Tibetan script is thought to have been invented by Thonmi Sambhota a long time ago. According to Tibetan tradition, King Songtsen Gampo sent Thonmi Sambhota to India in 632 with other young people to learn an alphabet that would become the Devanagari alphabet now used in Sanskrit, Pali, Hindi and Nepalese. The model chosen was the Kashmiri script. It seems astonishing that in the space of just a few decades, not only was the Tibetan alphabet invented, but the script was adapted to the Tibetan language with a highly complex orthography and used to write documents.
At the time, the Tibetans were extremely attracted by Buddhism in India and decided to introduce the Buddha’s dharma to Tibet. Starting with Thonmi Sambhota, he translated all the main Buddhist texts available in Sanskrit. Today, it is thought that Tibetans have more resources for learning Mahayana Buddhism than any other language. This is why many people around the world aspire to learn the Tibetan language for one reason.
Apart from these historical elements, the Tibetan language itself is a beautiful language. It contains seven different beautiful fonts that appear to be completely different scripts and each script has a story behind how it was created. Tibetans consider Tibetan letters to be very holy, which is why nobody throws away paper containing Tibetan letters. Even if someone accidentally knocks a book out of his hands, he quickly picks it up and puts it on his head as a sign of apology.
Tibetan traditions and language are inextricably linked to Tibetan Buddhism. If you travel to Tibet and other Tibetan societies around the world, particularly in Asian countries, you will discover that Tibetan cultures are immensely influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. Like prayer flags, scarves, manicure stones and so on, they all have Buddhist roots.
It’s probably the most respectful language in the world because it has such an impact on religion. There is an honorific form for every word, and there is even a certain politeness in using them in everyday conversation. It’s hard to find a single word without an honorific form. Almost every word has several forms to express respect. For example, the honorific forms of the general word “food” (“kha lag”) are “xal lag” and “sol tsig”. So “kha lag” means food in general, but we use “xal lag” and “sol tsig” instead of “kha lag” to express ourselves more politely in conversation.
It’s always great fun to learn a new language and discover a new culture. And the aim of these Tibetan language courses is to offer you a dynamic, tailor-made journey in the Tibetan language that will allow you to practise and acquire practical knowledge. We believe that the best way to do this is to be accompanied by a native Tibetan teacher and in a one-to-one format where you are the only student in the class to personalise the learning experience.