The alphabetical order in Dai Lue is complex. The order is determined first by the initial consonant, then by the final consonant, then by the vowel, and finally by the tone mark.


Initial consonants

There are 44 initial consonants in Dai Lue. Using an ingenious method for writing tone, there are two letters for each sound: a high class letter and a low class letter. These are the initial consonants in alphabetical order, with their pronunciation and their class. The pronunciation of the letters is shown in the International Phonetic Alphabet. In the middle of the alphabet there are two special letters, ᧞ and ᧟, which represent syllables rather than individual sounds. For each letter below there is a sample word. Click on it to see the dictionary entry.

Consonant Pronunciation Class Sample word meaning
ʔ high  ᦶᦀᧁᧈ travel
ʔ low  ᦁᦳᧇ decorative box
k high  ᦂᦱᧉ seedling
x high  ᦃᦙᦱ forgive
ŋ high  ᦷᦄᧈ hold with thumb on top
k low  ᦅᦱᧉ sell, trade
x low  ᦆᦴ teacher
ŋ low  ᦇᦱ tusk, sesame
c high  ᦺᦈ heart
s high  ᦉᦗ all kinds
j high  ᦊᦱ medicine
c low  ᦋᦴᧈ every
s low  ᦌᦰᦌᦱᧁᧉ small sounds
j low  ᦷᦍᧅ raise
t high  ᦷᦎᧅ fall
high  ᦏᦲᧈ closely spaced
n high  ᦐᦽᧈ classifier for round things
t low  ᦵᦑᦞᦡᦱ god
low  ᦒᧄ dharma
n low  ᦓᦱ rice paddy
p high  ᦔᦴᧈ grandfather
high  ᦕᦲ spirit, ghost
m high  ᦖᦱᧅ fruit
p low  ᦗᦲᧈᦓᦸᧂᧉ siblings
low  ᦘᦱᧉ knife
m low  ᦵᦙᦲᧂ inhabited place
f high  ᦚᧁᧉ guard
w high  ᦛᦲ comb
l high  ᦶᦜᧂᧉ pretend
f low  ᦺᦝ fire
w low  ᦞᧆᦉᦱ Buddhist Lent
l low  ᦟᦱᧉ tea
læʔ  ᧞ᦟᧄ surely
læw  ᧟ then
h high  ᦶᦠᧁ finial
d high  ᦵᦡᦲᧃ moon, month
b high  ᦢᦱᧈ shoulder
h low  ᦣᦳ I don't know
d low  ᦶᦤᧃᦵᦑᧂᧈ definitely
b low  ᦥᦱᦟᦂᦱ deputy
kw high  ᦦᦱᧃᧉ court of law
xw high  ᦧᦸᧃ soul
kw low  ᦨᦱᧃ control
xw low ᦩᦱᧄᦵᦕᦲᧆᧈᦀᦻ  embarrassment


Final consonants

There are seven final consonants which come at the end of a syllable, and are distinguished from their corresponding initial consonant by a tail or a loop. Note that the alphabetical order of final consonants is not the same as that of initials! There is no final /-j/ listed, because it is not a distinct letter of the alphabet. The final /-j/ sound is incorporated into the vowel symbols.

These are the final consonants with their pronunciation, and a sample word.

Final consonant Pronunciation Sample word meaning
-ᧁ -w ᦌᦱᧁ twenty
-ᧂ ᦎᦲᧂᧈ stringed instrument
-ᧃ -n ᦢᦳᧃ goodness, merit
-ᧄ -m ᦟᧄ delicious
-ᧅ -k ᦎᦸᧅᧈ bamboo twine
-ᧆ -t ᦋᦳᧆ lack
-ᧇ -p ᦅᦸᧇ grasp



Vowels in Dai Lue, as in other Indic writing systems, are written in a ‘constellation’ around the initial consonant of the syllable. Some vowels follow the initial consonant in the expected sequential order; others precede the consonant; others form a group both before and after it. In the list below, the dash with each vowel marks the position of the initial consonant.

A syllable that has no written vowel symbol is pronounced with a short /a/ sound. Such syllables fall in alphabetical order after those with the ‘ᦰ’ vowel. Thus ᦌᦰᦌᦱᧁᧉ sa-saaw⁶ ‘murmur’, precedes ᦌᦓᦱᧈ sa-naa⁵ ‘influence’.

These are the Dai Lue vowels, with their pronunciation and a sample word.

Vowel Pronunciation Sample word meaning
-ᦰ /aʔ/ ᦟᦰ abandon
no vowel marked /a/ ᦅᦘ bladder
-ᦱ /aa/ ᦎᦱ eye
-ᦲᦰ /iʔ/ ᦣᦲᦰ criticize
-ᦲ /i/ or /ii/ ᦙᦲ have
-ᦳ /u/ or /uʔ/ ᦑᦳ monk
-ᦴ /uu/ ᦖᦴ pig
ᦵ-ᦰ /eʔ/ ᦵᦂᦰ counterfeit
ᦵ- /e/ or /ee/ ᦵᦙ wife
ᦶ-ᦰ /æʔ/ ᦶᦢᦰ open
ᦶ- /æ/ or /ææ/ ᦶᦠᧈ parade
ᦷ-ᦰ /oʔ/ ᦷᦎᦰ deceive
ᦷ- /o/ or /oo/ ᦷᦜ firewood
-ᦸᦰ /ɔʔ/ ᦌᦸᦰ look for
-ᦸ /ɔ/ or /ɔɔ/ ᦔᦸᧈ suddenly
-ᦹᦰ /ɯʔ/ ᦂᦹᦰ kiss
-ᦹ /ɯ/ or /ɯɯ/ ᦺᦑᦟᦹᧉ Dai Lue
ᦵ-ᦲᦰ /ɤʔ/ ᦵᦔᦲᦰ wet
ᦵ-ᦲ /ɤ/ or /ɤɤ/ ᦵᦑᦲᧈ not yet
ᦺ- /aj/ ᦺᦝ fire
-ᦻ /aaj/ ᦌᦻ sand
-ᦼ /uj/ ᦅᦼ fist
-ᦽ /oj/ ᦑᦽ follow
-ᦾ /ɔj/ ᦟᦾ swim
-ᦿ /ɯj/ ᦂᦿ jute
ᦵ-ᧀ /ɤj/ ᦵᦃᧀ son-in-law


The letter ‘ᦰ’

As seen above, the letter ‘ᦰ’ is used when spelling some of the short vowel sounds. This is its most typical usage. However, certain words in which the vowel is already short are spelled with an unexpected ‘ᦰ’ at the end of the word. Many of these are onomatopoetic words, and this letter represents an unusual sound or tone, such as: ᦗᦳᧄᦰ pum⁴ ‘cracking sound’, or ᦝᦲᧁᦰ fiw⁴ ‘zoom’. At other times the letter ‘ᦰ’ is used to distinguish homonyms such as: ᦑᦸᧂ tɔŋ⁴ ‘bronze’, versus ᦑᦸᧂᦰ tɔŋ⁴ ‘to look’.


Tone marks

Where all else is identical, words with no tone mark precede words with a tone mark. The two tone marks come in this order.

ᧈ          ᦵᦉᧂᦉᦸᧂ          seŋ¹sɔŋ¹         ‘tone mark two’

ᧉ          ᦵᦉᧂᦉᦱᧄ          seŋ¹saam¹      ‘tone mark three’