Tuesday, October 15, 2013

33. Tai Dam alphabet

 Tai Dam alphabet


The origins of the Tai Dam alphabet are unknown, though the shapes of the letters suggest that they might have been modelled on the Lao and/or Thai alphabets. Alternative writing systems, including some based on the Latin alphabet, are also used to write Tai Dam.

Notable features

  • Type of writing system: alphabet
  • Direction of writing: left to write in horizontal lines
  • Each consonant letter has a high and low form, which combined with the presence or absence of the two tones marks, is used to indicate the six tones of the Tai Dam language.
  • The high consonants are also used for the syllable final letters: -w, -y, -m, -n and -ng. The syllable final -k is written with the low letter k.
  • Vowels are indicated using diacritics which appear above, below or to the left and/or right of the consonant letters.
  • There is no standard order for the consonants, instead each scribe uses his own order.

Used to write:

Tai Dam, or Black Tai/Tai Noir, a Tai-Kadai language closely related to Lao and Thai which is spoken by around half a million people in north-western Vietnam and northern Laos. There are also Tai Dam speakers in Yunnan province of China, and in parts of northeastern and central Thailand, where they are known as Lao Song or Lao Song Dam.

Tai Dam alphabet

Tai Dam consonants

Additional symbols

These ideographic symbols are customarily addded after consonants
Tai Dam additional symbols

Vowel diacritics

Tai Dam vowel diacritics

Tone indication

  (no mark) Tai Dam tone marker Tai Dam tone marker
low consonants tone 1 tone 2 tone 3
high consonants tone 4 tone 5 tone 6

Tai Dam sample text

Tai Dam sample text
Much of the information on this page was provided by T. R. Carlton of the University of Alberta (sherwoodcopy@telusplanet.net).


Information about Tai Dam language, literature and culture (and Tai Dam fonts)
Free Tai Dam fonts


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