A discussion of script choice among Tibetan-related languages.
|Author||Bradford Lynn Chamberlain|
|Journal||International Journal of the Sociology of Language|
Written development of Tibetan-related languages has seen an increase in recent years. When these languages are developed, the issue of script becomes very important. The Tibetan script has strong associations with the classical Tibetan language, and has been used primarily for writing Tibetan Buddhist religious works. As such, attitudes towards variation of its complex orthographic principles are quite conservative. In some regions (Tibet and Bhutan), the Tibetan orthography is clearly the preferable writing system for any written forms of these modern Tibetan languages.
However, due to the conservative attitudes, adjusting the orthography to represent the reality of the modern languages can be a divisive exercise. In other regions where Tibetan-related languages are spoken (India, Nepal, and Pakistan), there are other scripts which may be considered in developing these modern Tibetan languages. Even in these situations the ethnolinguistic identity associated with the Tibetan script suggests that use of a modified Tibetan orthography is more acceptable than use of other scripts (though they may be more accessible). This article discusses some of the key issues involved in developing Tibetan languages in these multiscriptal environments, and gives examples from several such languages which are in varying stages of development.