite_vowels).

ᦲ␣ᦹ␣ᦳ␣ᦴ␣ᦵ␣ᦷ␣ᦶ␣ᦸ␣ᦰ␣ᦱ␣ ␣ᦺ␣ᦻ␣ᦿ␣ᦼ␣ᦽ␣ᦾ␣ᧀ

In closed syllables, long vowels are usually pronounced short except for [U+19B1 NEW TAI LUE VOWEL SIGN AA] and [U+19B4 NEW TAI LUE VOWEL SIGN UU].ws

The typical use of [U+19B0 NEW TAI LUE VOWEL SIGN VOWEL SHORTENER] is to produce a short open a vowel, however it is also used to indicate shortness for the vowel sign combinations described in the next section, in which case it represents just the glottal stop. It is also sometimes used to distinguish homonyms or for onomatopoeia.ws

Six of these single character vowel signs represent diphthongs that combine the basic vowel sound with . (There is another in the list of pre-base vowel signs. and one more in the list of composite vowels.)

Pre-base vowel signs

ᦷᦂ koː U+19B7 NEW TAI LUE VOWEL SIGN O + U+1982 NEW TAI LUE LETTER HIGH KA

Four vowel signs appear to the left of the base consonant letter or cluster, eg. မေး.

ᦵ␣ᦷ␣ᦶ␣ ␣ᦺ

Because New Tai Lü uses a fully visual encoding model (since Unicode 8.0)u, the 4 vowel signs that appear to the left of the consonant are typed and stored before the consonant, even though they are pronounced after.

ᦒᦰᦵᦟ
A pre-base vowel sign. The vowel letter is typed and stored before the consonant after which it is pronounced.
details

ᦒᦰᦵᦟ

Note that [U+19B6 NEW TAI LUE VOWEL SIGN AE] should not be typed as two successive [U+19B5 NEW TAI LUE VOWEL SIGN E] characters.u

Composite vowels

ᦵᦂᦲᦰ koː U+19B5 VOWEL SIGN E + U+1982 LETTER HIGH KA + U+19B2 VOWEL SIGN II + U+19B0 VOWEL SIGN SHORTENER

All vowels represented by combinations of the above characters. Most, but not all, of these involve the use of the vowel-shortening letter, [U+19B0 NEW TAI LUE VOWEL SIGN VOWEL SHORTENER].

-ᦲᦰ␣-ᦹᦰ␣ᦵ-ᦰ␣ᦵ-ᦲᦰ␣ᦵ-ᦲ␣ᦷ-ᦰ␣ᦶ-ᦰ␣-ᦸᦰ␣ ␣ᦵ-ᧀ
ᦵᦄᦲᧅ
A composite vowel, made of 3 ordinary letters. The 2 vowel signs appear on opposite sides of the base. The first vowel letter is typed and stored before the base consonant.
details

ᦵᦄᦲᧅ

Characters that don't appear in the combinations:

ᦱ␣ᦳ␣ᦴ␣ᦺ␣ᦻ␣ᦼ␣ᦽ␣ᦾ␣ᦿ
Show which combinations contain a given character:
-ᦲᦰ␣ᦵ-ᦲᦰ␣ᦵ-ᦲ
-ᦹᦰ
-ᦸᦰ
-ᦲᦰ␣-ᦹᦰ␣ᦵ-ᦰ␣ᦵ-ᦲᦰ␣ᦷ-ᦰ␣ᦶ-ᦰ␣-ᦸᦰ
ᦵ-ᦰ␣ᦵ-ᦲᦰ␣ᦵ-ᦲ␣ᦵ-ᧀ
ᦷ-ᦰ
ᦶ-ᦰ
ᦵ-ᧀ
Show details about glyph positioning

The following list summarises where vowel signs are positioned around a base consonant to produce vowels, and how many instances of that pattern there are. Numbers after the + sign represent combinations of vowel signs.

  • 4 pre-base, eg. ᦵᦂ e͕k (ke)
  • 13 post-base, eg. ᦂᦱ
  • +3 post+post-base, eg. ᦂᦲᦰ kiʔ
  • +4 pre+post-base, eg. ᦵᦂᦲ e͕ki (ke͕i)
  • +1 pre+post+post-base, eg. ᦵᦂᦲᦰ e͕kiʔ (ke͕iʔ)

Vowel-signs only appear to the left and/or right of a consonant.

Standalone vowels

All vowels are preceded by a consonant. What may be standalone vowels in other related languages are written after one of the 2 glottal stop consonant letters, [U+1980 NEW TAI LUE LETTER HIGH QA] and [U+1981 NEW TAI LUE LETTER LOW QA], and IPA transcriptions include a glottal stop.

ᦀᦱᧇ

ᦶᦀᧅ

ᦵᦁᦲᧁᧈᦵᦋᦲᧁᧈ

Vowel sounds mapped to characters

This section maps Tai Lü vowel sounds to common graphemes in the New Tai Lü 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.

Plain vowels

Diphthongs and other combinations

Tones

New Tai Lü has two tone marks, which are written at the end of an unchecked syllable. Because consonants come in pairs to denote two tonal registers, the two tone marks allow for representation of six specific tones.ws

The tone marks are ordinary spacing characters.

ᧈ␣ᧉ

Tai Lü has 2 tones in checked syllables, and 6 tones in unchecked syllables.ws

Register Checked? Mark Description Example
High checked - ˧˥ high-rising

ᦜᧅ

ᦜᦱᧅ

unchecked - ˥ high ᦂᦱ
˧˥ high-rising ᦂᦱᧈ
˩˧ low-rising ᦂᦱᧉ
Low

checked

- ˧ mid

ᦟᧅ

ᦟᦱᧅ

unchecked - ˥˩ falling ᦅᦱ
˧ mid ᦅᦱᧈ 
˩ low ᦅᦱᧉ

Consonants

Basic consonants

The letters ʰ and ˡ below each character indicate its class.

