April 01, 2012

སྐུང་ཡིག །

skung yig:

The most detailed, systematic, impressive, and rewarding presentation of skung yig—which I am by the way wont to translate, not simply as “abbreviation” (as is often done) but as “orthographic abbreviation”—is given by Nor-brang-o-rgyan in his Bod kyi skung yig gi rnam gzhag chung ngu. In gSung rtsom phyogs btus. Beijing: Krung-go’i-bod-rig-pa-dpe-skrun-khang, 2006,  pp. 1–41. One can learn a great deal from this scholar!


  1. Which English word works better for this Tibetan phenomenon, abbreviation or contraction? Of course we might still want to add the word 'orthographic' just to show these are written conventions, and never pronounced as such. I mean, in English you both write and say contractions like can't (=cannot) and won't (=will not). In Tibetan you just use them in texts (or am I wrong about that?). Actually, there seem to be fairly standard rules, mostly observed, for forming them in Tibetan, but no rule that you have to use them for certain words and not for others. They ought to respect word boundaries, but I've seen examples where they don't... Still, somehow 'contraction' seems more right to me than 'abbreviation.' English (German too) puts abbreviations in dictionaries (often in a special section of the dictionary), and we consider them as if they were words that themselves have to be spelled correctly on an individual basis...

  2. Somehow “contraction” sounds closer to skung than “abbreviation.” So I would be happy with “orthographic contraction.”

  3. I'm still of two minds about it, because of the practical differences between the Tibetan and English language practices...