The Lahu language (ISO 639-3 code ‘lhu’) is the language spoken by the Lahu people in Burma, Thailand, China and Laos. See also the Wikipedia entry for Lahu.

I have been struggling to learn Lahu for the past 6-7 years with some limited success. These are some resources I have used. Suggestions and corrections are always welcome.

Ngaˬ Lahu hk’awˇ henˇ chehˇ ve yaꞈ hk’aˇ haˬ jaˆ.

There are not many resources around to help with this language. James Mattisof, a linguistics professor at Berkley university, has produced a dictionary and grammar for the language but is not for the average reader and is pretty much useless for the Lahu themselves. Paul Lewis, a Baptist missionary, produced an English-Lahu-Thai dictionary that is comprehensive but contains a lot of words not used in colloquial Lahu, particularly in Northern Thailand.

Lahu characters and fonts

Unicode version 5.1 has the necessary characters to represent the tone marks in the Lahu written language. There are not many fonts around that actually include them. One good resource is SIL which produces at least two nice fonts that are capable of representing these characters. Both CharisSIL and DoulosSIL are at Unicode version 5. Another list of fonts grouped by their character support has be made by Alan Wood.

Instructions and files for typing Lahu on BSD/Linux

Lahu-English Bible

With a little bit of script ‘hackery’ a version of the Lahu New Testament along side an English version has been made. Using LaTeX the verses are synchronised to make comparisons easier. Here is a sample of the Lahu-English New Testament.

Other Resources