Tibeto-Kanauri languages

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Bodic, Bodish–Himalayish
Western Tibeto-Burman
Nepal, Tibet, and neighboring areas
Linguistic classification Sino-Tibetan
  • Tibeto-Kanauri
Glottolog bodi1256 [1]

The Tibeto-Kanauri languages, also called Bodic, Bodish–Himalayish, and Western Tibeto-Burman, are a proposed intermediate level of classification of the Sino-Tibetan languages, centered on the Tibetic languages and the Kinnauri dialect cluster. The conception of the relationship, or if it is even a valid group, varies between researchers.


Conceptions of Tibeto-Kanauri

Western Tibeto-Burman languages, largely following Thurgood and La Polla (2003). [2]

Benedict (1972) originally posited the Tibeto-Kanauri aka Bodish–Himalayish relationship, but had a more expansive conception of Himalayish than generally found today, including Qiangic, Magaric, and Lepcha. Within Benedict's conception, Tibeto-Kanauri is one of seven linguistic nuclei, or centers of gravity along a spectrum, within Tibeto-Burman languages. The center-most nucleus identified by Benedict is the Jingpho language (including perhaps the Kachin–Luic and Tamangic languages); other peripheral nuclei besides Tibeto-Kanauri include the Kiranti languages (Bahing–Vayu and perhaps the Newar language); the Tani languages; the Bodo–Garo languages and perhaps the Konyak languages); the Kukish languages (Kuki–Naga plus perhaps the Karbi language, the Meitei language and the Mru language); and the Burmish languages (Lolo-Burmese languages, perhaps also the Nung language and Trung). [3]

Matisoff (1978, 2003) largely follows Benedict's scheme, stressing the teleological value of identifying related characteristics over mapping detailed family trees in the study of Tibeto-Burman and Sino-Tibetan languages. Matisoff includes Bodish and West Himalayish with the Lepcha language as a third branch. He unites these at a higher level with Mahakiranti as Himalayish. [4] [5]

Van Driem (2001) notes that the Bodish, West Himalayish, and Tamangic languages (but not Benedict's other families) appear to have a common origin. [6]

Bradley (1997) takes much the same approach but words things differently: he incorporates West Himalayish and Tamangic as branches within his "Bodish", which thus becomes close to Tibeto-Kanauri. This and his Himalayan family[ same as Mahakiranti? ] constitute his Bodic family. [7]

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Tani, is a branch of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken mostly in Arunachal Pradesh, India and neighboring regions.

George van Driem

George (Sjors) van Driem is a Dutch linguist at the University of Bern, where he is the chair of Historical Linguistics and directs the Linguistics Institute.

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The Kiranti languages are a major family of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in Nepal and India by the Kirati people.

The Sal languages are a branch of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in eastern India, parts of Bangladesh, and Burma.

The Jingpho-Luish, Jingpho-Asakian, Kachin–Luic, or Kachinic languages are a group of Sino-Tibetan languages belonging the Sal branch. They are spoken in eastern India and Burma, and consist of the Jingpho language and the Luish languages Sak, Kadu, Ganan, Andro, Sengmai, and Chairel. Ethnologue and Glottolog include the extinct or nearly extinct Taman language in the Jingpo branch, but Huziwara (2016) considers it to be unclassified within Tibeto-Burman.

Bodish, named for the Tibetan ethnonym Bod, is a proposed grouping consisting of the Tibetic languages and associated Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in Tibet, North India, Nepal, Bhutan, and North Pakistan. It has not been demonstrated that all these languages form a clade, characterized by shared innovations, within Sino-Tibetan.

The West Himalayish languages, also known as Almora and Kanauric, are a family of Sino-Tibetan languages centered in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and across the border into Nepal. LaPolla (2003) proposes that the West Himalayish languages may be part of a larger "Rung" group.

The Tamangic languages, TGTM languages, or West Bodish languages, are a family of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in the Himalayas of Nepal. They are called "West Bodish" by Bradley (1997), from Bod, the native term for Tibet. TGTM stands for Tamang-Gurung-Thakali-Manang.

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The Baram–Thangmi languages, Baram and Thangmi are Tibeto-Burman languages spoken in Nepal. They are classified as part of the Newaric branch by van Driem (2003) and Turin (2004), who view Newar as being most closely related to Baram–Thangmi.

Proto-Tibeto-Burman is the reconstructed ancestor of the Tibeto-Burman languages, that is, the Sino-Tibetan languages except for Chinese. An initial reconstruction was produced by Paul K. Benedict and since refined by James Matisoff. Several other researchers argue that the Tibeto-Burman languages sans Chinese do not constitute a monophyletic group within Sino-Tibetan, and therefore that Proto-Tibeto-Burman was the same language as Proto-Sino-Tibetan.

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ʼOle, also called ʼOlekha or Black Mountain Monpa, is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken by about 1,000 people in the Black Mountains of Wangdue Phodrang and Trongsa Districts in western Bhutan. The term ʼOle refers to a clan of speakers.

The Luish, Asakian, or Sak languages are a group of Sino-Tibetan languages belonging to the Sal branch. They are spoken in Burma and Bangladesh, and consist of the Sak, Kadu, and Ganan languages. In recent years, Luish languages have been influenced by Burmese and Chakma.

Mruic or Mru–Hkongso is a small group of Sino-Tibetan languages consisting of two poorly attested languages, Mru and Anu-Hkongso. Their relationship within Sino-Tibetan is unclear.

The East Asian languages are a language family first proposed by linguist Stanley Starosta in 2001. The proposal has also since been adopted by other linguists such as George van Driem. It comprises of most languages situated within East and Southeast Asia, who are believed to have derived from a common proto-language located within now eastern China, specifically at the North China Plain.


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bodic". Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Thurgood, Graham; LaPolla, Randy J. (ed.s) (2003). Sino-Tibetan Languages. London: Routledge. ISBN   0-7007-1129-5.
  3. Benedict, Paul K. (1972). Sino-Tibetan: a Conspectus. Princeton-Cambridge Studies in Chinese Linguistics. 2. CUP Archive. pp. 4–11.
  4. Matisoff, James A. (1978). Variational semantics in Tibeto-Burman: The "Organic" Approach to Linguistic Comparison. Occasional papers, Wolfenden Society on Tibeto-Burman Linguistics. 6. Institute for the Study of Human Issues. ISBN   0-915980-85-1.
  5. Matisoff, James A. (2003). Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: System and Philosophy of Sino-Tibetan Reconstruction. University of California Publications in Linguistics. 135. University of California Press. pp. 1–9. ISBN   0-520-09843-9.
  6. van Driem, George (2001). Languages of the Himalayas: an Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region: Containing an Introduction to the Symbiotic Theory of Language. Handbuch der Orientalistik. Zweite Abteilung, Indien. 10. BRILL. ISBN   90-04-10390-2.
  7. Bradley, David (1997). Tibeto-Burman Languages of the Himalayas. Occasional Papers in South-East Asian linguistics. Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. ISBN   0-85883-456-1.

Further reading