Bodish languages

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Tibetan Plateau
Linguistic classification Sino-Tibetan
Glottolog bodi1257[1]
L1 speakers of Bodish languages and other Sino-Tibetan languages according to Ethnologue

The Bodish languages, named for the Tibetan ethnonym Bod, are the Tibetic languages in a broad linguistic sense, regardless of whether the speakers are considered ethnically Tibetan. Different scholars divide Bodish differently, but the alternate term "Tibetan" generally excludes East Bodish. Languages in this subgroup are spoken in Tibet, North India, Nepal, Bhutan, and North Pakistan.

Shafer, who coined the term "Bodish" divided the family into "West Bodish", "Central Bodish", "South Bodish", and "East Bodish". Shafer is unclear about how much of the family he believes descends from Old Tibetan ("Old Bodish" in his terminology) but clearly stipulates that "West Bodish" does not. Hill (2010) points out that the West Bodish hypothesis is a historical impossibility,[2] and thus proposes that the two branches of the Bodish family are the East Bodish languages and the Tibetic languages only.

Note that Bradley (1997) includes under the term "Bodish" the West Himalayish, Tshangla, and Tamangic languages, making Bodish equivalent to the term "Tibeto-Kanauri" in other classifications. Within this grouping, he makes a clean break between East Bodish and Tibetan, as two unitary branches of Bodish.

Apart from the Tibetan languages, the Bodish subbranch of Sino-Tibetan is probably among the least researched branches of Sino-Tibetan. Languages regarded as members of this family include Bumthang (Michailovsky and Mazaudon 1994; van Driem 1995), Tshangla (Hoshi 1987; Andvik 1999), Dakpa (Lu 1986; Sun et al. 1991), Zhangzhung (Nagano and LaPolla 2001), and maybe Zakhring (Blench & Post 2011).

According to Shafer, East Bodish languages are the most conservative branch of the Bodish languages.

As for grammars of the East Bodish languages, there is Das Gupta (1968) and Lu (2002). Some papers on Kurtöp include Hyslop (2008a, 2008b, 2009).


  • Bradley, David (1997). "Tibeto-Burman languages and classification". In Tibeto-Burman languages of the Himalayas, Papers in South East Asian linguistics. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • van Driem, George (1994). East Bodish and Proto-Tibeto-Burman morphosyntax. Current Issues in Sino-Tibetan Linguistics, Osaka: The Organizing Committee of the 26th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics.
  • van Driem, George (1995). Een eerste grammaticale verkenning van het Bumthang, een taal van midden-Bhutan. Leiden: Onderzoekschool CNWS.
  • van Driem, George (2001) Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region. Brill.
  • Hill, Nathan W. (2010) 'An overview of Old Tibetan synchronic phonology.' Transactions of the Philological Society, 108 (2). pp. 110–125.
  • Hyslop, G., (2008a). Kurtöp phonology in the context of Northeast India. In: Morey, S., Post, M. (Eds.), North East Indian Linguistics 1: Papers from the First International Conference of the North East Indian Linguistic Society. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 3–25.
  • Hyslop, G., (2008b). "Kurtöp and the classification of the languages of Bhutan." In: Proceedings from the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society 42, vol. 2, South Asian Linguistics, Case, Voice, and Language Coexistence. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  • Hyslop, G., (2009), "Kurtöp Tone: A tonogenetic case study." Lingua 119: 827–845
  • Lu shao zun 陸紹尊(2002). 門巴語方言研究 Menbayu fangyan yanjiu [Studies in the dialects of the Monpa language.] Beijing: 民族出版社 Minzu chubanshe.
  • Michailovsky, Boyd and Martine Mazaudon (1994). “Preliminary Notes on the Languages of the Bumthang Group (Bhutan).” Tibetan Studies: proceedings of the 6th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies. Ed. Per Kværne. Vol 2. Oslo: The Institute of Comparative Research in Human Culture. 545-557.
  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Bodish". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ Hill 2010, p. 111