Khams Tibetan

Khams Tibetan
RegionChina, Bhutan, Tibet Autonomous Region, Amdo, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan
Native speakers
(1.4 million cited 1994)[2]
Tibetan script
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
khg – Khams
kbg – Khamba[1]
tsk – Tseku
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Khams Tibetan (Wylie: Khams skad, THL: Khamké) is the Tibetic language used by the majority of the people in Kham, which is now divided between the eastern part of Tibet Autonomous Region, the southern part of Qinghai, the western part of Sichuan, and the northwestern part of Yunnan, China. It is one of the six main spoken Tibetic languages, the other five being Central Tibetan language, Amdo, Ladakhi, Dzongkha and Balti. These Tibetic languages share the same written script, but their pronunciations, vocabularies and grammars are different. These differences may have emerged due to geographical isolation of the regions of Tibet. Khams Tibetan is used alongside Standard Tibetan and Amdo Tibetan in broadcasting. Khams Tibetan is not mutually intelligible with other Tibetic languages.

Like Central Tibetan, Khams Tibetan is a tonal language.[citation needed]

Khampa Tibetan is also spoken by about 1,000 people in two enclaves in eastern Bhutan, the descendants of pastoral yak-herding communities.[3]


There are five dialects of Khams Tibetan proper:

These have relatively low mutual intelligibility, but are close enough that they are usually considered a single language. Khamba and Tseku are more divergent, but classified with Khams by Tournadre (2013).

Several other languages are spoken by Tibetans in the Khams region: Dongwang Tibetan language and the Rgyalrong languages.[4]

The phonologies and vocabularies of the Bodgrong, Dartsendo, dGudzong, Khyungpo (Khromtshang), Lhagang Rangakha, Sangdam, Sogpho, sKobsteng, sPomtserag, Tsharethong, and Yangthang dialects of Kham Tibetan have been documented by Hiroyuki Suzuki.[5]

See also


  1. ^ George van Driem, Languages of the Himalayas, p 892
  2. ^ Khams at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Khamba[1] at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Tseku at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ van Driem, George L. (1993). "Language Policy in Bhutan". London: SOAS. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-01. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  4. ^ N. Tournadre (2005) "L'aire linguistique tibétaine et ses divers dialectes." Lalies, 2005, n°25, p. 7–56 [1]
  5. ^ Asian and African Languages and Linguistics

Further reading

  • Suzuki, Hiroyuki and Sonam Wangmo. 2015. Discovering endangered Tibetic varieties in the easternmost Tibetosphere: A case study on Dartsendo Tibetan. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 38:2 (2015), 256–270. doi:10.1075/ltba.38.2.07suz

External links

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