Mahakiranti languages

Linguistic classification:


  • Bodic ?
    • Mahakiranti
Glottolog: maha1306[1]

The Mahakiranti or Maha-Kiranti ('Greater Kiranti') languages are a proposed intermediate level of classification of the Sino-Tibetan languages. They are the languages most closely related to the Kiranti languages proper, which are spoken by the Kirati people, and by those spoken by the Rai. The conception of which languages belong in Mahakiranti—or if Mahakiranti is even a valid group—varies between researchers. Originally, proposed by Van Driem, he retracted his proposal in 2003 after a field study in Bhutan.

Conceptions of Mahakiranti

Van Driem (2001) posits that the Mahakiranti languages besides Kiranti proper are Newar, Baram, and Thangmi. Baram and Thangmi are clearly related, but it is not yet clear if the similarities they share with Newar demonstrate a 'Para-Kiranti' family, as Van Driem suggests, or if they are borrowings. He sees Lepcha, Lhokpu, and the Magaric languages (in the narrow sense, whether or not Chepangic proves to be Magar) as the Bodic languages closest to Mahakiranti.

Van Driem's conception of Mahakiranti







Matisoff's Mahakiranti includes the Newar and the Magaric languages along with Kiranti. He groups Mahakiranti with the Tibeto-Kanauri languages (in which he includes Lepcha) as Himalayish.

Bradley (1997) adds Magar and Chepang to van Driem's Mahakiranti and calls the result Himalayan. This, along with his "Bodish" (equivalent to Tibeto-Kanauri), constitutes his Bodic family.

Ethnologue (15th ed.) posits Magaric, Chepang, and Newar alongside Kiranti; Mahakiranti is in turn posited to be related to Tibeto-Kanauri in a Himalayish branch, largely equivalent to other scholars' Bodic.

Benedict (1972) included Newar and Chepangic, but not Magaric. He mistakenly classified Vayu as Chepangic and thus named the family Bahing–Vayu.

Retraction of the hypothesis by Van Driem

After a field visit to Bhutan, Van Driem, the original proponent of this hypothesis, collected data on Gondhuk language which made him realize morphological traits common between Kiranti and Newarish are not unique to either Kiranti or Newari but a shared retention of a far older trait. He retracted his proposal in 2003.


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


See also

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 2/13/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.