Wancho

Wancho script orthography notes

Updated 9 May, 2024

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

Referencing this document

Richard Ishida, Wancho Orthography Notes, 09-May-2024, https://r12a.github.io/scripts/wcho/nnp

Sample

Select part of this sample text to show a list of characters, with links to more details.
Change size:   36px

𞋙𞋞𞋩𞋛𞋔 𞋉𞋞𞋮𞋎𞋀𞋮 𞋔𞋜𞋘𞋯 𞋐𞋀𞋞𞋯 𞋔𞋁𞋞 𞋋𞋁𞋘 𞋚𞋕𞋉𞋯 𞋃𞋁 𞋐𞋛𞋯 𞋔𞋁𞋮𞋉 𞋋𞋁𞋜𞋫 𞋘𞋢 𞋌𞋞𞋝𞋮 𞋇𞋁 𞋊𞋞𞋫 𞋃𞋁 𞋉𞋞𞋮𞋊𞋞𞋮, 𞋃𞋁 𞋃𞋀𞋮 𞋈𞋁𞋘 𞋅𞋕𞋜𞋮 𞋔𞋁 𞋃𞋁𞋜 𞋃𞋁 𞋉𞋀𞋞 𞋈𞋁 𞋋𞋁𞋜𞋫 𞋀 𞋊𞋁𞋐𞋜.

Source: Unicode UDHR, article 1, in Omniglot

Usage & history

Wancho is a Sino-Tibetan language with around 50,000 speakers, spoken in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Myanmar, and Bhutan. This recently created Wancho orthography is taught in some schools, and there is one book.@Story of the Wancho Script,https://indianculture.gov.in/snippets/story-wancho-script The language is more commonly written using the Devanagari or Latin scripts.

𞋒𞋀𞋉𞋃𞋕 𞋈𞋀𞋜𞋐𞋜

The orthography was created by Banwang Losu between 2001 and 20013.

Basic features

The Wancho script is an alphabet. This means that it is largely phonetic in nature, where each letter represents a basic sound. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features for the Wancho language.

Wancho text runs left-to-right in horizontal lines. There is no case distinction. Words are separated by spaces.

❯ consonantSummary

The Wancho orthography represents 28 basic consonant sounds using 28 letters. One additional letter represents the combination tr̥.

There are no special mechanisms for consonant clusters, onsets or finals; these are simply expressed by sequences of letters.

❯ basicV

Wancho is an alphabet where 6 basic vowel sounds are written using 6 letters. However, additional letters represent 4 nasalised vowel sounds, and a further 4 vowels followed by ŋ. One more letter represents a diphthong, although other diphthongs are represented by combinations of vowels.

Word-initial standalone vowels are just written using vowel letters.

Wancho uses native digits, and ASCII code points for the more common punctuation marks.

Character index

Letters

Show

Consonants

𞋊␣𞋂␣𞋋␣𞋄␣𞋔␣𞋅␣𞋫␣𞋇␣𞋙␣𞋠␣𞋃␣𞋐␣𞋍␣𞋓␣𞋌␣𞋎␣𞋑␣𞋏␣𞋚␣𞋘␣𞋉␣𞋝␣𞋩␣𞋒␣𞋗␣𞋈␣𞋟␣𞋆␣𞋡

Vowels

𞋜␣𞋞␣𞋛␣𞋕␣𞋁␣𞋀␣𞋥␣𞋪␣𞋧␣𞋦␣𞋢␣𞋤␣𞋨␣𞋣␣𞋖

Combining marks

Show

Tones

𞋬␣𞋭␣𞋮␣𞋯

Numbers

Show
𞋰␣𞋱␣𞋲␣𞋳␣𞋴␣𞋵␣𞋶␣𞋷␣𞋸␣𞋹

Punctuation

Show

ASCII

!␣(␣)␣,␣-␣.␣:␣;␣?

Symbols

Show
𞋿

Other

Show

To be investigated

…␣“␣‘␣”␣’␣(␣)␣-
Items to show in lists

Phonology

The following represents basic information about the repertoires of the Upper and Lower dialects of the Wancho language. For more details, see Burling & Wangsu and Losu & Morey.

