rGyalrong languages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Rgyalrong languages)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Native toChina
Native speakers
83,000 (1999)[1]
Tibetan script
Language codes
ISO 639-3jya

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


The name Gyalrong 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. Gyalrong speakers were previously classified as an independent ethnicity but were merged into the Tibetan ethnicity by the Chinese government in 1954.[3]


Based on mutual intelligibility, Gates (2014)[4] considers there to be five Gyalrong languages:

  • Situ (Chinese: Situ, 四土话) or less precisely Eastern Gyalrong
  • Japhug (Chinese: Chapu, 茶堡)
  • Tshobdun (Chinese: Caodeng, 草登; along with Zbu, next, also called Sidaba)
  • Zbu (Chinese: Ribu, 日部, also Rdzong'bur or Showu)
  • Gyalrong (south-central)

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.[5] They are all tonal except for Japhug.

Most early studies on Gyalrong 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

Gyalrong 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.


Gates (2012: 102-106)[6] lists the following demographic information for 5 rGyalrong languages. Altogether, there are about 85,000 speakers for all 5 languages combined.

Language Speakers Villages Dialects Alternate names Locations
Situ 35,000-40,000 57 7+ rGyalrong, kəru, roŋba almost entirely in Barkam County; NE Jinchuan County; NW Li County
rGyalrong, South-central 33,000 (out of 45,000 ethnic people) 111 3+ rGyalrong, roŋba Xiaojin, Danba, and Baoxing Counties
Japhug 4,000-5,000 19 3 townships in NE Barkam County, namely Lóng’ěrjiǎ, Dàzàng, and Shā’ěrzōng
Tshobdun 3,000 10 stodpaskʰət Caodeng/Tsho-bdun (WT Tshobdun) Township, Barkam County
Zbu 6,000+ 28 stodpaskʰət Barkam, Rangtang, Seda, and Aba counties


  1. ^ Gyalrong at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Gyalrongic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ 《嘉絨藏族民俗志》,李茂,李忠俊著,p. 44
  4. ^ Gates, Jesse P. 2014. Situ in Situ: Towards a Dialectology of Jiarong (rGyalrong). LINCOM Studies in Asian Linguistics 80. Munich: Lincom Europa. ISBN 9783862884728
  5. ^ Jacques, Guillaumes. 2017. Rgyalrong language. In Encyclopedia of Chinese languages and linguistics (volume 3), p.583. Leiden: Brill.
  6. ^ Gates, Jesse P. 2012. Situ in situ: towards a dialectology of Jiāróng (rGyalrong). M.A. thesis, Trinity Western University.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]