www.questhimalaya.com
QUEST HIMALAYA JOURNAL
Research-Presentations Index
The Study of Zhang Zhung
Rethinking Tibeto-Burman
About Quest Himalaya Adventures
Itineraries
Places of Interest
Special Interest Tours
Hotels We Use
Image Gallery
More About Sikkim
Beyond Our Mountains
Himalayan Artists
 
 

Rethinking Tibeto-Burman: page 4

Conclusion: a plea for nuance
My focus in this short article on the need for precise terminology for describing and analysing Himalayan cultural diversity is intended as a cautionary reminder that ethnic and linguistic categories should not be conflated. While scholars and activists across the Himalayas are addressing the standardisation and documentation of unwritten languages, there is insufficient discussion about the social and political implications of choosing one script over another to represent endangered spoken forms. Recognising that many minority language communities have accepted the idea that a ‘proper’ language must be written, I have focussed on the motivations which inform decisions for or against the use of certain scripts in the representation of these languages.

Dictionaries of endangered languages will be valuable both as records of the cultural wealth of their speakers and as useable resources for language acquisition. While it is likely that many of Nepal’s minority languages will be reduced from communicative vernaculars to markers of symbolic identity within a generation, this tragic loss should not overshadow language revival activities such as those described above for Thangmi. The cultural values and political valences attached to languages, rather like linguistic forms themselves, are dynamic and changing. As scholars, we would do well to recognise this and to develop analytical tools which are robust and yet flexible enough to make sense of shifting ethnolinguistic identities.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Acharya, Pratima Poudel and Fiona Alpass. 2004. ‘Birth outcomes across ethnic groups of women in Nepal’ Health Care for Women International 25, 40-54.

Crystal, David. 2000. Language Death. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Daryn, Gil. 2003. ‘Bahuns: Ethnicity without an ‘ethnic group’’. In Marie Lecomte-Tilouine and Pascale Dollfus (eds.), Ethnic Revival and Religious Turmoil: Identities and Representations in the Himalayas. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 162-173.

de Bary, William Theodore (ed.). 1958. Sources of Indian Tradition (Introduction to Oriental Civilizations). New York: Columbia University Press.

Dorian, Nancy C. 1999. ‘Linguistic and ethnographic fieldwork’. In Joshua A. Fishman (ed.), Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity, 25-41.

Encyclopædia Britannica. 2004. ‘Himalayas’, Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 17 May 2004 <http://search.eb.com/eb/article?eu=119590>.
Fisher, James F. 1997. Living Martyrs: Individuals and Revolution in Nepal. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Fisher, William F. 1987. The Re-Creation of Tradition: Ethnicity, Migration, and Social Change among the Thakali of Central Nepal. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University.

Fisher, William F. 2001. Fluid Boundaries: Forming and Transforming Identity in Nepal. New York: Columbia University Press.

Fishman, Joshua A. (ed.). 1999. Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

von Fürer-Haimendorf, Christoph (ed.). 1966. Caste and Kin in Nepal, India and Ceylon. London: Asia Publishing House.

Gellner, David, Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka and John Whelpton. 1997. Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom: The Politics of Culture in Contemporary Nepal. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.

Höfer, András. 2000. ‘Nomen est numen: notes on the verbal journey in some Western Tamang oral ritual texts’. In B. Bickel and M. Gaenszle (eds.), Himalayan Space: Cultural Horizons and Practices. Zürich: Völkerkundemuseum Zürich, 205-244.

Hofman, John E. 1977. ‘Language attitudes in Rhodesia’. In Joshua A. Fishman, Robert L Copper and Andre W. Conrad (eds.), The Spread of English: The Sociology of English as an Additional Language. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House Publishers, 277-301.

Hutt, Michael. 1986. ‘Diversity and change in the languages of highland Nepal’ Contributions to Nepalese Studies (14)1, 1-24.

Malla, Kamal Prakash. 1982. Classical Newari Literature: A Sketch. Kathmandu: Educational Enterprises Pvt. Ltd.

Schicklgruber, Christian. 1993. ‘Who marries whom and why among the Khumbo’. In Charles Ramble and Martin Brauen (eds.), Anthropology of Tibet and the Himalaya. Zürich: Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich, 343-353.

Schiffman, Harold F. 1999. ‘South and Southeast Asia’. In Joshua A. Fishman (ed.), Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity, 431-443.
Sharma, Prayag Raj. 1993. ‘Caste societies in the state of Nepal: A historical perspective’. In Charles Ramble and Martin Brauen (eds.), Anthropology of Tibet and the Himalaya. Zürich: Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich, 364-376.

Sonntag, Selma K. 2001. ‘The politics of determining criteria for the languages of education in Nepal’. In Thomas Fleiner, Peter H. Nelde and Joseph-G. Turi, (eds.), Droit et langue(s) d’enseignment: Law and Language(s) of Education. Bâle: Helbing and Lichtenhahn, 161-174.

Toffin, Gérard. 1981. ‘L’Organisation Sociale des Pahari ou Pahi, Population du Centre Népal’ L’Homme 21: 39-68.

Tournadre, Nicholas and Sangda Dorje. 2003. Manual of Standard Tibetan: Language and Civilization. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications.

Tucci, Giuseppe. 1993 [1952]. Journey to Mustang 1952. Kathmandu: Bibliotheca Himalayica.

Turin, Mark. 2000. ‘Time for a true population census: the case of the miscounted Thangmi’ Nagarik (Citizen) (2)4, 14-19.

Webster, Jeff. 1999. ‘The language development-language promotion tension: a case study from Limbu’. In Yogendra P. Yadava and Warren W. Glover (eds.), Topics in Nepalese Linguistics. Kathmandu: Royal Nepal Academy, 556-565.

Page 1 || Page 2 || Page 3 || Page 4

 
Go To Top