The Pālī Alphabet

The Romanized Pālī Alphabet (Pālī Phonology)

Wat Pasantidhamma
Wat Pasantidhamma

The Romanized Pālī Alphabet is divided into eight vowels and thirty-two consonants: 

1. Vowels

  1. a
  2. ā
  3. i
  4. ī
  5. u
  6. ū
  7. e
  8. 0

2. Grouped Consonants

Gutturals k kh g gh
Palatals c ch j jh ñ
Linguals ṭh ḍh
Dentals t th d dh n
Labials p ph b bh m

3. Ungrouped Consonants

Fricative y      r      l      ḷ     v  
Sibilant s
Aspirate h
Nasal / Anusvara

4. Pālī Pronunciation

The principals of pronunciation employed in this book are in accordance with the Pālī chanting in the Thai of the Mahānikāya tradition in Thailand.

In general. letters or words are pronounced the same as in English, but some may be different. The following are illustrations:


Short Vowels - pronounced short sound
a - as o in ton or u in sun eg. tassa (tas-sa)
i - as i in sit eg. iti (i-ti)
u - as u in put or oo in look eg. Upāli (U-paa-li)

Long Vowels - pronounced long sound
ā - as aa in father eg. kāyena (kaa-ye na)
ī - as ee in tree eg. veramanī (ve-ra-ma-nee)
ū - as oo in moon eg. lokavitū (lo-ka-vi-too)

Compound Vowels - pronounced long sound
e - as e in beg or a in cave eg. etena (e-te-na)
o - as o in no eg. anariyo (a-na-ri-yo)

Additional Sounds

am - as -um eg. Tatiyam (ta-to-yam)
am - as -ung in lung eg. Buddhaṃ (bud-dhung)
an - as -ung in lung eg. Saṅgha (sung-gha)

Grouped Consonant Sounds

Gutturals (formed in the throat)
k - as k in kind
kh - as kh in blackhead
g - as g in game
gh - as gh in ghost
ṅ - as ng in lung

Palatals (tongue is against the palate)
c - as j in jar or ch in rich
ch - as ch-h in witch-hazel
j - as in j in jaw
jh - as dge-h in sledge-hammer
ñ - as gn in signore (It.), senior, señor (Sp.)

Linguals (tongue tip against dome of palate)
ṭ - as t in tap
ṭh - as t-h in ant-hill
ḍ - d as in dad
ḍh - as d-h in red-hot
ṇ - n in now

Dentals (tongue tip against teeth)
t - as th in thumb
th - as t-h in pot-holder
d - as th in then
dh - as dh in adherent
n - as n in not

Labials (formed with the lips)
p - as p in papa
ph - as ph in uphill
b - as b in ball
bh - as bh in abhor
m - as m in mom

Ungrouped Consonant Sounds

y (palatal) - as y in yes
r (lingual) - as r in rain
l (dental) -  as l in law
v (labial) - as v in voice
s (guttural, sibilant) - as see or skull
h (guttural aspirant) - as h in hot
ḷ (lingual) -  as l in felt
ṃ (nasal) - as ng in sing

How to Type The Romanized Pālī Characters:

Using the following Unicode you can type the characters into your computer as you take notes:

HTML Entity (Hexadecimal)  ṃ

CTRL+shift+u then unicode and then ENTER


u+0100 Ā     A with macron    
u+0101 ā     a with macron      
u+012A Ī     I with macron     
u+012B ī     i with macron        
u+016A Ū     U with macron   
u+016B ū     u with macron      


u+1E6C Ṭ     T with dot below    
u+1E6D ṭ     t with dot below     
u+1E0C Ḍ     D with dot below   
u+1E0D ḍ     d with dot below
u+1E44 Ṅ     N with dot above 
u+1E45 ṅ     n with dot above      
u+1E46 Ṇ     N with dot below   
u+1E47 ṇ     n with dot below      
u+00D1 Ñ     N with tilde
u+00F1 ñ     n with tilde

u+1E36 Ḷ     L with dot below   
u+1E37 ḷ     l with dot below     
u+1E42 Ṃ     M with dot below                         
u+1E43 ṃ     m with dot below 

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