Aspects of the grammar of Thulung Rai
an endangered Himalayan language

Abstract : Thulung Rai is an endangered Tibeto-Burman language of eastern Nepal, currently
spoken by approximately one thousand people. It is a member of the Kiranti group in the
Himalayish branch of Tibeto-Burman, along with languages characterized principally by their
complex pronominalizing verbal inflectional systems.
This dissertation provides an overview of the grammar of the Thulung language, along
with selected texts and a glossary. The aspects of the grammar which are discussed are those
which are particularly relevant as far as Thulung’s heritage as a Tibeto-Burman language is
concerned. The chapters discuss the phonological system of the language; the case marking
system; the use of discourse particles; nominalization and its etymological and semantic
relationship with relativization and genitivization; the finite verbs, with their complex agreement
system and stem alternations; the augmentation of verbs with aspect-bearing derivational
suffixes; clause-combining by means of converbs and sequencers.
Each of these topics bears a significance to Tibeto-Burman studies as a whole, and these
are characteristic features of languages from this area. The areal context for Thulung is another
important aspect of this dissertation. The endangered status of Thulung is a result of the inroads
of the Indo-Aryan national language of Nepal, Nepali. Each chapter, in addition to describing
and analyzing particular grammatical topics, also discusses the equivalent constructions in Nepali
in light of whether they constitute the source for the construction in Thulung as it stands today.
The contributions of this dissertation are in providing reliable and up-to-date information
on a little-known minority Tibeto-Burman language of Nepal. This is an important addition to
the field of Himalayan languages and will be useful for efforts towards reconstructing the
development of Tibeto-Burman languages in the Himalayas. An important dimension of this
dissertation is that it looks at grammatical features in one language in the context of their
distribution over the linguistic area, even across language family boundaries. In this way, the
materials presented are useful as another case-study of an intense language contact situation.
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 29, 2005 - 2:43:32 PM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-00004761, version 1

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Aimée Lahaussois. Aspects of the grammar of Thulung Rai
an endangered Himalayan language. Linguistics. University of California, Berkeley, 2002. English. ⟨halshs-00004761⟩

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