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a33 la33 la21 le33 * - welcome to the Naxi Script Resource Centre!

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The Naxi Dongba script is a logographic (customarily called pictographic) script used primarily by the Dongba (Chinese dongba 东巴, Naxi  to33 mba21)  priests of the Naxi nationality, who live in and around the city of Lijiang in Yunnan province, China. Whilst it has teetered on the edge of extinction for some years, the script is undergoing a revival of sorts in schools and tourist sites around Lijiang.

* The Naxi have no casual greeting akin to the English ‘hello’. Instead, the most common greeting is ‘a33 la33 la21 le33‘, which can be translated as ‘are you well?’. This is not an invitation to talk about one’s physical well-being in any great depth, but instead as an informal greeting. The Naxi Dongba script here is entirely phonetic in nature; the character is used as a loanword to reflect the Naxi le33, which is a sentence particle that in this case operates like the Chinese ma , a question particle, but in some other cases can be equated more accurately to the Chinese le . The characters  are used as phonetic loan characters to express the Naxi ‘la33 la21‘, which means ‘healthy’. The  a33 is an auxiliary particle that has no explicit meaning in this construction.