Clear Script
Oirat alphabet
Smp kalmyk.gif
Script type
CreatorZaya Pandita
Time period
ca. 1648 – today
Directionvertical left-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
Related scripts
Parent systems
Sister systems
Manchu alphabet
Vagindra script
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Mong (145), ​Mongolian
Unicode alias
U+1800 – U+18AF
 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.
A border sign in Clear Script (Priyutnensky District, Kalmykia)
A border sign in Clear Script (Priyutnensky District, Kalmykia)

Clear Script (Oirat: ᡐᡆᡑᡆ
, Тодо бичиг
, [todo bit͡ʃ(ə)k], todo biçig; Mongolian: Тод бичиг, ᠲᠣᠳᠣ
tod bichig, [tɔd bit͡ʃək], Russian Buryat: Тодо бэшэг, Todo besheg ([tɔdɔ bɛʃək]), or just todo) is an alphabet created in 1648 by the Oirat Buddhist monk Zaya Pandita for the Oirat language.[1][2][3] It was developed on the basis of the Mongolian script with the goal of distinguishing all sounds in the spoken language, and to make it easier to transcribe Sanskrit and the Tibetic languages.


Clear Script is a Mongolian script, whose obvious closest forebear is vertical Mongolian. This Mongolian script was derived from the Old Uyghur alphabet, which itself was descended from the Aramaic alphabet.[4] Aramaic is an abjad, an alphabet that has no symbols for vowels, and Clear Script is the first in this line of descendants to develop a full system of symbols for all the vowel sounds.[4]


Clear Script was developed as a better way to write Mongolian, specifically of the Western Mongolian groups of the Oirats and Kalmyks.[3] It resolved ambiguities in the written language by assigning symbols to vowels, and adding new symbols and diacritics to show vowels and vowel lengths, and to distinguish between voiced and unvoiced consonants.[3] Symbols that were preserved from the traditional Mongolian script were assigned a fixed meaning.[2]

There were even some marks enabling distinctions that were unimportant for words written in the Oirat language but were useful for the transcription of foreign words and names, such as between ši and si.[2]


Clear Script was used by Oirat and neighboring Mongols, mostly in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.[2] It was widely used by its creator and others to translate Buddhist works so that they might better spread the Buddhist religion throughout western Mongolia. Though the script was useful for translating works from other languages, especially Tibetan, it was also used more informally, as evidenced by some letters from the late 1690s.[2]

Around the 19th and early 20th centuries, some Altaians in Russia were able utilize the script to read and write texts due to contacts with Mongolian Buddhists.[5]

The script was used by Kalmyks in Russia until 1924, when it was replaced by the Cyrillic script. In Xinjiang, Oirats still use it, although today Mongolian education takes place in Chakhar Mongolian all across China.

Writing in Clear Script

This script is a vertical script, as was its 'vertical Mongolian' parent script. Letters and diacritics are written along a central axis. Portions of letters to the right of the axis generally slant up, and portions to the left of the axis generally slant down. The only signs that do not follow these rules are the horizontal signs for S Š and part of Ö.[2] Words are delineated by a space, as well as different letter forms. Though most letters only come in one shape, there are some letters that look different depending on where in the word they occur, whether they are initial, medial, or final.[3]

There is an alphabetic order in Clear Script, as in other related scripts, but the order for Clear Script is not the same as its Mongolian parents nor its Aramaic ancestors.[2]


