Bodish languages

Tibetan Plateau
Linguistic classification:


Glottolog: bodi1257[1]
L1 speakers of Bodish languages and other Sino-Tibetan languages according to Ethnologue

The Bodish languages, named for the Tibetan ethnonym Bod, are the Tibetic languages in a broad linguistic sense, regardless of whether the speakers are considered ethnically Tibetan. Different scholars divide Bodish differently, but the alternate term "Tibetan" generally excludes East Bodish. Languages in this subgroup are spoken in Tibet, North India, Nepal, Bhutan, and North Pakistan.

Shafer, who coined the term "Bodish" divided the family into "West Bodish", "Central Bodish", "South Bodish", and "East Bodish". Shafer is unclear about how much of the family he believes descends from Old Tibetan ("Old Bodish" in his terminology) but clearly stipulates that "West Bodish" does not. Hill (2010) points out that the West Bodish hypothesis is a historical impossibility,[2] and thus proposes that the two branches of the Bodish family are the East Bodish languages and the Tibetic languages only.

Note that Bradley (1997) includes under the term "Bodish" the West Himalayish, Tshangla, and Tamangic languages, making Bodish equivalent to the term "Tibeto-Kanauri" in other classifications. Within this grouping, he makes a clean break between East Bodish and Tibetan, as two unitary branches of Bodish.

Apart from the Tibetan languages, the Bodish subbranch of Sino-Tibetan is probably among the least researched branches of Sino-Tibetan. Languages regarded as members of this family include Bumthang (Michailovsky and Mazaudon 1994; van Driem 1995), Tshangla (Hoshi 1987; Andvik 1999), Dakpa (Lu 1986; Sun et al. 1991), Zhangzhung (Nagano and LaPolla 2001), and maybe Zakhring (Blench & Post 2011).

According to Shafer, East Bodish languages are the most conservative branch of the Bodish languages.

As for grammars of the East Bodish languages, there is Das Gupta (1968) and Lu (2002). Some papers on Kurtöp include Hyslop (2008a, 2008b, 2009).


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Bodish". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Hill 2010, p. 111
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