New Mong

Ian James
© August 2007

a new script for Hmong

This is an alternative to the RPA (Romanized Popular Alphabet system of Smalley, Bertrais and Barney, 1953). The aim was to create a script for Mong/Hmong and possibly Miao, visually related to other Southeast Asian scripts.

The design is based mainly on Pallava, the ancient South Indian script which was the parent of almost all scripts of SE Asia. In addition, some variations and innovations found in more recent script-forms have been incorporated. Some phonetic ideas from the RPA have been retained. An aesthetic similar to the home-grown (but daunting) Pahawh-Hmong alphabet was also in mind. In RPA, the script would be named Moob tshiab “new Mong”.

Notable features

Primary consonants

Here and below, each glyph is given with the RPA and IPA equivalents. The last glyph is a glottal plosive, used to carry initial vowels.

writing Hmong consonants

Vowels

Here the consonant /qh/ is used to display the relevant vowel mark in position.

writing Hmong vowels

Nasalization markers

There are 3 possibilities for post-nasalized vowels, shown here with the consonant /qh/. The ‘pre-nasal’ marker /n-/ is a stand-alone prefix form. Some simpler consonant-glyphs have the circular symbol already fixed to their top (see above). For the already complex cluster phonemes, the stand-alone prefix is used.

writing Hmong nasalization

Tonal markers

As in RPA, the tone markers come at the end of the syllable. This is a less cluttered method than that used in other tonal scripts of the region. The letters of RPA remain, but are more symbolic than their Latin form. Each tone marker also has an optional dot below, which helps break up phrases into syllables, both for clarity and a visual sense of rhythm. The third column has a suggested mnemonic based on the tone-letter.

writing Hmong tones

Numerals

Two forms are suggested here. The first is a generic form of a Tai/Mon system. The second is simply borrowed from the Pahawh-Hmong system.

writing Hmong numbers

Sample text

a sample of New Mong script

Transliteration into RPA:

Nyob rau ntu no, peb yuav los xyuas txog ntawv Hmoob.
Hmoob muaj puas-tsawg hom ntawv, lawv zoo li cas,
hom ntawv twg yog hom Hmoob siv ntau tshaj plaws thiab
hom teg thiaj yuav nuaj txiaj-ntsim ntau rau Hmoob,
peb yuav muab txheeb-xyuas kom tseeb rau hauv no ...

(This short extract from an article at www.hmongnet.org by Yeeb Nyiaj-sua Lis.)

 

A version of this page can be found on Omniglot,
and at the Hmong Language online encyclopedia.

 

From my paper “A New Script for the Mong Language, Based on a Theoretical Generic
Southeast-Asian Orthographic Model”. Download the full paper as PDF file (120k)

 
>>> Download this font

[A commercial-grade font is also under development. I welcome any feedback from current users of this script to “editor@skyknowledge.com.” A handy input method for New Mong is also available on request.]

Mong textile

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All material on this page © Ian James, unless otherwise stated.