Wylie transliteration

The Wylie transliteration system is a method for transliterating Tibetan script using only the letters available on a typical English language typewriter. It bears the name of American tibetologist Turrell V. Wylie, who described the scheme in an article, A Standard System of Tibetan Transcription, published in 1959.[1] It has subsequently become a standard transliteration scheme in Tibetan studies, especially in the United States.

Any Tibetan language romanization scheme is faced with a dilemma: should it seek to accurately reproduce the sounds of spoken Tibetan, or the spelling of written Tibetan? These differ widely as Tibetan orthography became fixed in the 11th century, while pronunciation continued to evolve, comparable to the English orthography and French orthography, which reflect Late Medieval pronunciation.

Previous transcription schemes sought to split the difference with the result that they achieved neither goal perfectly. Wylie transliteration was designed to precisely transcribe Tibetan script as written, which led to its acceptance in academic and historical studies. It is not intended to represent the pronunciation of Tibetan words.

Wylie transliteration
Wylie transliteration of Tibetan script


The Wylie scheme transliterates the Tibetan characters as follows:

ka [ká] kha [kʰá] ga [ɡà/kʰà] nga [ŋà]
ca [tɕá] cha [tɕʰá] ja [dʑà/tɕʰà] nya [ɲà]
ta [tá] tha [tʰá] da [dà/tʰà] na [nà]
pa [pá] pha [pʰá] ba [bà/pʰà] ma [mà]
tsa [tsá] tsha [tsʰá] dza [dzà/tsʰà] wa [wà]
zha [ʑà/ɕà] za [zà/sà] 'a [ɦà/ʔà] ya [jà]
ra [rà] la [là] sha [ɕá] sa [sá]
ha [há] a [ʔá]

In Tibetan script, consonant clusters within a syllable may be represented through the use of prefixed or suffixed letters or by letters superscripted or subscripted to the root letter (forming a "stack"). The Wylie system does not normally distinguish these as in practice no ambiguity is possible under the rules of Tibetan spelling. The exception is the sequence gy-, which may be written either with a prefix g or a subfix y. In the Wylie system, these are distinguished by inserting a period between a prefix g and initial y. E.g. གྱང "wall" is gyang, while གཡང་ "chasm" is g.yang.


The four vowel marks (here applied to the base letter ) are transliterated:

ཨི  i ཨུ  u ཨེ  e ཨོ  o

When a syllable has no explicit vowel marking, the letter a is used to represent the default vowel "a" (e.g. ཨ་ = a).


Many previous systems of Tibetan transliteration included internal capitalisation schemes—essentially, capitalising the root letter rather than the first letter of a word, when the first letter is a prefix consonant. Tibetan dictionaries are organized by root letter, and prefixes are often silent, so knowing the root letter gives a better idea of pronunciation. However, these schemes were often applied inconsistently, and usually only when the word would normally be capitalised according to the norms of Latin text (i.e. at the beginning of a sentence). On the grounds that internal capitalisation was overly cumbersome, of limited usefulness in determining pronunciation, and probably superfluous to a reader able to use a Tibetan dictionary, Wylie specified that if a word was to be capitalised, the first letter should be capital, in conformity with Western capitalisation practices. Thus a particular Tibetan Buddhist sect (Kagyu) is capitalised Bka' brgyud and not bKa' brgyud.


Wylie's original scheme is not capable of transliterating all Tibetan-script texts. In particular, it has no correspondences for most Tibetan punctuation symbols, and lacks the ability to represent non-Tibetan words written in Tibetan script (Sanskrit and phonetic Chinese are the most common cases). Accordingly, various scholars have adopted ad hoc and incomplete conventions as needed.

The Tibetan and Himalayan Library at the University of Virginia developed a standard, Extended Wylie Tibetan System or EWTS, that addresses these deficiencies systematically. It uses capital letters and Latin punctuation to represent the missing characters. Several software systems, including Tise, now use this standard to allow one to type unrestricted Tibetan script (including the full Unicode Tibetan character set) on a Latin keyboard.

