Clear Script
Oirat alphabet
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)

The Clear Script (Oirat: ᡐᡆᡑᡆ
/ Тодо бичиг
, romanized: todo bičiq / todo bičig, [todo bit͡ʃ(ə)k]; Mongolian: Тод бичиг / ᠲᠣᠳᠣ
, romanized: tod bichig / todo bičig, [tɔd bit͡ʃək], Russian Buryat: Тодо бэшэг, romanized: 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.


The Clear Script is a Mongolian script, whose obvious closest forebear is vertical Mongolian. This Mongolian script was derived from the Uyghur alphabet. The Clear Script was developed as a better way to write Mongolian, specifically of the Western Mongolian groups of the Oirats and Kalmyks.[3]: 548  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]: 548 [2]: 145  Symbols that were preserved from the traditional Mongolian script were assigned a fixed meaning.[2]: 145 

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]


The 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.[4]

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 the 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 the Clear Script, as in other related scripts, but the order for it is not the same as its Mongolian parent script: a, e, i, o, u, ö, ü; n, b, x, γ, g, k & k’, q, m, l, r, d, t, y, z/ǰ, c/č, s, š, ng, v/w.[2]: 150–151 



Single vowels[citation needed][3]: 548 [5][6][2]: 151 [7]: 555 
Initial Medial Final IPA[5] Trans­lit.[note 1] Notes[note 2][note 3]
Dan.[note 4] & Kara ALA-​LC
All these form ligatures with a preceding bow-shaped consonant.
ᠠ‍ ‍ᠠ‍ ‍ᠠ ɑ, a Final example ligature: ‍ᡋᠠ ba. Note that the tail of a final a extends to the left in ligatures.

Confer Kalmyk Oirat а a and .

This letter's forms are shared with Hudum script a.

ᡄ‍ ‍ᡄ‍ ‍ᡄ e, ∅ e Initial/medial/final example ligature: ᡋᡄ be.

Confer Kalmyk Oirat э è and .

ᡅ‍ ‍ᡅ‍ ‍ᡅ i, ∅ i Final example ligature: ᡋᡅ bi. Note that the shape of a final i differs in ligatures.

Confer Kalmyk Oirat и i and .

ᡆ‍ ‍ᡆ‍ ‍ᡆ ɔ o Initial/medial/final example ligature: ᡋᡆ bo. Note that bo and look identical. Also note the rounded shape of o.

Confer Kalmyk Oirat о o and .

ᡇ‍ ‍ᡇ‍ ‍ᡇ ʊ, ∅ u Initial/medial/final example ligature: ᡋᡇ bu.

Confer Kalmyk Oirat у u and .

ᡈ‍ ‍ᡈ‍ ‍ᡈ ø, ∅ ö Initial/medial/final example ligature: ᡋᡈ . Note the rounded shape of ö.

Confer Kalmyk Oirat ө ô and .

ᡉ‍ ‍ᡉ‍ ‍ᡉ y, ∅ ü Initial/medial/final example ligature: ᡋᡉ . Note that and bo look identical.

Confer Kalmyk Oirat ү ù and .

Long vowels[citation needed][3]: 548 [5][6][7]: 555 
Initial Medial Final IPA Trans­lit. Notes
ᠠᡃ‍ ‍ᠠᡃ‍ ɑː â ā Final example ligature: ‍ᡗᠠᡃ .

Confer Kalmyk Oirat аа aa and а a.

ᡄᡃ‍ ‍ᡄᡃ‍ ‍ᡄᡃ
⟨?⟩[note 5]
eː, æː ê ē Confer Kalmyk Oirat ээ èè and э è.
⟨?⟩[note 6]
⟨?⟩[note 7]
ii iyi Diphthongs ending in i are shaped and transliterated in the same manner.

Confer Kalmyk Oirat ии ii and и i.

