Tibetan Language

“Tibetan language: Sino-Tibetan language spoken by more than 5 million people in Tibet (Xizang), Qinghai, Sichuan, and Gansu provinces in China; Bhutan; northern Nepal; and Jammu and Kashmir Province in India and Pakistan. Since the occupation of Tibet by China in 1959, enclaves of Tibetan-speakers have dispersed to India and other parts of the world. Spoken Tibetan comprises a very diverse range of dialects, conventionally divided into several groups: Western, including Balti and Ladakhi in Jammu and Kashmir; Central, including the speech of Lhasa and most of the Nepalese dialects (including Sherpa); Southern, including the dialects of Sikkim and Bhutan; Khams, or Southeastern, including the dialects of the interior plateau, southern Qinghai, eastern Tibet, and parts of western Sichuan; Amdo or Northeastern, including the dialects of northern Qinghai, southern Gansu, and northern Sichuan. Most Tibetans share a common literary language, written in a distinctive scripts of disputed origin first attested in the 8th century AD.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

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