THDL transcription

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The THDL transcription (full name in English : THDL Simplified Phonetic Transcription of Standard Tibetan ) is a transcription system for the Tibetan language or script . It was developed by David Germano and Nicolas Tournadre for the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library (THDL) and is a simplified form of transcription that Nicolas Tournadre uses in the English edition of his textbook on the Tibetan language.


The THDL transcription is neither a transliteration according to the Tibetan script nor a transcription according to the pronunciation, but a mixed form. Therefore, from the transcription, one cannot infer the spelling or the pronunciation.

Transcription of the Tibetan alphabet

The following tables compare the Tibetan alphabet with the Wylie transliteration , the THDL transcription and the UN- recognized official transcription of the People's Republic of China .


The differences compared to the Wylie transliteration are shown here in bold. The purpose of the discrepancies is to avoid completely incorrect pronunciation by English-speaking readers.

Tibetan ཀ་ ཁ་
Wylie k kh G ng c ch j ny t th d n p ph b m ts tsh dz w zh z ' y r l sh s H a
THDL q x G ng ch ch j ny t t d n p p b m ts ts dz w zh z - y r l sh s H -
officially G k g / k ng j q j / q ny d t d / t n b p b / p m z c z / c w x s - y r l x s H -


Tibetan ཨི ཨུ་ ཨེ ཨོ
Wylie a i u e O
THDL a i u e O
officially a i u ê O

Approaching the pronunciation


Letters that are not spoken (silent letters) are usually left out in the THDL transcription.

Although the letters and are not normally spoken, just lengthen the preceding vowel , they are transcribed as r and l . The remaining consonant syllable endings are transcribed as -k , -ng , -n , -p and -m .

The consonant sequences པྱ and ཕྱ are given as ch- , བྱ as j- and བྱ as ny- .

The consonant sequences ཀྲ, པྲ, ཏྲ, ཁྲ, ཕྲ and ཐྲ are all transcribed as tr- , གྲ, བྲ and དྲ as dr- .

The consonant sequence ཟླ is given as d- , ལྷ as lh- , དབ as w- , དབྱ as y- and དབྲ as r- .

For the transcription of , certain consonant sequences and letters, which are mainly used in loan words from Sanskrit ( ལོག་ ཡིག ), there are further rules or exceptions, whereby the pronunciation usually serves as a guideline.


The umlaut of ཨ, ཨུ, and ཨོ in front of the consonants ད, ན, ལ and is represented with e , ü or ö . At the end of the word, the vowel e (both ཨེ and umlaut- ) is written with an acute accent (é) to avoid a completely wrong pronunciation by English-speaking readers.

Other special features

Words are always written together.

The syllables བ, བོ, བའི and བར are transcribed at the end of the word as -wa , -wo , -wé or -war .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Nicolas Tournadre Sangda Dorje: Manuel de tibétain standard: Langue et civilization . L'Asiathèque, 2003, ISBN 2-911053-67-2 ;
    Nicolas Tournadre: Manual of Standard Tibetan . Snow Lion Publications, 2003, ISBN 1-55939-189-8 .
  2. a b c d e Depending on the real pronunciation.