Standard Tibetan[note 2] is a widely spoken form of the Tibetic languages that has many commonalities with the speech of Lhasa, an Ü-Tsang (Central Tibetan) dialect. For this reason, Standard Tibetan is often called Lhasa Tibetan.[note 3] Tibetan is an official[note 4] language of the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. The written language is based on Classical Tibetan and is highly conservative.
|བོད་སྐད་, Bod skad / Böké|
ལྷ་སའི་སྐད་, Lha-sa'i skad / Lhaséké
|Native to||India, Nepal, Tibet (Western China)|
|Region||Tibet Autonomous Region, Kham|
|(1.2 million cited 1990 census)|
Official language in
|Nepal (Upper Mustang)|
China (Tibet Autonomous Region)
|Regulated by||Committee for the Standardisation of the Tibetan Language[note 1]|
Like many languages, Standard Tibetan has a variety of language registers:
Unlike many other languages of East Asia and especially Chinese, another Sino-Tibetan language, there are no numeral auxiliaries or measure words used in counting in Tibetan although words expressive of a collective or integral are often used after the tens, sometimes after a smaller number.
Tibetan is written with an Indic script, with a historically conservative orthography that reflects Old Tibetan phonology and helps unify the Tibetan-language area. It is also helpful in reconstructing Proto Sino-Tibetan and Old Chinese.
Wylie transliteration is the most common system of romanization used by Western scholars in rendering written Tibetan using the Latin alphabet (such as employed on much of this page). Tibetan pinyin, however, is the official romanization system employed by the government of the People's Republic of China. Certain names may also retain irregular transcriptions, such as Chomolungma for Mount Everest.
The following summarizes the sound system of the dialect of Tibetan spoken in Lhasa, the most influential variety of the spoken language.
Tournadre and Sangda Dorje describe eight vowels in the standard language:
Three additional vowels are sometimes described as significantly distinct: [ʌ] or [ə], which is normally an allophone of /a/; [ɔ], which is normally an allophone of /o/; and [ɛ̈] (an unrounded, centralised, mid front vowel), which is normally an allophone of /e/. These sounds normally occur in closed syllables; because Tibetan does not allow geminated consonants, there are cases in which one syllable ends with the same sound as the one following it. The result is that the first is pronounced as an open syllable but retains the vowel typical of a closed syllable. For instance, zhabs (foot) is pronounced [ɕʌp] and pad (borrowing from Sanskrit padma, lotus) is pronounced [pɛʔ], but the compound word, zhabs pad is pronounced [ɕʌpɛʔ]. This process can result in minimal pairs involving sounds that are otherwise allophones.
Sources vary on whether the [ɛ̈] phone (resulting from /e/ in a closed syllable) and the [ɛ] phone (resulting from /a/ through the i-mutation) are distinct or basically identical.
Phonemic vowel length exists in Lhasa Tibet but in a restricted set of circumstances. Assimilation of Classical Tibetan's suffixes, normally ‘i (འི་), at the end of a word produces a long vowel in Lhasa Tibetan; the feature is sometimes omitted in phonetic transcriptions. In normal spoken pronunciation, a lengthening of the vowel is also frequently substituted for the sounds [r] and [l] when they occur at the end of a syllable.
The vowels /i/, /y/, /e/, /ø/, and /ɛ/ each have nasalized forms: /ĩ/, /ỹ/, /ẽ/, /ø̃/, and /ɛ̃/, respectively, which historically results from /in/, /en/, etc. In some unusual cases, the vowels /a/, /u/, and /o/ may also be nasalised.
The Lhasa dialect is usually described as having two tones: high and low. However, in monosyllabic words, each tone can occur with two distinct contours. The high tone can be pronounced with either a flat or a falling contour, and the low tone can be pronounced with either a flat or rising-falling contour, the latter being a tone that rises to a medium level before falling again. It is normally safe to distinguish only between the two tones because there are very few minimal pairs that differ only because of contour. The difference occurs only in certain words ending in the sounds [m] or [ŋ]; for instance, the word kham (Tibetan: ཁམ་, "piece") is pronounced [kʰám] with a high flat tone, whereas the word Khams (Tibetan: ཁམས་, "the Kham region") is pronounced [kʰâm] with a high falling tone.
