Baima is a language spoken by 11,000 people of Tibetan nationality in north central Sichuan Province, China. It has vigorous use amongst adult speakers.
Baima uses subject–object–verb (SOV) word order, initial consonant word clusters and is tonal. It is unclassified within Tibeto-Burman; there are multiple layers of borrowings from Amdo, Khams, and Zhongu Tibetan, as well as lexical and grammatical connections with Qiangic languages. Basic vocabulary is about 85% Tibetan and 15% Qiangic, and the Tibetan words do not link to any established group of Tibetan languages. Chirkova (2008) suggests that the Qiangic vocabulary "might be a retention from the language originally spoken by the Báimǎ before their shift to a form of Tibetan in the 7th century." She accepts Baima as Tibetan, but as an isolate within the Tibetan languages.
- ^ Katia Chirkova, 2008, "On the position of Báimǎ within Tibetan", in Lubotsky et al (eds), Evidence and Counter-Evidence, vol. 2.
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