Mon script

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Languages languages of Burma
Time period
6th century to present
Parent systems
Child systems
ISO 15924 Mymr, 350
Direction Left-to-right
Unicode alias

The Mon script is a Brahmi-derived alphabet used to write the Mon, and may be the source script of the writing systems of Burmese, and Shan languages as well as for other languages of Burma such as S'gaw, Eastern and Western Pwo, Geba), Palaung, and Red Karen languages although it is not the only script that has been used for these languages. The Mon script is also used for the liturgical languages of Pali and Sanskrit. Support for all modern forms is included in the Unicode standard.


The Old Mon language may have been written in at least two scripts. The Old Mon script of Dvaravati (present-day central Thailand), derived from Grantha (Pallava), has conjecturally been dated to the 6th to 8th centuries CE.[2][note 1] The second Old Mon script was used in what is now Lower Burma (Lower Myanmar), and is believed to have been derived from Kadamba or Grantha. According to mainstream colonial period scholarship, the Dvaravati script was the parent of Burma Mon which in turn was the parent of the Old Burmese script, and the Old Mon script of Haripunjaya (present-day northern Thailand).[note 2] However, no archaeological evidence or any other kind of proof that the Dvaravati and Burma Mon scripts are related exists. The extant evidence shows only that Burma Mon was derived from the Old Burmese script, not Dvaravati.[3] (The earliest evidence of the Old Burmese script is securely dated to 1035, while an 18th-century casting of an old Pagan era stone inscription points to 984. The earliest securely dated Burma Mon script is 1093 at Prome while two other "assigned" dates of Old Burma Mon are 1049 and 1086.)[4]

The calligraphy of modern Mon script follows that of modern Burmese. Burmese calligraphy originally followed a square format but the cursive format took hold in the 17th century when popular writing led to the wider use of palm leaves and folded paper known as parabaiks.[5] The script has undergone considerable modification to suit the evolving phonology of the Burmese language, but additional letters and diacritics have been added to adapt it to other languages; the Shan and Karen alphabets, for example, require additional tone markers.


The basic Mon script contains 35 consonants (including a null consonant), and numerous diacritics for vowels; individual alphabets may add additional letters. It makes prominent use of consonant stacking, particularly for Pali-derived vocabulary. There are two classes of consonant, 'clear' and 'breathy' (light and medium grey in the table below), which have different inherent vowels and affect the values of vowel diacritics differently. The class of the consonant originally depended on whether it represented a voiceless or a voiced sound in Pali.[6][7]

k (/kaˀ/)

kh (/kʰaˀ/)

g (/kɛ̀ˀ/)

gh (/kʰɛ̀ˀ/)

ṅ (/ŋɛ̀ˀ/)

c (/caˀ/)

ch (/cʰaˀ/)

j (/cɛ̀ˀ/)

jh (/cʰɛ̀ˀ/)

ñ (/ɲɛ̀ˀ/)

ṭ (/taˀ/)

ṭh (/tʰaˀ/)

ḍ (/ɗaˀ/)

ḍ (/tʰaˀ/)

ṇ (/naˀ/)

t (/taˀ/)

th (/tʰaˀ/)

d (/tɛ̀ˀ/)

dh (/tʰɛ̀ˀ/)

n (/nɛ̀ˀ/)

p (/paˀ/)

ph (/pʰaˀ/)

b (/pɛ̀ˀ/)

bh (/pʰɛ̀ˀ/)

m (/mɛ̀ˀ/)

y (/jɛ̀ˀ/)

r (/rɛ̀ˀ/)

l (/lɛ̀ˀ/)

w (/wɛ̀ˀ/)

s (/saˀ/)

h (/haˀ/)

ḷ (/laˀ/)

b (/baˀ/)

a (/ʔaˀ/)

mb (/bɛ̀ˀ/)

See Mon alphabet and especially Burmese alphabet for further details, including vowels and punctuation.


A decimal numbering system is used, and numbers are written in the same order as Hindu-Arabic numerals (Unicode 1040 to 1049).

For the Mon alphabet, the digits from zero to nine are as follows:

Number Mon
Numeral Written IPA
0 သုည sunɲaˀ
1 မွဲ mòa
2 ၜါ ba
3 ပိ pɔeˀ
4 ပန် pɔn
5 မသုန် pəsɔn
6 တြဴ kərao
7 ထပှ် həpɔh
8 ဒ္စါံ həcam
9 ဒစိတ် həcit
10 ၁၀ စှ် cɔh

The number 1945 would be written as ၁၉၄၅.


The Burmese script was added to the Unicode Standard in September 1999 with the release of version 3.0. It was extended in October, 2009 with the release of version 5.2 and again in June, 2014 with the release of version 7.0.


The Unicode blocks for Burmese, called Myanmar, are U+1000–U+109F, U+AA60–U+AA7B, and U+A9E0-U+A9FF.

