This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Nuts and Bolts: Tibetan.

You'd like to be able to speak Tibetan? 

Well, which Tibetan?

Standard Tibetan? Would that be the phai-skad every-day form, the zhe-sa formal respectful form, or the chos-skad literary form?

If that makes Tibetan sound complicated then pity Nicolas Tournadre, who has spent twenty years studying Tibetan. He estimates that there are 220 Tibetan dialects, and that these dialects fall into twenty five mutually understandable groups. 

This means, basically, there are twenty five Tibetan languages. This makes Tibetan more diverse than the Romance language group (which includes French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian. (There are nineteen Romance languages)).

Tournadre has grouped the Tibetan languages further, but even he says that some of them, ie Thewo-Chone, Zhongu, Khalong, Dongwang, Gserpa, Zitsadegu, Drugchu and Baima aren't well know enough to classify.

Oh, and by the way, Tibetan is written in at least three alphabets, too.

Now, do you still fancy speaking Tibetan? Or would you rather have a lie down in a darkened room?

Where's that wet towel...

Word To Use Today: one from Tibetan. Lama (NB: the single ell priest, not the double ell llama), sherpa (which means eastern-dweller) yak or yeti, perhaps. 

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