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Lepcha
ᰛᰩᰵ
Shukla Lepcha.svg
Script type
Time period
c. 1700–present
Directionleft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesLepcha
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems
Limbu
Sister systems
Meitei, Phagspa, Marchen
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Lepc, 335 Edit this on Wikidata, ​Lepcha (Róng)
Unicode
Unicode alias
Lepcha
U+1C00–U+1C4F
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.
 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.
This article contains uncommon Unicode characters. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of the intended characters.

The Lepcha script, or Róng script, is an abugida used by the Lepcha people to write the Lepcha language. Unusually for an abugida, syllable-final consonants are written as diacritics.

History

Róng manuscript
Róng manuscript

Lepcha is derived from the Tibetan script, and may have some Burmese influence. According to tradition, it was devised at the beginning of the 18th century by prince Chakdor Namgyal of the Namgyal dynasty of Sikkim, or by scholar Thikúng Men Salóng in the 17th century. Early Lepcha manuscripts were written vertically. When they were later written horizontally, the letters remained in their new orientations, rotated 90° from their Tibetan prototypes. This resulted in an unusual method of writing final consonants.

Typology

The Lepcha consonants in original direction (called Lazóng).
The Lepcha consonants in original direction (called Lazóng).
Lepcha inventory in Unicode
Lepcha inventory in Unicode

Lepcha is now written horizontally, but the changes in the direction of writing have resulted in a metamorphosis of the eight syllable-final consonants from conjuncts (ligatures) as in Tibetan to superposed diacritics.

As in most other Brahmic scripts, the short vowel /-a/ is not written; other vowels are written with diacritics before (/-i, -o/), after (/-ā, -u/), or under (/-e/) the initial consonant. The length mark, however, is written over the initial, as well as any final consonant diacritic, and fuses with /-o/ and /-u/. (When fused as /-ō/, however, it lies below any final consonant.) Initial vowels do not have separate letters, but are written with the vowel diacritics on an &-shaped zero-consonant letter.

There are postposed diacritics for medial /-y-/ and /-r-/, which may be combined (krya). For medial /-l-/, however, there are seven dedicated conjunct letters. That is, there is a special letter for /kla/ which does not resemble the letter for /ka/. (Only /gla/ is written with a straightforward diacritic.)

One of the final letters, /-ŋ/, is an exception to these patterns. First, unlike the other finals, final /-ŋ/ is written to the left of the initial consonant rather than on top, occurring even before preposed vowels. That is, /kiŋ/ is written "ngki". Second, there is no inherent vowel before /-ŋ/; even short /-a-/ must be written, with a diacritic unique to this situation. (It appears to be the diacritic for long /-ā/ rotated 180° around the consonant letter.) That is, /kaŋ/ is written "ngka", rather than "ngk" as would be expected from the general pattern.

Structure

As an abugida, a basic letter represents both a consonant and an inherent, or default, vowel. In Lepcha, the inherent vowel is /a/.

Consonants

Consonants
 Transcription a  ka  kha  ga  nga  ca cha ja  nya  ta tha  da  na pa  pha   fa  ba  ma
IPA  /a/ /ka/ /kʰa/  /ga/  /ŋa/  /ca/  /cʰa/ /dʒa/  /nja/  /ta/  /tʰa/  /da/  /na/ /pa/ /pʰa/  /fa/ /ba/  /ma/
Letter                        
 Transcription  tsa  tsha  za  ya  ra  la ha  va  sha  sa  wa
IPA  /tˢa/  /tʃa/  /za/  /ja/  /ra/  /la/  /ha/  /va/ /ʃa/  /sa/  /ua/
Letter                    
Transcription kla gla pla  fla  bla  mla  hla tta  ttha  dda
IPA  /kla/  /gla/  /pla/ /fla/ /bla/ /mla/  /hla/ /tta/  /tθa/  /dda/
Letter                    


Subjoined Consonants
Transcription -y- -r-
Dependent mark
Example using (la) ᰜᰤ(lya) ᰜᰥ(lra)
Final Consonants
Transcription -k -m -l -n -p -r  -t -ng
Dependent mark     [a]
Example using (la) ᰜᰭ(lak) ᰜᰮ(lam)  ᰜᰯ(lal) ᰜᰰ(lan) ᰜᰱ(lap) ᰜᰲ(lar)  ᰜᰳ(lat)  ᰜᰴ(lang)

Vowels

Vowel signs
Transcription â  á  i í  o  ó  u ú e/ä[b]
Dependent diacritical mark ᰧ ᰶ        
Letter (not dependent) ᰣᰶ ᰣᰦ  ᰣᰧ ᰣᰧᰶ  ᰣᰨ  ᰣᰩ  ᰣᰪ  ᰣᰫ  ᰣᰬ
Example using (la)  ᰜᰶ(lâ) ᰜᰦ(lá)  ᰜᰧ(li) ᰜᰧᰶ(lí)  ᰜᰨ(lo) ᰜᰩ(ló)  ᰜᰪ(lu)  ᰜᰫ(lú)  ᰜᰬ(le)
  1. ^ Written as with an /-a-/ vowel, as in the example.
  2. ^ The transcription 'e' is used in this article.

Numerals

Lepcha numerals
Hindu-Arabic numerals 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Unicode

Main article: Lepcha (Unicode block)

Lepcha script was added to the Unicode Standard in April, 2008 with the release of version 5.1.

The Unicode block for Lepcha is U+1C00–U+1C4F:

Lepcha[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+1C0x
U+1C1x
U+1C2x
U+1C3x ᰿
U+1C4x
Notes
1.^ As of Unicode version 14.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

References