|Linguistic classification:||possibly Tibeto-Burman
The Kho-Bwa languages, also known as Bugunish and Kamengic, are a small family of languages spoken in Arunachal Pradesh, northeast India. The name Kho-Bwa is due to Van Driem (2001). It is based on the reconstructed words *kho 'fire' and *bwa 'water'. Blench (2011) suggests the name Kamengic, from the Kameng area of Arunachal Pradesh, or alternatively Bugun–Mey, after its two main members.
Both Van Driem and Blench group the Bugun (or Khowa), the Mey (or Sherdukpen) and the Lishpa (or Lish) languages. The Puroik (or Sulung) language is included in the group by Van Driem, but treated as a language isolate with no genetic relation to Kamengic by Blench.
These languages have traditionally been placed in the Tibeto-Burman group by the Linguistic Survey of India, but the justification of this is open to question. The languages have certainly been strongly influenced by the neighboring Tibeto-Burman languages, but this does not necessarily imply genetic unity and may possibly be a purely areal effect.
The entire language family has about 15,000 speakers (including Puroik) or about 10,000 speakers (excluding Puroik), according to estimates made during the 2000s.
The structure of the Kamengic group of languages can be shown as follows:
- Bugun (Khowa)
- (possibly Sulung (Puroik); affiliation doubtful)
- Blench (2011): "Certainly, the phonology and morphology of Arunachali languages looks superficially like Tibeto-Burman, which explains their placing in the Linguistic Survey of India. Unfortunately, this is rather where matters have remained [... this paper] proposes we should take seriously the underlying presumption probably implied in Konow’s statement in Linguistic Survey of India. Volume III, 1, Tibeto-Burman family, Calcutta (1909:572)], that these languages may not be Sino-Tibetan but simply have been influenced by it; that they are language isolates."
- bgg at SIL Ethnologue
- sdp at SIL Ethnologue
- onp at SIL Ethnologue
- lsh at SIL Ethnologue
- cvg at SIL Ethnologue
- suv at SIL Ethnologue
- George van Driem (2001) Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region. Brill.
- Blench, Roger. 2011. (De)classifying Arunachal languages: Reconsidering the evidence
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