Linguistic evidence for a closer relationship between Lhokpu and Dhimal

Including some remarks on the Dhimalish subgroup

in Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Lhokpu is a hitherto undescribed and unclassified Trans-Himalayan language spoken by some 2,500 speakers in southwestern Bhutan. Fieldwork in 2015 now enables linguistic research on the language, including accounts on its phylogenetic position within the language family. This paper presents morphological, lexical, and phonological evidence for a closer phylogenetic relationship between Lhokpu and Dhimal (southeastern Nepal). Dhimal is conventionally grouped together with Toto under “Dhimalish.” We argue in this paper that the similarities between Lhokpu and Dhimal are equally profound and numerous, and that Lhokpu, Dhimal, and Toto are three closely related languages within the Trans-Himalayan family.

Linguistic evidence for a closer relationship between Lhokpu and Dhimal

Including some remarks on the Dhimalish subgroup

in Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale



Andvik Erik. 2010. A grammar of Tshangla. Leiden: Brill.

Baxter William H. & Sagart Laurent. 2014a. Old Chinese: A new reconstruction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Baxter William H. & Sagart Laurent. 2014b. Baxter-Sagart Old Chinese reconstruction. Version 1.1. 20 September 2014.

Benedict Paul K. 1972. Sino-Tibetan: A conspectus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bickel Balthasar. 2003. Belhare. In Thurgood Graham & LaPolla Randy J. (eds.) The Sino-Tibetan languages 546–570. London: Routledge.

Bickel Balthasar & Banjade Goma & Gaenszle Martin & Lieven Elena & Paudyal Netra Prasad & Rai Ichchha Purna & Rai Manoj & Rai Novel Kishore & Stoll Sabine. 2007. Free prefix ordering in Chintang. Language 83(1). 43–73.

Bishnu Sudhirkumar. 2012. A descriptive study of Toto language. Kolkata: The Shee Book Agency.

Bodt Timotheus A. 2012. The new lamp clarifying the history peoples languages and traditions of eastern Bhutan and eastern Mon. Wageningen: Monpasang Publications.

Bodt Timotheus A. & Lieberherr Ismael. 2015. First notes on the phonology and classification of the Bangru language of India. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 38(1). 66–123.

Borchers Dörte. 2008. A grammar of Sunwar: Descriptive grammar paradigms texts and glossary. Leiden: Brill.

Bradley David. 2002. The subgrouping of Tibeto-Burman. In Beckwith Christopher (ed.) Medieval Tibeto-Burman languages 73–112. Leiden: Brill.

Burling Robbins. 1961. A Garo grammar. Poona: Deccan College Postgraduate & Research Institute.

Campbell Lyle & Poser William J. 2008. Language classification: History and method. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Caughley Ross. 2000. Dictionary of Chepang: A Tibeto-Burman language of Nepal. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

Chelliah Shobhana L. 1997. A grammar of Meithei. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Coupe Alexander R. 2007. A grammar of Mongsen Ao. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

DeLancey Scott. 1984. Etymological notes on Tibeto-Burman case particles. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 11(2). 51–61.

DeLancey Scott. 2010. Towards a history of verb agreement in Tibeto-Burman. Himalayan Linguistics 9(1). 1–39.

DeLancey Scott. 2011. Notes on verb agreement prefixes in Tibeto-Burman. Himalayan Linguistics 10(1). 1–29.

Doornenbal Marius. 2009. A grammar of Bantawa: Grammar paradigm tables glossary and texts of a Rai language of eastern Nepal. Utrecht: LOT.

Ebert Karen H. 1994. The structure of Kiranti languages: Comparative grammar and texts. Zürich: ASAS-Verlag.

Ebert Karen H. 1997a. A grammar of Athpare. München: Lincom Europa.

Ebert Karen H. 1997b. Camling. München: Lincom Europa.

Genetti Carol. 2007. A grammar of Dolakha Newar. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Gerber Pascal & Gerber Tanja & Grollmann Selin. 2016. Links between Lhokpu and Kiranti: Some observations. (Paper presented at Workshop on Kiranti languages Paris: Université Paris Diderot. 1–2 December 2016).

Grierson George (ed.). 1909. Linguistic survey of India: Tibeto-Burman family. General introduction specimens of the Tibetan dialects the Himalayan dialects and the North Assam group vol. 3.1. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Grollmann Selin. 2013. A sketch grammar of Bjokapakha. Bern: University of Bern. (Master’s dissertation).

