Kinnauri language

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Region Himachal Pradesh
Native speakers
65,000  (2001 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
kfk – Kinnauri proper
cik – Chitkuli
ssk – Sunam
jna – Jangshung (Thebor)
scu – Shumcho
Glottolog kinn1250[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Kinnauri, also known as Kanauri, Kanor, Koonawur, or Kunawar, is a Sino-Tibetan dialect cluster centered on the Kinnaur district of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

Kaike, once thought to be Kinnauri, is closer to Tamangic. Bhoti Kinnauri and Tukpa are Bodish (Lahauli–Spiti).


This description is of the Pangi dialect of Kinnauri.


Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiced b d ɖ ɡ
voiceless p t ʈ k
aspirated ʈʰ
Affricate voiced dz
voiceless ts
aspirated tsʰ tʃʰ
Fricative s ʃ h
Trill r
Approximant l j w

Note on palatals: /dʒ/, /tʃ/, /tʃʰ/, and /ʃ/ are post-alveolar. /ɲ/ is alveolo-palatal.


Kinnauri has five pairs of long/short vowels:

Front Central Back
Close i ɨ
Mid e o
Open a


/h/, aspirated obstruents (i.e. /pʰ/, /tʰ/, /ʈʰ/, /kʰ/, /t͡sʰ/, /t͡ʃʰ/), and glides (i.e. /w/, /j/) do not occur in syllable codas.

All consonants may occur in onsets and word-medially.

Kinnauri has the following types of syllables:

  • (C)V(C)(C)(C)
  • CCV(C)


Kinnauri is SOV, V-Auxiliary, Postpositional, and has head-final noun phrases. It shows case marking with an ergative alignment in the past tense, nominative-accusative elsewhere. The ergative case is identical to the instrumental. There is no distinction between accusative and dative, and a genitive is partially syncretic with the accusative/dative. An ablative case is also recognized, normally attached outside the genitive but with different allomorphs for animate and inanimate referents. There is also a locative case, normally used only with inanimate nouns.


  1. ^ Kinnauri language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kinnauric". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 


  • Nagano, Yasuhiko; & LaPolla, Randy J. (Eds.). (2001). New research on Zhangzhung and related Himalayan languages. Bon studies 3, Senri ethnological reports 19. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology.
  • Takahashi, Yoshiharu. (2001). A descriptive study of Kinnauri (Pangi dialect): A preliminary report. In Y. Nagano & R. J. LaPolla (Eds.), New research on Zhangzhung and related Himalayan languages. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology.