1. Alphabet

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The Tibetan Alphabet was adapted from the la nya tsha form of the Indian letters by thon mi sam bho ta minister of king srong btsan sgam po about the year 632 (s. Kopp. II, 56). The Indian letters out of which the single Tibetan characters were formed are given in the following table in their Nāgari shape.

(See our own 'Standard & Extended Wylie diagrams Sambhota' for images of the Tibetan script and how it relatse to the Wylie transliteration used on this wiki.)

It is seen in this table that several signs have been added to express sounds that are unknown in Sanscrit. The sibilants tsa tsha dza evidently were differentiated from the palatals of the original (as in tsi na for character omitted), we must suppose that the sibilisation of those consonants, common at present among the Hindus on the Southern slopes of the Himālaya (who speak tsār for character omitted, four etc.), was in general use with those Indians from whom the Tib. Alphabet was taken (cf. also the Afghan character omitted and character omitted likewise sprung from character omitted and character omitted).

wa is differentiated from ba, which itself often is pronouned v, as shewn in the sequel; in transcribing Sanscrit, character omitted and character omitted both are given, generally, by ba only. zha seems to be formed out of sha to which it is related in sound. za evidently is only the inverted ja. a corresponds with Sanscrit character omitted. 'a is newly invented; for its functions see the follwing &&. The letters which are peculiar to Sanscrit are expressed, in transcribing, in the following manner. a) The linguals, simply by inverting the signs of the dentals: thus, Ta character omitted, THa character omitted, Da character omitted, Na character omitted. b) The sonant aspirates, by putting ha under the sonants: thus, gha character omitted, dzha character omitted, Dha character omitted, dha character omitted, bha character omitted.

- A very clear exposition of the ramification of Indian alphabets by Dr. Haas is to be found in the Publications of the Palaeographical Society Oriental Series IV, pl XLIV.

Click here to go to the front page of the Second Edition of H.A. Jaeschke's 'Tibetan Grammar'