Kuki-Chin languages

From Bharatpedia, an open encyclopedia

Mizo-Kuki-Chin, Kukish
EthnicityMizo, Kuki, Zomi, Chin, Naga
India, Burma, Bangladesh
Linguistic classificationSino-Tibetan
  • Kuki-Chin
Glottologkuki1246  (Kuki-Chin)

The Kuki-Chin languages (also called Mizo-Kuki-Chin,[1] Kukish or South-Central Tibeto-Burman languages) are a branch of 50 or so Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in northeastern India, western Burma and southeastern Bangladesh. Most speakers of these languages are known as Mizo in Mizoram and Manipur. Also, as Kukī in Bengali and as Chin in Burmese; some also identify as Zomi . Mizo is the most widely spoken of the Kuki-Chin languages.

Kuki-Chin is sometimes placed under Kuki-Chin–Naga, a geographical rather than linguistic grouping.

Most Kuki-Chin languages are spoken in and around Chin State, Burma, with some languages spoken in Sagaing Division, Magway Region and Rakhine State as well. In Northeast India, many Northern Kuki-Chin languages are also spoken in Mizoram State and Manipur State, India, especially in Churachandpur District, Pherzawl District, Kangpokpi District, Senapati District. Northwestern Kuki-Chin languages are spoken mostly in Chandel District, Manipur.

Kuki-Chin is alternatively called South-Central Trans-Himalayan (or South Central Tibeto-Burman) by Konnerth (2018), because of negative connotations of the term "Kuki-Chin" for many speakers of languages in this group.[2]

Internal classification[edit]

The Karbi languages may be closely related to Kuki-Chin, but Thurgood (2003) and van Driem (2011) leave Karbi unclassified within Sino-Tibetan.[3][4]

The Kuki-Chin branches listed below are from VanBik (2009), with the Northwestern branch added from Scott DeLancey, et al. (2015),[5] and the Khumic branch (which has been split off from the Southern branch) from Peterson (2017).[6]


Darlong and Ranglong are unclassified Kuki-Chin language. The recently discovered Sorbung language may be mixed language that could classify as either a Kuki-Chin or Tangkhul language (Mortenson & Keogh 2011).[7]

Anu-Hkongso speakers self-identify as ethnic Chin people, although their language is closely related to Mru rather than to Kuki-Chin languages. The Mruic languages constitute a separate Tibeto-Burman branch, and are not part of Kuki-Chin.[6]

VanBik (2009)[edit]

Kenneth VanBik's (2009:23) classified the Kuki-Chin languages based on shared sound changes (phonological innovations) from Proto-Kuki-Chin as follows.


Peterson (2017)[edit]

David A. Peterson's (2017:206)[6] internal classification of the Kuki-Chin languages is as follows.


Peterson's Northeastern branch corresponds to VanBik's Northern branch, while Peterson's Northwestern corresponds to the Old Kuki branch of earlier classifications.

See also[edit]


  1. Burling, Robbins (2003). "The Tibeto-Burman languages of Northeastern India". In Graham Thurgood; Randy J. LaPolla (eds.). The Sino-Tibetan Languages. pp. 169–191.
  2. Konnerth, Linda. 2018. The historical phonology of Monsang (Northwestern South-Central/“Kuki-Chin”): A case of reduction in phonological complexity. Himalayan Linguistics, Vol. 17(1): 19-49, note [2]: "...many language activists among the speakers of languages of the South-Central branch has made it clear to me that using the “Kuki-Chin” label is very insensitive."
  3. Thurgood, Graham (2003) "A subgrouping of the Sino-Tibetan languages: The interaction between language contact, change, and inheritance." In G. Thurgood and R. LaPolla, eds., The Sino-Tibetan languages, pp. 13–14. London: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-7007-1129-1.
  4. van Driem, George L. (2011a), "Tibeto-Burman subgroups and historical grammar", Himalayan Linguistics Journal, 10 (1): 31–39, archived from the original on 12 January 2012.
  5. DeLancey, Scott; Krishna Boro; Linda Konnerth1; Amos Teo. 2015. Tibeto-Burman Languages of the Indo-Myanmar borderland. 31st South Asian Languages Analysis Roundtable, 14 May 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Peterson, David. 2017. "On Kuki-Chin subgrouping." In Picus Sizhi Ding and Jamin Pelkey, eds. Sociohistorical linguistics in Southeast Asia: New horizons for Tibeto-Burman studies in honor of David Bradley, 189-209. Leiden: Brill.
  7. David Mortenson and Jennifer Keogh. 2011. "Sorbung, an Undocumented Language of Manipur: its Phonology and Place in Tibeto-Burman", in JEALS 4, vol 1.


  • George van Driem (2001) Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region. Brill, ISBN 978-90-04-12062-4.
  • VanBik, Kenneth. 2009. Proto-Kuki-Chin: A Reconstructed Ancestor of the Kuki-Chin Languages. STEDT Monograph 8. ISBN 0-944613-47-0.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Template:Languages of Myanmar

Template:Languages of Bangladesh

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