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Himalayan Linguistics is a free peer-reviewed web journal and archive devoted to the study of the languages of the Himalayas.

Archives and Field Reports

Issue cover

Citations to grammars, dictionaries, and text collections published in the Himalayan Linguistics Archive Series will be by the number, in order of publication. The journal and the archive series will maintain their own numbering systems. Formal citation is by year of acceptance and number as follows:

Lahaussois, Aimee. 2003. 'Thulung Rai.' Himalayan Linguistics Archive 1.1-25.

Archives

A Kharia-English Lexicon

Kharia is a South Munda language spoken primarily in the southwestern districts of the state of Jharkhand in central eastern India, as well as in the adjacent districts in eastern Chattisgarh and northwestern Orissa. It is also spoken in Assam, Tripura, West Bengal, Nepal and elsewhere. Its closest relative is Juang, spoken in Orissa. Kharia is the only South Munda language spoken in Jharkhand and is also the only South Munda language spoken in the direct vicinity of the North Munda languages, most notably Mundari, which is spoken in many of the same villages as Kharia in the more southerly Kharia-speaking areas, as well as the North Dravidian language Kurux, found more to the north.

The present study is a revision of the second volume of my Habilitationsschrift or “professorial dissertation” which was submitted at the University of Osnabrück in 2006 (Peterson, 2006). Volume I of that three-volume study was an extensive grammar, which is currently being reviewed (in revised form) for publication, while Volume III consisted of a collection of texts, glossed, annotated and translated into English.

This Kharia-English lexicon contains all of the morphemes found in the texts in Volume III of that study as well as many which occurred in conversations with native speakers. In addition, it contains all of the morphemes found in the texts in Pinnow (1965a; b), in the first half of the texts in Kerkeʈʈā (1990), as well as in the Kharia-English lexicon in Biligiri (1965). There are also a few entries from Roy & Roy (1937) and Malhotra (1982).

Koyi Rai: An Initial Grammatical Sketch

Koyi Rai is a previously undescribed language of the Kiranti group of the Himalayan branch of Tibeto-Burman. Koyi, also referred to by speakers as Koyu or Kohi, is spoken in the Khotang district in Eastern Nepal, near the headwaters of the Rawa Khola, in the villages of Sungdel and, to a lesser extent, Dipsung. There are also some speakers in the villages of Lethang and Bharauli in the Tarai. My work was carried out in the Kathmandu Valley, political conditions at the time (2004) not being well-suited to fieldwork in the villages. There are said to be 2~3000 speakers.

According to van Driem (2001: 711), the homeland of the Koyi is the Upper Dudh Kosi area, along with Khaling and Dumi, and the languages share a subgrouping: “Kohi [sic], Dumi and Khaling show shared phonological innovations ...”. Koyi appears to be quite distinct from Dumi, despite rumors of mutual intelligibility (van Driem 2001: 711). There are a number of lexical similarities between the two languages (despite rather different phonological inventories), but many morphological markers are different. Michailovsky’s (MS c) initial reconstruction work on the Kiranti languages suggests that the same sound change which distinguishes Thulung from other Western and Central Kiranti languages is also found in Koyi. This sound change is *p > b, and is found in only these two languages among those which are geographically close, the reflex in Hayu, Bahing, Sunwar, Dumi and Khaling being p. The following set exemplifies the initial b in Thulung and Koyi: ‘flower’ Hayu puŋmi, Bahing p h , Sunwar p h u:, Dumi puma, Khaling pungme, but Thulung buŋma and Koyi buwa.

Clearly, Kiranti subgrouping and the position of Koyi remain to be clarified.

Notes on Kusunda Grammar: A language isolate of Nepal

The Kusundas, also known as Ban Rajas "Kings of the Forest", first came to the attention of the Western world in 1848 when Brian Hodgson, the British Resident to the Court of Nepal, introduced them in an article in the "Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal", On the Chepang and Kusunda tribes of Nepal. The assumed affinity between Kusunda and Chepang was based on their similar lifestyles -- both were hunter-gatherer groups -- and the error has persisted to the present day.

In fact, Kusunda is a linguistic isolate, very likely the sole survivor of an ancient aboriginal population once inhabiting the sub-Himalayan regions before the arrival of Tibeto-Burman and Indo-Aryan speaking peoples. Though reported in the Ethnologue and other sources as extinct since 1985, three speakers were discovered in 2004, and the present grammar is based on almost three months of intensive research with them. This is the first comprehensive grammatical treatment of the language.

Chantyal Discourses

The Chantyal people are a relatively small ethnic group, numbering no more than 10,000. They can be divided into two groups, the Myagdi Chantyal and the Baglung Chantyal, named for the districts they inhabit within the Dhaulagiri Zone of central Nepal. Untill the recent immigration to towns and cities, the interaction between the two groups was, in general, quite limited. The Baglung Chantyal ceased to speak the Chantyal language some time in the 19th century and now know only the national language, Nepali; the majority of the Myagdi Chantyal continue to speak Chantyal in their home villages. There are approximately 2000 or so who still speak the Chantyal language.

Thulung Rai

This typological overview of Thulung Rai (Eastern Nepal) is the first description of the language to be based on new field data since Allen's 1975 Sketch of Thulung Grammar. The author collected the current data in 1999-2000 and the differences reveal the intense contact situation with Nepali over the last thirty years.

Synoptic grammar of the Bumthang language

A synoptic grammar of the Bumthang language of the central Bhutan highlands

Field Reports

Plural marking in Dolpo Tibetan: A preliminary investigation

There are three pluralizing strategies in Dolpo Tibetan (DT)2 — one for personal pronouns, an- other for animate nouns, and a third for inanimate nouns. The pluralizing strategy for personal pronouns appears to be old, similar to the system found in Classical Tibetan, but no longer found in ‘Standard Tibetan’.3 The strategies for animate and inanimate nouns point to relatively recent innovations, involving a set of morphemes whose literal meaning is roughly translated ‘all’. These more recent strategies are beginning to invade the semantic space of personal pronouns as well.