ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SMS in Dzongkha

Is this the world's first Dzongkha-enabled smartphone? Perhaps. I've been playing recently with the Nokia N900, a smartphone cum mobile computer running Linux. After installing a Dzongkha font (Jomolhari, created by Chris Fynn) and tweaking the on-screen keyboard, the prototype was complete. I was then able to surf Dzongkha-enabled websites, read and write Dzongkha emails, and even send text messages (SMS) in Dzongkha. This is not a product, but rather a proof-of-concept: Dzongkha can be used on existing mobile devices. Now let's wait for one of the mobile operators to offer a daily zakar SMS service in Dzongkha...

Sending an SMS in Dzongkha

Surfing the DDC's website


  1. interesting. would it be possible on windows mobile phones?

  2. It is a great piece of News.
    Anyways whom did you sent your first Dzoongkha SMS? Can your receiver read it? I mean will it not appear box box box all the way...
    I think the receiver may also need the same features as your phone

  3. While there are a few phones and mobile devices that can display Tibetan characters after some serious tweaking (for example, see here, I am not aware of any other phone that supports a Dzongkha Unicode keyboard.

    As most phones still do not support the rather complicated rendering of Dzongkha, SMS messages on most phones will display as a series of boxes.

  4. I have heard that there are Phones in China that support writing and reading sms in Tibetan. They could be used for Dzongkha too.

    Even if you can configure your own phone to input Dzongkha texts, the problem would be that most receivers won't be able to see it on their phones. For the time being, the best would be to use English letters to type your message in Dzongkha. "Wai, chhe ga ti yoep mo? Na nga be sa joba sho".

  5. @Anonymous: Yes, any phone that can read & write Tibetan can be used for sending Dzongkha SMSes. And I am sure that the Chinese phones will be cheaper than the Nokia N900. However, there are at least two advantages to using the N900 open-platform approach:
    1. The keyboard layout is programmable, and thus can be made to be similar to the standard Dzongkga keyboard layout, as opposed to the Chinese standard.
    2. The Chinese use a different standard for encoding Tibetan characters ("pre-composed characters"). If the Chinese phones are using this standard, they will not be able to display Dzongkha Unicode text without special conversion.

  6. they did not design it for symbian os(smartphone software)

  7. i have the same mobile phone N900.
    could you show me how to download Dzongkha pa in the device?
    thank you very much

  8. @zompo, to use Dzongkha, you just need to install the ukeyboard package. See here


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