What is Kiranti? A Critical Account

Gerber, Pascal; Grollmann, Selin (2018). What is Kiranti? A Critical Account (Submitted). Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics Li Fang-Kuei Society for Chinese Linguistics

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This paper challenges the conventional views on the phylogeny of the bundle of languages of Eastern Nepal subsumed under the name ‘Kiranti’. Contrary to the widespread belief that the group constitutes a stable, monophyletic subgroup of the Trans-Himalayan language family, the empirical evidence for the coherence of a Kir- anti branch is remarkably limited. Additionally, the internal structure of the alleged Kiranti branch is to a large degree unclarified, despite a number of contributions to this topic. This paper aims to critically review the different subgrouping proposals and the potential shared innovations defining a coherent Kiranti subgroup within Trans-Himalayan. Furthermore, it will be shown that certain languages outside the Kiranti speaking area may be more closely related to certain Kiranti languages than those are to other Kiranti languages. The Kiranti branch constitutes a largely unsub- stantiated subgroup and its phylogenetic coherence should not be taken for granted in work on Trans-Himalayan historical linguistics.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Gerber, Pascal and Grollmann, Selin


400 Language > 410 Linguistics




Li Fang-Kuei Society for Chinese Linguistics




Selin Grollmann

Date Deposited:

05 Nov 2018 09:19

Last Modified:

05 Nov 2018 09:19

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Kiranti, historical-comparative linguistics, shared innovations, phylo- geny, internal classification, Trans-Himalayan



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