Grammars & Handbooks

Below are the books which have been produced on languages of the greater Himalayan region. A large subset of these books have appeared in the Brill series Languages of the Greater Himalayan Region (LGHR), edited by George van Driem. This series continues a series by the same name in which two volumes were first published by Leiden University Press, i.e. Dzongkha (the national language of Bhutan) and a grammar of Yamphu (a language of the upper Arun valley in eastern Nepal).

A Grammar of Limbu by George van Driem (1989)

This grammar of the conservative Phedappe dialect of Limbu contains a description of the phonology, morphology and syntax, as well as tables of regular and irregular verbal conjugations, a Limbu-English dictionary and a corpus of morphologically analysed Limbu texts with English translation. These texts include oral traditions and myths as well as transcriptions of actual conversations. An account of the Limbu literary tradition is given along with an exposition of the Kiranti script, which was devised in the early 18th century.

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A Grammar of Dumi by George van Driem (1993)

This grammar of Dumi contains a description of the phonology, morphology and syntax, as well as tables of regular and irregular verbal conjugations, a Dumi-English dictionary and a corpus of morphologically analysed Limbu texts with English translation. These texts include oral traditions and myths as well as transcriptions of actual conversations. An account is given of Dumi shamanism, the pantheon and belief system regarding the supernatural, Dumi rituals, eschatology and the kinship system. The most closely related languages to Dumi are Khaling and Kohi.

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Grammaticale verkenning van het Bumthang by George van Driem (1995)

De eerste helft van dit boek is een grammaticale beschrijving van het Bumthang, met zo'n 30.000 sprekers een belangrijke regionale taal van het Himalaya-koninkrijk Bhutan. Het Bumthang behoort tot de archaïsche Oost-Bodische tak van de Tibeto-Birmaanse taalfamilie. Deze verkenning beschrijft de meest in het oog springende grammaticale bijzonderheden in de vier hoofddialecten van de taal, waarbij de nadruk is gelegd op de klank- en vormleer. Ook zijn er een bescheiden woordenlijst en een beschrijving van de verwantschapsterminologie toegevoegd. De tweede helft van het boek biedt een overzicht van de inheemse talen van Bhutan die George van Driem eveneens in opdracht van de Bhutanese overheid in kaart heeft gebracht. De hier geboden taalkundige informatie over Bhutan en zijn inwoners wordt met het verschijnen van het boek voor het eerst in het Westen toegankelijk gemaakt.

To order this book, send a message to vandriem [at] isw.unibe.ch.

Yamphu Grammar

Yamphu: Grammar, Texts and Lexicon by Roland Rutgers (1998)

The Yamphu Rai are a Kiranti tribe of the Himalayas of Eastern Nepal. The Yamphu language belongs to a group of complex- pronominalising languages of the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. This grammar consists of a description of the Yamphu dialect of Hedangna, a collection of oral texts and a lexicon. The majority of grammatical categories in Yamphu is expressed by means of suffixes. Nominal morphology includes number and case markers, postpositions and nominalising suffixes. Verbal morphology distinguishes auxiliary verbs, tense and agreement markers, mood suffixes and postpositions expressing inter- clausal relations. Information structure, too, is mainly expressed by means of suffixes. The texts included in this grammar represent various styles of speech, such as formulaic, mythological and conversational styles.

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Dzongkha [+ 3 audio CDs] by George van Driem & Karma Tshering (1998)

This Dzongkha textbook by George van Driem provides a practical introduction to the national language of Bhutan for both linguist and layman. The script, phonology and grammar of Dzongkha are explained at length in eight chapters. The phonological romanization officially known as Roman Dzongkha, employed throughout the book, makes the course suitable both for learners who wish to master the Bhutanese script as well as for those who wish to acquire only a spoken command of the language. The Dzongkha textbook comes with a set of audio compact disks in a multibox, containing a digital soundtrack narrated by a native speaker of the prestige dialect of Dzongkha from western Bhutan.

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Taal en Taalwetenschap

Taal en Taalwetenschap by George van Driem (2001)

To order this book, send a message to vandriem [at] isw.unibe.ch

Languages of the Himalayan RegionLanguages of the Himalayan Region

Languages of the Himalayas (2 vols.) by George van Driem (2001)

The survey work Languages of the Himalayas provides a bird's eye view of Himalayan languages and language communities. It also constitutes a primary source for much new, hitherto unpublished data on several languages. The demographic mosaic of the Himalayas today is viewed in a historical and comparative linguistic perspective. The reader will find an outline of the historical and prehistorical developments that have determined the modern ethnolinguistic composition of the Himalayan region, involving various independent linguistics stocks or language families. Maps illustrate the distribution of language communities and trace the routes of ancient migrations. There is an illuminating discussion of grammatical features found in Himalayan languages.

