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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Himalayan Linguistics is a free peer-reviewed web journal and archive devoted to the study of the languages of the Himalayas. It includes the series Languages and Peoples of the Eastern Himalayan Region, which incorporates the North East Indian Linguistics (NEIL) volumes.

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.


Thulung Rai [HL Archive 1]

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.

Chantyal Discourses [HL Archive 2]

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.

Notes on Kusunda Grammar: A language isolate of Nepal [HL Archive 3]

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.

Koyi Rai: An Initial Grammatical Sketch [HL Archive 4]

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.

A Kharia-English Lexicon [HL Archive 5]

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).

Synoptic grammar of the Bumthang language [HL Archive 6]

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

The Grammar of Dzongkha [HL Archive 7]

The present revised and expanded grammar of Dzongkha supersedes the earlier 1992 and 1998 English editions and the 2014 French edition of our Dzongkha language textbook. The grammar lessons in our Dzongkha language textbook have over the years appealed to an international readership eager to acquire a working command of Dzongkha, and this new textbook has been augmented with appendices in order better to serve our Bhutanese readership as well.

  • 4 supplemental ZIPs

A Grammar of Trung [HL Archive 8]

Trung is a Tibeto-Burmna (Trans-Himalayan) language spoken by some 13,000 people in northwestern Yúnnán, north of Burma and east of Tibet, mainly in the Trung valley. Four regional varieties of the language have been distinguished. This grammar, based on linguistic research conducted on the language from 2008 until 2017, is the most detailed account of the language to date, including a corpus of phonologically transcribed, morphologically analysed and translated native Trung texts as well as a Trung-English-Mandarin dictionary.

A sketch grammar of Siyuewu Khroskyabs [HL Archive 9]

Khroskyabs is a rGyalronic (Tibeto-Burman) language of northwestern Sichuan province in the People's Republic of China. There are an estimated 10,000 speakers of Khroskyabs living in several villages and townships in the river valleys of part of the Tibetan plateau (Huang, 2003). Khroskyabs speakers identify as ethnically Tibetan, and the language is under immense social pressure both from Amdo Tibetan (the prestige language of the community) and Mandarin Chinese (the language of schooling). There is also some lexical borrowing from both Tibetan and Sichuan Mandarin.

Khroskyabs exhibits many typologically interesting characteristics, including hierarchical alignment, verb stem alternation, partial stem reduplication in reciprocal verbs, and pervasive use of directional verb prefixes which have extended uses as aspect markers. Data for this sketch was conducted in the context of a year-long graduate Field Methods seminar with a native speaker who is committed to the documentation and maintenance of her language. While it is subject to the usual limitations that come from working with a single speaker at a far geographic remove from the larger community and sociolinguistic context, Yulha’s linguistic training and personal motivation were a key advantage in this enterprise.

A descriptive grammar of Denjongke [HL Archive 10]

This work is a descriptive grammar of Denjongke, or Sikkimese Bhutia (also known as Lhoke or Sikkimese) (ISO 639-3 sip), an underdescribed and endangered Tibeto-Burman, Tibetic language spoken in the Indian state of Sikkim. The study is based on original fieldwork conducted over more than six years. The theoretical framework is functionalist-typological and may further be characterized as an application of Basic Linguistic Theory, which relies on the power of prose, instead of formalisms, to describe linguistic phenomena. Traditional grammatical terms are complemented by recourse to up-to-date typological information. The discussion is data-oriented and aims to describe Denjongke on its own terms, making a distinction between language-internal descriptive categories and cross-linguistic comparative concepts.

(A complete abstract is included in the grammar)

Five folktales of Bragkhoglung Tibetan of Cone [HL Archive 11]

This article provides five stories of Bragkhoglung Tibetan, a lesser-known Tibetic variety spoken in Zhagulu Town, Cone County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, China. The five folktales are entitled: ‘The Hare and the Lion’, ‘Hare’s Wisdom’, ‘The Hare and the Tiger’, ‘The Ewe and the Wolf’, and ‘Norbu Zangbo, the Business Loser’. These contain 296 lines (sentences) in total. A brief grammatical sketch, principally based on the materials from the stories, is also provided. Each of the five texts contains a full text in phonetic symbols, interlinear linguistic analysis consisting of phonological description, Tibetan transcription, and glossing as well as English sentence translation, full English translation of the story, and full Tibetan transcription based on the spoken language (Bragkhoglung Tibetatn). Each sentence is enumerated consistently within each story. The objective of the article is primarily as materials of linguistic research on Bragkhoglung Tibetan and secondarily as materials for literature study and conservation of oral culture of this variety.

A Khowar-English glossary [HL Archive 12]

This is a roman-based Khowar-English vocabulary/glossary/dictionary which I have chosen to call "glossary" since it makes no claim to completeness. It includes contextual and cultural notes when such information was supplied by the people who contributed to it.  Each entry consists of a headword, English gloss or definition, and sources.  Many entries include example sentences with English translations, derivational notes, or etymological notes. Sources for each entry (the persons who have contributed the item) are given for each entry.

The two main target audiences for this work are speakers of Khowar and all kinds of linguists.

Field Reports

Plural marking in Dolpo Tibetan: A preliminary investigation [HL FR 1]

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.