Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
THL Simplified Phonetic Transcription of Standard Tibetan
by David Germano and Nicolas Tournadre
December 12, 2003
Section 8 of 13

Note about Diacritics

Special marks called “diacritics” are used to modify the roman alphabet in order to render more precisely specific phonological and orthographical features of many languages of the world. These diacritics include a dot under a letter (ṇ), a dot over a letter (ṁ), a bar over a letter (ā), accent marks over vowels (é), and so forth. Unfortunately, computing has been slow to accommodate these practices, such that many users are unable to input or display such marks in their computing systems. The implementation of a global standard for computing scripts – Unicode – will eventually resolve this, but in the meantime it remains a significant problem. For this reason, and to keep the phonetic scheme simple, we have minimized the use of special diacritic marks. They are limited to an accent mark over the “e” (é) when it is in the final syllable and an umlaut (two dots above a vowel) over “o” (ö) and “u” (ü). If a computer system is unable to input or display such characters, they can be dropped, leaving simply the vowels “e,” “o” and “u.” While this will significantly increase the likelihood of mispronunciation, the rendered term will still be relatively easy to remember.

THL Simplified Phonetic Transcription of Standard Tibetan, by David Germano