The Tibetan alphabet was created in the mid-7th century, by Thonmi Sambhota, a Tibetan official, with the assistance of some Indian Buddhist monks. The letters, which are a form of the Sanskrit characters of that period, rammar, follow the same arrangement as their Sanskritic prototype.
The 30 consonants, which are deemed to possess an inherent sound a, are the following:
- ka, k’a, ga, nga (n¯a),
- ha (ca), ha (cha), ja, nya (ña),
- ta, t’a, da, na,
- pa, p’a, ba, ma,
- tsa, ts’a, dza,
- wa, z’a (ža), Ia (za),
- ‘ha ('a), ya, ra, Ia,
- s’a, Ia (sa),
- ha, a.
(’) can also be Romanized as h
, and signifies aspiration
Consonantal letter variations include:
- The "Sanskrit cerebrals" are represented by the letters, ta La, do, na, s’a, turned the other way.
- Va, when combined as second consonant with k-, p-, m-, is written under the first letter.
- Ra, when combined as second letter with k-, t-, p-, is written under the first, and when combined with another consonant as first letter over the second.
are a, i, u, e, o, which are not distinguished as long or short in writing, except in loanwords, especially transcribed from the Sanskrit. Though they are so in the vernaculars in the case of words altered by phonetic detrition.
Syllables are separated by a dot, and toness are unmarked in writing.