Hill Nathan W. 2009. Review of Matisoff James A. 2003 Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: System and philosophy of Sino-Tibetan reconstruction Berkeley: University of California Press. Language and Linguistics 10(1). 173–195.

Hill Nathan W. 2011. An inventory of Tibetan sound laws. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 3rd ser. 21(4). 441–457.

Hill Nathan W. 2012. The six vowel hypothesis of Old Chinese in comparative context. Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics 6(2). 1–69.

Hill Nathan W. 2013. The merger of Proto-Burmish *ts and *č in Burmese. SOAS Working Papers in Linguistics 16. 333–345.

Hill Nathan W. 2014. Tibeto-Burman *dz- > Tibetan z- and related proposals. In Simmons Richard VanNess & Van Auken Newell Ann (eds.) Studies in Chinese and Sino-Tibetan linguistics: Dialect phonology transcription and text 167–178. Taipei: Academia Sinica.

Hodgson Brian Houghton. 1880. Miscellaneous essays relating to Indian subjects. 2 vols. London: Trübner & Co.

Huáng Liángróng (黄良荣) & Sūn Hóngkāi (孙宏开). 2002. Hàn-Jiāróng cídiǎn (汉嘉 戎语词典) [A Chinese–rGyalrong dictionary]. Beijing: Mínzú Chūbǎnshè.

Hyslop Gwendolyn. 2017. A grammar of Kurtöp. Leiden: Brill.

Hyslop Gwendolyn & Tshering Karma. 2010. Preliminary notes on Dakpa (Tawang Monpa). In Morey Stephen & Post Mark W. (eds.) North East Indian linguistics vol. 2 3–21. Delhi: Cambridge University Press India.

Jacques Guillaume. 2004. Phonologie et morphologie du Japhug (rGyalrong). Paris: Université Paris vii Denis Diderot. (Doctoral dissertation).

Jacques Guillaume. 2016a. Dictionnaire japhug-chinois-français. Version 1.1. Paris: Projet HimalCo. 3 August 2016.

Jacques Guillaume. 2016b. The genetic position of Chinese. In Sybesma Rint (ed.) Encyclopedia of Chinese language and linguistics vol. 2 297–306. Leiden: Brill.

Jacques Guillaume. 2017. A reconstruction of Proto-Kiranti verb roots. Folia Linguistica Historica 38. 177–215.

Jacques Guillaume & Lahaussois Aimée & Michailovsky Boyd & Rai Dhan Bahadur. 2012. An overview of Khaling verbal morphology. Language and Linguistics 13(6). 1095–1170.

Jacquesson François. 2008. A Dimasa grammar. 30 June 2008.

Jäschke Heinrich August. 1881. A Tibetan-English dictionary: With special reference to the prevailing dialects to which is added an English-Tibetan vocabulary. London: Unger Brothers.

King John T. 2009. A grammar of Dhimal. Leiden: Brill.

Kiryu Kazuyuki. 2008. An outline of the Meche language: Grammar text and glossary. Research report. Tsuyama: Mimasaka University.

Konnerth Linda Anna. 2014. A grammar of Karbi. Eugene: University of Oregon. (Doctoral dissertation).

Lahaussois Aimée. 2002. Aspects of the grammar of Thulung Rai: An endangered Himalayan language. Berkeley: University of California. (Doctoral dissertation).

LaPolla Randy J. 1987. Dulong and Proto-Tibetan-Burman. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 10(1). 1–43.

LaPolla Randy J. 2003. A grammar of Qiang: With annotated texts and glossary. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Lì Jiāng. 2015. A grammar of Guìqióng: A Language of Sichuan. Leiden: Brill.

Luce Gordon H. 1985. Phases of pre-Pagán Burma: Languages and history. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Marisson Geoffrey Edward. 1967. The classification of the Naga languages of north-east India. London: School of Oriental and African Studies. (Doctoral dissertation).

Matisoff James A. 1975. Rhinoglottophilia: The mysterious connection between nasality and glottality. In Ferguson Charles A. & Hyman Larry M. & Ohala John J. (eds.) Nasálfest: Papers from a symposium on nasals and nasalization 265–287. Stanford: Language Universals Project Department of Linguistics Stanford University.

Matisoff James A. 1976. Variational semantics in Tibeto-Burman: The “organic” approach to linguistic comparison. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues.