‍ᡅᡅ ii
ᡆᡃ‍ ‍ᡆᡃ‍ ‍ᡆᡃ
⟨?⟩[note 8]
ɔː ô ō Confer Kalmyk Oirat оо oo and о o.
ᡇᡇ᠌‍ ‍ᡇᡇ᠌‍ ‍ᡇᡇ᠋ ʊː uu Confer Kalmyk Oirat уу uu and у u.
ᡈᡃ‍ ‍ᡈᡃ‍ ‍ᡈᡃ
⟨?⟩[note 9]
øː, æː ö̂ ȫ Confer Kalmyk Oirat өө ôô and ө ô.
ᡉᡉ‍ ‍ᡉᡉ‍ ‍ᡉᡉ üü Confer Kalmyk Oirat үү ùù and ү ù.


Native consonants[citation needed][9][3]: 548 [5][2]: 151 [6][7]: 555 
Initial Medial Final IPA Trans­lit. Notes[10]
Dan. & Kara ALA-LC
ᡋ‍ ‍ᡋ‍ ‍ᡋ b b Confer Kalmyk Oirat б b.

This letter's initial/medial form is shared with Hudum b.

ᡏ‍ ‍ᡏ‍ ‍ᡏ m m Confer Kalmyk Oirat м m.

This letter's initial/medial form is shared with Hudum m.

ᠯ‍ ‍ᠯ‍ ‍ᠯ l l Confer Kalmyk Oirat л l.

This letter is shared with Hudum l.

ᠰ‍ ‍ᠰ‍ ‍ᠰ s s Confer Kalmyk Oirat с s.

This letter is shared with Hudum s.

ᠱ‍ ‍ᠱ‍ ‍ᠱ ʃ š ś Confer Kalmyk Oirat ш .

This letter is shared with Hudum š.

ᠨ‍ ‍ᠨ‍ ‍ᠨ n n Confer Kalmyk Oirat н n.

This letter is shared with Hudum n.

ᡍ‍ ‍ᡍ‍ x x Used before back vowels.[2]: 149 

As in ᡍᠠᠷᠠ xara 'black'.[9]: 121 [5]: 95 [note 10]

Confer Kalmyk Oirat х h.

ᡍ᠋‍ ‍ᡍ᠋‍ k k Used before front vowels.[2]: 149 

As in ᡍᡈᡍᡈ kökö 'blue'.[9]: 95 [5]: 119 [note 11]

Confer Kalmyk Oirat к k.

ᡎ‍ ‍ᡎ‍ ɢ γ ġ Used before vowels.

As in ᡎᠠᠯ γal 'fire'.[9]: 63 [5]: 127 [note 12]

Confer Kalmyk Oirat һ .

‍ᡎ᠋‍ ‍ᡎ ɡ q Used syllable-finally,[2]: 151  and irrespective of vowel harmony.[2]: 145 

As in ᡔᠠᡎ caq 'time'.[9]: 21 [5]: 244 [note 13]

Confer Kalmyk Oirat г g.

g As in ᡎᡄᠷ ger 'ger'.[9]: 28 [5]: 136 [note 14]

Confer Kalmyk Oirat г g.

ᡐ‍ ‍ᡐ‍ t t Confer Kalmyk Oirat т t.
ᡑ‍ ‍ᡑ‍ ‍ᡑ d d Confer Kalmyk Oirat д d.
ᡔ‍ ‍ᡔ‍ t͡s c, č c †. Ambiguous value (c, č) from the 18th century until post-war reform.[2]: 149–150 

As in modern/older ᡔᠠᡅ cai 'tea'.[9]: 120 [5]: 246 [note 15]

Confer Kalmyk Oirat ц c.

ᡒ‍ ‍ᡒ‍ t͡ʃ č Introduced in the 1950s.[2]: 149–150, 187 

As in modern ᡒᡅ či? (older ᡔᡅ сi) 'you'.[9]: 111 [5]: 235 [note 16]

Confer Kalmyk Oirat ч č.

