LSA 133: Topics in Tibeto-Burman historical/comparative linguistics

James A. Matisoff | session 1 | TuTh 10:30 – 12:15, 106 Moffitt Hall

Tibeto-Burman (TB) is one of the most important and understudied language families in the world, comprising some 250-300 languages. These languages, most of them endangered, show great internal typological diversity, and cover an immense geographical area, ranging from Southwest China, the Himalayan region and Northeast India, to peninsular Southeast Asia. The TB languages are the only proven relatives of Chinese; together TB and Chinese constitute the Sino-Tibetan family.

This course will cover a number of key issues in comparative TB studies, including subgrouping; monosyllabicity and tonogenesis; the cyclical relationship between compounding and prefixation; areal patterns of grammaticalization; regularity and variation, etc. Readings will include J. Matisoff's Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman (2003), now available for free full-text downloading; and Variational Semantics in Tibeto-Burman (1987), which has recently been reprinted.

Reading: James Matisoff, Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman, James Matisoff, Variational Semantics in Tibeto-Burman, and selected materials available online.

Areas of linguistics: Areal and historical linguistics; Languages of Eurasia

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