Vowels[6]: 548 [7]
Initial Medial Final Translit.[note 1] Cyrillic Latin Notes
ᠠ‍ ‍ᠠ‍ ‍ᠠ a А A Same as Hudum bichig
ᠠᡃ‍ ‍ᠠᡃ‍ ‍ᠠᡃ â АА AA
ᡄ‍ ‍ᡄ‍ ‍ᡄ e Э E
ᡄᡃ‍ ‍ᡄᡃ‍ ‍ᡄᡃ ê ЭЭ EE
ᡅ‍ ‍ᡅ‍ ‍ᡅ i И I
ᡅᡅ‍[note 2] ‍ᡅᡅ‍[note 3] ‍ᡅᡅ ii ИИ II
ᡆ‍ ‍ᡆ‍ ‍ᡆ o О O
ᡆᡃ‍ ‍ᡆᡃ‍ ‍ᡆᡃ ô ОО OO
ᡇ‍ ‍ᡇ‍ ‍ᡇ u У U
ᡇᡇ‍ ‍ᡇᡇ‍ ‍ᡇᡇ uu УУ UU
ᡈ‍ ‍ᡈ‍ ‍ᡈ ö Ө Ö
ᡈᡃ‍ ‍ᡈᡃ‍ ‍ᡈᡃ öö ӨӨ ÖÖ
ᡉ‍ ‍ᡉ‍ ‍ᡉ ü Ү Ü
ᡉᡉ‍ ‍ᡉᡉ‍ ‍ᡉᡉ üü ҮҮ ÜÜ
Native consonants[6]: 548 [7][citation needed]
Initial Medial Final Translit. Cyrillic Latin Notes
ᡋ‍ ‍ᡋ‍ ‍ᡋ b Б B
ᡏ‍ ‍ᡏ‍ ‍ᡏ m М M
ᠯ‍ ‍ᠯ‍ ‍ᠯ l Л L Same as Hudum bichig
ᠰ‍ ‍ᠰ‍ ‍ᠰ s С S Same as Hudum bichig
ᠱ‍ š Ш Sh Same as Hudum bichig
ᠨ‍ ‍ᠨ᠋‍[note 4] ‍ᠨ n Н N Same as Hudum bichig
ᡍ‍ ᡍ᠋‍ ‍ᡍ‍ ‍ᡍ᠋‍ —, — x, k Х X
ᡎ‍, — ‍ᡎ‍, ‍ᡎ᠋‍ —, ‍ᡎ γ, q Һ Q
ᡐ‍ ‍ᡐ‍ t Т T
ᡑ‍ ‍ᡑ‍ ‍ᡑ d Д D
ᡔ‍ ‍ᡔ‍ ‍ᡔ Ц C
ᡒ‍ ‍ᡒ‍ ‍ᡒ Ч Ch
ᠴ‍ ‍ᠴ‍ ‍ᠴ З Z
ᡓ‍ ‍ᡓ‍ ‍ᡓ Ж J
ᡕ‍ ‍ᡕ‍ y Й Y
ᠷ‍ ‍ᠷ‍ ‍ᠷ r Р R Same as Hudum bichig
‍ᡊ‍ ‍ᡊ ng Ң Ng
Letters used in foreign words[6]: 548 [citation needed]
Initial Medial Final Translit. Cyrillic Latin
ᡌ‍ ‍ᡌ‍ ‍ᡌ П P
ᡙ‍ ‍ᡙ‍ ‍ᡙ Г H
ᡘ‍ ‍ᡘ‍ ‍ᡘ Г G
ᡗ‍ ‍ᡗ‍ ‍ᡗ Қ Kh
ᡚ‍ ‍ᡚ‍ ‍ᡚ Җ J
ᡛ‍ ‍ᡛ‍ ‍ᡛ Ñ
ᡜ‍ ‍ᡜ‍ ‍ᡜ Dz
ᢘ‍ ‍ᢘ‍ ‍ᢘ T
ᢙ‍ ‍ᢙ‍ ‍ᢙ Zh
ᠸ‍ ‍ᠸ‍ ‍ᠸ Ф F
ᡖ‍ ‍ᡖ‍ ‍ᡖ w/v В W

See also


  1. ^ Transliteration
  2. ^ Should appear without an intervocalic tooth
  3. ^ Should appear without an intervocalic tooth
  4. ^ Should appear dotted


  1. ^ N. Yakhantova, The Mongolian and Oirat Translations of the Sutra of Golden Light Archived 2016-04-07 at the Wayback Machine, 2006
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Kara, György. Books of the Mongolian Nomads. Bloomington: Indiana University, 2005.
  3. ^ a b c d Eds. Daniels, Peter T. and William Bright. The World's Writing Systems. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996
  4. ^ a b Gnanadesikan, Amalia. The Writing Revolution. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
  5. ^ Kos'min, V. K. (2007). "Mongolian Buddhism's Influence on the Formation and Development of Burkhanism in Altai". Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia. 45 (3): 43–72. doi:10.2753/aae1061-1959450303. ISSN 1061-1959. S2CID 145805201.
  6. ^ a b c Daniels, Peter T.; Bright, William (1996). The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507993-7.
  7. ^ a b "Tod-Oirat-Old Kalmyk romanization table" (PDF). The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2022-08-27.