ᠴ‍ ‍ᠴ‍ z z, ǰ z †. Ambiguous value (z, ǰ) from the 18th century until post-war reform.[2]: 149–150 

As in modern/older ᠴᡇᠨ zun 'summer'.[9]: 50 [5]: 274 [note 17]

Confer Kalmyk Oirat з z.

ᡓ‍ ‍ᡓ‍ d͡ʒ ǰ Introduced in the 1950s.[2]: 149–150, 187 

As in modern ᡓᡅᠯ ǰil? (older ᠴᡅᠯ zil) 'year'.[9]: 24 [5]: 257 [note 18]

Confer Kalmyk Oirat ж .

ᡕ‍ ‍ᡕ‍ j y Confer Kalmyk Oirat й j.
ᠷ‍ ‍ᠷ‍ ‍ᠷ r r Confer Kalmyk Oirat р r.

This letter is shared with Hudum r.

‍ᡊ‍ ‍ᡊ ŋ ng Confer Kalmyk Oirat ң .
Letters used in foreign words[citation needed][3]: 548 [5][6][7]: 555 
Initial Medial Final IPA Translit. Notes
Dan. & Kara ALA-LC
ᡌ‍ ‍ᡌ‍ p f Confer Kalmyk Oirat п p.
ᡙ‍ ‍ᡙ‍ h Confer Kalmyk Oirat г g.
ᡘ‍ ‍ᡘ‍ ‍ᡘ Confer Kalmyk Oirat г g.
ᡗ‍ ‍ᡗ‍ k k, k’ k Confer Kalmyk Oirat к k.
ᡚ‍ ‍ᡚ‍ j Confer Kalmyk Oirat җ z̦̆.
‍ᡛ‍ ñ
ᡜ‍ ‍ᡜ‍ j
ᢘ‍ ‍ᢘ‍ ‍ᢘ
ᢙ‍ ‍ᢙ‍ ź
ᠸ‍ ‍ᠸ‍ ‍ᠸ Confer Kalmyk Oirat ф f.

This letter is shared with Hudum w/v.

ᡖ‍ ‍ᡖ‍ ‍ᡖ w w/v v Confer Kalmyk Oirat в v.


Initial Medial Final Trans­lit. Notes
ᡋᠠ‍ ‍ᡋᠠ‍ ‍ᡋᠠ ba
ᡋᡄ‍ ‍ᡋᡄ‍ ‍ᡋᡄ be
ᡋᡅ‍ ‍ᡋᡅ‍ ‍ᡋᡅ bi
ᡋᡆ‍ ‍ᡋᡆ‍ ‍ᡋᡆ bo Written the same as .
ᡋᡇ‍ ‍ᡋᡇ‍ ‍ᡋᡇ bu
ᡋᡈ‍ ‍ᡋᡈ‍ ‍ᡋᡈ
ᡋᡉ‍ ‍ᡋᡉ‍ ‍ᡋᡉ Written the same as bo.
ᡗᠠ‍ ‍ᡗᠠ‍ ‍ᡗᠠ ka
ᡍᡄ‍ ‍ᡍᡄ‍ ‍ᡍᡄ ke
ᡍᡅ‍ ‍ᡍᡅ‍ ‍ᡍᡅ ki
ᡗᡆ‍ ‍ᡗᡆ‍ ‍ᡗᡆ ko
ᡗᡇ‍ ‍ᡗᡇ‍ ‍ᡗᡇ ku
ᡍᡈ‍ ‍ᡍᡈ‍ ‍ᡍᡈ
[note 19]
ᡘᠠ‍ ‍ᡘᠠ‍ ‍ᡘᠠ ga
ge [note 20]
gi [note 21]
ᡘᡆ‍ ‍ᡘᡆ‍ ‍ᡘᡆ go
ᡘᡇ‍ ‍ᡘᡇ‍ ‍ᡘᡇ gu
ᡎᡈ‍ ‍ᡎᡈ‍ ‍ᡎᡈ
ᡎᡉ‍ ‍ᡎᡉ‍ ‍ᡎᡉ
Other bow-shaped ligatures are formed in the same manner.

