Hmong Language and Writing

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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