The Tibetan Phrasebook – Greetings and Pleasantries

The Tibetan Phrasebook Greetings & Pleasantries

Our ‘Tibetan Phrasebook’ series of Blog articles are written to provide you with a quick reference when travelling in Tibet. We hope you enjoy them!

The Tibetan Phrasebook - Greetings and Pleasantries

Before we delve deeper into Greetings and Pleasantries in Tibet we should cover what the region is actually known as to the Tibetan people. This will familiarize you with their approach to their language along with their unique form of writing – an abugida sanskrit.

The Name of Tibet

The Tibetan name for their land is ‘Bod’ which when written in Tibetan appears as:

བོད་

It quite literally means ‘Tibet’, more specifically the ‘Tibetan Plateau’ in the region of Lhasa the Capital.

The Written Language of Tibet

Tibetans refer to their written language in two forms. The printed form is named ‘uchen script’ while their hand-written form used in everyday writing is named ‘umê script’. The Tibetans write the name of their language this way:

བོད་ཡིག་

You will immediatly notice the first character is the name for Tibet ‘Bod’ followed by the second character meaning ‘written or writing’. Providing context, we simply translate that as ‘Written Tibetan’. 

The Spoken Language of Tibet

The Tibetan people refer to their spoken form of Tibetan as ‘Bod Skad’ quite literally meaning ‘Tibet Voice/Language’. Please see how this written below:

བོད་སྐད་ 

As I’m sure you’ve quickly realised from the above, the Tibetan language is really quite literal! There are regional dialects spoken, much like any country, so for the sake of consistency we will be using the most useful form to a tourist throughout this blog article – Lhasa Tibetan.

Greetings in Tibetan

The most important greetings you should know when visiting Tibet alongside their written counterparts are below.
 
One point to note, there are many ways to say ‘Goodbye’ in Tibetan much like there is in English so ask your guide at the time which phrase is most appropriate:
 
English
Tibetan
Hello
My name is …
བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས། (tashi delek)
ངའི་མིང་ལ་ … རེད། (ngay minglâ … ray)
Welcome
ཕེབས་པར་དགའ་བསུ་ཞུ། (heb-bar kaa-su-shu)
Good morning 
སྔ་དྲོ་བདེ་ལེགས། (nga-to delek)
Good afternoon 
ཕྱི་དྲོ་བདེ་ལེགས། (chito delek)
Good evening 
དགོང་དྲོ་བདེ་ལེགས། (gong-to delek)
Goodbye                                       
ག་ལེར་ཕེབས་། (kha-leh phe) – said by person leaving
ག་
(ལེར་བཞུགས་། (kha-leh shu) – said by person staying
ད་འགྲོ་རན་ཤག། (ta do-ran-sha) – it’s time to go
ང་ཚོ་སྐྱིད་པོ་བྱུང་། (nga-tso kyipo chung) – we had a good time
སང་ཉིན་མཇལ་ཡོང་། (sânyi jay-yong) – see you tomorrow
རྗེས་མ་མཇལ་ཡོང་། (jema jay-yong) – see you later
ཡང་སྐྱར་ཕེབས་རོགས་ཨ། (yâng-kya pheb-ro-ah) bye
ཡང་སྐྱར་ཕེབས་རོགས་གནང། (yâng-kya pheb-ro-nang) – please come again

Pleasantries in Tibetan

The most important pleasantries you should know when visiting Tibet alongside their written counterparts are below:
 
English                           
Tibetan
Please
སྐུ་མཁྱེན (ku-chi)
Thank you
ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཆེ་། (tujay-chay)
ཐུགས་རྗེཞེ་དྲག་ཆེ་། (tujay shita-chay)
Excuse me
དགོངས་དག བཟོད་དུ་གསོལ། ཐུགས་རྗེ་གཟིགས།
(gong-da. sö du sö. thu-je-sik)
Sorry
ཀོང་དགས་། (gong-da)
Good luck
བྱ་བ་ལམ་འགྲོ་ཡོང་བར་ཤོག (cha-wa lam-to yong-bar-shok)
Have a nice day
ཉིན་མོ་བདེ་ལེགས། (nyinmo delek)
Bon appetit
ཞལ་ལག་ཉེས་པོ་གནང་རོགས། (shelak nyebo nang-rok)
Bon voyage
འགྲུལ་བཞུད་བདེ་བར་ཤོག (tül-shü de bar shok)

Useful Words and Phrases in Tibetan

Some of the most useful words and phrases you should know when visiting Tibet alongside their written counterparts are below.
 
One point to note, there is no singular word for ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ in Tibet, it depends on the circumstance so ask your guide at the time for which one is most appropriate:
 
English                        
Tibetan
Yes
(རེད།) hon, ray, du, yawray, gaw
No
maray, mindu, yaw-mâray, mögaw
Please write it downཡིག་ཐོག་ཏུ་འགོད་རོགས་ཐུགས་རྗེ་གཟིགས། (yi thok tu kö rok thu-je-sik)
How do you say … in Tibetan?… གང་འདྲས་ལབ་དགོས་རེད། (… kâday lâb gaw ray?)
Where’s the toilet / bathroom?གསང་སྤྱོ་ག་པར་ཡོད་རེད། (sang-chö ka-bar yo-re)
How much is this?འདིར་གོང་ག་ཚད་རེད། (dir gong kâtsay ray?)
Cheers! (toast when drinking)གཟུགས་པོ་བདེ་ཐང་། (suk-bo de-thang)
New Year Greetings༄༅།།ལོ་གསར་ལ་བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས་ཞུ། (Losar La Tashi Delek)

Emergency Phrases

Tibet is one of the safest countries on earth for tourists, being a pre-arranged tour holiday your Guide(s) would have prepared well ahead of time all the places you will visit and experiences you will enjoy. However for your peace of mind, we have compiled a list of key phrases to use in an emergency:
 
English                           
Tibetan
Help!
རོགས་གནང་དང་། (rog nâng-da)
Stop!
ཁ་བཀག་དང། (ga ka-da)
Go away!ཕར་རྒྱུགས། (phar gyu)
Leave me alone!ང་རང་གཅིག་པོ་འཇོག་རོགས། (nga-rang chik-bo jok-rok)
Fire!མེ་འབར་གྱིས་། (may ba-giy!)
Call the police!སྐོར་སྲུང་བ་སྐད་གཏོང་དང་།
(korsung-wa kay tong-da!)
Where is the nearest hospital?(Taknyishoe kyi menkang ghapar yore?)
I have diarrhea(Drocok shekyi duk)

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