24 - Lesson Two
the vowel quality is not changed. The rules for these changes are rather complex.
l. If the prefixed letter is བ་ or འ་, the resultant syllable is always l ow tone (if the root
consonant is low tone) . These letters never transfornm a low tone syllable to a high tone
one. Thus, si nce ད་ is a low tone letter, use of it as the rootletter with the འ་ prefixed
consonant does not change the tone འི་ དོད་ dö̲ö̀ "want, " i s low tone.
2. If the prefixed l etter i s ག་ , ད་, or མ་, then the resul tant sy llable i s low tone i f the root
letter is a low tone consonant with the exception of ང་ཉ་ན་བ་མ་ཡ་ With these, the tone
changes to hi gh tone. For examplei̅ i̅
ངུས་ (ŋü̲ǜ) i̅is low tone falli ng, but སུདངུལ་ (ŋǖǖ) is hi gh tone i̅
ཉིད་ (ñi̲ì) is low tone falli ng, but གཉིད་ (ñī̀) is high tone falli ng
ནད་ (nɛ̲ɛ̀) s low tone falli ng, but གནད་ (nɛ̅ɛ̀) is hi gh tone falli ng
ན་ (na̲) is low tone short, but མ་ ནའ་ (nā) is high tone short
མ་ ར་ (m a̲a̲) is low tone long, but དམར་ (m āā) is high tone long
ཡུ་ (yu̲) i̅is low tone short, but གཡུ་ (y ū) i̅is high tone shorti̅
བུས་ (p ü̲ǜ) is low tone falli ng but དབུས་ (ǖǜ) is hi gh tone falli ng i̅ i̅ i̅
[Note that another unusual feature of prefixed letters is that certain combinations ]
or letters change the consonant sound. One such combi nation is དབ་ When it occurs
without a written vowel it i s pronounced as a "w, " hi gh tone. For example, དབང་ i s
pronounced wān. When this combi nation occurs with a written vowel, that vowel
becomes the i nitial souund. The tone is always high. For example
དབུ་ དབུས་ དབེན་ དབོར་
ū ǖǜēn ɔ̅ɔ̅ head
head center i̅ deserted [ tra nsport ]
Let us now examine some syllables toreiterate how to apply the above rules
འབར་ is pronounnced ba̲a̲. It remai ns low tone because the prefixed l etter is not one
of those that change low tone root letters to hi gh tone.
དམག་
is pronounced m āà Here the root letter, ་མ་ , is one of the low tone letters that
become high tone when used with the prefixedletter ད་ or ག་
གདོང་ is pronounced low tone----do̲ŋ. A lthough the prefixed letter ག་ changes some
low tonerootletters to high tone, ད་ is not one of the 6 consonants (ང་ཉ་ན་བ་མ་ཡ་) that can
bealtered.

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