Linguists gather at Dartmouth to share Sino-Tibetan research

Above: a mountain village in South Asia. The Sino-Tibetan language family is represented across a wide area of Asia, covering much of Southeast Asia and South Asia, even reaching as far as Central Asia.

(August 2013) Researchers from around the world gathered at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, USA, last week for the 46th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics ( ICSTLL46). Among the participants were several SIL linguists and a number of staff from organizations that SIL partners with in Asia.

Sino-Tibetan is one of the world’s major language families. About 20% of the world’s population speaks one of the 456 Sino-Tibetan languages as mother tongue. The family represents a wide range of vitality*—it includes international languages which are spoken by hundreds of millions, and others which are severely endangered and may soon be extinct.

Presentations by SIL staff included:

  • Doug Inglis:
    • “Deictic mai 'here' as an object marker in Khamti Shan: a Tibeto-Burman influence?”
    • “Oral stop consonants in Khamti Shan: an acoustic study in voice onset time”

  • Stephen Watters: “Switch-reference in Dzongkha”

Inglis' second presentation is part of the Tai Kadai Workshop that was part of this year's conference. Watters is currently pursuing a PhD in linguistics at Rice University. The research for his ICSTLL46 presentation was funded by a grant from Rice.

SIL places great value on research and documentation of the world’s minority languages and seeks to make that knowledge available to language communities and other researchers. Visit the Language & Culture Archives for information on more than 32,000 resources, including many which are available for free download.


*As measured by the Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (EGIDS), a tool for assessing language vitality which accounts for both current language use and language development in process.

Related links: