Limbu alphabet

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Languages Limbu
Time period
c. 1740–present
Parent systems
Direction Left-to-right
ISO 15924 Limb, 336
Unicode alias
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.[citation needed]

The Limbu script is used to write the Limbu language. The Limbu script is an abugida derived from the Tibetan script.[1]


According to traditional histories, the Limbu script was first invented in the late 9th century by King Sirijonga Haang, then fell out of use, to be reintroduced in the 18th century by Te-ongsi Sirijunga Thebe during the time, teaching of the limbu script was outlawed by the monarcy in Sikkim, as it posed a threat to the Monarchy.

Accounts with Sirijunga

Limbu, Lepcha and Nepal Bhasa are the only Sino-Tibetan languages of the Central Himalayas to possess their own scripts. (Sprigg 1959: 590), (Sprigg 1959: 591-592 & MS: 1-4) tells us that the Kiranti or Limbu script was devised during the period of Buddhist expansion in Sikkim in the early 18th century when Limbuwan still constituted part of Sikkimese territory. The Kiranti script was probably composed at roughly the same time as the Lepcha script which was by the third King of Sikkim, Phyag-rdor Nam-gyal (ca. 1700-1717). The Kiranti script is ascribed to the Limbu hero, Te-ongsi Sirijunga (translation: Reincarnated Sirijonga; refer to Sirijonga Hang) who was killed by the Tasong monks in conspiracy with the king of Sikkim at the time when Simah Pratap Shah was King of Nepal (i.e. 11 January 1775 to 17 November 1777; Stiller 141,153).


The Limbu script. Gray letters are obsolete.

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

Letter IPA Notes
/ɟʱɔ/ Obsolete in modern Limbu.
/ɲɔ/ Obsolete in modern Limbu.
/ʂɔ/ Obsolete in modern Limbu.

To change the inherent vowel, a diacritic is added. Shown here on /k/ ():

Appearance IPA
ᤁᤡ /ki/
ᤁᤣ /ke/
ᤁᤧ /kɛ/
ᤁᤠ /ka/
ᤁᤨ /kɔ/
ᤁᤥ /ko/
ᤁᤢ /ku/
ᤁᤤ /kai/
ᤁᤦ /kau/

ᤁᤨ represents the same thing as . Some writers avoid the diacritic, considering it redundant.

Initial consonant clusters are written with small marks following the main consonant:

Appearance IPA
ᤁᤩ /kjɔ/
ᤁᤪ /krɔ/
ᤁᤫ /kwɔ/

Final consonants after short vowels are written with another set of marks, except for some final consonants occurring only in loanwords. They follow the marks for consonant clusters, if any.

Appearance IPA
ᤁᤰ /kɔk/
ᤁᤱ /kɔŋ/
ᤁᤳ /kɔt/
ᤁᤴ /kɔn/
ᤁᤵ /kɔp/
ᤁᤶ /kɔm/
ᤁᤷ /kɔr/
ᤁᤸ /kɔl/

Long vowels without a following final consonant are written with a diacritic called kemphreng:

Appearance IPA
ᤁ᤺ /kɔː/
ᤁᤡ᤺ /kiː/
ᤁᤣ᤺ /keː/
ᤁᤧ᤺ /kɛː/
ᤁᤠ᤺ /kaː/
ᤁᤨ᤺ /kɔː/
ᤁᤥ᤺ /koː/
ᤁᤢ᤺ /kuː/

There are two systems for writing long vowels with syllable-final consonants. One system is simply a combination of the kemphreng and final consonant marks:

Appearance IPA
ᤁ᤺ᤰ /kɔːk/
ᤁ᤺ᤱ /kɔːŋ/
ᤁ᤺ᤳ /kɔːt/
ᤁ᤺ᤴ /kɔːn/
ᤁ᤺ᤵ /kɔːp/
ᤁ᤺ᤶ /kɔːm/
ᤁ᤺ᤷ /kɔːr/
ᤁ᤺ᤸ /kɔːl/

The other is to write the final consonant with the basic letter, and a diacritic that marks both that the consonant is final, and that the preceding vowel is lengthened:

Appearance IPA
ᤁᤁ᤻ /kɔːk/
ᤁᤅ᤻ /kɔːŋ/
ᤁᤋ᤻ /kɔːt/
ᤁᤏ᤻ /kɔːn/
ᤁᤐ᤻ /kɔːp/
ᤁᤔ᤻ /kɔːm/
ᤁᤖ᤻ /kɔːr/
ᤁᤗ᤻ /kɔːl/

This same diacritic may be used to mark final consonants in loanwords that do not have final forms in Limbu, regardless of the length of the vowel.

Glottalization is marked by a sign called mukphreng.

Appearance IPA
ᤁ᤹ /kɔʔ/


Limbu script was added to the Unicode Standard in April, 2003 with the release of version 4.0.


The Unicode block for Limbu is U+1900–U+194F:

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

Font support

Noto Sans Limbu, Namdhinggo SIL, Code2000, Sun-ExtA and MPH 2B Damase fonts support Limbu script.[2] TW-Sung partially supports Limbu script (without OpenType).


  1. Daniels, Peter T.; Bright, William (1996). The World's Writing Systems. New York: Oxford University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Limbu Fonts at Alan Wood's Unicode Resources

External links