Pollard Script

Pollard Script

The Pollard script, which is also known as Pollard Miao or Miao, was devised in 1905 by Samuel Pollard (1864-1915), a British missionary, with help from Yang Yage and Li Shitifan. Before Pollard came along, the A-Hmao language, when written at all, was written with Chinese characters. Pollard Miao underwent many changes and revisions and only became stable in 1936, when a translation of the New Testament was published in the Pollard script.
The authorities in Beijing were not too keen on a writing system invented by a foreign missionary and in 1957 they introduced an alternative system based on Hànyŭ Pīnyīn. This was not popular among the A-Hmao people, who were already familiar with the Pollard system.
Various efforts have been made to improve Pollard Miao writing, which inadequately represents the phonetics and tones of A-Hmao and is not ideal for writing Chinese loan words. A semi-official 'reformed' Pollard script has been in use since 1988, along with the older version of the script, and the pīnyīn version.

Notable features

  • Type of writing system: abugida with alphabetic elements
  • Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines
  • Vowels (finals) are written in small letters around the consonants (initials). The positioning of the vowels indicates the tone of a syllable. An alternative system of tone indication is used in the 1988 version of the script.

Used to write

A-Hmao, a Hmong-Mien language spoken by about 300,000 people in Guizhou and Yunnan provinces in southern China. This language is also known as Large Flowery Miao or 大花苗 (dàhuāmiáo) in Chinese.
Lipo (Lolopo / Lolongo), a member of the Lolo branch of Tibeto-Burman languages spoken in China, Burma, India and Thailand by about 420,000 people.
Sichuan Miao, or Sichuan-Guizhou-Yunnan Miao, a Hmong-Mien language spoken in Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan in China.
Nasu or Eastern Yi, a member of the Lolo branch of Tibeto-Burman languages spoken in Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan in China by about 800,000 people.

Pollard script

This chart shows the Pollard script with the Pinyin equivalents of each letter and IPA transcriptions of the pronunciation.
Pollard Miao initials

Pollard Miao initials

Tone indication

Pollard Miao initials


  • When the initials zh, ch, nzh, nch and sh are followed by the final i or any diphthong beginning with i the Pinyin equivalents become j, q, nj, nq and x respectively.
  • In Pinyin tones are indicated by letters added to the ends of words. The numbers under the tones indicate the tone contours: 1 = low and 5 = high, so 11 is a low level tone, 55 is a high level tone, and 24 is a rising tone.  

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