See also


  1. ^ Transliteration
  2. ^ Modern Kalmyk Oirat (Cyrillic) equivalent (?)
  3. ^ GOST 7.79-2000 (ISO 9:1995)[8]:  9, 16 
  4. ^ Daniels
  5. ^ Should appear without a final left-pointing tail.
  6. ^ Should appear with an intervocalic tooth.
  7. ^ Should appear with an intervocalic tooth.
  8. ^ Should appear without a final left-pointing tail.
  9. ^ Should appear without a final left-pointing tail.
  10. ^ Confer Kalmyk Oirat хар har; Hudum ᠬᠠᠷ᠎ᠠ qar‑a; Khalkha хар khar.
  11. ^ Confer Kalmyk Oirat көк kök; Hudum ᠬᠥᠬᠡ köke; Khalkha хөх khökh.
  12. ^ Confer Kalmyk Oirat һал ḥal; Hudum ᠭᠠᠯ γal; Khalkha гал gal.
  13. ^ Confer Kalmyk Oirat цаг cag; Hudum ᠴᠠᠭ čaγ; Khalkha цаг tsag.
  14. ^ Confer Kalmyk Oirat гер ger; Hudum ᠭᠡᠷ ger; Khalkha гэр ger.
  15. ^ Confer Kalmyk Oirat цә ca̋; Hudum ᠴᠠᠢ čai; Khalkha цай tsai.
  16. ^ Confer Kalmyk Oirat чи či; Hudum ᠴᠢ či; Khalkha чи chi.
  17. ^ Confer Kalmyk Oirat зун zun; Hudum ᠵᠤᠨ ǰun; Khalkha зун zun.
  18. ^ Confer Kalmyk Oirat җил z̦̆il; Hudum ᠵᠢᠯ ǰil; Khalkha жил jil.
  19. ^ Should appear as a bow with a down-pointing tooth, followed by a round ü.
  20. ^ Should appear in line with be and ke.
  21. ^ Should appear in line with bi and ki.


  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 h i j k l m n o p q r Kara, György (2005). Books of the Mongolian Nomads: More Than Eight Centuries of Writing Mongolian. Indiana University, Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies. ISBN 978-0-933070-52-3.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Daniels, Peter T.; Bright, William (1996). The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507993-7.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n n/a, Čoyiǰungǰab; Na., Gereltü (1998-05-10). Oyirad ayalγun-u üges ᠣᠶᠢᠷᠠᠳ ᠠᠶᠠᠯᠭᠤᠨ ᠤ ᠦᠭᠡᠰ (PDF) (in Mongolian). Hohhot: Inner Mongolia University. ISBN 7-81015-892-9. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Tod-Oirat-Old Kalmyk romanization table" (PDF). Library of Congress. 2012. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  7. ^ a b c d "The Unicode Standard, Version 15.0 – Core Specification Chapter 13: South and Central Asia-II, Other Modern Scripts" (PDF). Unicode Standard 15.0.0. 2022-09-13. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  8. ^ GOST 7.79-2000 (ISO 9-95; Sistema standartov po informatsii, bibliotechnomu i izdatelskomu delu. Pravila transliteratsii kirillovskogo pisma latinskim alfavitom) ГОСТ 7.79-2000 (ИСО 9-95; Система стандартов по информации, библиотечному и издательскому делу. Правила транслитерации кирилловского письма латинским алфавитом) (PDF) (in Russian).
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Smirnov, Parmen (1857). Kratkiy russko-kalmytskiy slovar Краткій русско-калмыцкій словарь (PDF) (in Russian). Kazan. Retrieved 2023-02-06.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ "Bolor Dictionary". Retrieved 2023-02-06.