Since the Wylie system is not intuitive for use by linguists unfamiliar with Tibetan, a new transliteration system based on the International Phonetic Alphabet has been proposed to replace Wylie in articles on Tibetan historical phonology.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Wylie, Turrell V. (December 1959). "A Standard System of Tibetan Transcription". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. Harvard-Yenching Institute. 22: 261–267. doi:10.2307/2718544. JSTOR 2718544.
  2. ^ Jacques, Guillaume (2012). "A new transcription system for Old and Classical Tibetan". Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 35.2: 89–96.

External links

(Some of the following links require installation of Tibetan fonts to display properly)

3rd Taktra Rinpoche

Ngawang Sungrab Thutob (Standard Tibetan: སྟག་བྲག་ནག་དབང་གསུང་རབ།; Chinese: 三世达扎阿旺松绕) (1874–1952) was the third Taktra Rinpoche, (Wylie transliteration: sTag-brag, also Takdrak, Tagdrag, etc.) and regent of Tibet. As regent, he was responsible for raising and educating the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. In 1941, he succeeded the fifth Reting Rinpoche, Jamphel Yeshe Gyaltsen. The Reting Rinpoche later rebelled, was captured, and died imprisoned in the Potala Palace under mysterious circumstances.State-controlled media in China claims that Thutob was responsible for the death of the 5th Reting Rinpoche, the teacher of 14th Dalai Lama and previous regent. They praise Jamphel Yeshe Gyaltsen as a patriot and devout Buddhist while calling Ngawang Sungrab Thutob as a "pro-Britain, pro-slavery separatist." Reting Rinpoche, regardless of his political leanings, will be remembered for discovering and enthroning the current, 14th Dalai Lama.


Bangxing (Tibetan: སྤང་ཤིང་;Chinese: 旁辛; Pinyin: Bàngxīn) is a township in Medog County, Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. It lies at an altitude of 2,161 metres (7,090 ft). Its population in 2007 was 1,351, the town is located in the traditional province of Pemako, most of the inhabitants are Tshangla speakers.

Ganden Tripa

The Ganden Tripa or Gaden Tripa (Wylie: dga’ ldan khri pa "Holder of the Ganden Throne") is the title of the spiritual leader of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, the school that controlled central Tibet from the mid-17th century until the 1950s. The 103rd Ganden Tripa, Jetsun Lobsang Tenzin died in office on 21 April 2017. Jangtse Choejey Kyabje Jetsun Lobsang Tenzin Palsangpo is the current Ganden Tripa.

The head of the Gelugpa order is the Ganden Tripa and not, as is often misunderstood, the Dalai Lama. It is also often misunderstood that the Ganden Tripa is the same person as the abbot of Ganden monastery. Ganden has two abbots, the abbot of Ganden Shartse and the abbot of Ganden Jangtse, and neither of them can be the Ganden Tripa unless they have also served as abbot of Gyumay or Gyuto tantric colleges. See 'Mode of Appointment' below.

The Ganden Tripa is an appointed office, not a reincarnation lineage. It is awarded on the basis of merit which is the basis of his hierarchical progression. Since the position is held for only a 7-year term, there have been many more Ganden Tripas than Dalai Lamas to date (102 as against 14).

Je Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), who founded the Gelug is the first Ganden Tripa. After Tsongkhapa's passing, his teachings were held and kept by Gyaltsab Je and Khedrub Je who were the next abbots of Ganden monastery. The lineage has been held by the Ganden Tripas.