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A Grammar of Wambule

A Grammar of Wambule by Jean Robert Opgenort (2004)

This book is more than the first comprehensive description of the fascinating and complex (endangered) language of the Wambule Rai, one of the Kiranti tribes of eastern Nepal; it is a true model for a holistic approach on language documentation, where the phonetics, phonology, morphophonology, morphology, morphosyntax, syntax and pragmatics are interwoven into one organic, living whole. An exhaustive reference work for Tibeto-Burman linguistics, language typology, linguistic theory and Wambule society and culture, and as such indispensable for any linguistic and anthropological library.

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A Grammar of Jero

A Grammar of Jero by Jean Robert Opgenort (2005)

This description of the phonology, morphology and syntax of the endangered (Tibeto-Burman) Jero language as spoken in eastern Nepal, appears in sequel to the author's 2004 Grammar of Wambule, the language most closely related to Jero. It pictures the complex-pronominalising language of the Jero Rai, one of the Kiranti tribes of eastern Nepal. With a historical comparative study of the Kiranti languages, the branch of the Tibeto-Burman language family to which both Jero and Wambule belong. An exhaustive and model reference work for Tibeto-Burman linguistics, language typology and linguistic theory.

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Rabha Grammar

Rabha by U.V. Joseph (2006)

The Rabha’s inhabit the plains on both sides of the Brahmaputra river in Assam, in the North East of India. Their language is Rabha, a member of the Tibeto-Burman language family. This is the first ever comprehensive grammar of the Róngdani dialect of Rabha, as spoken in, a.o., the Rabha heartlands. Based on extensive field work by the author, this work is yet another significant step in the meticulous task of piecing together the jigsaw of Himalayan languages as undertaken by George van Driem and his team. Given the steady decline of the Rabha language in favour of Assamese, all those interested in the language and history of the Himalayas and Northern India will welcome this volume. With a Rabha dictionary/vocabulary, and a series of key Rabha texts shedding light on its people’s customs.

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A Grammar of Kulung

A Grammar of Kulung by Gerard Tolsma (2006)

This book is the most complete description of Kulung to date. Kulung is a Kiranti language spoken in eastern Nepal. These languages used to be called “complex-pronominalising” languages because the verb exhibits biactantial agreement for person and number. The book contains the phonology, morphology and syntax as well as sample texts, verbal paradigms and a Kulung-English lexicon. The data presented here were collected during four field trips which the author undertook to Nepal between 1992 and 1995. This grammar of Kulung provides a valuable resource for all those interested in the language and represents the starting point for researchers who might wish to undertake a more in-depth study of the language.

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A Grammar of Lepcha

A Grammar of Lepcha by Heleen Plaisier (2006)

The Lepcha language has been shrouded in a veil of tantalising mystique ever since Colonel George Mainwaring in the 1870s disseminated the myth that Lepcha was the most perfect of tongues and represented the primordial language of men and fairies. The present book is the first ever comprehensive reference grammar of this language, spoken by the indigenous tribal people of Darjeeling, Sikkim and Kalimpong. Some popular lore about Lepcha has a firm basis in fact, however. Lepcha represents a branch unto itself within the Tibeto-Burman languages. Lepcha is written in its own unique script. This highly readable grammar explains the structure of the language, its sound system and salient features, and includes a lexicon and cultural history.

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Collection of Lepcha Manuscripts in the van Manen Collection

Collection of Lepcha Manuscripts in the van Manen Collection by Heleen Plaisier (2003)

This catalogue by Heleen Plaisier offers a detailed description of the 182 Lepcha manuscripts in the van Manen Collection, presently kept in the library of the Kern Institute of Leiden University. This collection of manuscripts written in the Lepcha language is the largest collection of its kind in the world. The Lepcha language is spoken in Sikkim and the Darjeeling district in West Bengal of India, the Ilam district of Nepal, and in southwestern Bhutan. The Lepcha literary tradition dates back to the 18th century.

