Tai Tham script


The Tai Tham script (Tham meaning "scripture"), also historically known simply as Tua Tham (Northeastern Thai: ตัวธรรม /tùa tʰám/, cf. Lao: ຕົວທຳ/ຕົວທັມ BGN/PCGN toua tham) or 'dharma letters', also known as Lanna script (Thai: อักษรธรรมล้านนา RTGSAkson Tham Lan Na; Burmese: လန်နအက္ခရာ RTGS: Lanna Akara) or Tua Mueang (ᨲ᩠ᩅᩫᨾᩮᩥᩬᨦ, Northern Thai pronunciation: [tǔa.mɯ̄aŋ] listen, ᨲ᩠ᩅᩫᨵᨾ᩠ᨾ᩼), is a writing system used for Northern Thai (i.e., Kham Mueang), Tai Lü, and Khün, all three belonging to the group of Southwestern Tai languages. In addition, the Lanna script is used for Lao Tham (or Old Lao) and other dialect variants in Buddhist palm-leaf manuscripts and notebooks. The script is also known as Tham or Yuan script.[5]

Tai Tham
ᨲ᩠ᩅᩫᨵᨾ᩠ᨾ᩼, Tua Mueang
Tai Tham script sample.svg
Script type
Time period
c. 1300–present
Directionleft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesNorthern Thai, Tai Lü, Khün, Isan and Lao
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems
New Tai Lue, Tham Lao
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Lana, 351 Edit this on Wikidata, ​Tai Tham (Lanna)
Unicode alias
Tai Tham
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

The Northern Thai language is a close relative of (standard) Thai. It is spoken by nearly 6 million people in Northern Thailand and several thousand in Laos of whom few are literate in Lanna script. The script is still read by older monks. Northern Thai has six linguistic tones and Thai only five, making transcription into the Thai alphabet problematic. There is some resurgent interest in the script among younger people, but an added complication is that the modern spoken form, called Kammuang, differs in pronunciation from the older form.[6]

There are 670,000 speakers of Tai Lü, some of those born before 1950 are literate in Tham, also known as Old Tai Lue.[citation needed] The script has also continued to be taught in the monasteries. The New Tai Lue script is derived from Tham. There are 120,000 speakers of Khün for which Lanna is the only script.