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Kiranti languages

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Title: Kiranti languages  
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Subject: Tibeto-Burman languages, Chamling language, Sino-Tibetan languages, Languages of Bhutan, Proto-Tibeto-Burman language
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Kiranti languages

Ethnicity: Kiranti: Sunwar Limbu, Rai, etc.
Nepal, Sikkim, Darjeeling
Linguistic classification: Sino-Tibetan
  • Limbu
  • Eastern
  • Central
  • Western
Glottolog: kira1253[1]

The Kiranti languages (also called Bahing–Vayu in the terminology of Benedict (1972)) are a major family of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in Nepal, Sikkim and Darjeeling Hills by the Kiranti people.


The Kiranti languages are frequently posited to form part of a Mahakiranti family, although specialists are not completely certain of either the existence of a Kiranti subgroup or its precise membership.[2] LaPolla (2003), though, proposes that Kiranti may be part of a larger "Rung" group.


There are about two dozen Kiranti languages. The better known are Sunuwar, Bahing, Limbu, Vayu, Lohorung and Kulung. Overall, they are:


  • Limbu (affinities to Eastern Kiranti)

Eastern Kiranti

Central Kiranti

Western Kiranti

Ethnologue adds Tilung to Western.

Kiranti verbs are not easily segmentable, due in large part to the presence of portmanteau morphemes, crowded affix strings, and extensive (and often nonintuitive) allomorphy.


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kiranti". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ Matisoff 2003, pp. 5-6; Thurgood 2003, pp. 15-16; Ebert 2003, pg. 505.


  • George van Driem (2001) Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region. Brill.
  • Bickel, Balthasar, G. Banjade, M. Gaenszle, E. Lieven, N. P. Paudyal, & I. Purna Rai et al. (2007). Free prefix ordering in Chintang. Language, 83 (1), 43–73.
  • University of California Press 2003.Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman.James A. Matisoff:
  • Graham Thurgood (2003) "A Subgrouping of the Sino-Tibetan Languages: The Interaction between Language Contact, Change, and Inheritance," The Sino-Tibetan Languages. Routledge. pp. 3–21.
  • Karen H. Ebert (2003) "Kiranti Languages: An Overview," The Sino-Tibetan Languages. Routledge. pp. 505–517.
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