Tai Anphabet 5.1

Ian James
© April 2010, November 2011

script name

The Tai Anphabet was designed to write languages of the Tai family, which includes Thai, Lao, Lanna, Tai Lue, etc. There is only one glyph per phoneme, and tone-marks sit upon the vowel. The aim was to have a writing system in a single channel, in a linear-alphabetic fashion. The shapes are derived from or reminiscent of various Tai scripts, especially Thai and Lanna. This is a revision of the 5th edition, tone-marks are given more modest form, and there is a new /m/.


These are shown in the traditional Brahmic order. It may be noticed that the aspirates and sibilants are based on “high class” Thai forms; this follows from the direct historical relationship uncovered by William Gedney etal. The form for /s/ has slight similarity to that of the Ariyaka alphabet, and comes about by rotating and extending the /l/ letter. If a syllable is closed by a consonant (typically /k/, /t/, /p/ or a nasal), that glyph is given a final marker.

Tai Anphabet 5.1 consonants

For the second consonant of a cluster, there is an optional form, similar to Lanna:

Tai Anphabet 5.1 cluster forms


Tai vowels are shown here with middle tone, ie. no tone-mark. They follow their consonant in all cases, unlike Indic vowels which end up all over the place.

Tai Anphabet 5.1 vowels

Broadening diphthongs have their own letter; narrowing diphthongs and triphthongs are formed with a suffix.

Tai Anphabet 5.1 diphthongs


There is no need for a Tone Rule based on consonant class, since tone contours are directly encoded. Tone-marks are placed upon the vowel (or first of a double-letter vowel). Here is /i/ with various common Tai family tones:

Tai Anphabet 5.1 tones

Sample text

This is taken from a fairy tale in the Thai language.

example of Thai using Tai Anphabet 5.1
Once upon a time,
there was a young lady named
Phikul. She was a lovely person,
in heart, appearance, behaviour,
manners, everything.

small Buddha statue,
image (c) 2010 Ian James

All material on this page © Ian James.
Last modified Nov.20,2011