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Xi'an alphabet

Writing system of the Xi'an language
The word Xi'an written in kyexiin in xiinthle'a.

The Xi'an alphabet ( Xi'an: kyexiin(kyexiin) (Proper); literally script / alphabetic letter; ) is a writing system to write the Xi'an language.

The alphabet has over 200 "letters", symbols or glyphs. A letter is referred to as a kyexiin, which translates as "written symbol" Each letter has more than one form (basic, block, corner). The Xi'an writing system also has a hyphen, 'comma' (epentheses and pause), quotation and a period (full stop) mark. Proper nouns are also marked in the Xi'an script. There are a special glyph for vowel muting and a glyph equal to the ampersand (&).

Some glyphs can occur in different shapes or variants. Glyphs are grouped into blocks which form individual syllables. Often a single syllable represents an 'elemental' concept in the language, and is thus called a tai ( Xi'an: tai (Proper); ). Multiple tai can combine to form compound words. The block format is always:

  • V, Vowel
  • VC, Vowel - Consonant
  • CV, Consonant - Vowel
  • CVC, Consonant - Vowel - Consonant

Only a certain set of consonants (denoted below as those that have a 'corner form') are permitted to come at the end of a syllable. This applies to both CVC and VC syllables. Occasionally, and particularly within proper names, syllables will be compressed into a minimised number of blocks. An example of this is the word Xi'an, which in-lore has historically been written as ( Xi'an: 9xi2an(Xi'an) (Proper); ) but is now most commonly written as ( Xi'an: 9xyan2(Xy'an) (Proper); ).

It is important to note that pitch diacritics can fundamentally change the meaning of a word. It can be sometimes very tricky to distinguish these diacritics from each other.[1]


Note: The following kyexiin are written in xiinthle'a, the proper writing style or 'font' of the Xi'an language. Forms may vary in other writing styles.


SRX Basic Block Corner Simple pronunciation IPA
A a8 a 77a a in father ɑ (About this sound listen)
Ā aa8 aa 77aa extended a in father ɑː (About this sound listen)
 â c in but and cut ə (About this sound listen)/ʌ (About this sound listen)
O o8 o 77o o in cone and bone o (About this sound listen)
Ō oo8 oo 77oo extended o in cone and bone  (About this sound listen)
E e8 e 77e e in bet, set and let ɛ (About this sound listen)
Ē ee8 ee 77ee ay in day, say and slay  (About this sound listen) / e⁀ɪ
I i8 i 77i ee in spree only slightly shorter i (About this sound listen)
II ii8 ii 77ii ee in spree  (About this sound listen)
U u8 u 77u u in flu u (About this sound listen)
Ū uu8 uu 77u extended u in flu  (About this sound listen)


SRX Basic Block Corner Pronunciation
P p [p] (About this sound listen)
K k 7k [k] (About this sound listen)
T t [t] (About this sound listen)
S s [s] (About this sound listen)
H h [h] (About this sound listen)
M m 7m [m] (About this sound listen) in him /ˈhɪm/, alt: /əm/
N n 7n [n] (About this sound listen)
NG ng 7g [ŋ] (About this sound listen) in Song /sɒŋ/ alt: /sɔŋ/, /sɑŋ/ and singing /ˈsɪŋɪŋ/
TH th 7th [θ] (About this sound listen) or [ð] (About this sound listen) n with /wɪð/, thin /ˈθɪn/
L l 7l [l] (About this sound listen) in tell /tɛl/ or /tɛɫ/ , lit /ˈlɪt/ ; in dialect: [r] (About this sound listen)
R r 7r [ɾ] (About this sound listen) or [r] (About this sound listen) in ital. 'rosa' /ˈrɔ.za/
THL thl or thl6 (rare) [θ] (About this sound listen) + [l] (About this sound listen) = with love
X x [ʂ] (About this sound listen)
XY xy [ʃ] (About this sound listen)
CH ch [ʈʂ] (About this sound listen)
CHY No discret glyph. CH in "Cheat"
KL kl /kl/
KR kr /kɾ/ or /kr/
Y 7y [j] (About this sound listen) in PYU /pjuː/ , KYU /kjuː/, HYUN /hjuːn/, NYU /njuː/ or /nju/, mutant /ˈmjuːtənt/ or /ˈmjuʔn̩(t)/


SRX Basic Block Corner Variant Pronunciation
AO ao8 ao 77ao /ɑo/
ĀO aao8 aao 77aao /ɑːo/
OA oa8 oa 77oa /oɑ/
ŌA ooa8 ooa 77ooa /oːɑ/
AI ai8 ai 77ai ai6 /ɑi/
ĀI aai aai 77aai aai6 /ɑːi/
EA ea8 ea 77ea ea6 /ɛɑ/


SRX Basic Block Corner Pronunciation
UA ua8 ua 77ua /wɑ/
uaa8 uaa 77uaa /wɑː/
UO uo8 uo 77uo /wo/
uoo8 uoo 77uo /woː/
VU vu8 vu /vu/βu/ - Unclear whether this is the bilabial fricative or the labiodental fricative
UE ue8 ue 77ue /wɛ/
uee8 uee 7uee /wɛː/
UI ui8 ui 7ui /wi/
UII uii8 ui 7ui /wiː/
UAO uao8 uao 77uao /wɑo/
UĀO uaao8 uao 77uao /wɑːo/
UOA uoa8 uoa 77uoa /woɑ/
UŌA uooa8 uooa 77uooa /woːɑ/
UAI uai8 uai 77uai /wɑi/
UĀI uaai8 uai 77uai /wɑːi/
UEA uea /wɛɑ/


SRX Basic Block Corner Pronunciation
YA ya8 ya 77ya /ja/
yaa8 yaa 77yaa /ja:/
YO yo8 yo 77yo /jo/
yoo8 yoo 77yoo /jo:/
YU yu8 yu 77yu /ju/
yuu8 yuu 77yuu /ju:/
YE ye8 ye 77ye /yɛ/
yuu8 yuu 77yuu /yɛ:/
YI yi8 yi 77yi /ji/
YII yii8 yii 77yii /jiː/
YAO yao8 yao 77yao /jɑo/
YĀO yaao8 yaao 77yaao /jɑːo/
YOA yoa8 yoa 77yoa /joɑ/
YŌA yooa8 yooa 77yooa /joːɑ/
YAI yai8 yai 77yai /jɑi/
YĀI yaai8 yaai 77yaai /jɑːi/
YEA yea /jɛɑ/

Special glyphs

SRX Glyph Pronunciation
UTH uth
E'E e2e
0 (Vowel muting)


SRX Basic Pronunciation SRX Basic Pronunciation
1 1 6 6
2 2 7 7
3 3 8 8
4 4 9 9
5 5 0 0


Symbol Notes
. Full stop
, Pause
) Epenthesis
? Question mark
" " Quotation marks

Pitch and 'Capitalisation'

These examples all use the character a as the example.

Symbol Notes
9a Proper name, i.e. Capitalisation
a1 Low pitch
a3 High pitch
a2 Normal Fall
4a5 Normal Rise
4a3 Rise-to-high
a2 a1 Fall-to-low
4a2 Rise-to-fall

See also


  1. An Overview of the Xi'an Language for Diplomats