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Tibetan Culture Guide

Tibetan Language and writing

The Tibetan language is classified as one of the 23 Tibeto-Burman languages spoken within the border of the present day China in the Himalayan region, but there are clear variations in dialect from Ladakh in the far-west to the Kham Gyarong, Gyalthang and Golok dialect of eastern Tibet, specially the distinctive differences in pronunciation and vocabulary always been mistaken for distinct languages. Generally the dialects among Tibetan comprises U-key spoken in the central and western Tibet, Kham-key spoken in the far-eastern Tibet that is under the Sichuan province in the present day and Amdo-key spoken in northern Tibet that is under the Qinghai prefecture of Gansu province, but there is a common Tibetan writing among all Tibetan irrespective of regions and location, Tibetan writing is date back to 7th century, during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo, he sent his minister Thonmi Sambhota to India to study the art of writing, and upon his return he invented the Tibetan script by researching several years at the Phapongang monastery, the form of the letters is based on an Indic alphabet of that period, he devises a new syllabary of 30 consonants and 4 vowels to suit his own entirely different Tibetan language. Thon-mi Sambhota wrote eight treatises on Tibetan grammar, two of which survive. Since then Tibetan writing undertaken by numbers of improvements different periods.

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