In January 2003, the Central Tibetan Administration announced the nomination of the 101st Ganden Tripa. An excerpt from that press release gives his background:The 101st Ganden Tripa, Khensur Lungri Namgyel Rinpoche was born in 1927 in Kham (eastern Tibet). Ordained at eight years old, after fifty years of meditative practices and studies he was elevated by the Dalai-lama as successively abbot of Gyutö Tantric College (in 1983), and as abbot of Ganden Shartse Monastic University (in 1992). In 1986 he was the special envoy of the Dalai-lama to the ecumenical meetings of Assisi in Italy convened by Pope John Paul II. He is a French national and has been living in Paris, France for more than 20 years. He transmits the Buddhist teachings of his lineage in a Dharma Center, Thar Deu Ling which he founded in 1980.

The 100th Ganden Tripa, Lobsang Nyima Rinpoche, retired and lived at Drepung Loselling Monastery with his labrang (office staff) until his death in 2008.


Gendün (Tibetan: དགེ་འདུན) is a Tibetan personal name meaning "sangha". Gendün is its spelling in the Tournadre and THDL Simplified transcription systems; it is also written Dge-'dun in Wylie transliteration, Gêdün in Tibetan pinyin, Gendun, Gedun or Gedhun. Its pronunciation in the Lhasa dialect is [kẽ̀tyn].

Notable persons whose names include "Gendün" include:

Gendun Drub, the 1st Dalai Lama

Gendun Gyatso, the 2nd Dalai Lama

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama according to Tibetan exile groups

Gendun Chöphel, a monk, scholar, and political prisoner

Gendun Rinpoche, a notable Karma Kagyu lama

Je Tsongkapay Ling

Je Tsongkapay Ling (Tib. rje tsong kha pa'i rig pa’i ‘byung gnas gling in Wylie transliteration mode, name before 2014 - Je Tsongkhapa Ling) is a Buddhist College and Home Retirement (Retreat Center), founded in 2001 by a Tibetan lama Khenpo Kyosang Rinpoche. It is incorporated in the United Kingdom as Je Tsongkapay Ling Buddhist College under company number 09252243. The college provides classes in Lamrim, Abhidharma, Madhyamaka, Vinaya, Prajna Paramita, Pramana, and Tibetan language.


Jetsun (Standard Tibetan: རྗེ་བཙུན་/རྗེ་བཙུན་མ་;) or Jetsunma (Wylie transliteration: rJe-btsun/ma; the "ma" suffix is feminine) is a Tibetan title meaning "venerable" or "reverend." It is a specific term applied to revered teachers and practitioners of Vajrayana Buddhism. The title is applied to adepts and learned lamas such as Jetsun Milarepa. "Je" (Wylie transliteration: rJe) refers to those of high rank, including kings and nobles; "tsun" (Wylie transliteration: bTsun) refers to 1) those of noble rank, 2) those who are monastics, or 3) those who combine the three characteristics of being learned, noble, and good. The two together emphasize the honorific while "tsun" applies the term specifically to ecclesiastics.In terms of Jetsunmas, the title could refer to:

Jetsunma Chime Tenpai Nyima (rje btsun ma 'chi med bstan pa'i nyi ma) (b. 1756)

Jetsun Chonyi Dechen Tsomo

Jetsunma Dechen Wangmo

Jetsun Dolma

Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Jétsunma Khandro Yeshé Réma

Jetsunma Kushok Chimey Luding, sister of Sakya Trizin

Jetsunma Niguma

Jetsun Milarepa

Jetsunma Mingyur Paldron, Minling Jetsunma Mingyur Peldron (smin gling rje btsun mi 'gyur dpal sgron, (1699-1769), daughter of Terton Terdak Lingpa

Jetsunma Pema Trinle

Jetsunma Shukseb, Shukseb Jetsun Choying Zangmo (shug gseb rje btsun chos dbyings bzang mo, (1865-1951)

Jetsunma Tamdrin Wangmo Kelzang Chokyi Nyima (rje btsun ma grub pa'i rta mgrin dbang mo skal bzang chos kyi nyi ma) (1836-1896)

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a well-known western yogini

Jetsunma Thinley Chodron

Jetsunma Tsewang Lhamo (1874-1950)