In polysyllabic words, tone is not important except in the first syllable. This means that from the point of view of phonological typology, Tibetan could more accurately be described as a pitch-accent language than a true tone language, in which all syllables in a word can carry their own tone.
|Stop/Affricate||aspirated||pʰ||tʰ||tsʰ||ʈʰ ~ ʈʂʰ||tɕʰ||cʰ||kʰ|
|unaspirated||p||t||ts||ʈ ~ ʈʂ||tɕ||c||k||ʔ|
The unaspirated stops /p/, /t/, /c/, and /k/ typically become voiced in the low tone and are pronounced [b], [d], [ɟ], and [ɡ], respectively. The sounds are regarded as allophones. Similarly, the aspirated stops [pʰ], [tʰ], [cʰ], and [kʰ] are typically lightly aspirated in the low tone. The dialect of the upper social strata in Lhasa does not use voiced stops in the low tone.
The standard Tibetan verbal system distinguishes four tenses and three evidential moods.
|Personal||V-gi-yin||V-gi-yod||V-pa-yin / byuṅ||V-yod|
Standard Tibetan has a base-10 counting system. The basic units of the counting system of Standard Tibetan is given in the table below in both the Tibetan script and a Romanisation for those unfamiliar with Written Tibetan.
|གཅིག་||chig||1||ཉི་ཤུ་རྩ་གཅིག་||nyishu tsa ji||21||བཞི་བརྒྱ་||zhi kya||400|
|གཉིས་||nyi||2||ཉི་ཤུ་རྩགཉིས་||nyishu tsa nyi||22||ལྔ་བརྒྱ་||nyi kya||500|
|གསུམ་||sum||3||ཉི་ཤུ་རྩགསུམ་||nyishu tsa sum||23||དྲུག་བརྒྱ་||drug kya||600|
|བཞི་||zhi||4||ཉི་ཤུ་རྩབཞི་||nyishu tsa zhi||24||བདུན་བརྒྱ་||dün kya||700|
|ལྔ་||nga||5||ཉི་ཤུ་རྩ་ལྔ་||nyishu tsa nga||25||བརྒྱད་བརྒྱ་||kyed kya||800|
|དྲུག་||drug||6||ཉི་ཤུ་རྩདྲུག་||nyishu tsa drug||26||དགུ་བརྒྱ་||ku kya||900|
|བདུན་||dün||7||ཉི་ཤུ་རྩབདུན་||nyishu tsa dün||27||ཆིག་སྟོང་||chig tong||1000|
|བརྒྱད་||gyed||8||ཉི་ཤུ་རྩབརྒྱད་||nyishu tsa gyed||28|
|དགུ་||gu||9||ཉི་ཤུ་རྩདགུ་||nyishu tsa gu||29|
|བཅུ་||chu||10||སུམ་ཅུ||sum cu||30||སུམ་ཅུ་སོ་གཅིག||sum cu so chig||31|
|བཅུ་གཅིག་||chugchig||11||བཞི་བཅུ||ship cu||40||བཞི་ཅུ་ཞེ་གཅིག||ship cu she chig||41|
|བཅུ་གཉིས་||chunyi||12||ལྔ་བཅུ||ngap cu||50||ལྔ་བཅུ་ང་གཅིག||ngap cu nga chig||51|
|བཅུ་གསུམ་||choksum||13||དྲུག་ཅུ||trug cu||60||དྲུག་ཅུ་རེ་གཅིག||trug cu re chig||61|
|བཅུ་བཞི་||chushi||14||བདུན་ཅུ||dün cu||70||བདུན་ཅུ་དོན་གཅིག||dün cu dhon chig||71|
|བཅོ་ལྔ་||chonga||15||བརྒྱད་ཅུ||gyed cu||80||བརྒྱད་ཅུ་གྱ་གཅིག||gyed cu gya chig||81|
|བཅུ་དྲུག་||chudrug||16||དགུ་བཅུ||gup cu||90||དགུ་བཅུ་གོ་གཅིག||gup cu go chig||91|
|བཅུ་བདུན་||chubdun||17||བརྒྱ་||kya||100||བརྒྱ་དང་གཅིག||kya tang chig||101|
|བཅོ་བརྒྱད་||chobgyed||18||རྒྱ་དང་ལྔ་བཅུ་||kya tang ngap cu||150|
There are some Chinese cognates in Tibetan. The numbers from 1 to 10 are an obvious example, although modern Chinese and Tibetan underwent different phonological changes and some are not obvious. Some of the most obvious cognates between the two languages include:
English: Name Tibetan: མིང (ming) Chinese: 名 (míng)
English: To die Tibetan འཆི་བ (chiba) Chinese: 死 (sǐ)
English: Sun or day Tibetan ཉི་མ (nyima) Chinese: 日 (rì)
English: Negation Tibetan: མ- (ma) Chinese: 無 (wú - similarity is more obvious in Cantonese mo)
