rGyalrong languages

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Native to China
Region Sichuan
Native speakers
83,000 (1999)[1]
Tibetan script
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jya
Glottolog rgya1241[2]

rGyalrong (Tibetan: རྒྱལ་རོང), also rendered Jiarong or sometimes Gyarung, is a subbranch of the Rgyalrongic languages spoken in western Sichuan, China.


The name rGyalrong is an abbreviation of Tibetan རྒྱལ་མོ་ཚ་བ་རོང rgyal mo tsha ba rong, a historical region of Kham now mostly located inside Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan. This Tibetan word is transcribed in Chinese as 嘉绒 or 嘉戎 or 嘉荣, jiāróng. It is pronounced [rɟɑroŋ] by speakers of Situ. It is a place-name and is not used by the people to designate their own language. The autonym is pronounced [kəru] in Situ and [kɯrɯ] in Japhug.


Based on mutual intelligibility, there are four rGyalrong languages:

  • Situ (Chinese Situ 四土话), or less precisely Eastern rGyalrong
  • Japhug (Chinese Chabao 茶堡)
  • Tshobdun (Chinese Caodeng 草登; along with Zbu, next, also called Sidaba)
  • Zbu (Chinese Ribu 日部, also Rdzong'bur or Showu)

Situ has more than 100,000 speakers throughout a widespread area, while the other three languages, all spoken in Barkam, have fewer than 10,000 speakers each.[3] They are all tonal except for Japhug.

Most early studies on Rgyalrong languages (Jin 1949, Nagano 1984, Lin 1993) focused on various dialects of Situ, and the three other languages were not studied in detail until the last decade of the 20th century. The differences between the four languages are presented here in a table of cognates. The data from Situ is taken from Huang and Sun 2002, the Japhug and Showu data from Jacques (2004, 2008) and the Tshobdun data from Sun (1998, 2006).

gloss Situ Japhug Tshobdun Showu
badger pə́s βɣɯs ɣves təvîs
dream ta-rmô tɯ-jmŋo tɐ-jmiʔ tɐ-lmɐʔ
I saw pɯ-mtó-t-a nɐ-mti-aŋ
sheep kəjó qaʑo qɐɟjiʔ ʁiɐʔ

rGyalrong languages, unlike most Sino-Tibetan languages, are polysynthetic languages and present typologically interesting features, such as inverse marking (Sun and Shi 2002, Jacques 2010), ideophones (Sun 2004, Jacques 2008), and verbal stem alternations (Sun 2000, 2004, Jacques 2004, 2008). See Situ language for an example of the latter.


  1. ^ rGyalrong at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Rgyalrongic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Jacques, Guillaumes. 2017. Rgyalrong language. In Encyclopedia of Chinese languages and linguistics (volume 3), p.583. Leiden: Brill.
  • Huang Liangrong 黄良荣, Sun Hongkai 孙宏开 2002. 汉嘉戎语词典 [A Chinese–rGyalrong dictionary] Beijing: Minzu chubanshe.
  • Jacques, Guillaume 2004. Phonologie et morphologie du Japhug (rGyalrong), thèse de doctorat, Université Paris VII.
  • Jacques, Guillaume 2008. 《嘉绒语研究》[A study on the rGyalrong language] Beijing: Minzu chubanshe.
  • Jacques, Guillaume (2012). "The inverse in Japhug Rgyalrong". Language and Linguistics. 11 (1): 127–157. 
  • Jacques, Guillaume (2012). "From Denominal Derivation to Incorporation". Lingua. 122 (11): 1207–1231. doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2012.05.010. 
  • Jacques, Guillaume 向柏霖 2012. Argument demotion in Japhug Rgyalrong in Gilles Authier, Katharina Haude (eds) Ergativity, Valency and Voice. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, pp. 199–225. 2012
  • Jacques, Guillaume (2013). "Harmonization and disharmonization of affix ordering and basic word order". Linguistic Typology. 17 (2): 187–215. doi:10.1515/lity-2013-0009. 
  • Jacques, Guillaume (2013). "Ideophones in Japhug (Rgyalrong)". Anthropological linguistics. 55.3: 256–287. 
  • Jacques, Guillaume (2014). "Denominal affixes as sources of antipassive markers in Japhug Rgyalrong". Lingua. 138: 1–22. doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2013.09.011. 
  • Jacques, Guillaume (2014). "Clause linking in Japhug". Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 37.2: 264–328. 
  • Jin Peng 金鹏 1949 Etude sur le Jyarung, Han hiue 汉学 3.3-4.
  • Lin Youjing 2003. Tense and Aspect morphology in the Zhuokeji rGyalrong verb, Cahiers de linguistique – Asie orientale 32(2), pp. 245–286
  • Lin Youjing, Luoerwu 2003. 《茶堡嘉戎语大藏话的趋向前缀与动词词干的变化》, 《民族語文》 2003.4.
  • Lin Youjing 2009. Units in Zhuokeji rGyalrong discourse; Prosody and Grammar, PhD University of California at Santa Barbara.
  • Lin Xiangrong 林向荣 1993. 《嘉戎语研究》[A study on the rGyalrong language] Chengdu: Sichuan Minzu chubanshe.
  • Nagano, Yasuhiko 1984 A Historical Study of the rGyarong Verb System. Seishido.
  • Sun, Jackson T.-S. 2007. The irrealis category in rGyalrong . Language & Linguistics 8(3):797-819.
  • Sun, Jackson T.-S. 孫天心. 2006. 〈嘉戎語動詞的派生形態〉 , 《民族語文》 2006.4: 3-14。
  • Sun, Jackson T.-S. 孫天心. 2006. 〈草登嘉戎語的關係句〉 [Relative clauses in Caodeng rGyalrong]. Language & Linguistics 7.4: 905-933.
  • Sun, Jackson T.-S. 孫天心. 2004. 〈草登嘉戎語的狀貌詞〉 [The ideophones in Caodeng rGyalrong], 《民族語文》 2004.5: 1-11。
  • Sun, Jackson T.-S. 2004. Verb-stem variations in Showu rGyalrong . Studies on Sino-Tibetan Languages: Papers in Honor of Professor Hwang-Cherng Gong on His Seventieth Birthday. Language and Linguistics, ed. by Ying-chin Lin et al., 269-296. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.
  • Sun, Jackson T.-S. 2003. Caodeng rGyalrong . Sino-Tibetan languages 490-502. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Sun, Jackson T.-S. 孫天心. 2002. 〈草登嘉戎語與「認同等第」相關的語法現象〉 [Empathy Hierarchy in Caodeng rGyalrong Grammar]. Language & Linguistics 3.1: 79-99.
  • Sun, Jackson T.-S. 2000. Parallelisms in the verb morphology of Sidaba rGyalrong and Guanyinqiao in rGyalrongic . Language & Linguistics 1.1: 161-190.

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