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Updated: Jul 11, 2022




Welcome to Tharingsa!

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Are you excited to begin studying Dzongkha?


Whenever we study a language,
It can be difficult to understand
the different sounds that we hear.


So it's very important to have a strong
grasp of the alphabet so that everything
you hear will sound less foreign.

If you can master the pronunciations,
maybe some one will say this about
your Dzongkha speaking skills.


Before we begin, I need to

address the elephant in the room.


 

An unconventional approach

For the most part, our methods of approaching Dzongkha grammar will be by the book, however, we may potentially explore new methods that everyone may not agree with. One of which is called word separation.



Traditionally, Dzongkha and Tibetan are written with little to no spaces between words. Although intricate and artistic, this style of writing is hard readers to understand, and in many cases causes them to have to read the text out loud.



By inserting spaces between words, it makes it easier to quickly read and understand texts at a much faster rate.

We will try to implement this method into our lessons.


Dzongkha, in it's current state has a low literacy rate.

Our aim is to improve literacy, and promote the use of the Dzongkha script as much as possible.


As we progress, we will stray away from using "Dzonglish" so that our learners are no longer dependent on romanizations as well.



We like to use a lot of colors

Dzongkha uses tones and aspiration to distinguish words...


Did we scare you?


Don't worry, it's nothing like the intense eight tones that are used in Cantonese. The colors we will use will help keep you on track as we progress through the alphabet.


 


A quick note on aspiration

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Aspiration is a puff of air that occurs when saying certain syllables in a word. Let's check out some English examples.



Try covering your mouth and saying these 2 words.


💠 Taco 🌮 ༼🙊❌༽ No aspiration

💠 Tooth 🦷 ༼🐵༽ Aspiration


Did you feel the puff of air that came out with the word tooth? That is what we will be referring to when we use the word aspiration in our lessons.


 


The Four Variations


ཀ་ཁ་ག་ང་

🔺 High Tone + 🙊 Non Aspirated

🔺 High Tone + 🐵 Aspirated

🔻 Low Tone + 🐵 Aspirated

🔻 Low Tone + 🙊 Non Aspirated


All letters in Dzongkha will fall into one of these categories, however, the good thing is that it's not heavily emphasized in words.

Let me show you what I mean.

བོད་སྐད (Boe Ke) is the word for the Tibetan Language.

(It looks weird in roman letters doesn't it?)


It consists of two syllables:

བོད + སྐད


However, when spoken, the first tone sort of just carries over to the second giving us something like this:



I think it will be easier to see the change in pronunciation in our next example.


རྫོང་ཁis the word for..Dzongkha, the Bhutanese Language.


It also consists of two syllables:

རྫོང + ཁ།


Similar to our example with བོད་སྐད (Boe Ke),

རྫོང་ཁ (Dzongkha) also carries over the first tone in the syllable and the second syllable is neutral.



From my understanding, the real emphasis on the tones and aspiration occur when the words are isolated or when one is spelling things out loud.


Example

A: How do you spell car? B: C-a-r


In our initial lessons as we are getting accustomed to how the alphabet works, we will use these colors to help see the pronunciation changes.


In the future, we may decide to just go with solid colors.


 


Translations

As we progress to grammar, we will use a separate set of colors to reflect how the words translate to English. There is no strict rules guiding how we will do this, but we just wanted to mention this ahead of time to avoid confusion.



These are the four colors we will use:


One Two Three Four