English: Tea Tibetan: cha Chinese: 茶 (Chá)
English Water (possibly) Tibetan: chu Chinese: 水 (Shuǐ)
English: I, me Tibetan ང (nga) Chinese: 我 (wǒ in Mandarin - the similarity is more obvious in Cantonese ngoh)
English: He Tibetan kho (possibly) Chinese: 佢 (pronounced qú in Mandarin but never used; Cantonese pronunciation keoi)
English: Three Tibetan: གསུམ་ (sum) Chinese: 三 (sān)
English: Four Tibetan: བཞི་ (zhi) Chinese: 四 (sì)
English: Five Tibetan: ལྔ་ nga Chinese: 五 (wǔ - Cantonese pronounces it ng)
The other numbers from one to 10 also have more similarity Old Chinese, less so to Modern.
In the 18th and 19th centuries several Western linguists arrived in Tibet:
In much of Tibet, primary education is conducted either primarily or entirely in the Tibetan language, and bilingual education is rarely introduced before students reach middle school. However, Chinese is the language of instruction of most Tibetan secondary schools. Students who continue on to tertiary education have the option of studying humanistic disciplines in Tibetan at a number of minority colleges in China. That contrasts with Tibetan schools in Dharamsala, India, where the Ministry of Human Resource Development curriculum requires academic subjects to be taught in English from middle school. Literacy and enrollment rates continue to be the main concern of the Chinese government. Much of the adult population in Tibet remains illiterate, and despite compulsory education policies, many parents in rural areas are unable to send their children to school.
In February 2008, Norman Baker, a UK MP, released a statement to mark International Mother Language Day claiming, "The Chinese government are following a deliberate policy of extinguishing all that is Tibetan, including their own language in their own country" and he asserted a right for Tibetans to express themselves "in their mother tongue". However, Tibetologist Elliot Sperling has noted that "within certain limits the PRC does make efforts to accommodate Tibetan cultural expression" and "the cultural activity taking place all over the Tibetan plateau cannot be ignored."
Some scholars also question such claims because most Tibetans continue to reside in rural areas where Chinese is rarely spoken, as opposed to Lhasa and other Tibetan cities where Chinese can often be heard. In the Texas Journal of International Law, Barry Sautman stated that "none of the many recent studies of endangered languages deems Tibetan to be imperiled, and language maintenance among Tibetans contrasts with language loss even in the remote areas of Western states renowned for liberal policies... claims that primary schools in Tibet teach Mandarin are in error. Tibetan was the main language of instruction in 98% of TAR primary schools in 1996; today, Mandarin is introduced in early grades only in urban schools.... Because less than four out of ten TAR Tibetans reach secondary school, primary school matters most for their cultural formation."
