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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.

Himalayan Linguistics

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The Proto-Tibetan clusters sL- and sR-and the periodisation of Old Tibetan

The main objective of this paper is to propose the first tentative periodisation of the Old Tibetan (OT) language based on a group of related sound changes. As it occurs, at the time of the script invention in the 630s, Early Old Tibetan (EOT) must have had four onset clusters /s/+liquid: zr-, sr-, zl-, and sl-. However, in Old Tibetan as well as in Classical Tibetan (CT) we only find sr-, zl-, and sl-, whereas neither of them is attested in modern spoken varieties of Tibetan. In order to find out what has happened to the EOT zr-, I have traced reflexes of CT sr-, zl-, and sl- in modern dialects. Since changes that have occurred with respect to zl- and sl- parallel each other, I postulate that the same analogy can be applied to sr- to determine in what direction the EOT onset zr- might have evolved. Having reconstructed the development of the onsets in the most conservative dialects of Western Archaic Tibetan (WAT) and Amdo Tibetan (AT), I juxtapose these findings with historical facts that can help us to explain modern distribution of Tibetan dialects. Historical events recorded in OT documents combined with our knowledge of other early sound changes in Old Tibetan constitute a time frame for dating the reconstructed changes and thereby allow us to establish the first tentative linguistic periodisation of Old Tibetan.

Distribution of lexical tones in Boro

In this paper we discuss the distribution of tones in Boro especially in the context of its derivational and inflectional morphology. While it is well known that Boro has two tones, Low and High, the way the tones are governed by word formation processes is not very well known. We show that Boro has some affixes which have their own tonal specifications. Among these tone bearing affixes, only the prefixes impose their tonal specification of the stem. Although some suffixes are found to have lexically specified tones, their addition do not alter the tonal nature of the stems. We also discuss how Boro tonal assignment is minimally in the domain of the minimal word and maximally in the domain of a prosodic word and show from trisyllabic domains that the prosodic word domain is preferred over whole word domains for tone assignment.

Sound System of Monsang

This paper is a preliminary study on Monsang, a hitherto undocumented Trans-Himalayan (or Tibeto-Burman) language (ISO 639-3) of Northeast India. Phonemic analysis for consonants, vowels and tones are discussed and provided. Along with the description, acoustic features are also analysed to show the phonetic realization for each phonemes. Maximally a syllable in Monsang can be CCVVC, and minimally it also allows just a V. Monsang exhibits 25 consonants. There are nine phonemic monophthongs and a diphthong, and two tonemes in limited number of words.


Karbi texts

This is a collection of 18 fully analyzed and glossed Karbi texts that were recorded between 2009-2012. All of the texts represent Hills Karbi varieties. The genres include less-spontaneous folk stories, but also (personal) narratives, procedural texts, as well as fully spontaneous genres, i.e. an interview/conversation as well as a stimulus-based narration of the pear story film that was told while the speaker was watching the film. The texts represent the main corpus of 'A grammar of Karbi' (Konnerth 2014).