Dehong Dai

Ian James
© November 2009

script name

The Dehong Dai script is used in China for the language of Tai Le or Tai Neua, a Tai language related to Thai and Lao. It is one of the languages spoken by the Dai peoples in China, especially in the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture in the southwest of Yunnan province. Across the border in Myanmar, a different script is used for the very similar Tai Yai language.

Notable Features


This font is based on older forms of the glyphs, in particular /nga/, /ya/, /ma/ and /na/.

consonants of Dehong Dai


Again, this font has some old-fashioned vowel forms. In particular, the /i/ has no cursive joiner, and the /u/ has the under-stroke joined.

vowels of Dehong Dai

Diphthongs are always final. The following diphthongs are written as vowel combinations, here shown with initial /m/ in red:

vowel combos of Dehong Dai

Tone marks

Tone marks have been used at the end of syllables since the early 1950s. At first, diacritic marks were used, as shown here upon a final /m/ in red. The voice contour is in green; unmarked syllables have middle tone (33):

old tone marks of Dehong Dai

Since 1988, letters have been used instead of diacritic marks:

modern tone marks of Dehong Dai


Three sets of numerals may be used: a form of Burmese (top), the Shan (bottom), or the arabic numerals of English.

numerals of Dehong Dai


1. This is an extract from 1Thessalonians (source missionary bible):

example1 of Dehong Dai script

2. This passage (from the gospel of Luke?) illustrates the font outlined above:

example2 of Dehong Dai script

Tai textile

All material on this page © Ian James, unless otherwise stated.
Last modified Nov.28,2009