Getting familiar with the Tibetan language

Tibet — the rooftop of the world is a region full of  Tibetan culture. Its history can be traced back to 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. Influenced by neighboring countries, it has formed a long-standing civilization. The Tibetan language is derived from such a diverse culture.


Many tourists have been to Tibet, but how many really know about the history of the Tibetan language.

So, let’s sit back and journey into a brief history of the Tibetan language, alphabets, notable features in the Tibetan language, and their grammar.

The Tibetan language sometimes called Bodic or Tibetic language is gotten from the Tibeto-Burnam group. This group was originated from the Sino-Tibetan language family.

Tibetic or Tibetan language is not only for the Tibetans, but even people from Nepal, Bhutan and some parts of northern India such as Sikkim also speak the Tibetan language fluently.

However, according to scholars, the Tibetic language is divided into four different dialect groups namely the central, Northern, Southern, and Western Tibetan languages.

While the Lhasa dialect was originated from the central group, Sikkim, Nepal, and Bhutan belong to the southern group, the western groups have a different sound the system with poor tones when compared to other groups of dialects.

Also, according to the orthographers, the Tibetan language was pronounced during the 7th century and likewise, the present form of the Tibetan language has been used since the 9th century.

Since it is an ancient language, its pronunciation does not meet up with today’s Tibetan pronunciation standard.



As earlier discussed, the Tibetan or Bodic language is a general language in certain areas both in the northern part of India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and the first written the Tibetan language can be traced to history.

Historically, written Tibetan came up during the 7th century AD according to Thonmi Sambhota — who is one of Songstem Gampo ministers.

Songstem Gampo who was the 33rd king of the Yarlung Dynasty of the southern Tibet, and at the same time, the first ruler in the land of Tibet.

This ruler sent Songstem Gampo to India to gather vital information about the Buddhist religion.

So, in his quest to gather this information about the Buddhist religion, Sambhota then made a script based on the Devanagari model. Also, based on Sanskrit grammar, the minister — Thonmi Sambhota wrote Tibetan grammar.

In addition, the translation of Buddhist text to Tibetan text was also written based on the new Tibetan alphabets.

Moreover, Mahavyutpatti — which is the first Sanskrit (Tibetan dictionary), and woodblock printing introduced by China into Tibet came into its first appearance in the 9th century.

However, since this period, it’s been used in Tibet, and can still be found in few monasteries in Tibet.

The Tibetan language came up as a result of getting a firsthand Buddhism information. And this language includes works translated from the Sanskrit and Chinese into a proper Tibetan language.



The Tibetan language comes with lots of features making it more generally acceptable and suitable to use both in Nepal, northern India, and Bhutan.

The Tibetan language uses syllabic alphabets (abugida) as its preferred writing system.

Therefore, for each letter of Tibetan alphabets, there is usually an inbuilt vowel /a/.

And by using different diacritics, we can easily indicate other vowels that appear below or above the main letter of the Tibetan language.

Also, when writing in the Tibetan language, it must follow the horizontal lines in the right direction.

Likewise, dots are used to separate syllables written in the Tibetan language. To write cluster consonants, use special conjunct letters.



The Tibetan language is a unique language different from many other forms of language, even though it has some notable features similar to many other languages, yet it is unique in alphabets.

The Tibetan alphabet uses U-Chen for printing the script version of the alphabet.



Tibetan language, in general, has a lower level of agglutination, unlike the agglutinative language where affixes together with its meanings are combined with new words to show grammatical relationships between them.

Besides, in the Tibetan language, there are 3 different registers used which are the colloquial spoken language, classical written language, and the formal spoken language.

Each of these registers is different both in grammar and vocabulary.



Tibet language has a beautiful beginning and shows that Buddhism religion has been existing in Tibet even before the 7th century AD.

Therefore, getting familiar with the Tibetan language is pretty easy if you really have the interest to learn.

Therefore, you can learn the Tibetan language in areas like northern India, Nepal, and Bhutan.

Conclusively, in order to have the most convenient and effective learning experience of the Tibetan language, then plan a Tibet tour.



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