Jetsun Pema, Queen consort of Bhutan

Jetsun Pema, activist

Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche

Jetsun Namgyal Wangchen (1934-2015) one of Tibets greatest living masters, (19)

Jigten Sumgön

Jigten Sumgön or Jigten Gönpo (1143–1217) was the founder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage and main disciple of Phagmo Drupa. He founded Drikung Thil Monastery in 1179.Jigten Sumgön and the Drikung lineage are best known for the set of teachings known as The Five Profound Paths of Mahāmudrā (phyag chen lnga ldan). Some of Jigten Sumgön's sayings were collected by Sherab Jungne into what is known as Gongchik (Wylie transliteration: dgongs gcig, "the single intention"), a profound philosophical compendium that further developed in commentarial works written in following generations. Some of Jigten Sumgön's teachings were collected by another disciple into what is known as The Heart of the Great Vehicle's Teachings (theg chen bstan pa'i snying po).

Lake Rakshastal

Lake Rakshastal (Tibetan: ལག་ངར་མཚོ།, ZYPY: Lagngar Co; Wylie transliteration: lag-ngar mtsho; Chinese: 拉昂错, Pinyin: Lā'áng Cuò; La'nga Co) is a lake in Tibet Autonomous Region, China, lying just west of Lake Manasarovar and south of Mount Kailash. The Sutlej River (also known by the Tibetan name Langqen Zangbo in this area) originates at Rakshastal's northwestern tip. Despite its close proximity to Lake Manasarovar (about 3.7 kilometres or 2.3 miles), Lake Rakshastal does not share the historic religious significance of its eastern neighbor.

List of Tibetan writers

This is a chronological list of important Tibetan writers.

Sog, Tibet

Sog (also Sogba) is a town and seat of Sog County in the Nagqu Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. It lies on the G317 highway between Zala and Baqên Town.

Sonam Topgay Dorji

Sir Raja Sonam Topgay Dorji (CIE) (Dzongkha:སྟོབས་རྒྱས་རྡོ་རྗེ་; Wylie transliteration: Stobs-rgyas Rdo-rje) (1896–1953), also called Tobgay, was a member of the Dorji family and Bhutanese politician who served between 1917 and 1952 in the Royal Government under the First and Second Kings of Bhutan. During this period, Topgay Dorji officially held the posts of Gongzim (Chief Minister), Deb Zimpon (Chief Secretary), and Trade Agent to the Government of Bhutan. As such, Topgay Dorji was responsible for fostering Anglo-Bhutanese relations, and later, Bhutan–India relations. Topgay's ties with the west and modernist political factions contributed significantly to the modern political landscape and modernization of Bhutan.

Topgay Dorji inherited his positions from his father, Kazi Ugyen Dorji, who was instrumental in advising Ugyen Wangchuck before and after he became the First King of Bhutan. Topgay Dorji lived, worked, and died at Bhutan House, the Dorji's estate in Kalimpong, India, the traditional administrative center of southern Bhutan.

Testament of Ba

The Testament of Ba (Tibetan དབའ་བཞེད or སྦ་བཞེད; Wylie transliteration: dba' bzhed or sba bzhed) is an account written in Old Tibetan of the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet and the foundation of the Samye Monastery during the reign of King Trisong Detsen (r. 755–797/804), reputedly as recorded by Ba Salnang (Tibetan དབའ་གསལ་སྣང or སྦ་གསལ་སྣང; Wylie transliteration: dba' gsal snang or sba gsal snang), a member of the king's court. The earliest known versions of the text are two manuscript fragments dating to the 9th or 10th centuries that are held at the British Library.

Tibetan pinyin

The SASM/GNC/SRC romanization of Tibetan, commonly known as Tibetan pinyin, is the official transcription system for the Tibetan language in the People's Republic of China for personal names and place names. It is based on the Lhasa dialect of Standard Tibetan and reflects the pronunciation except that it does not mark tone. It is used within China as an alternative to the Wylie transliteration for writing Tibetan in the Latin script within academic circles; Wylie transliteration (with a v replacing the apostrophe) is more commonly used.

Tibetan script

The Tibetan script is an abugida used to write the Tibetic languages such as Tibetan, as well as Dzongkha, Sikkimese, Ladakhi, and sometimes Balti. The printed form is called uchen script while the hand-written cursive form used in everyday writing is called umê script.

The script is closely linked to a broad ethnic Tibetan identity, spanning across areas in Tibet, Bhutan, India, Nepal. The Tibetan script is of Indic origin and it is ancestral to the Limbu script, the Lepcha script, and the multilingual 'Phags-pa script.


Tise (pronounced 'tee-say') is a Tibetan input method utility for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 created by Grigory Mokhin. The name of the program refers to the native name of Mount Kailash in Tibet.

Tise enables users to enter Unicode Tibetan script text into Windows applications by typing transliterated (Romanized) Tibetan. Tise intercepts the user input and converts the typed transliterated sequences into the Unicode character code sequences for the corresponding Tibetan text, which may be displayed using any Unicode OpenType Tibetan script font.

The Tise utility uses the Extended Wylie transliteration system (EWTS) which was developed by the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library (THDL) as an enhancement of the standard Wylie transliteration system for Tibetan. This input method is most popular with users already familiar with the Wylie transliteration system and keyboard layouts for typing English and other west European languages.

Tise was developed in line with the aims of the THDL tools project with the sole purpose to assist the preservation of Tibetan cultural heritage and to make using a computer easier for Himalayan peoples and scholars.

For Linux and other for POSIX-style operating systems, there is an EWTS based Tibetan input method available for the Smart Common Input Method (SCIM) platform, and m17n modules that can be used in more modern engines, like iBus and Fcitx.

Trongsa District

Trongsa District (Dzongkha: ཀྲོང་གསར་རྫོང་ཁག་; Wylie transliteration: Krong-gsar rdzong-khag) is one of the districts of Bhutan. It is the most central district of Bhutan and the geographic centre of Bhutan is located within it at Trongsa Dzong.

Turrell V. Wylie

Turrell Verl "Terry" Wylie (August 20, 1927 – August 25, 1984) was an American scholar, Tibetologist, sinologist and professor known as one of the 20th century's leading scholars of Tibet. He taught as a professor of Tibetan Studies at the University of Washington and served as the first chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Literature. Wylie founded the Tibetan Studies program at the University of Washington, the first of its kind in the United States, setting a major precedent for future programs and research in the field. His system for rendering the Tibetan language in Latin script, known as Wylie transliteration, is the primary system used for transcribing Tibetan in academic and historical contexts.

Yuthok Nyingthig

Yuthok Nyingthig (Wylie transliteration: g.yu thog snying thig) is a tantric cycle composed (or re-discovered) by Yuthok Yontan Gonpo the Younger. It is a system of Buddhist practice which combines Traditional Tibetan medicine and Vajrayāna practices. These are the primary Vajrayāna practices of Tibetan medicine practitioners.

The Yuthok Nyingthig cycle of texts contains practices such as Yuthok Nyingthig Guru Accomplishment: Compassionate Sunlight for Dispersing Suffering's Darkness (Yuthok Nyingthig Ladrub Dugngel Munpa Selwey Nyimey Oser; g.yu thog snying thig bla sgrub sdug bsngal mun pa sel ba'i nyi ma'i 'od zer).

Zhemgang District

Zhemgang District (Dzongkha: གཞམས་སྒང་རྫོང་ཁག་; Wylie transliteration: Gzhams-sgang rdzong-khag; previously "Shemgang"), is one of the 20 dzongkhags (districts) comprising Bhutan. It is bordered by Sarpang, Trongsa, Bumthang, Mongar and Samdrup Jongkhar Districts, and borders Assam in India to the south. Administrative center of the district is Zhemgang.

Tibetan language topics


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.