Matisoff James A. 2003. Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: System and philosophy of Sino-Tibetan reconstruction. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Matisoff James A. 2013. The dinguist’s dilemma: Regular and sporadic l/d interchange in Sino-Tibetan and elsewhere. In Thornes Timothy J. & Andvik Erik & Hyslop Gwendolyn & Jansen Joana (eds.) Functional-historical approaches to explanation: In honor of Scott DeLancey 83–104. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Meillet Antoine. 1925. La méthode comparative en linguistique historique. Oslo: H. Aschehoug & Co.

Michailovsky Boyd. 1975. A case of rhinoglottophilia in Hayu. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 2(2). 293.

Michailovsky Boyd. 1988. La langue hayu. Paris: Éditions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

Michailovsky Boyd. 1994. Manner versus place of articulation in the Kiranti initial stops. In Kitamura Hajime & Nishida Tatsuo & Nagano Yasuhiko (eds.) Current issues in Sino-Tibetan linguistics 766–781. Osaka: The Organizing Committee of the 26th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics.

Michailovsky Boyd. 2017. Kiranti languages. In Thurgood Graham & LaPolla Randy J. (eds.) The Sino-Tibetan languages 2nd edn. 646–679. London: Routledge.

Miller Roy Andrew. 1974. Sino-Tibetan: Inspection of a conspectus. Journal of the American Oriental Society 94(2). 195–209.

Mortensen David. 2003. Comparative Tangkhul. Unpublished manuscript. Berkeley: University of California.

Opgenort Jean Robert. 2004. A grammar of Wambule: Grammar lexicon texts and cultural survey of a Kiranti tribe of eastern Nepal. Leiden: Brill.

Opgenort Jean Robert. 2005. A grammar of Jero: With a historical comparative study of the Kiranti languages. Leiden: Brill.

Opgenort Jean Robert. 2014. Initial grammatical sketch of Tilung: Field report on a moribund Kiranti language of Eastern Nepal. With some historical observations and a vocabulary. In Owen-Smith Thomas & Hill Nathan W. (eds.) Trans-Himalayan linguistics: Historical and descriptive linguistics of the Himalayan area 329–392. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Plaisier Heleen. 2007. A grammar of Lepcha. Leiden: Brill.

Post Mark W. 2007. A grammar of Galo. Melbourne: La Trobe University. (Doctoral dissertation).

Rahman Syed Iftiqar. 2016. Verbal agreement and grammatical description of Haʔwa Nocte. Chiang Mai: Payap University. (Master’s dissertation).

Rutgers Roland. 1998. Yamphu: Grammar texts and lexicon. Leiden: Research School CNWS School of Asian African and Amerindian Studies.

Sagart Laurent. 2006. Review of Matisoff James A. 2003 Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: System and philosophy of Sino-Tibetan reconstruction Berkeley: University of California Press. Diachronica 23(1). 206–223.

Schackow Diana. 2015. A grammar of Yakkha. Berlin: Language Science Press.

Schmidt Isaac Jacob. 1841. Tibetisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch nebstdeutschem Wortregister. Saint Petersburg: Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Shafer Robert. 1955. Classification of the Sino-Tibetan languages. Word 11(1). 94–111.

Shafer Robert. 1974. Introduction to Sino-Tibetan. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrasowitz.

Sharma B. Deben. 2005. Lhops (Doya) of Bhutan: An ethnographic account. New Delhi: Akansha Publishing House.

Sotrug Yeshy T. 2015. Linguistic evidence for madeskā kirā̃tī: The phylogenetic position of Dhimalish. Bern: University of Bern. (Master’s dissertation).

Sprigg Richard Keith. 1987. ‘Rhinoglottophilia’ revisited: Observations on ‘the mysterious connection between nasality and glottality’. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 10(1). 44–62.

Sun Hongkai & Liu Guangkun. 2009. A grammar of Anong: Language death under intense contact. (Translated annotated and supplemented by Li Fengxiang & Thurgood Ela & Thurgood Graham). Leiden: Brill.

Sun Jackson T. 1993. The linguistic position of Tani (Mirish) in Tibeto-Burman. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 16(2). 143–188.

Talukdar G.C. 1962. A phrase book in Idu. Shillong: IN Philological Section Research Department North-East Frontier Agency.

Thurgood Graham. 1985. Pronouns verb agreement systems and the subgrouping of Tibeto-Burman. In Thurgood Graham & Matisoff James A. & Bradley David (eds.) Linguistics of the Sino-Tibetan area: The state of the art 376–400. Canberra: Department of Linguistics Australian National University.

