SIL Nepal

Orthography (Alphabet) Development


Before literacy programs, literature, and dictionaries can be developed, alphabet (orthographies) need to be established and standardized.

SIL has developed a participatory orthography development process that enables communities, with the help of trained linguists, to develop an alphabet and spelling rules within a two-week workshop. Participants leave with a draft writer’s guide for further testing and input. After testing and receiving input from the language community, revisions are made at a review meeting and the orthography is finalized.

After the orthography is finalized for a language, two local facilitators are trained to lead orthography promotion classes in their language area. These two-day classes give an introduction to people on how to read and write the mother tongue. As the participants are already fluent readers of Nepali, they are not learning literacy skills per se, but how to apply their literacy skills to their own mother tongue. These classes have proven very popular and effective.


Orthography Workshops and Distribution (in partnership with MTCN - 2078-79)

Kathariya Tharu 

  • Kathariya Tharu Orthography Publication (Feb. 2022) - 200 copies of the Kathariya Tharu Orthography published and Kathariya Samaj Nepal distributed 150 copies of the orthography booklets.

Western Magar

  • Western Magar Orthography Workshop (Mar. 28-29, 2022) - Thirteen participants from Tanahu, Palpa Chitwan, and Gorkha participated in the workshop at MTCN, with consultation from linguist, Dr. Netramani Dumi Rai. Sixty copies of orthography draft booklets were printed and sent to the community members for field testing. 
  • Western Magar Orthography Follow up and Review - Western Magar Orthography has been developed as the adopted version of the Eastern Magar orthography with some modifications with the representation of western varieties. This adopted version has been helpful for Western Magar users. The adopted version of the writing guide is ready as a pdf file and shareable as a soft copy. 


  • Danuwar Orthography Publication and Distribution (May 2022) - 200 copies of the Danuwar orthography were published. 150 copies of the Danuwar Orthography booklets were distributed to the Danuwar Jaagaran Samittee, which organized a book launch program in Sindhuli, including the recently elected chairperson of the municipality. The orthography booklets were distributed to different branch offices of the Danuwar community organization. 
  • Danuwar Orthography Review Workshop (Nov. 30, 2021) - Seven community members from Sindhuli gave their feedback while revieing the draft of the Danuwar orthograpy. This has helped MTCN prepare promotional work and begin pre-publication work. 
  • Danuwar Orthography Workshop (Oct. 28-29, 2021) - Twelve participants from Sindhuli, Siraha, and Udaypur were involved in the orthography workshop. The drafted orthography booklets were printed and sent to community members for field testing. 

Maikoti Kham

  • Maikoti Kham Orthography Review Meeting (Nov. 17, 2021) - Eight participants from Maikot and Takasera met at Rukum Khalanga to share their feedback and suggestion for the orthography booklets.

Kudux (Uranw)

  • Kudux (Uranw) Orthography Publication (March 2022) - 200 copies of Kudux (Uranw) Orthography was published and Nepal Uranw Adibashi Janjati Pratisthan will be responsible for distributing the orthography booklets in their communtiy.  
  • Kudux (Uranw) Orthography Review Meeting (Aug. 7, 2021) - Ten people reviewed the Uranw orthography in Sunsari. Participants gave their feedback on grammatical parts of the orthography and it was revised accordingly. 
  • Gamal Orthography Review Meeting (July 28, 2021) - Eight participants from Rolpa shared their feedback while reviewing the orthography booklets. The publication document is ready as a pdf file and interested people can access it as a soft copy. 

Orthography Promotion Classes (in partnership with HIS Nepal - 2078-79)

1,844 people directly benefited from the orthography promotion classes conducted for 6 languages in 2078-79. 


  • Kathariya Tharu: 269 participants (eight classes) 
  • Kudux (Uranw): 240 participants (eight classes)
  • Gamal Kham: 326 participants (ten classes)
  • Danuwar: 336 participants (ten classes)
  • Maikot Kham: 136 participants (five classes) and 316 participants in Takasera (ten classes)
  • Chepang: 221 participants (seven classes)