Gyalrongic Languages
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Gyalrongic Languages
Jiarongic, Rgyalrongic
Linguistic classificationSino-Tibetan

The Gyalrongic languages (also known as Rgyalrongic or Jiarongic) constitute a branch of the Qiangic languages of Sino-Tibetan,[1] although some propose that it may be part of a larger Rung languages group, and do not consider it to be particularly closely related to Qiangic, suggesting that similarities between Gyalrongic and Qiangic may be due to areal influence.[2] However, other recent work suggests that Qiangic as a whole may in fact be paraphyletic, with the only commonalities of the supposed "branch" being shared archaisms and areal features that were encouraged by contact.[3] Jacques & Michaud (2011) propose that Qiangic including Gyalrongic may belong to a larger Burmo-Qiangic group based on some lexical innovations.[4]

Geographical distribution

The Gyalrongic languages are spoken in Sichuan in China, mainly in the autonomous Tibetan and Qiang prefectures of Karmdzes and Rngaba. These languages are distinguished by their conservative morphology and their phonological archaisms, which make them valuable for historical linguistics.

The cluster of languages variously referred to as Stau, Ergong or Horpa in the literature are spoken over a large area from Ndzamthang county (in Chinese Rangtang ) in Rngaba prefecture (Aba ) to Rtau county (Dawu ) in Dkarmdzes prefecture (Ganzi ), in Sichuan province, China. At the moment of writing, it is still unclear how many unintelligible varieties belong to this group, but at least three must be distinguished: the language of Rtau county (referred as 'Stau' in this paper), the Dgebshes language (Geshizha ?) spoken in Rongbrag county (Danba ), and the Stodsde language (Shangzhai ) in Ndzamthang.[5]

Gyalrongic languages are spoken predominantly in the four counties of Ma'erkang, Li, Xiaojin, and Jinchuan in Aba Prefecture, western Sichuan.[6] Other Gyalrongic lects are spoken in neighboring Heishui, Rangtang, Baoxing, Danba, and Daofu counties.


The Gyalrongic languages share several features, notably in verbal morphology, and are classified into three groups:

The Gyalrong languages in turn constitute four mutually unintelligible varieties: Eastern Gyalrong or Situ, Japhug, Tshobdun, and Zbu.

Khroskyabs and Horpa are classified by Lin (1993) as a "western dialect" of Gyalrong, along with Eastern Gyalrong and the "northwestern dialect" (Japhug, Tshobdun, and Zbu). Otherwise, the scholarly consensus deems the distance between Khroskyabs, Horpa, and the Gyalrong cluster is greater than that between the Gyalrong languages. For example, Ethnologue reports 75% lexical similarity between Situ and Japhug, 60% between Japhug and Tshobdun, but only 13% between Situ and Horpa.

Huang (2007:180)[7] found that Horpa (Rta'u) and Gyalrong (Cogrtse) share only 15.2% cognacy, with 242 cognates out of a total of 1,592 words.

The Khalong Tibetan language has a Gyalrongic substratum.[8]

The Chamdo languages (consisting of Lamo, Larong, and Drag-yab, a group of three closely related Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in Chamdo, eastern Tibet) may or may not be Qiangic.[9][10][11]


  1. ^ Matisoff, James. 2004. "Brightening" and the place of Xixia (Tangut) in the Qiangic subgroup of Tibeto-Burman
  2. ^ LaPolla, Randy. 2003. "Overview of Sino-Tibetan Morphosyntax". In Graham Thurgood & Randy LaPolla (eds.), The Sino-Tibetan Languages., 30. London: Routledge.
  3. ^ Katia Chirkova (2012). "The Qiangic subgroup from an areal perspective: A case study of languages of Muli". Language and Linguistics. 13 (1): 133-170.
  4. ^ Guillaume Jaques and Alexis Michaud (2011). "Approaching the historical phonology of three highly eroded Sino-Tibetan languages: Naxi, Na and Laze". Diachronica. 28: 468-498.
  5. ^ Jacques, Guillaume, Anton Antonov, Yunfan Lai & Lobsang Nima. 2017. Stau (Ergong, Horpa). In Graham Thurgood & Randy LaPolla (eds.), The Sino-Tibetan Languages (2nd edition), 597-613. London: Routledge. [1]
  6. ^ Nagano, Yasuhiko and Marielle Prins. 2013. rGyalrongic languages database. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku).
  7. ^ Huang Bufan. 2007. Lawurongyu yanjiu () [A study of the Lavrung language]. Beijing: Minzu Press ().
  8. ^ Tournadre, Nicolas (2005). "L'aire linguistique tibétaine et ses divers dialectes." Lalies, 2005, n°25, p. 7-56.
  9. ^ Suzuki, Hiroyuki and Tashi Nyima. 2018. Historical relationship among three non-Tibetic languages in Chamdo, TAR. Proceedings of the 51st International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics (2018). Kyoto: Kyoto University.
  10. ^ Zhao, Haoliang. 2018. A brief introduction to Zlarong, a newly recognized language in Mdzo sgang, TAR. Proceedings of the 51st International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics (2018). Kyoto: Kyoto University.
  11. ^ Jacques, Guillaumes. 2016. Les journées d'études sur les langues du Sichuan.

External links

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