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  Himalayan Languages Project
Category: Language documentation
Year: 1993 onwards
Location: -
Organisation: Leiden University, The Netherlands

The Himalayan Languages Project is the largest language documentation initiative that has covered parts of the Asian heartland for over 15 years. Comprehensive linguistic descriptions for endangered and threatened languages of the Himalayan region have been published by the members of the multi-national research team of young investigators. These languages hold the key of the history and culture of the Himalayas and helps to interpret archaeological records and trace the population movements in the past.


Eleven comprehensive grammars and grammatical sketches have been completed with an additional 15 in process. In addition to detailed documentation of endangered languages, other major results of the project include: discovery of two languages previously unknown in the Tibeto-Burman language family - Gongduk and Black Mountain in Bhutan; rediscovery of the Baram language community in Nepal, a language which was presumed to be extinct since 19th century, identification of all Tibeto-Burman language communities and subgroups.


A two-volume compendium on the languages, language families, language communities and prehistory of the region - Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethno-linguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region (with maps) was published under this project. Other major achievements include reconstructions of population movements and dispersal of language families on the basis of correlation of the data on genes, languages and archaeology, and a comparative and historical web based database on Tibeto-Burman historical phonology. Annual symposiums convened under the initiative since 1995, provide a forum for interaction for the scholars of Himalayan languages.


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