REPORT ON THE CURRENT STATUS OF
UNITED NATIONS ROMANIZATION SYSTEMS FOR GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES
Compiled by the UNGEGN Working Group on Romanization Systems
Version 2.2, January 2003
No romanization systems for Dzongkha have been put forward at the United Nations conferences on the standardization of geographical names or at sessions of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names.
In 1991 the first phonological romanization for Dzongkha was introduced by the Dzongkha Development Commission. Roman Dzongkha as it was called, was intended to accurately and adequately represent the phonology of the living language and to serve as a standard for representing Dzongkha names and words in the international media. However, the system was not implemented, and later a simplified version of Roman Dzongkha was devised by the same Commission. Bhutan's Ministry of Home Affairs approved the implementation of Roman Dzongkha on May 29, 1997 and made it mandatory for all government institutions to use standardized spellings of geographical names and the guidelines for romanization.
Dzongkha uses an alphasyllabic script (Uchen) which occurs in two main forms. The printed or uncial writing (tshum) is actually the same as is used in Tibetan. But Bhutanese longhand writing (formal version, jotshum, and cursive version, joyi) is unique to Dzongkha, making ample use of ligatures. Below only the printed form of characters is presented, for longhand writing one should refer to Dzongkha language manuals (See e.g. Dzongkha by George van Driem with the collaboration of Karma Tshering of Gaselô. Research School CNWS, School of Asian, African, and Amerindian Studies. Leiden, The Netherlands 1998.). Relationship between script and pronunciation is complex and romanized names cannot be reverted to their original script forms.
The official romanization (1997) is as follows (adapted from Samples for Geographical names of Bhutan in dzongkha and roman dzongkha with brief Guidelines. Dzongkha Development Commission, Royal Government of Bhutan, June 1997.).
I. Consonant characters
II. Syllable-initial consonant combinations
The list is not complete. Mainly those romanized differently from general rules are given. See also notes to the main table and note 1 at the end.
III. Vowel characters (ཀ stands for any consonant character)
IV. Syllable endings (suffixes)
|1||ཀ||g, k or not romanized|
|2||ང||ng, or not romanized|
|3||ད||not romanized, except thed|
|4||ན||n, or not romanized|
|8||ར||r, or not romanized|
|9||ལ||l, or not romanized|