The Oirat script was a historic, alphabetic writing system developed from Mongolian and Uyghur by a man named Zaya Pandita Oktorguin Dalai in 1648. Because the spoken languages using the Mongolian script had long since evolved to the point at which Mongolian was no longer a proper representation, a more phonetic alternative was required. Oirat, the "clear" script, filled this role. It was used throughout Mongolia, and is still preserved in isolated regions of Turkestan. It shared with Mongolian certain distinctive features. It was written in cursive fashion with spaces between words, vertically, reading from left to right. Certain characters forced separation within a word. Each character had initial, medial, and final forms. All initial vowels, reflecting practice extending far back to Aramaic and Hebrew origins, were prefaced with an aleph.

The differences between Oirat and Mongolian were small, but vastly improved comprehension and accuracy of the script. Characters which had represented multiple phonetic values in Mongolian were marked with diacritics in Oirat for differentiation. Initial and final forms which differed substantially from their medial equivalents were eliminated, and most letters thus changed very little from initial to medial to final forms. The old Turkish practice of using context clues and consonant modifications to indicate vowel harmony was abandoned as each vowel value, front or back, was given its own letter. Short vowels were consistantly written, and long vowels marked either through doubling (like in Finnish) or a diacritic (like in Hungarian). Some common diphthongs also received their own diacritics. Palatization was fully written, and archaic characters for which no language written in Mongolian any longer had a use were eliminated. In deferance to written traditions extending from the old use of Uyghur, Oirat separated agglutanative endings from the nouns they modified so that they were written like the post-positional particles of Japanese. In the actual spoken languages, these endings were inseperable from the word they modified, a property shared throughout Uralic-Altaic languages. The end result was a highly phonetic, accurate representation of Mongolian and other Altaic languages.


Daniels, Peter T., Bright, William. The World's Writing Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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