Nepali-Thami-English Dictionary by Mark Turin and Bir Bahadur Thami (2004)

Nepali-Thami-English Dictionary by Mark Turin and Bir Bahadur Thami (2004)

This Thangmi dictionary was prepared by Mark Turin with the assistance of Bir Bahadur Thami, as Turin was completing his doctoral dissertation in the research programme Himalayan Languages Project. This dissertation was published as the two-volume Grammar of Thangmi by Brill in 2011. The Thangmi refer to their own language as Thangmi, but in Nepali their language is referred to as Thami, which explains the form used in the title of this dictionary, which is geared to serve readers in Nepal.

A Grammar of Sunwar

A Grammar of Sunwar by Dörte Borchers (2008)

This description of Sunwar, an endangered Tibeto-Burman language spoken in eastern Nepal, is based on extensive field work by the author and contains a chapter with background information on the Sunwar language, its speakers and their culture, followed by sections on the phonology, the indigenous writing system and the morphology of Sunwar. Verb paradigms, glossed texts, a Sunwar-English glossary and bibliographical references are also presented. Contact between the Sunwar and Nepali languages resulted in language change, most visible in the verbal system, where the older biactantial agreement system typical for Kiranti languages disappeared and suffix conjugations emerged. This book will interest those interested in descriptive linguistics, language change and languages of South Asia.

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A Grammar of Dhimal

A Grammar of Dhimal by John T. King (2009)

The present work, a grammar of Dhimal, fills an important void in the documentation of the vast and ramified Tibeto-Burman language family. Dhimal, a little known and endangered tongue spoken in the lowlands of southeastern Nepal by about 20,000 individuals, is detailed in this work. With data gathered in the village of Āṭhiyābārī, the author crafts a readable description of the western dialect, using over 1000 examples to illustrate usage. Included in this reference work are seventeen texts, riddles, songs and a Dhimal-English glossary. Joining the ground-breaking work by researchers of the Himalayan Languages Project, this grammar of Dhimal will have lasting scientific value and aid the Dhimal community in preserving their language.

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A Grammar of Dhimal

A Grammar of Anong by Hongkai Sun and Guangkun Liu (2009)

A work that will be of interest to those interested in typology, language history, and contact induced change, this book documents the radical restructuring of Anong over the last 40 years under intense contact with Lisu. In the almost fifty years, Sun Hongkai has been documenting the Anong language of Yunnan China, it has undergone radical, contact-induced changes. The language of the less than forty remaining speakers is quite different than the Anong of forty years ago. Under intense contact with Lisu, major change has occurred in the language, much of it documented in this work of Sun's. The English edition is a reworking of the original Chinese version, providing annotation, an expanded lexicon, and an appendix that contains an instrumental study of the language.

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A Grammar of Tshangla

A Grammar of Tshangla by Erik E. Andvik (2010)

A Grammar of Tshangla is the first major linguistic description of Tshangla, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Bhutan, northeast India, and southwest China. Written from a functional-typological perspective, it contains a wealth of illustrative examples both from elicited data and from spontaneously generated texts. It is a truly comprehensive description, including sections on phonology, lexicon, morphophonemics, morphosyntactic structure, clause-concatenating constructions, as well as discourse-pragmatic features. The volume will be of interest to language students, and to linguists and ethnographic scholars seeking to understand the Bhutanese and South Asian linguistic situation. The large amount of raw language data presented here make this Grammar of Tshangla an indispensable tool for students of Tibeto-Burman comparative linguistics and morphosyntactic theory in general.

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A Grammar and Dictionary of ZaiwaA Grammar and Dictionary of Zaiwa

A Grammar and Dictionary of Zaiwa by Anton Lustig (2010)

Dr. Anton Lustig’s Grammar and Dictionary of Zaiwa is a thorough and unique documentation of this main language of the Jingpo minority in southwest China. Volume I clarifies the precise meanings of numerous grammatical and lexical categories, in a holistic and all-encompassing but also vivid way, offering real insight into the conceptual universe of this typologically highly interesting tonal language, with suprasegmental traits. Volume II contains a dictionary, stories and songs. This work is also a historical monument for and tribute to this endangered language.

