Pahawh Hmong alphabet Pahawh Hmong

The Pahawh Hmong alphabet was invented in 1959 by Shong Lue Yang (Shong Lue Yang's name in the Pahawh Hmong alphabet), an illiterate Hmong farmer living in northern Laos close to the border with Vietnam. Shong Lue Yang believed that the alphabet was revealed to him by God, a belief shared by many among the Hmong.

Shong Lue Yang and his followers worked uncessingly to improve and disseminate his alphabet, and to bring about a revival of Hmong culture. In 1971 he was assassinated by government troops who were worried about his increasing influence.

Shong Lue Yang also created an alphabet for the Khmu language (a member of the Mon-Khmer family), but it never caught on and soon disappeared.

Notable features

Used to write

Hmong, a Hmong-Mien language spoken by about 2.6 million people in China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, USA, and French Guiana. There are two major varieties of Hmong: White Hmong (Hmoob Dawb) and Green/Blue Hmong (Moob Leeg/Hmoob Ntsuab), which are named after the traditional colours worn by women of the different groups.

Pahawh Hmong alphabet

Each syllable is written with three symbols: a rime, a tone marker and an onset. When reading, the onset comes first. The tone markers appear above the onsets. If there is no tone marker, the syllable has a middle tone. If there is no onset marker, the syllble begins with k. A null-onset marker is used to indicate syllables without an onset.

Here are some examples of how the syllables of the name of this script, Pahawh Hmong or Phajhauj Hmoob, are structured:

Example of how the syllables of Pahawh Hmong are structered

RPA = Romanized Popular Alphabet - see the Hmong language page for details.


Hmong rimes

Onsets and tone markers

Hmong onsets and tone markers


Hmong vowels

Hear these numbers:

Download script charts for Pahawh Hmong (Excel)

Sample text in the Pahawh Hmong alphabet

Hmong sample text

Sample video in Hmong

This is an introduction to the Pahawh Hmong alphabet in Hmong

Information about: Hmong | Hmong Dau | Hmong Njua | Scripts for Hmong: Pahawh Hmong | Romanized Popular Alphabet | Pollard Miao | Nyiakeng Puachue Hmong | Phrases in: Hmong Dau | Numbers in: Hmong Dau | Tower of Babel in: Hmong Dau | Hmong Njua | Iu Mien | Books about Hmong


Information about the Hmong language and people

Online Hmong dictionary

Pahawh Hmong fonts

Hmong Language Institute of Minnesotta

Hmong Nationality Archives

Center for Hmong Studies, Concordia University, Saint Paul

Hmong-Mien languages

A-Hmao, Dananshan Miao, Hmong, Hmong Dau, Hmong Njau, Hmu, Iu Mien, Luobohe Miao, Mashan Miao, She, Xong

Abugidas / Syllabic alphabets

Ahom, Aima, Arleng, Badagu, Badlit, Basahan, Balinese, Balti-A, Balti-B, Batak, Baybayin, Bengali, Bhaiksuki, Bhujimol, Bilang-bilang, Bima, Blackfoot, Brahmi, Buhid, Burmese, Carrier, Chakma, Cham, Cree, Dehong Dai, Devanagari, Dham Lipi, Dhankari / Sirmauri, Ditema, Dives Akuru, Dogra, Ethiopic, Evēla Akuru, Fox, Fraser, Gond, Goykanadi, Grantha, Gujarati, Gunjala Gondi, Gupta, Gurmukhi, Halbi Lipi, Hanifi, Hanuno'o, Hočąk, Ibalnan, Incung, Inuktitut, Jaunsari Takri, Javanese, Kaithi, Kadamba, Kamarupi, Kannada, Kawi, Kharosthi, Khema, Khe Prih, Khmer, Khojki, Khudabadi, Kirat Rai, Kōchi, Komering, Kulitan, Kurukh Banna, Lampung, Lanna, Lao, Lepcha, Limbu, Lontara/Makasar, Lota Ende, Magar Akkha, Mahajani, Malayalam, Manpuri / Meitei (Modern), Manpuri (Old), Marchen, Meroïtic, Masarm Gondi, Modi, Mon, Mongolian Horizontal Square Script, Multani, Nandinagari, Newa, New Tai Lue, Ojibwe, Odia, Pahawh Hmong, Pallava, Phags-pa, Purva Licchavi, Qiang / Rma, Ranjana, Rejang (Kaganga), Sasak, Savara, Satera Jontal, Shan, Sharda, Siddham, Sinhala, Sorang Sompeng, Sourashtra, Soyombo, Sukhothai, Sundanese, Syloti Nagri, Tagbanwa, Takri, Tamil, Tanchangya (Ka-Pat), Tani, Thaana, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Tigalari, Tikamuli, Tocharian, Tolong Siki, Vatteluttu, Warang Citi

Other writing systems

Page last modified: 16.03.23


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