Tid: Torsdag 1 november 2018, kl. 15:00-17:00
Plats: C307, Södra huset, Frescati


Kanashi (xns) is a Tibeto-Burman (TB) language, spoken by a population of 1,500–2,000 in only one village – Malana (Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh, India). Malana is surrounded by Indo-Aryan (IA) speaking villages. Unfortunately there is very little published information about Kanashi: some short word-lists (Harcourt 1871; Diack 1896; Grierson 1928; Tobdan 2010); a grammatical sketch (6 pages) and two short texts (Grierson 1909); Sharma (1989); and Saxena and Borin (2013).

The focus of this presentation is on borrowing in Kanashi. Based on our own fieldwork data, we will show that a substantial portion of the Kanashi lexicon has Indo-Aryan/Persian origin (Indo-Aryan has a large number of Persian loanwords). The IA borrowings in Kanashi exhibit fairly systematic behavior. For example, some di-and polysyllabic Kanashi noun stems end in -aŋ, -iŋor -as/-es. Almost all these nouns contain identifiable IA stems. However, the final part is not part of the borrowed IA item, but exclusive to Kanashi.

A similar adaptation process of Indo-Aryan borrowings is also observed in verb formation, for example, there is a transitivizing/causative formation, where the transitive verbs contain -j(a).

Interestingly these same two processes are also found in Kinnauri (a closely related TB language spoken some 200 km away in lower/middle Kinnaur), but not in other TB languages of this region – even though they, too, have many IA borrowings. This raises some interesting questions concerning the history of these borrowings in the two languages.

In this presentation we will discuss the following features of Kanashi and Kinnauri: (i) the division of a year into months and the names of the months; (ii) nouns with a final -es/-aŋ/-iŋ; and (iii) the transitivizer/causative -j(a).

It seems that the adaptation of these IA elements in Kanashi and Kinnauri began in their common variety –before they moved to their present locations. Some preliminary observations will also be made concerning the possible location of their common variety.


Bailey, T. G. 1908. The languages of the Northern Himalayas, being studied in the grammar of twenty-sixHimalayan dialects. London: Royal Asiatic Society

Diack, A.H. 1896. The Kulu Dialect of Hindi: some notes on its grammatical structure, with specimens of the songs and sayings current amongst the people, and a glossary. Lahore

Grierson, G.A. 1909. Linguistic Survey of India, vol 3: TibetoBurman family. Part I: General introduction,specimens of the Tibetan dialects, the Himalayan dialects, and the North Assam group. Calcutta: Government of India, Central Publication Branch.

Grierson, G.A. 1928. Linguistic Survey of India, Vol 1, Part II: Comparative vocabulary. Calcutta: Government of India, Central Publication Branch.

Harcourt, A.F.P. 1871. The Himalayan districts of Kooloo, Lahoul, and Spiti. London.

Saxena, Anju and Lars Borin. 2013. Carving Tibeto-Kanauri by its joints: Using basic vocabulary lists for genetic grouping of languages. Lars Borin and Anju Saxena (eds) Approaches to measuring linguistic differences, 175–198. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Sharma, D.D. 1989. Tribal languages of Himachal Pradesh. Delhi: Mittal Publications

Tobdan 2010. Exploring Malana. An ancient culture hidden in the Himalayas. New Delhi: Indus Publishing Company

Varmt välkomna!

Richard Kowalik