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

ĩ i u ũ ẽ e o õ ə ə ã a

Sometimes o is transcribed as ɔː, especially when nasalised.

The sound we represent with a here could also be transcribed as aː, contrasting in length with ə.

Consonant sounds

labial alveolar post-
alveolar
palatal velar glottal
stop p b
pÊ°
t d
tÊ°
    k É¡
kÊ°
ʔ
affricate   tÍ¡s t͡ʃ      
fricative f β s z ʃ ʒ     h
nasal m n   ɲ ŋ
approximant ʋ w l   j  
trill/flap   r  

The sound shown here as tʰ is sometimes transcribed as θ.

The sound shown here as d͡ʒ is sometimes transcribed as ʒ.

Tone

Wancho is a tonal language but the 2 major dialects, Northern and Southern, use tones in slightly different ways. Upper Wancho has lòw, mid, and hígh tones. Lower Wancho has high⁴⁴, falling⁵², and low¹¹ tones.

Both also have a checked tone, which occurs when the syllable ends with a short vowel followed by a glottal stop.e

Where multiple syllables occur together, tones tend to interact to produce different values for certain syllablesbw2. (Those differences are not described in detail in the examples on this page.)

Structure

The typical syllable in Wancho has the following pattern.

(C (M)) V (V) (C)
Legend
C
Consonant.
V
Vowel.
S
Semi-vowel.
M
Meidal consonant.
Onset
The only true medial consonant appears to occur in the sequence tr̥. Initial consonants followed by a glide are written as diphthongs.
Nucleus
Can include diphthongs with an on-glide or an off-glide.
Coda
Wancho syllables can end with p, t, k, ʔ, m, n, and ŋ.

Vowels

Vowel summary table

The following table summarises the main vowel to character assigments.

The middle column shows nasalised vowels. The right-hand column, vowels followed by a velar nasal and represented by a dedicated character.

Plain
𞋜␣ ␣𞋞
𞋪
𞋥
𞋛␣ ␣𞋕
𞋧␣ ␣𞋦
𞋢
𞋁
 
𞋤
𞋀
𞋨
𞋣
Diphthongs
𞋀𞋜␣𞋖␣ ␣𞋁𞋜␣𞋁𞋞

For additional details see vowel_mappings.

The following is the set of characters needed to write vowels, as described in this section, grouped by general category.

𞋀␣𞋁␣𞋈␣𞋊␣𞋋␣𞋑␣𞋕␣𞋖␣𞋛␣𞋜␣𞋞␣𞋢␣𞋣␣𞋤␣𞋥␣𞋦␣𞋧␣𞋨␣𞋪␣𞋫
𞋬␣𞋭␣𞋮␣𞋯

Post-consonant vowels

The 6 vowel sounds following consonants are written using 6 letters. However, additional letters represent 4 nasalised vowel sounds, and a further 4 vowels followed by ŋ. One more letter represents a diphthong, although other diphthongs are represented by combinations of vowels.

Basic vowel letters

These are dedicated vowel letters for basic vowel sounds.

𞋜␣𞋞␣𞋛␣𞋕␣𞋁␣𞋀

Vowels with nasalisation or nasal endings

Wancho also has a number of letters that simultaneously indicate nasalisation or a following velar nasal.

𞋥␣𞋪␣𞋧␣𞋦␣𞋢␣𞋤␣𞋨␣𞋣

𞋄𞋥

𞋐𞋧

𞋅𞋢𞋮

Diphthongs

One Wancho letter represents a diphthong.

𞋖

𞋔𞋖

Other diphthongs are written using a sequence of vowel letters, such as the following.

𞋁𞋜␣𞋁𞋞␣ ␣𞋀𞋜

𞋔𞋁𞋜

𞋔𞋁𞋞

𞋔𞋀𞋜

Nasalisation

Nasalisation is indicated by the choice of letter. See nasalisedV.

