West Himalayish languages

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West Himalayish
Kanauric, Almora
Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand (India), Nepal
Linguistic classificationSino-Tibetan

The West Himalayish languages, also known as Almora and Kanauric, are a family of Sino-Tibetan languages centered in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and across the border into Nepal. LaPolla (2003) proposes that the West Himalayish languages may be part of a larger "Rung" group.


The languages include:[citation needed]

Zhangzhung, the sacred language of the Bon religion, was spoken north of the Himalayas across western Tibet before being replaced by Tibetan. James Matisoff (2001)[1] provides lexical and phonological evidence for the classification of Zhangzhung within West Himalayish.


Widmer (2014:47)[2] classifies the West Himalayish languages as follows. The recently discovered Dhuleli language has been added from Regmi & Prasain (2017).[3]

West Himalayish

Widmer (2014:53–56)[2] classifies Zhangzhung within the Eastern branch of West Himalayish, and notes that it appears particularly close to languages of the Central subgroup (Bunan, Sunnami, and Rongpo).

Widmer (2017)[4] notes that many Tibetan varieties in the western Tibetan Plateau have been influenced by West Himalayish languages.


Widmer (2017)[4] lists the following lexical items that differ in the Eastern and Western branches of West Himalayish.

Language ‘one’ ‘hand’ ‘cry’ ‘black’
West Himalayish
*it *gut *krap- *rok-
Manchad itsa gùṛa krap- roki
Kanashi idh guḍ kərop- roko
id gŭd' krap- rŏkh
West Himalayish
*tik *lak *tjo- *kʰaj/*wom
Bunan tiki lak tjo- kʰaj
Rongpo tig lag tyõ- kʰasyũ
Byangsi tigɛ tye- wamdɛ

Widmer (2014:53-56)[2] classifies Zhangzhung within the eastern branch of West Himalayish, and lists the following cognates between Zhangzhung and Proto-West Himalayish.

Gloss Zhangzhung Proto-West Himalayish
barley zad *zat
blue ting *tiŋ-
diminutive suffix -tse *-tse ~ *-tsi
ear ra tse *re
fat tsʰas *tsʰos
girl tsa med *tsamet
god sad *sat
gold ? zang *zaŋ
heart she *ɕe
old (person) shang ze *ɕ(j)aŋ
red mang *maŋ
white shi nom *ɕi


  1. Matisoff, James. 2001. "The interest of Zhangzhung for comparative Tibeto-Burman." In New Research on Zhangzhung and Related Himalayan Languages (Bon Studies 3). Senri Ethnological Studies no. 19, p.155-180. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology 国立民族学博物館. doi:10.15021/00002145
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Widmer, Manuel. 2014. "A tentative classification of West Himalayish." In A descriptive grammar of Bunan, 33-56. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Bern.
  3. Regmi, Dan Raj; Prasain, Balaram. 2017. A sociolinguistic survey of Dhuleli. Linguistic Survey of Nepal (LinSuN), Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Widmer, Manuel. 2017. The linguistic prehistory of the western Himalayas: endangered minority languages as a window to the past. Presented at Panel on Endangered Languages and Historical Linguistics, 23rd International Conference on Historical Linguistics (ICHL 23), San Antonio, Texas.