New Tai Lue alphabet

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New Tai Lue
New Tai Lue script sample.png
Languages Tai Lü
Time period
since 1950s
Parent systems
Direction Left-to-right
ISO 15924 Talu, 354
Unicode alias
New Tai Lue
China Post logo with New Tai Lü script reading hoŋ⁴ faːk¹ haːi¹ tsoŋ⁵ ko⁶ in Mohan, Yunnan.

New Tai Lue script, also known as Xishuangbanna Dai[1] and Simplified Tai Lue, is an alphabet used to write the Tai Lü language. Developed in China in the 1950s, New Tai Lue is based on the traditional Tai Tham alphabet developed c. 1200. The government of China promoted the alphabet for use as a replacement for the older script; teaching the script was not mandatory, however, and as a result many are illiterate in New Tai Lue. In addition, communities in Burma, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam still use the Tai Tham alphabet.



Similar to the Thai and Lao scripts, consonants come in pairs to denote two tonal registers (high and low).[1]

IPA /ʔa/ /ka/ /xa/ /ŋa/ /tsa/ /sa/ /ja/ /ta/ /tʰa/ /na/ /pa/ /pʰa/ /ma/ /fa/ /wa/ /la/ /da/ /ba/ /ha/ /kʷa/ /xʷa/ /sʷa/


Final consonants do not have an inherent /a/ vowel.[1] They are modified forms of initials with a virama-like hook:

IPA /k/ /t/ /p/ /ŋ/ /n/ /m/ /u̯/


Consonants have a default vowel of /a/. In the table below, '◌' represents a consonant and is used to indicate the position of the various vowels:

      Short vowels             Long vowels       Diphthongs with i
Letters IPA Letters IPA Letters IPA
/a/ ᦺ◌ /ai̯/
◌ᦱ /aː/ ◌ᦻ /aːi̯/
◌ᦲᦰ /iʔ/ ◌ᦲ /i/
ᦵ◌ᦰ /eʔ/ ᦵ◌ /e/
ᦶ◌ᦰ /ɛʔ/ ᦶ◌ /ɛ/
◌ᦳ /uʔ/ ◌ᦴ /u/ ◌ᦼ /ui̯/
ᦷ◌ᦰ /oʔ/ ᦷ◌ /o/ ◌ᦽ /oi̯/
◌ᦸᦰ /ɔʔ/ ◌ᦸ /ɔ/ ◌ᦾ /ɔi̯/
◌ᦹ /ɯʔ/ ◌ᦹ /ɯ/ ◌ᦿ /ɯi̯/
ᦵ◌ᦲᦰ /əʔ/ ᦵ◌ᦲ /ə/ ◌ᧀ /əi̯/


New Tai Lue has two tone marks which are written at the end of a syllable: and .[1] Because consonants come in pairs to denote two tonal registers, the two tone marks allow for representation of six specific tones:

High register Low register
Shown with k ᦂᧈ ᦂᧉ ᦅᧈ ᦅᧉ
IPA /ka˥/ /ka˧˥/ /ka˩˧/ /ka˥˩/ /ka˧/ /ka˩/
Transcription ka¹ ka² ka³ ka⁴ ka⁵ ka⁶


Two letters are used only for abbreviations:

  • Syllable ᦶᦟᦰ (/lɛʔ˧/) can be abbreviated as the character
  • Syllable ᦶᦟᧁᧉ (/lɛu˩/) can be abbreviated as the character


New Tai Lue has its own set of digits:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

An alternative glyph for one () is used when might be confused with the vowel .[1]


New Tai Lue script was added to the Unicode Standard in March, 2005 with the release of version 4.1.

In June 2015 New Tai Lue was changed from logical ordering used by most Indic scripts to a visual ordering model as used by the Thai and Lao scripts.[1][2][3][4] This change affected the four vowel letters which appear to the left of the initial consonant.

The Unicode block for New Tai Lue is U+1980–U+19DF:

New Tai Lue[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+19Bx ᦿ
1.^ As of Unicode version 11.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See also[edit]