Kiranti
EthnicityKirati: Yakkha, Limbu , Rai and Sunuwar
Geographic
distribution
Eastern Nepal and India (Sikkim, Darjeeling, and Kalimpong)
Linguistic classificationSino-Tibetan
Subdivisions
  • Eastern
  • Central
  • Western
Glottologkira1253

The Kiranti languages are a major family of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in Nepal and India (notably Sikkim, Darjeeling, and Kalimpong) by the Kirati people.

External relationships

George van Driem had formerly proposed that the Kiranti languages were part of a Mahakiranti family, although specialists are not completely certain of either the existence of a Kiranti subgroup or its precise membership.[1] LaPolla (2003), though, proposes that Kiranti may be part of a larger "Rung" group.

Languages

There are about two dozen Kiranti languages. The better known are Limbu, Sunuwar, Bantawa Rai, Chamling Rai, Khaling Rai, Bahing Rai, Yakkha language, Vayu, Dungmali Rai, Lohorung Rai and Kulung Rai.

Kiranti verbs are not easily segmentable, due in large part to the presence of portmanteau morphemes, crowded affix strings, and extensive (and often nonintuitive) allomorphy.

Classification

Overall, Kiranti languages are:

Ethnologue adds Tilung Rai to Western Kiranti, based on Opgenort (2011).

Opgenort (2005)

Opgenort (2005)[2] classifies the Kiranti languages as follows, and recognizes a basic east-west division within Kiranti.

Kiranti

Gerber & Grollmann (2018)

Historical linguists, as early as 2012, do not consider Kiranti to be a coherent group, but rather a paraphyletic one due to lack of shared innovations.[3] Gerber & Grollmann (2018) gave a formal proof of the paraphyletic nature of Kiranti. A Central-Eastern Kiranti group is considered to be valid by Gerber & Grollmann (2018), but they consider "Western Kiranti" unclassified within Trans-Himalayan languages.[4]

Independent branches (formerly part of "Western Kiranti") that are unclassified within Trans-Himalayan (Sino-Tibetan):

Sound changes

Sound changes defining each subgroup (Gerber & Grollmann 2018):

Independent branches (formerly part of "Western Kiranti") that are unclassified within Trans-Himalayan (Sino-Tibetan):

Reconstruction

Research on proto-Kiranti includes work on phonology and comparative morphology by van Driem,[5] reconstructions by Michailovsky (1991)[6] and Sergei Starostin 1994.[7] Michailovsky and Starostin differ by the number of stop series reconstructed (three vs four) and the interpretation of the correspondences.

Opgenort introduces the reconstruction of preglottalized resonants;[8] his reconstruction is generally based on Starostin's four series system. More recently, Jacques proposed reconstruction of proto-Kiranti verb roots in a framework following Michailovsky's system,[9] and analyzes the other initial correspondences (in particular, the series reconstructed as non-aspirated unvoiced stops by Starostin) as due to morphological alternations and inter-Kiranti borrowing. In addition, he presents a preliminary discussion of the reconstruction of stem alternation and stress patterns on the basis of Khaling and Dumi.[10]

Notes

  1. ^ Matisoff 2003, pp. 5-6; Thurgood 2003, pp. 15-16; Ebert 2003, pg. 505.
  2. ^ Opgenort, Jean Robert. Comparative and Etymological Kiranti Database.
  3. ^ Jacques, Guillaume (2012). "Agreement Morphology: The Case of Rgyalrongic and Kiranti". Language and Linguistics: 84.
  4. ^ Pascal Gerber; Selin Grollmann (2018). What is Kiranti? A Critical Account. Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics 11 (2018) 99-152.
  5. ^ *van Driem, G.. (1990). The Fall and Rise of the Phoneme /r/ in Eastern Kiranti: Sound Change in Tibeto-Burman. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 53(1), 83–86. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/618970
  6. ^ Michailovsky, Boyd. 1991. Big black notebook of Kiranti, proto-Kiranti forms. (unpublished ms. contributed to STEDT).
  7. ^ Starostin, Sergei A. 1994-2000. Proto-Kiranti reconstruction (online database). http://starling.rinet.ru/
  8. ^ Opgenort, Jean-Robert. 2004. Implosive and preglottalized stops in Kiranti. Linguistics of the Tibeto–Burman Area 27(1). 1–27. Opgenort, Jean-Robert. 2005. A grammar of Jero, with a historical comparative study of the Kiranti languages. Leiden: Brill.
  9. ^ Jacques, Guillaume. 2017. A reconstruction of Proto-Kiranti verb roots. Folia Linguistica Historica 38. 177–215. [1]
  10. ^ Jacques, Guillaume. 2016. Tonogenesis and tonal alternations in Khaling. In Enrique L. Palancar & Jean Léo Léonard (eds.), Tone and Inflection, 41–66. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter. [2]

References

Reconstructions