Tuesday, October 15, 2013

88. Lanna alphabet (Tua Mueang)

  Lanna alphabet (Tua Mueang)

The Lanna script is a descendant of the Old Mon script like the Lao religious scripts and Burmese script. It was used to write the Lanna language (also called Northern Thai or Kam Muang - คำเมือง). It was used during the time of the Lanna kingdom, founded in 1259 and conquered by Burma in 1558. The script is also known as Tham or Yuan.
The Lanna alphabet is used to write Northern Thai (Kam Mu'ang), Tai Lue and Khün languages. It is also used for religious purposes to write Lao Tham (Old Lao), and can be found as the alphabet of old manuscripts in temples in Northern Thailand.
The Lanna language (ล้านนา) is a close relative of Thai and member of the Chiang Saeng languages. It is spoken by about six million people in Northern Thailand and several thousand in Laos, but nowadays it is written with the Thai alphabet.

Notable features

  • Syllables are based around consonants. Vowels are indicated with diacritics which can appear above, below or around the consonant letters. When they occur on their own or at the beginning of a word, vowels are attached to the glottal stop symbol (the final letter in the third row of consonants).
  • Lanna is a tonal language. The tone of a syllable is determined by a combination of the class of consonant, the type of syllable (open or closed), the tone marker and the length of the vowel
  • There are several groupings of letters: Payanchana Nai Wak, Payanchana Nok Wak, Payanchana Perm, Payanchana Piset, numerals, vowels and tone markings/punctuation.
  • Many consonants have an alternate form (Payanchana Sagot) used when it directly follows another consonant (like Khmer) or when it follows a consonant vowel combination where a vowel or other marking is not taking up the space below the preceeding consonant.
  • There are no spaces between words, instead spaces in a Lanna text indicate the end of a clause or sentence.
  • The Northern Thai dialect can be written in the Thai alphabet, so Lanna can be easily transliterated into Thai.

Lanna alphabet


Consonants are divided into three classes which help to determine the tone of a syllable (indicated by the numbers below). In the chart below is given first the Lanna letter, then the "Payanchana Sagot – พยัญชนะสะกด" if it exists (shown with the letter as a place holder), then the Thai equivalent, then the English equivalent (followed by IPA in square brackets). The numbers indicate the class of the consonant (used in determining the tone of the syllable). 1 – high, 2 – mid, 3 – low.
Payanchana Nai Wak - Categorized letters
Lanna consonants - Payanchana Nai Wak - Categorized letters
Payanchana Nok Wak - Noncategorized letters
Lanna consonants - Payanchana Nok Wak - Noncategorized letters
Payanchana Perm - Extra letters
Payanchana Perm - Extra Lanna letters
Special Lanna letters

Vowel diacritics

The vowels in the first column are the diacritic marks used to modify consonants. In the second column are the corresponding independent forms. Only certain vowels have this form. These are used for writing words borrowed from Pali. The third column is the Thai equivalent and the fourth is IPA. The dash in the Lanna column indicates the position of the consonant that the vowel is attached to.
Lanna vowels
Lanna mixed vowels


Lanna has two sets of numerals. The first set, Lek Nai Tam, is reserved for special purposes such as religious texts. The second set, Lek Hora, is the set usually used in everyday life. It´s name (Hora) suggests that it is also used for astrological purposes.
Lanna numerals

Other diacritics

The dash indicates the position of the letter that the diacritic mark is attached to.
Other Lanna diacritics

Sample text in Lanna

Sample text in Lanna

Transliteration in the Thai alphabet

๑ ทุกข์บ่ได้กิน บ่มีไผตามไฟส่องท้อง ทุกข์บ่ได้นุ่งอย้อง พี่น้องดูแฅวร
๒ เตมว่าที่กิน ที่นอรค่ดีคับ ยังอดอยู่ได้นานไพ คับค่ดีช้อม หัวอกหัวไจ จักอดอยู่ไพ หัวไจบิ่นบ้าง

Transliteration in the Latin alphabet

Kadii Sawn Jai Boran Lanna
1. Dtuk bong dai gin biim ai tam fai sawn dtaang dtuk bong dai nung dai yawng bii nawng duu kwaen
2. Dtem wa dii gin dii non gaw dii gan yang od yuu doo non bpai gap gaw dii ngawm hua ok hua jai jak ok yuu boo hua jai bin baang


Lanna Fonts (TrueType, 597K)
Introduction to Lanna Alphabet (PDF, 201K, in Thai)


Information about Lanna and other useful resources
http://www.lannaworld.com (in Thai)
Learn the Lanna (Tai Tham) alphabet
Free Lanna Fonts and Introduction to the Alphabet (in Thai)
Thanks to "Keen", the author of http://se-ed.net/tua-mueng/, for the fonts and much of the information used to make this page.


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