SIL International Home

2011 LSA Orthography Symposium

Kurtöp (Tibeto-Burman) orthography development in Bhutan

Author  Hyslop, Gwendolyn
  University of Oregon

With the exception of Dzongkha, the national language, the Tibeto-Burman languages of Bhutan have remained undescribed until only recently. As part of ongoing language documentation, the Bhutanese government is advocating for the creation of Ucen (Tibetan- or Dzongkha-like) orthographies for its endangered languages. Due to several factors, the phonological systems of these languages are difficult to adapt to the Ucen writing system. After several years of trial and error, we have developed a preliminary Ucen-based orthography for Kurtöp, one of Bhutan's endangered languages. Linguistic factors have involved whether we represent underlying versus surface representations and whether we represent vowel length and tone -- contrasts with a relatively low functional load. The non-linguistic factors have been more complex, involving issues such as religion, history, and government.

Downloads  Hyslop Orthography LSA2011 (PPTX) 410 KB, 26 slides