Recently, the Yushul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People's Court sentenced Tashi Wangchuk to 5 years in prison on 22 May 2018. " Part of the evidence used in the Communist Chinese court was a New York Times video entitled, Tashi Wangchuk: A Tibetan’s Journey for Justice' by Jonah M. Kessel. The accompanying text states, "(...) To his surprise, he could not find one, even though nearly everyone living in this market town on the Tibetan plateau here is Tibetan. Officials had also ordered other monasteries and a private school in the area not to teach the language to laypeople. And public schools had dropped true bilingual education in Chinese and Tibetan, teaching Tibetan only in a single class, like a foreign language, if they taught it at all. 'This directly harms the culture of Tibetans,' said Mr. Tashi, 30, a shopkeeper who is trying to file a lawsuit to compel the authorities to provide more Tibetan education. Our people’s culture is fading and being wiped out.' (...) "
The most important Tibetan branch of language under threat is, however, the Ladakhi language of the Western Tibetan group, in the Ladakh region of India. In Leh, a slow but gradual process is underway whereby the Tibetan vernacular is being supplanted by English and Hindi, and there are signs of a gradual loss of Tibetan cultural identity in the area. The adjacent Balti language is also in severe danger, and unlike Ladakhi, it has already been replaced by Urdu as the main language of Baltistan, particularly due to settlers speaking Urdu from other areas moving to that area.
(...) To his surprise, he could not find one, even though nearly everyone living in this market town on the Tibetan plateau here is Tibetan. Officials had also ordered other monasteries and a private school in the area not to teach the language to laypeople. And public schools had dropped true bilingual education in Chinese and Tibetan, teaching Tibetan only in a single class, like a foreign language, if they taught it at all. 'This directly harms the culture of Tibetans,' said Mr. Tashi, 30, a shopkeeper who is trying to file a lawsuit to compel the authorities to provide more Tibetan education. 'Our people’s culture is fading and being wiped out.' (...)
Abhijñā (Sanskrit: अभिज्ञा; Pali pronunciation: abhiññā; Standard Tibetan: མངོན་ཤེས mngon shes ་; Chinese: 六通/(六)神通) has been translated generally as "knowing," "direct knowing" and "direct knowledge" or, at times more technically, as "higher knowledge" and "supernormal knowledge." In Buddhism, such knowing and knowledge is obtained through virtuous living and meditation. In terms of specifically enumerated knowledges, these include worldly extra-sensory abilities (such as seeing past and future lives) as well as the supramundane extinction of all mental intoxicants (āsava).Bainang County
Bainang County (Tibetan: པ་སྣམ་རྫོང་།; Chinese: 白朗县) is a county of Xigazê in the Tibet Autonomous Region.Burang County
Burang County (Standard Tibetan: སྤུ་ཧྲེང་རྫོང་།; Chinese: 普兰县) is called Purang in Tibetan, and the county capital is also known as Burang or Purang in Tibetan and Taklakot in Nepali. It is an administrative division of Ngari Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China.Codoi Township
Chundui (Chinese: 春堆; pinyin: Chūnduī; Standard Tibetan: མཚོ་སྟོད་) is a township in Lhünzhub County, Tibet Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China, about 30 km (19 mi) north of the urban area of Lhasa. It comprises three villages: Chunduicun (春堆村), Kadongcun (卡东村), and Luobaduicun (洛巴堆村).Dinggyê County
Dinggyê County or Dinjie County or Tingche County or Tingkye County (Standard Tibetan: གཏིང་སྐྱེས་རྫོང་།, Chinese: 定结县) is a county of the Xigazê in the Tibet Autonomous Region, bordering Nepal's Sankhuwasabha and Taplejung Districts to the south and India's Sikkim state to the southeast. Jin Co and Duolo Co are located in this county.
It is one of the four counties that comprise the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve (Dinggyê, Tingri, Nyalam, and Kyirong).Dream yoga
Dream Yoga or Milam (Standard Tibetan: rmi-lam or nyilam; Sanskrit: स्वप्नदर्शन, svapnadarśana)—the Yoga of the Dream State—is a suite of advanced tantric sadhana of the entwined Mantrayana lineages of Dzogchen (Nyingmapa, Ngagpa, Mahasiddha, Kagyu and Bönpo). Dream Yoga are tantric processes and techniques within the trance Bardos of Dream and Sleep (Standard Tibetan: mi-lam bardo) Six Yogas of Naropa.
