Yi script

Yi script

Infobox Writing system
name= Yi
type= Syllabary in modern form;
typedesc=Logographic in archaic variations
time= At least 500 years old, syllabic version established in 1974
languages= Yi language
sample= Yi manuscript 452.jpg
iso15924= Yiii
The Yi scripts, also known as "Cuan" IPA| [tswen] or "Wei," are used to write the Yi languages.

Classical Yi

Classic Yi is a syllabic logographic system of 8,000–10,000 glyphs. Although similar to Chinese in function, the glyphs are independent in form, with little to suggest that they are directly related. The classic script has an attested history of 500 years, but is probably much older. There is significant regional variation, with one extreme example being the glyph for "stomach", with some forty variants.

Modern Yi

The Modern Yi script ( _ii. ꆈꌠꁱꂷ transl|ii|"nuosu bburma" IPA| [nɔ̄sū bʙ̝̄mā] 'Nosu script') is a standardized syllabary derived from the classic script in 1974 by the local Chinese government. It was made the official script of the Yi languages in 1980. There are 756 basic glyphs based on the Liangshan (Cool Mountain) dialect, plus 63 for syllables only found in Chinese borrowings.

The native syllabary represents vowel and consonant-vowel syllables, formed of 43 consonants and 8 vowels that can occur with any of three tones, plus two "buzzing" vowels that can only occur as mid tone. (Or perhaps a "buzzing" tone that can only occur on two vowels.) Not all combinations are possible.

Although the Liangshan dialect has four tones (and others have more), only three tones (high, mid, low) have separate glyphs. The fourth tone (rising) may sometimes occur as a grammatical inflection of the mid tone, so it is written with the mid-tone glyph plus a diacritic mark (a superscript arc). Counting this diacritic, the script represents 1,165 syllables.


The syllabary of standard modern Yi is as follows:

Yi in Pinyin

The expanded pinyin letters used to write Yi are:


The consonant series are tenuis stop, aspirate, voiced, prenasalized, voiceless nasal, voiced nasal, voiceless fricative, voiced fricative, respectively. In addition, "hl, l" are laterals, and "hx" is IPA| [h] . "V, w, ss, r, y" are the voiced fricatives. With stops and affricates, voicing is shown by doubling the letter.

Plosive series

:Labial: b IPA| [p] , p IPA| [pʰ] , bb IPA| [b] , nb IPA| [m͡b] , hm IPA| [m̥] , m IPA| [m] , f IPA| [f] , v IPA| [v] :Alveolar: d IPA| [t] , t IPA| [tʰ] , dd IPA| [d] , nd IPA| [n͡d] , hn IPA| [n̥] , n IPA| [n] , hl IPA| [l̥] , l IPA| [l] :Velar: g IPA| [k] , k IPA| [kʰ] , gg IPA| [g] , mg IPA| [ŋ͡g] , hx IPA| [h] , ng IPA| [ŋ] , h IPA| [x] , w IPA| [ɣ]

Affricate series

:Alveolar: z IPA| [t͡s] , c IPA| [t͡sʰ] , zz IPA| [d͡z] , nz IPA| [nd͡z] , s IPA| [s] , ss IPA| [z] :Retroflex: zh IPA| [t͡ʂ] , ch IPA| [t͡ʂʰ] , rr IPA| [d͡ʐ] , nr IPA| [nd͡ʐ] , sh IPA| [ʂ] , r IPA| [ʐ] :Palatal: j IPA| [t͡ɕ] , q IPA| [t͡ɕʰ] , jj IPA| [d͡ʑ] , nj IPA| [nd͡ʑ] , ny IPA| [ɲ] , x IPA| [ɕ] , y IPA| [ʑ]


Identified with the vowel of Mandarin "si" "four".


An unmarked syllable has mid tone. Other tones are shown by a final consonant::"t" (high), "p" (low).:"r" ("buzzing" (trilled fricative) tone, as "ur, yr" IPA| [ʙ̝, r̝] only).A hacek ("ě", etc.) over the vowel of a mid-tone or buzzing-tone syllable represents the rising tone which takes the arc diacritic in the Modern Yi syllabary.


The Unicode range for Modern Yi is U+A000 to U+A4BE.

Classic Yi has not been assigned a Unicode range.

See also

* Mojikyo

External links

* [http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/UA000.pdf Unicode Yi charts] (600kB PDF file)
* [http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=fc02e2e3-14bb-46c1-afee-3732d6249647&DisplayLang=en GB18030 Support Package for Windows 2000/XP, including Chinese, Tibetan, Yi, Mongolian and Thai font by Microsoft]

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