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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. Since 2020 it includes the series Languages and Peoples of the Eastern Himalayan Region as the second issue of every volume.


Mapping the Spatial Relationship Between Sub-basins and Language Variation in Thewo Tibetan

Thewo Tibetan is a Tibetic language of China spoken along the Bailong River in Northern Sichuan Province and Southern Gansu Province. Although typically listed as a dialect of Choni Tibetan (ISO 639-3 cda), Thewo is reported to have a high degree of internal variation (Renzengwangmu 2013). The goal of this paper is to examine whether or not this internal variation can be explained in part by Chamberlain’s (2015) hypothesis of linguistic watersheds. Chamberlain (2015) argues that the distribution of watersheds on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau provides a spatial model through which we can predict the geographical spread of language variation. This paper’s research reveals some spatial correlation between the distribution of the watersheds and dialectal variation in the Thewo speaking region of Diebu County. These results can neither disprove Chamberlain’s hypothesis nor fully explain the spatial distribution of language variation in Thewo Tibetan. However, the results do demonstrate how watersheds could be a useful model for predicting the location of language documentation needs on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Making and agreeing to requests in Old Tibetan

The verbs གསོལ་ gsol `request' and གནང་ gnaṅ `agree, grant', because of theircomplementary semantics and parallel syntax, provide a convenient windowthrough which to caste light on the two forms of subordinate clausesthat they both govern, namely infinitives and terminative verbal nouns.

The segmental inflection of Bumthang verbs: exploring the boundary between phonology and morphophonology

This paper presents a synoptic account of verbal suffixation in the Ura dialect of Bumthang, a language of central Bhutan. Examining verbal allomorphy shows the persistence of exceptions to historical sound changes in contemporary allophonic and allomorphic processes, and reveals striking contrasts with the culturally dominant Tibetic languages of the area. We examine the ways in which some of the allomorphy is motivated by patterns seen in the phonology of the language more widely, while some of the changes reflect purely (arbitrary) morphophonological processes.