Languages of the Tibeto-Burman language family (including Sinitic) are spoken in south-East Asian, notably in China, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, Laos, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Pakistan. With over 1.5 billion speakers, Tibeto-Burman is the largest language family in the world. Most Tibeto-Burman languages are currently under-researched. As a result of globalization, many Tibeto-Burman languages are rapidly becoming endangered and urgently require documentation. Due to the scarcity of data, major questions concerning Tibeto-Burman, such as its historical development, subgrouping and reconstruction are presently unresolved.
Main goal of the project is to create a joint online database of Tibeto-Burman languages and to continue documentation of endangered Tibeto-Burman languages in China in cooperation with researchers in the IIAS, Leiden University. This project will further expand the database up to 400 Tibeto-Burman languages in China and the Subcontinent, with combines existing lexical database (maintained by the IEA, CASS since 1998) under one unified standard and enables historical reconstructions and multi-leveled studies on Tibeto-Burman. Descriptive grammars and dictionaries of Tibeto-Burman languages in China will be also compiled.
The joint database will eventually serve as foundation for a new classification of Tibeto-Burman languages. Besides preservation of endangered language data, this database to give balanced and well-documented answers to currently debated questions of historical development, subgrouping and reconstruction within Tibeto-Burman.
My work in the IIAS is to collect and sort out Tibeto-Burman language data from languages spoken in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Burma and Thailand) so that each branch of Tibeto-Burman will be represented by a considerable number of representative languages and dialects.