The Pollard script, which is also known as Pollard Miao or Miao,
was devised in 1905 by Samuel Pollard (1864-1915), a British missionary, with
help from Yang Yage and Li Shitifan. Before Pollard came along, the
A-Hmao language, when written at all, was written with Chinese characters.
Pollard Miao underwent many changes and revisions and only became
stable in 1936, when a translation of the New Testament was published
in the Pollard script.
The authorities in Beijing were not too keen on a writing system invented
by a foreign missionary and in 1957 they introduced an alternative
system based on Hànyŭ Pīnyīn.
This was not popular among the A-Hmao people, who were already familiar with
the Pollard system.
Various efforts have been made to improve Pollard Miao writing, which
inadequately represents the phonetics and tones of A-Hmao and is not
ideal for writing Chinese loan words. A semi-official 'reformed' Pollard
script has been in use since 1988, along with the older version of the
script, and the pīnyīn version.
Type of writing system: abugida with alphabetic elements
Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines
Vowels (finals) are written in small letters around the consonants
(initials). The positioning of the vowels indicates the tone of a
syllable. An alternative system of tone indication is used in the
1988 version of the script.
Used to write
A-Hmao, a Hmong-Mien language spoken by about 300,000 people
in Guizhou and Yunnan provinces in southern China. This
language is also known as Large Flowery Miao or 大花苗
(dàhuāmiáo) in Chinese.
Lipo (Lolopo / Lolongo), a member of the Lolo branch of
Tibeto-Burman languages spoken in China, Burma, India and Thailand by
about 420,000 people.
Sichuan Miao, or Sichuan-Guizhou-Yunnan Miao,
a Hmong-Mien language spoken in Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan in China.
Nasu or Eastern Yi, a member of the Lolo branch of
Tibeto-Burman languages spoken in Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan in China
by about 800,000 people.
This chart shows the Pollard script with the Pinyin equivalents of
each letter and IPA transcriptions of the pronunciation.
When the initials zh, ch, nzh, nch and sh are followed by the
final i or any diphthong beginning with i the Pinyin equivalents
become j, q, nj, nq and x respectively.
In Pinyin tones are indicated by letters added to the ends of
words. The numbers under the tones indicate the tone contours:
1 = low and 5 = high, so 11 is a low level tone, 55 is a high
level tone, and 24 is a rising tone.