Leke script

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Script type
LanguagesEastern Pwo
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Leke (364), ​Leke

The Leke script, previously known as Karen Chicken Scratch script, is an abugida used to write the Pwo Karen language and Sgaw language in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand. It has 25 consonants, 17 vowels and 3 tones. The script also has a unique set of numerals and punctuation, such as a full stop (period) and a comma.

Leke is a phonemic script: words are written the way they are pronounced. In modern Leke script, consonants are written first, then the vowels and tones are written around them. In text encoding, the vowels of a syllable always follow the consonant, even the two vowels dwia thwai and ri yah, though they're written to the left of the consonant.


According to traditional Karen history, the Leke script was known as the Karen Chicken Scratch script. Why the earlier older Karen people was named this script as Chicken Scratch is because the story was told from generation to generation. It's said the first human lived in this planet is God's Ariya and his Seven sons in this world.


The Leke script was developed between 1830 and 1860 and is used by members of the millenarian Leke sect of Buddhism. It is believed to have borrowed from ancient Mon, based on the shapes and functions of older versions of the Burmese script.[1] The script is also used by other Buddhists, Christians, and members of the unique Ariya religion. According to the chief Leke priest, there are over 3,200 trained teachers of the alphabet.

Other scripts are also used by the Leke, including varieties of the Mon and Burmese alphabets, and refugees in Thailand have created a Thai alphabet, which is in limited use.[2]

Pwo Karen Leke script Pronunciation Translate
Pwo Karen Leke script-Aw So La Sik.svg Aw So La Sik Hello


  1. ^ "N4438: Revised proposal to add the Leke Script in the SMP of the UCS" (PDF). Working Group Document, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 and UTC. 2013-04-26.
  2. ^ http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docskaren/Karen%20Heritage%20Web/pdf/Lehkai.pdf[bare URL PDF]