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+100x က
1.^ As of Unicode version 8.0
Myanmar Extended-A[1]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+AA7x ꩿ
1.^ As of Unicode version 8.0
Myanmar Extended-B[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
1.^ As of Unicode version 8.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points


For writing the basic Burmese language, only U+1000–U+104F is needed:

  • the basic abugida for Burmese and other languages of Burma:
    • U+1000–U+1020: the 33 base consonants
    • U+1021–U+102A: 10 independent vowels letters (including 1 needed for Shan and 1 for Mon)
    • U+102B–U+1035: 11 dependent vowel marks (diacritics combining on the right, above, below, or left of the base consonant)
    • U+1036–U+103A: 5 syllable codas (anusvara, tone mark, visarga, virama, visible virama)
    • U+103B–U+103E: 4 medial consonants (diacritics combining on the right, around, or below)
    • U+103F: the Burmese letter "Great Sa" (ss)
    • U+1040–U+1049: the 10 digits
    • U+104A–U+104B: 2 punctuation marks (section signs)
    • U+104C–U+104F: 4 other symbols (locative, completed, aforementioned, genitive)

The rest of the chart contains extensions for other languages:

  • Extensions for Pali and Sanskrit:
    • U+1050–U+1051: 2 base consonants
    • U+1052–U+1055: 4 vowel letters
    • U+1056–U+1059: 4 vowels marks (diacritics combining on the right or below)
  • Extensions for Mon:
    • U+105A–U+105D: 4 base consonants
    • U+105E–U+1060: 3 medial consonants (diacritics combining below)
  • Extensions for S’gaw Karen:
    • U+1061: 1 base consonant
    • U+1062: 1 vowel mark (diacritic on the left)
    • U+1063–U+1064: 2 medial consonants (diacritics combining on the right)
  • Extensions for Western Pwo Karen:
    • U+1065–U+1066: 2 base consonants
    • U+1067–U+1068: 2 vowel marks (diacritics combining on the right)
    • U+1069–U+106D: 5 tone marks (diacritics combining on the right)
  • Extensions for Eastern Pwo Karen:
    • U+106E–U+1070: 3 base consonants
  • Extensions for Geba Karen:
    • U+1071: 1 vowel mark (diacritic combining above)
  • Extensions for Kayah:
    • U+1072–U+1074: 3 vowel mark (diacritics combining above)
  • Extensions for Shan:
    • U+1075–U+1081: 13 base consonants
    • U+1082: 1 medial consonant (diacritic combining below)
    • U+1083–U+1086: 4 vowel marks (diacritic combining on the right, left or above)
    • U+1087–U+108D: 7 tone marks (diacritics combining on the right or below)
    • U+1090–U+1099: digits
    • U+109E–U+109D, U+A9E6: other symbols
    • U+A9E0–U+A9E5: Shan Pali
  • Extensions for Rumai Palaung:
    • U+108E: 1 base consonant
    • U+108F: 1 tone mark (diacritics combining on the right)
  • Extensions for Tai Laing:
    • U+A9E7–U+A9EF, U+A9FA-U+A9FE: 14 consonants
    • U+A9F0–U+A9F9: digits


  1. ^ (Aung-Thwin 2005: 161–162): Of the 25 Mon inscriptions recovered in present-day Thailand, only one of them is securely dated--to 1504 CE. The rest have been dated based on what historians believed the kingdom of Dvaravati existed, to around the 7th century per Chinese references to a kingdom, which historians take to be Dvaravati, in the region. According to Aung-Thwin, the existence of Dvaravati does not automatically mean the script also exited in the same period.
  2. ^ (Aung-Thwin 2005: 160–167) Charles Duroiselle, Director Burma Archaeological Survey, conjectured in 1921 that Mon was derived from Kadamba (Old Telagu-Caranese), and perhaps with influences from Grantha. G.H. Luce, not a linguist, in 1924 asserted that the Dvaravati script of Grantha origin was the parent of Burma Mon. Neither provided any proof. Luce's and Duroiselle's conjectures have never been verified or reconciled. In the 1960s, Tha Myat, a self-taught linguist, published books showing the Pyu origin of the Burmese script. But Tha Myat's books, written in Burmese, never got noticed by Western scholars. Per Aung-Thwin, as of 2005 (his book was published in 2005), there had been no scholarly debate on the origins of the Burmese script or the present-day Mon script. The colonial period scholarship's conjectures have been taken as fact, and no one has reviewed the assessments when additional evidence since points to the Burmese script being the parent of Burma Mon.


  1. ^ Aung-Thwin 2005: 157
  2. ^ Bauer 1991: 35
  3. ^ Aung-Thwin 2005: 177–178
  4. ^ Aung-Thwin 2005: 198
  5. ^ Lieberman 2003: 136
  6. ^ Dho-ong Jhaan (2010-05-09). "Mon Consonants Characters". Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  7. ^ Dho-ong Jhaan (2009-10-01). "Romanization for Mon Script by Transliteration Method". Retrieved 12 September 2010. 


  • Aung-Thwin, Michael (2005). The mists of Rāmañña: The Legend that was Lower Burma (illustrated ed.). Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 9780824828868. 
  • Bauer, Christian (1991). "Notes on Mon Epigraphy". Journal of the Siam Society 79 (1): 35. 
  • Lieberman, Victor B. (2003). Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830, volume 1, Integration on the Mainland. Cambridge University Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-521-80496-7.