The ancestry of Tibetan

van Driem, George (2013). The ancestry of Tibetan. The Third International Conference on Tibetan Language, pp. 363-397.

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The Tibeto-Burman linguistic phylum was identified in 1823. However, the term “Tibeto-Burman” was later used with two different mean- ings, one by scholars following Klaproth’s polyphyletic framework and another by scholars operating within the Indo-Chinese paradigm. Yet the enduring failure of Sino-Tibetanists to produce any evidence for the Indo-Chinese phylogenetic model compels us to conclude that there is no such language family as Sino-Tibetan. Instead, Tibetan forms part of the Trans-Himalayan linguistic phylum, or Tibeto-Burman in Klaproth’s sense. Robert Shafer coined the terms “Bodic” and “Bodish” for subgroups including Tibetan and languages with varying degrees of linguistic propin- quity to Tibetan, and Nicolas Tournadre has also recently coined the term “Tibetic.” What are Tibetic, Bodish, and Bodic? Which languages are the closest relatives of Tibetan? What do we know about the structure of the Trans-Himalayan linguistic phylum as a whole? Based on the phylogeny of the language family, which inferences can be made about the ethnolinguis- tic prehistory of the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding regions?

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


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

UniBE Contributor:

van Driem, George


400 Language > 410 Linguistics




Maxwell Perkins Phillips

Date Deposited:

13 Apr 2015 11:54

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:46




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