Sal languages

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India, Bangladesh, Burma
Linguistic classification: Sino-Tibetan
  • Sal
Glottolog: brah1260

The Sal languages are a family of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in eastern India, parts of Bangladesh, and Burma.


Benedict (1972:7) noted that the Bodo–Garo, Konyak, and Jingpho (Kachin) languages, as well as the extinct Chairel language, shared distinctive roots for "sun" and "fire". Burling (1983) proposed a grouping of the Bodo–Garo, Koch, Konyak (Northern Naga) and Jingpho languages, characterized by several shared lexical innovations, including:

  • *sal "sun"
  • *war "fire"
  • *s-raŋ "sky"
  • *wa "father"
  • *nu "mother"

He called the proposed group Sal, after the words sal, san and jan for "sun" in various of these languages.

The family is generally presented with three branches (Burling 2003:175, Thurgood 2003:11):

Shafer had grouped the first two as his Baric division, and Bradley (1997:20) also combines them as a subbranch. Bradley considers Pyu and Kuki-Chin–Naga to be possibly related to Sal, but is uncertain about this.

Ethnologue calls the family simply "Jingpho–Konyak–Bodo".

The Brahmaputran branch of van Driem has three variants. The smallest is his most recent and which he considers a well-establish low-level group of Sino-Tibetan.[1]


  1. ^ van Driem, George L. (2011), "Tibeto-Burman subgroups and historical grammar", Himalayan Linguistics Journal 10 (1): 37. 
  2. ^ van Driem (2013)
  3. ^ a b van Driem (2001:397–398, 403)