ᦔ␣ᦗ␣ᦢ␣ᦥ␣ᦎ␣ᦑ␣ᦡ␣ᦤ␣ᦂ␣ᦅ␣ᦀ␣ᦁ
ᦕ␣ᦘ␣ᦏ␣ᦒ␣ᦦ␣ᦨ
ᦈ␣ᦋ
ᦚ␣ᦝ␣ᦉ␣ᦌ␣ᦪ␣ᦫ␣ᦃ␣ᦆ␣ᦧ␣ᦩ␣ᦠ␣ᦣ
ᦖ␣ᦙ␣ᦐ␣ᦓ␣ᦄ␣ᦇ
ᦛ␣ᦞ␣ᦜ␣ᦟ␣ᦊ␣ᦍ

Syllable onsets

ᦦ␣ᦨ␣ᦧ␣ᦩ␣ᦪ␣ᦫ

Syllable-initial clusters use 6 dedicated letters (for 3 pairs of consonants). There are no medial consonant letters.

Final consonants

ᧇ␣ᧆ␣ᧅ␣ᧄ␣ᧃ␣ᧂ␣ᧁ

New Tai Lü has a set of dedicated syllable-final consonants. A small hook-like modification indicates that they have no inherent vowel.u

Ligatures

᧞␣᧟

New Tai Lü has two ligatures, used for abbreviations.

[U+19DE NEW TAI LUE SIGN LAE] represents the syllable ws ᦶᦟᦰ ɛ͕ḻʔ lɛʔ

[U+19DF NEW TAI LUE SIGN LAEV] represents the syllable wsᦶᦟᧁᧉ ɛ͕ḻw̽² lɛu˩

Consonant clusters

Clusters of consonants do not occur regularlyu, and there is no virama.

Onset consonants can be labialised, but there are distinct code points for that (see onsets).

Clusters at syllable boundaries (final consonant followed by onset) don't interact and dedicated code points are available for syllable-final code points, so there is no confusion about syllable boundaries.

Consonant to script mapping

This section maps Tai Lü consonant sounds to common graphemes in the New Tai Lü orthography, where h indicates a high-register consonant, l a low-register, and f a final. 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

Affricate

Fricatives

Nasals

Other

Numbers

New Tai Lü has its own set of digits, derived from the Tai Tham hora set.u

᧐␣᧑␣᧒␣᧓␣᧔␣᧕␣᧖␣᧗␣᧘␣᧙␣᧚

[U+19DA NEW TAI LUE THAM DIGIT ONE] is an alternative glyph for [U+19D1 NEW TAI LUE DIGIT ONE] when it might otherwise be confused with the vowel [U+19B1 NEW TAI LUE VOWEL SIGN AA].u

Text direction

New Tai Lü text runs left to right in horizontal lines.

Show default bidi_class properties for characters in the New Tai Lü 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 New Tai Lüe character app.

Prescript vowels are visually ordered, and since there are no combining characters and no joining behaviour, the New Tai Lü script has no contextual variation or placement of glyphs. Nor is printed text cursive.

New Tai Lü has no special requirements for baseline alignment between mixed scripts and in general.

The script is monocameral, and no special transforms are needed to convert between characters.

Font styling & weight

tbd

Graphemes

Grapheme clusters

tbd

Since all New Tai Lü characters are spacing characters, they are all separate Unicode grapheme clusters. This means that, by default, operations such as forwards/backwards deletion, cursor movement & selection, and character counts all apply to individual characters, regardless of type or of syllabic context.

Punctuation & inline features

Word boundaries

Words are generally separated by spaces. However, in some texts spaces delimit phrases, rather than words.

Phrase & section boundaries

In this orthography, Tai Lü appears to use a mixture of ASCII and fullwidth punctuation.

Observation: The Lü translation of the text in the SIL Tai Lü dictionary uses both ASCII and fullwidth commas in the same text. It also contains ASII full stops and an ASCII exclamation mark. See @Dai Lue Dictionary,https://www.webonary.org/dailu/overview/introduction/?lang=lu.

Observation: New Tai Lü may include the following (needs to be checked).

!␣?␣:␣;␣。␣、␣,␣.

Bracketed text

Observation: The Lü translation of the text in the SIL Tai Lü dictionary uses both ASCII parentheses. See @Dai Lue Dictionary,https://www.webonary.org/dailu/overview/introduction/?lang=lu.

Observation: New Tai Lü may also use fullwidth Chinese punctuation, and therefore may include the following (needs to be checked).

〈␣〉␣《␣》␣(␣)

Quotations & citations

tbd

Emphasis

tbd

Abbreviation, ellipsis & repetition

tbd

Inline notes & annotations

tbd

Other punctuation

tbd

Other inline text decoration

tbd

Line & paragraph layout

Line breaking & hyphenation

tbd

Show (default) line-breaking properties for characters in the modern Tai Lü orthography.

Text alignment & justification

tbd

Text spacing

tbd

This section looks at ways in which spacing is applied between characters over and above that which is introduced during justification.

Baselines, line height, etc.

tbd

Tai Lü uses the so-called 'alphabetic' baseline, which is the same as for Latin and many other scripts.

Counters, lists, etc.

tbd

Styling initials

tbd

Page & book layout

This section is for any features that are specific to New Tai Lü 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