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Date : 10-10-13

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Ntawv Soob Lwj (Phaj Hauj)

Shong Lue (Pahawh) Script

The Shong Lue (Pahawh) Script was invented in 1959 by Shong Lue Yang, an illiterate Hmong farmer living in northern Vietnam close to the border of Laos. Shong Lue Yang believed that the script was revealed to him by God, a belief shared by many among the Hmong. He also simultaneously created a script for the Khmu language (a member of the Mon-Khmer family), but it never caught on and soon disappeared.

Shong Lue Yang become very influential for his invention. Many people travelled from far away to learn it. It soon became a political issue in northern Vietnam. He escaped into Laos in mid-1960s with the help of General Vang Pao. In 1971 he was assassinated by government troops who were worried about his increasing influence.

Since its invention, the Shong Lue Script has gone through four slightly different versions as shown below. 

Notable features

  • Type of writing system: syllabic alphabet
  • Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines
  • Syllables are written with the vowel first then the consonant, but are pronounced with the consonant first.
  • Hmong has 8 tones which are indicated in the Pahawh Hmong alphabet with diacritics.
  • Though few Hmong use the Pahawh Hmong alphabet, they are very proud of the fact that it exists and that is was created by one of their people.

Used to write

Hmong, or western Hmong dialect, is spoken by about three million Hmong Chinese in Western Guizhou, Sichuan, Guangxi, and Yunnan, and by another two million Hmong living Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, USA, Canada, Australia, France and French Guiana. There are two slightly different dialects of Hmong: White Hmong (Hmoob Dawb) and Green/Blue Hmong (Moob Leeg/Hmoob Ntsuab), which are named after the traditional colors worn by women of the different groups.

Shong Lue (Pahawh) Alphabet