Many Hmong today use the RPA (Roman Popular Alphabet) developed by French and American linguists working with the Hmong during the 1950s in Laos. The Hmong did not have a written language for much of their history. Evidence suggests that they may once have had a writing system, but that its use was forbidden by the Chinese when the Hmong lived under Chinese rule. Hmong is a tonal language: The meaning of a word can be completely altered by pronouncing it in a different tone. Linguists suspect the tonal aspect was not orignally a part of Hmong language, but grew out of contact with the different Chinese languages through the centuries. However, Hmong is also highly distinct from the entire Sino-Tibetan language family.
Phia Vang's Project Page
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