Standalone vowels

Standalone vowels are written using the normal vowel signs with no special additional mechanisms.

𞋀𞋊𞋞

Tones

Tone marking is slightly complicated due to the fact that Upper and Lower Wancho dialects use tones in different ways, and the Wancho orthography has been designed to handle each separately. In addition, the unmarked tone is not the mid tone, and differs depending on the dialect.

𞋮␣𞋯

Upper Wancho uses the above combining marks to indicate mid and high tones, respectively. The low tone is not marked.

𞋋𞋞

𞋋𞋞𞋮

𞋋𞋞𞋯

𞋬␣𞋭

Lower Wancho uses the above combining marks to indicate falling and low tones, respectively. The high tone is not marked.

𞋑𞋜

𞋈𞋕𞋜𞋬

𞋑𞋜𞋭

In both dialects, the checked tone is not marked with a combining character, but a glottal stop is written at the end of the syllable.

𞋋𞋞𞋫

𞋈𞋜𞋫

Vowel sounds to characters

This section maps Wancho vowel sounds to common graphemes in the Wancho orthography.

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.

Plain vowels

i
 

𞋜

𞋊𞋜

u
 

𞋞

𞋂𞋞

Å©
 

𞋪

e
 

𞋛

𞋂𞋛𞋮

ẽ
 

𞋧

𞋐𞋧

o
 

𞋕

𞋙𞋕𞋬

õ
 

𞋦

ə
 

𞋁

𞋏𞋁𞋉

aː
 

𞋀

𞋀𞋊𞋞

ã
 

𞋨

Complex vowels

iŋ
 

𞋥

𞋄𞋥

əŋ
 

𞋤

𞋅𞋤

oŋ
 

𞋢

𞋅𞋢𞋮

aʊ
 

𞋖

𞋔𞋖

aŋ
 

𞋣

𞋅𞋣𞋔𞋣𞋮

Consonants

Consonant summary table

The following table summarises the main consonant to character assigments.

Stops
𞋊␣𞋂␣𞋋␣𞋄␣𞋔␣𞋅␣𞋫␣ ␣𞋇␣𞋌␣𞋙
Affricates
𞋠␣𞋃␣𞋐
Fricatives
𞋍␣𞋓␣𞋎␣𞋑␣𞋏␣𞋚
Nasals
𞋘␣𞋉␣𞋝␣𞋩
Approximants
trills & flaps
𞋒␣𞋗␣𞋈␣𞋟␣𞋆
Other
𞋡

For additional details see consonant_mappings.

Basic consonants

Whereas the table just above takes you from sounds to letters, the following simply lists the basic consonant letters (however, since the orthography is highly phonetic there is little difference in ordering).

𞋊␣𞋂␣𞋋␣𞋄␣𞋔␣𞋅␣𞋫␣ ␣𞋇␣𞋌␣𞋙␣ ␣𞋠␣𞋃␣𞋐␣ ␣𞋍␣𞋓␣𞋎␣𞋑␣𞋏␣𞋚␣ ␣𞋘␣𞋉␣𞋝␣𞋩␣ ␣𞋒␣𞋗␣𞋈␣𞋟␣𞋆

Onsets

𞋡

Wancho uses the above letter to represent the tr̥- onset.

Syllables with onsets following the pattern CjV and CwV seem to be written as diphthongs, using vowel letters.

Finals

Syllable codas involving stops simply use the appropriate consonant letter. (The glottal stop letter, 1E2EB, only occurs in syllable-final position.)

𞋝𞋀𞋔

𞋋𞋞𞋫

Syllables ending with ŋ can be written using a single letter for the vowel and the nasal (see nasalisedV).

𞋄𞋥

𞋅𞋣𞋔𞋣𞋮

Other nasal codas are written using the relevant letter.

𞋂𞋁𞋮𞋉

𞋄𞋁𞋘

Consonant clusters

Consonant clusters are indicated by simple sequences of consonant characters.

