Tendor, an activist and a musician, who first started advocating word separation in written Tibetan a year ago, has been writing with word separation at his bilingual blog www.yarlungraging.com. Although “aerated” Tibetan script may look startling at first, this minor change has the capacity to turn the chore of reading into a pleasure.
I believe that a study by the Tibetan Department of Education or a similar institution should formally assess the merits of word separation. A top-down implementation of an aerated writing system in the Tibetan schools, starting with the elementary classes and moving up to the higher grades, can bring about the immediate revival and long-term survival of the Tibetan language. Imagine if ten years from now, Tibetan students can read Tibetan with the same ease with which they can speak it, and children crave and nag for Tibetan language comic books! Such a future is certainly possible if we adopt word separation today, making the same leap that almost all other literate cultures have already made.
If this top-down implementation sounds too radical at this time, it might be more realistic to urge a bottom-up initiative that can gradually spread among the Tibetan public. To this end, I ask bloggers and writers in and outside Tibet to experiment with aerated script, to add space between words.
Written Tibetan can remain hallowed and privileged, or it can be accessible and popular. Since the time of Emperor Songtsen Gampo, it has been written Tibetan, bod-yig, that has bound the three provinces together, bod-yig that has preserved the intrinsic unity of the Tibetan people through imperial fragmentation and governmental dissolution. Bod-yig, Sambhota’s legacy to all Tibetans, has saved us time and again. Now it’s time for us to save this legacy. Future generations will thank us for allowing our words to breathe and to live.