Thurgood Graham. 2003. A subgrouping of the Sino-Tibetan languages: The interaction between language contact change and inheritance. In Thurgood Graham & LaPolla Randy J. (eds.) The Sino-Tibetan languages 3–21. London: Routledge.

Tolsma Gerard Jacobus. 2006. A grammar of Kulung. Leiden: Brill.

Tournadre Nicolas. 2010. The Classical Tibetan cases and their transcategoriality: From sacred grammar to modern linguistics. Himalayan Linguistics 9(2). 87–125.

Turin Mark. 2012. A grammar of the Thangmi language: With an ethnolinguistic introduction to the speakers and their culture. 2 vols. Leiden: Brill.

van Breugel Seino. 2014. A grammar of Atong. Leiden: Brill.

van Driem George. N.d.(a). The Ṭoṭo language of the Bhutanese duars: Being first impressions of the Ṭoṭo language and reflections on the Western Tibeto-Burman hypothesis. Unpublished manuscript.

van Driem George. N.d.(b). A grammar of Lohorung. Unpublished manuscript.

van Driem George. N.d.(c). Lhokpu: A Tibeto-Burman tongue of southwestern Bhutan. Unpublished manuscript.

van Driem George. 1987. A grammar of Limbu. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

van Driem George. 1993a. A grammar of Dumi. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

van Driem George. 1993b. The Proto-Tibeto-Burman verbal agreement system. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 56(2). 292–334.

van Driem George. 1995. Een eerste grammaticale verkenning van het Bumthang een taal van midden-Bhutan: Met een overzicht van de talen en volkeren van Bhutan [A first grammatical exploration of Bumthang a language of central Bhutan: With an overview of the languages and peoples of Bhutan]. Leiden: Onderzoekschool CNWS

van Driem George. 1997. Sino-Bodic. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 60(3). 455–488.

van Driem George. 1998. Dzongkha. Leiden: Research School CNWS School of Asian African and Amerindian Studies.

van Driem George. 2001. Languages of the Himalayas: An ethnolinguistic handbook of the Greater Himalayan region. 2 vols. Leiden: Brill.

van Driem George. 2003. Tibeto-Burman vs. Sino-Tibetan. In Bauer Brigitte & Pinault Georges-Jean (eds.) Language in time and space 101–119. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

van Driem George. 2004. Bhutan’s endangered languages programme under the Dzongkha Development Authority: Three rare gems. In Ura Karma & Kinga Sonam (eds.) The spider and the piglet: Proceedings of the First International Seminar on Bhutan studies 294–326. Thimphu: Centre for Bhutan Studies.

van Driem George. 2007. Dzala and Dakpa form a coherent subgroup within East Bodish and some related thoughts. In Bielmeier Roland & Haller Felix (eds.) Linguistics of the Himalayas and beyond 71–84. Berlin: Mouton.

van Driem George. 2008. To which language family does Chinese belong or what’s in a name? In Sanchez-Mazas Alicia & Blench Roger & Ross Malcolm D. & Peiros Ilia & Lin Marie (eds.) Past human migrations in East Asia: Matching archaeology linguistics and genetics 219–253. London: Routledge.

van Driem George. 2015a. Tibeto-Burman. In Wang William S.-Y. & Sun Chaofen (eds.) Oxford handbook of Chinese linguistics 135–148. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

van Driem George. 2015b. Synoptic grammar of the Bumthang language: A language of the central Bhutan highlands. Himalayan Linguistics 6. 1–77.

van Driem George & Hyslop Gwendolyn & Gerber Pascal & Grollmann Selin & Tshering Karma. in preparation. A grammar of Lhokpu.

VanBik David. 2014. English to Chin (Hakha) dictionary. 20 January 2014.

VanBik Kenneth. 2009. Proto-Kuki-Chin: A reconstructed ancestor of the Kuki-Chin languages. Berkeley: University of California.

Widmer Manuel. 2014. A descriptive grammar of Bunan. Bern: University of Bern. (Doctoral dissertation).

Widmer Manuel. 2015. The transformation of verb agreement into epistemic marking: Evidence from Tibeto-Burman. In Fleischer Jürg & Rieken Elisabeth & Widmer Paul (eds.) Agreement from a diachronic perspective 53–73. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Wylie Turrell. 1959. A standard system of Tibetan transcription. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 22. 261–267.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 43 43 21
Full Text Views 88 88 75
PDF Downloads 14 14 11
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0