Consonant sounds to characters

This section maps Wancho consonant sounds to common graphemes in the Wancho orthography. Sounds listed as 'infrequent' are allophones, or sounds used for foreign words, etc.

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.

p
 

𞋊

𞋊𞋁𞋮𞋉

pÊ°
 

𞋇

b
 

𞋂

𞋂𞋁𞋮𞋉

t
 

𞋋

𞋋𞋞𞋮

tÊ°
 

𞋌

𞋌𞋀𞋫𞋉𞋞

t͡s
 

𞋠

t͡ʃ
 

𞋃

𞋃𞋀𞋑

tr̥
 

𞋡

d
 

𞋄

𞋄𞋁𞋘

d͡ʒ
 

𞋐

𞋐𞋧

k
 

𞋔

𞋔𞋁𞋮𞋉

kÊ°
 

𞋙

𞋙𞋁𞋉

É¡
 

𞋅

𞋅𞋣𞋔𞋣𞋮

ʔ
 

𞋫

𞋈𞋜𞋫

f
 

𞋍

s
 

𞋎

𞋅𞋀𞋎𞋀

z
 

𞋑

𞋑𞋥

ʃ
 

𞋏

𞋏𞋁𞋮𞋉

h
 

𞋚

𞋚𞋜

m
 

𞋘

𞋘𞋀𞋜

n
 

𞋉

𞋉𞋜

ɲ
 

𞋩

𞋩𞋆𞋀

ŋ
 

𞋝

𞋝𞋀𞋮

w
 

𞋒

𞋒𞋀𞋉𞋃𞋕 𞋈𞋀𞋜𞋐𞋜

ʋ
 

𞋓

r
 

𞋗

l
 

𞋈

𞋈𞋜𞋫

ꞎ
 

𞋟

j
 

𞋆

𞋩𞋆𞋀

Numbers

Digits

Wancho uses a set of native digits

𞋰␣𞋱␣𞋲␣𞋳␣𞋴␣𞋵␣𞋶␣𞋷␣𞋸␣𞋹

Currency

𞋿

Wancho has its own symbol to represent the rupee.

Text direction

Wancho text runs left to right in horizontal lines.

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

Glyph shaping & positioning

Experiment with examples using the Wancho character app.

Context-based shaping & positioning

tbd

Wancho letters don't interact, so no special shaping is needed.

Base characters carry only a single combining mark.

Some small adjustments may be needed for the placement of tone marks relative to the base letter, but these are mostly horizontal, since Wancho letters tend to have the same height. fig_gpos shows adjustments to the horizontal position of the tone mark, depending on the shape of the base character. It also shows kerning of the letters.

𞋀𞋬𞋫𞋬 𞋀𞋮𞋫𞋮
An illustration of context-sensitive glyph placement in Wancho.

Typographic units

Word boundaries

Words are separated by spaces.

Graphemes

Graphemes in Wancho consist of single letters or letters with a single combining mark.

When applied to Wancho, Unicode grapheme clusters split text into base characters plus any combining marks that follow. Therefore, grapheme clusters can be used to segment Wancho into typographic units.

Phrase, sentence, and section delimiters are described in phrase.

Punctuation & inline features

Phrase & section boundaries

See type samples.

,␣:␣;␣.␣?␣!

Wancho uses ASCII punctuation marks.

phrase

,

;

:

sentence

.

?

!

Line & paragraph layout

Line breaking & hyphenation

Lines are generally broken between words.

Line-edge rules

As in almost all writing systems, certain punctuation characters should not appear at the end or the start of a line. The Unicode line-break properties help applications decide whether a character should appear at the start or end of a line.

Show line-breaking properties for characters in the Wancho orthography.

The following list gives examples of typical behaviours for some of the characters used in this orthography. Context may affect the behaviour of some of these and other characters.

Click/tap on the characters to show what they are.

  • “ ‘ (   should not be the last character on a line.
  • ” ’ ) . , ; ! ? %   should not begin a new line.
  • 𞋿   should be kept with any number, even if separated by a space or parenthesis.

Page & book layout

References