Dochula Pass, Bhutan

I have uploaded a new version of the Tibetan character picker.

The new version dispenses with the images for the selection table. If you don’t have a suitable font to display the new version of the picker, you can still access the previous version, which uses images.

Other changes include:

  • Significant rearrangement of the default table, with many less common symbols moved into a location that you need to click on to reveal. This declutters the selection table.
  • Addition of latin prompts to help locate letters (standard with v15).
  • Hints (When switched on and you mouse over a character, other similar characters or characters incorporating the shape you moused over, are highlighted. Particularly useful for people who don’t know the script well, and may miss small differences, but also useful sometimes for finding a character if you first see something similar.)
  • A new Wylie button that converts Tibetan text into an extended Wylie Latin transcription. There are still some uncommon characters that don’t work, but it should cover most normal needs. I used diacritics over lowercase letters rather than uppercase letters, except for the fixed form characters. I also didn’t provide conversions for many of the symbols – they will appear without change in the transcription. See the notes on the page for more information.
  • The Codepoints button, which produces a list of characters in the output box, now has a new feature. If you have highlighted some text in the output box, you will only see a list of the highlighted characters. If there are no highlights, the contents of the whole output box are listed.
  • Don’t forget, if you are using the picker on an iPad or mobile device, to set Autofocus to Off before tapping on characters. This stops the device keypad popping up every time you select a character. (This is also standard for v15.)

About pickers: Pickers allow you to quickly create phrases in a script by clicking on Unicode characters arranged in a way that aids their identification. Pickers are likely to be most useful if you don’t know a script well enough to use the native keyboard. The arrangement of characters also makes it much more usable than a regular character map utility. See the list of available pickers.

If you use my Unicode character pickers, you may have noticed some changes recently. I’ve moved several pickers on to version 14. Most of the noticeable changes are in the location and styling of elements on the UI – the features remain pretty much unchanged.

Pages have acquired a header at the top (which is typically hidden), that provides links to related pages, and integrates the style into that of the rest of the site. What you don’t see is a large effort to tidy the code base and style sheets.

So far, I have changed the following: Arabic block, Armenian, Balinese, Bengali, Khmer, IPA, Lao, Mongolian, Myanmar, and Tibetan.

I will convert more as and when I get time.

However, in parallel, I have already made a start on version 15, which is a significant rewrite. Gone are the graphics, to be replaced by characters and webfonts. This makes a huge improvement to the loading time of the page. I’m also hoping to introduce more automated transcription methods, and simpler shape matching approaches.

Some of the pickers I already upgraded to version 14 have mechanisms for transcription and shape-based identification that took a huge effort to create, and will take a substantial effort to upgrade to version 15. So they may stay as they are for a while. However, easier to handle and new pickers will move to the new format.

Actually, I already made a start with Gurmukhi v15, which yanks that picker out of the stone-age and into the future. There’s also a new picker for the Uighur language that uses v15 technology. I’ll write separate blogs about those.


[By the way, if you are viewing the pickers on a mobile device such as an iPad, don’t forget to turn Autofocus off (click on ‘more controls’ to find the switch). This will stop the onscreen keyboard popping up, annoyingly, each time you try to tap on a character.]

See the Tibetan Script Notes

Last March I pulled together some notes about the Tibetan script overall, and detailed notes about Unicode characters used in Tibetan.

I am writing these pages as I explore the Tibetan script as used for the Tibetan language. They may be updated from time to time and should not be considered authoritative. Basically I am mostly simplifying, combining, streamlining and arranging the text from the sources listed at the bottom of the page.

The first half of the script notes page describes how Unicode characters are used to write Tibetan. The second half looks at text layout in Tibetan (eg. line-breaking, justification, emphasis, punctuation, etc.)

The character notes page lists all the characters in the Unicode Tibetan block, and provides specific usage notes for many of them per their use for writing the Tibetan language.

See the Tibetan Character Notes

Tibetan is an abugida, ie. consonants carry an inherent vowel sound that is overridden using vowel signs. Text runs from left to right.

There are various different Tibetan scripts, of two basic types: དབུ་ཙན་ dbu-can, pronounced /uchen/ (with a head), and དབུ་མེད་ dbu-med, pronounced /ume/ (headless). This page concentrates on the former. Pronunciations are based on the central, Lhasa dialect.

The pronunciation of Tibetan words is typically much simpler than the orthography, which involves patterns of consonants. These reduce ambiguity and can affect pronunciation and tone. In the notes I try to explain how that works, in an approachable way (though it’s still a little complicated, at first).

Traditional Tibetan text was written on pechas (དཔེ་ཆ་ dpe-cha), loose-leaf sheets. Some of the characters used and formatting approaches are different in books and pechas.

For similar notes on other scripts, see my docs list.

About the tool: Pickers allow you to quickly create phrases in a script by clicking on Unicode characters arranged in a way that aids their identification. Pickers are likely to be most useful if you don’t know a script well enough to use the native keyboard. The arrangement of characters also makes it much more useable than a regular character map utility.

Latest changes: This picker has been upgraded to use the version 10 look and feel, and incorporate new characters from Unicode version 5.2. Characters whose use is discouraged in Unicode have been moved to the advanced section – similar looking images in the main section put multiple characters into the output, as per NFC normalization.

>> Use it