Notes on Ü-tsang Spoken Tibetan

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Shemtov
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Notes on Ü-tsang Spoken Tibetan

Post by Shemtov »

I've been reading about Modern Spoken Central Tibetan (Ü-tsang) and am teaching myself a little, so I am posting some things I find interesting. As I learn more, this may be an AMA.

PHONETICS:
Tone is only distinguised on monosyllabic words and the first syllable of polysyllabics. There are two tones- high and low. Low tone almost never occurs on syllabals with a aspirated consonant in intial position.
The only codas are /p̚ m k̚ ŋ ʔ/, but in low registers /k̚/ will fuse with /ʔ/. High registers may replace long vowels with a normal vowel + /ɹ/ or /l/ rhyme
Only front vowels may be long (or in high registers have a /ɹ/ or /l/ coda) or nasalized. In registers that distinguish coda /k̚/ and /ʔ/, coda /ʔ/ is more common after front vowels.

Morphosyntax:
Ü-tsang is SOV, ergative, and agglutinating. Allomorphy is common.
Verbs have two stems: Past and Non-Past. There might be an honorific non-past stem. Aspect and mood postclitics combine with the stem to form TAM.
Person and Number are not normally marked on the verb, except person is marked:
For the copula- /ɹèʔ/ for 3P and plain 2P; /yĩ̀/ for 1P and Honorific 2P
The honorific non-past stem is normally used only for 2P.
More on Morphosyntax will be posted soon.
Many children make up, or begin to make up, imaginary languages. I have been at it since I could write.
-JRR Tolkien

dva_arla
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Re: Notes on Ü-tsang Spoken Tibetan

Post by dva_arla »

Cool! I've read a bit on Tibetan, especially its orthography. Although many people (both Tibetans and non-Tibetans) seem to regard the Tibetan alphabet as complex and confusing due to the high number of elided consonants (in Ud-tsang Tibetan that is) etc. I think that the orthography is not more "deep" than that of, say, French.

By the way, how much is Ud-tsang Tibetan different from :
a) Old/Classical Tibetan
b) the Literary form
c) other modern varieties of Tibetan (Amdo, Khams, Balti, Ladakhi)? It seems that Balti is most conservative in preserving its consonants (the clusters, final -s etc.) but what of its lexicon and grammar?

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