The Dictionary provides English translations of Tibetan terms. At this time, the Dictionary does not accept input in Tibetan characters. Rather, you must type in a transliteration of the Tibetan term using
English-language characters (referred to as "Roman" characters). The Dictionary recognizes "Wylie Tibetan," the most widely adopted Roman-Tibetan transliteration system, first published by Turrell Wylie in
his landmark 1959 article.
IMPORTANT: Due to a limitation in the search mechanism, the search terms should be entered IN LOWER CASE only.
Those familiar with the Tibetan alphabet will find below
two easy reference tables for the Wylie transliteration system.
We also provide examples of search terms (in Wylie transliteration) and the Dictionary translation of those terms you will find from the search.
For those unfamiliar with the Wylie system or with Tibetan, there are a few more points about which you need to be aware when you enter the Tibetan term in the search box.
First, when entering a
series of characters that compose a word, it is usually not necessary to enter the "a" that ends each Tibetan character in the table, except as indicated below in the third point.
uses "stacked" characters, that is, ligatures composed of multiple glyphs from the Tibetan alphabet. They are represented in the Wylie transcription system by entering each of the characters in the
stack, in order, beginning at the top of the stack and continuing to the bottom of the stack.
Third, some Tibetan characters that are found in unstacked, sequential order in some Tibetan syllables are
found in other syllables as stacked characters. The syllables occur in the same sequence top to bottom in the stack as they do left to right in the unstacked syllable. To differentiate unstacked sequences
from stacked characters, the Roman character "a" is added to the end of the critical letter, whereas in the stacked situation, the same letter is indicated without an "a" at the end, to
indicate that it is part of a stack. (Note: This is the most difficult transcription system rule for novices to correctly apply. Correct transcription requires the knowledge of Tibetan grammatical rules
concerning which letter combinations may occur in stacks and which may not occur in stacks. Novices using our site typically experiment with alternate placements of the "a" until they get it
correct or learn the grammatical rules.)
Fourth, Tibetan word endings are not indicated with any glyphs or marks, such as the space character used in English and other Roman character based written
languages. Rather, Tibetan consists of a continuing sequence of syllables separated by a syllable separation character, which appears as a dot located between syllables and is referred to in Tibetan as a
"tsek." Sentence or clause endings are indicated by a marker, but words must be discerned by the context in which the sequence of syllables occur. In the dictionary search entries, the
tsek/syllable separation character is indicated by a space.
The Wylie transliteration table
(from Wylie, Turrell, "A Standard System of Tibetan Transcription,"
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 22  261-67)