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A Grammar of the Thangmi LanguageA Grammar of the Thangmi Language

A Grammar of the Thangmi Language by Mark Turin (2011)

Thangmi is an endangered Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the districts of Dolakha and Sindhupalcok in central-eastern Nepal by upwards of 30,000 people belonging to an ethnic group of the same name. The Thangmi are one of Nepal’s least documented communities. These two volumes include a grammatical description of the Dolakha dialect of Thangmi, a collection of glossed oral texts and a comprehensive lexicon with relevant examples. In addition, the reader will find an extensive ethnolinguistic introduction to the speakers and their culture. For students and scholars of anthropology and linguistics, this study is a compelling illustration of the interweaving of these disciplines in the context of Himalayan studies.

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The new Lamp

The New Lamp Clarifying the History, Peoples, Languages and Traditions of Eastern Bhutan and Eastern Mon by Tim Bodt (2012)

 

A Grammar of Chamling by Vishnu Prasad Singh Rai

A Grammar of Chamling by Vishnu Prasad Singh Rai (2012)

This book is the most complete description of Chamling to date, a member of the Central subgroup within the Kiranti branch of the Transl-Himalayan linguistic phylum or Tibeto-Burman family. Chamling is spoken in eastern Nepal. The grammar documents the phonology, morphology and syntax as well as sample texts, verbal paradigms and a concise Chamling-English lexicon. The data presented here were collected by the author during his fieldwork in the Chamling speaking area. This book is available from the author, who can be contacted at Tribhuvan University in Kirtipur.

Parlons dzongkha

Parlons dzongkha par Georges van Driem et Karma Tshering de Gaselô, avec un avant-propos par Françoise Pommaret (2014)

Le Bhoutan est un petit royaume himalayen qui sort peu à peu de l’oubli et connaît un certain renom sur la scène internationale à cause de son tourisme et du concept du « Bonheur National Brut » (BNB). En fait un de ses titres de gloire est certainemnet la grande diversité de ses langues (19), sur un territoire plus petit que la Suisse et une population de 700 000 habitants. Ses langues font toutes partie de la famille linguistique tibéto-birmane, sauf le népalais qui appartient à la famille indo-européenne. Pour communiquer dans une telle diversité et créer une identité nationale, la langue nationale, adoptée dans les années 1960, est le dzongkha, « la langue des forteresses », langue de l’ouest du pays apparentée au tibétain et au dränjoke, la langue du Sikkim. Toutefois, malgré une proximité linguistique certaine et de nombreux emprunts de termes religieux bouddhiques au tibétain, ces langues sont mutuellement inintelligibles. Aujourd’hui, hormis au Bhoutan et à l’université de Berne, le dzongkha n’est enseigné par aucune institution académique dans le monde, malgré un intérêt croissant pour ce pays et sa langue nationale. Ce livre, qui présente le pays et une grammaire du dzongkha raisonnée, cherche à pallier le manque de documentation pour le public francophone.

Achetez ce livre sur www.editions-harmattan.fr.

A Historical Grammar of the Tibetan Dialect spoken in Kargil (Purik) by Marius Zemp

A Historical Grammar of the Tibetan Dialect spoken in Kargil (Purik) by Marius Zemp (1084 pages)

Zemp commenced his research work on Purik in 2004 under the late Prof. Dr. Roland Bielmeier. He completed the dissertation in December 2013 and defended the dissertation in February 2014. This volume is slated for publication and is expected to appear in print within one year from the date of the doctoral defence.

A Grammar of Guìqióng by Jiāng Lì 姜儷

A Grammar of Guìqióng by Jiāng Lì 姜儷 (341 pages)

Jiāng Lì commenced her research work on Guìqióng in 2005 and completed her dissertation in December 2013. She defended the dissertation in March 2014. This volume is slated for publication and is expected to appear in print within one year from the date of the doctoral defence.

Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman Linguistic Dispersals in Northeast India: An Archaeological Perspective by Manjil Hazarika মঞ্জিল হাজৰিকা (427 pages)

Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman Linguistic Dispersals in Northeast India: An Archaeological Perspective by Manjil Hazarika মঞ্জিল হাজৰিকা (427 pages)

Manjil Hazarika মঞ্জিল হাজৰিকা commenced his research work on the archaeology and ethnolinguistic prehistory of Northeast India in 2008 and completed his dissertation in 2014. Because of his multidisciplinary approach, his research in the northeastern portion of the Indian subcontinent was conducted both under the auspices of the Bern Linguistics Institute and the Institute of Archaeological Sciences of the University of Bern. He defended the dissertation in October 2014 and was awarded the highest accolade of summa cum laude. This interdisciplinary study is already slated for publication and expected to appear in print within one year from the date of the doctoral defence.