[4 - LessonHOne
prefixed letter. Thus it is pronounced " ga̲." By conv enti on, then, དག་ without the འི་ " would
be read as ta̲g or da̲g, the "g" bei ng a 4 -slot letter here.
This letter, however, al so alters the mai n vowel sou nd i f it has a vowel above it.
It is requently used i n this capacity to m ark changes i n gramm atical cases (inflections) .
The most common i nstance of this is འི, which changes the mai n vowel as follows
abecomes ɛɛ ------ ང་ (ŋa̲"I") becomes ངའི་ (ŋɛ̲ɛ̲"my")
ubecomes üü------ སུ་ (sū "who") becomes སུའི་ (sǖǖ whose"')
obecomes öö--- མོ་ (mo̲ "she") becomes མོ་ འི་ (mö̲ö̲ her'")
ebecomes ee ------ དེ་ (de̲that") becomes དེའི་ (de̲e̲ ''of that'")
l.7.3 Slot- 5 consona nts
Only one consonant ས་ (s) can occur i n this slot, 2 and when it does, the 4 -slot
must also be filled. It does not change the quality of the vowel 3.
སེམས་
ལངས་ ལུགས་ ཕོགས་
sēm la̲ŋ lu̲g or lu̲ù phɔ̅ɔ̀
mi nd stood up sy stem salary
l.8 The syllabic nature of the Tibetan la nguage i̅ i̅ i̅ i̅
A difficult dim ensi on of Ti betan for Engli sh speakers is its syllabic nature.
Alm ost every sy llable i n Tibetan carries i ndependent sem a ntic m eani ng. Thus, the reader
must detern ine whether a syll able is functioning alone with its basic meani ng or as a pat
of a disyllabic or m ultisyll abic word. For exampl e, both the English and Ti betan words for
for "rifle" are disyllabiC (the Tibetan = མེ་མདའ་) . However, unlike the English word of
which neither of the two syllables (rifle) has independent meani ng, both of the Ti betan
sy llables (me̲n- da) do and can occur i ndependently and i n other compou nds མེ་ m eans
"fire" and མདའ་ means "arrow."
To make matters more di fficult, written Tibeta n does not i ndicate the breaks
between words. Rather, written Ti beta n consists of a series ot sy llables each separated
from the others by a syllable marki ng dot called a ཚེ་ ག་ , regardless of which syllables
--- --------------------- ------------------------------------------------------ 2
2 A nci ent Ti betan, however, used other letters there. i̅ i̅
3 It actually adds a ki ndofi̅ alling tone component to nasals, which we h ave deci ded to
leave unmarked for simplicity's sake.
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