In the tradition of the tantra, Dream Yoga method is usually passed on by a qualified teacher to his/her students after necessary initiation. Various Tibetan lamas are unanimous that it is more of a passing of an enlightened experience rather than any textual information.In a footnote on 'Zhitro' (Tibetan: zhi khro) Namdak & Dixey, et al. (2002: p. 124) identify that the 'dream body' and the 'bardo body' is the 'vision body' (Tibetan: yid lus):
In the bardo one has...the yilu (yid lus), the vision body (yid, consciousness; lus, body). It is the same as the body of dreams, the mind body."Five Strengths
The Five Strengths (Sanskrit, Pali: pañcabalāni) in Buddhism are faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. They are one of the seven sets of "qualities conducive to enlightenment." They are parallel facets of the five "spiritual faculties."Kamba County
Kamba County (Chinese: 岗巴县; Pinyin: Gǎngbā Xiàn) is a county of Xigazê in the Tibet Autonomous Region, bordering India's Sikkim state to the south. The capital lies at Kamba town which has a noted military facility.Kangmar County
Kangmar County (Tibetan: ཁང་དམར་རྫོང་།, Wylie: Khang dmar rDzong, ZYPY: Kangmar Zong; simplified Chinese: 康马县; traditional Chinese: 康馬縣; pinyin: Kāngmǎ Xiàn) is a county of Xigazê in the Tibet Autonomous Region, bordering India's Sikkim state to the south. Gala Co lake is located in Kangmar County.Katyayana (Buddhist)
Kātyāyana or Mahākātyāyana (Sanskrit; Pali: Kaccāna, Mahākaccāna, or Mahākaccāyana) was a disciple of Gautama Buddha.
He is listed among one of the ten principal disciples and was foremost in expounding the Dharma.
In Thai Buddhism, he is also known as Phra Sangkajai and often portrayed as extremely portly.Lhasa–Xigazê railway
The Lhasa–Xigazê railway, or La'ri railway (simplified Chinese: 拉日铁路; traditional Chinese: 拉日鐵路; pinyin: Lārì Tiělù; Standard Tibetan: lha gzhis lcags lam ལྷ་གཞིས་ལྕགས་ལམ་), is a high-elevation railway that connects Lhasa to Xigazê, in the Tibet Autonomous Region. The travel time between Lhasa and Xigazê on this line is roughly three hours.Lhatse County
Lhatse County is a county of Xigazê in the Tibet Autonomous Region. It was established in 1959, with Lhatse Town as the county seat. In 1968, Quxia Town became the county seat.Lhatse County, has a population of some 50,000 and is about 200 kilometers from Mount Everest (or Chomolungma). It is among the most impoverished counties in China.Preta
Preta (Sanskrit: प्रेत, Standard Tibetan: ཡི་དྭགས་ yi dags) also known as hungry ghost, is the Sanskrit name for a type of supernatural being described in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Chinese and Vietnamese folk religion as undergoing suffering greater than that of humans, particularly an extreme level of hunger and thirst. They have their origins in Indian religions and have been adopted into East Asian religions via the spread of Buddhism. Preta is often translated into English as "hungry ghost" from the Chinese adaptation. In early sources such as the Petavatthu, they are much more varied. The descriptions below apply mainly in this narrower context.
Pretas are believed to have been false, corrupted, compulsive, deceitful, jealous or greedy people in a previous life. As a result of their karma, they are afflicted with an insatiable hunger for a particular substance or object. Traditionally, this is something repugnant or humiliating, such as cadavers or feces, though in more recent stories, it can be anything, however bizarre.Through the belief and influence of Hinduism and Buddhism in much of Asia, preta figure prominently in the cultures of India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.Rinbung County
Rinbung County (Tibetan: རིན་སྤུངས་རྫོང་།, Wylie: rin spungs rdzong, ZYPY: Rinbung Zong; Chinese: 仁布县; pinyin: Rénbù Xiàn) is a county at the northeastern boundary of the prefecture-level city of Xigazê in the Tibet Autonomous Region.Saga County
Saga County (Tibetan: ས་དགའ་རྫོང་།, Wylie: sa dga' rdzong, ZYPY: Saga Zong; simplified Chinese: 萨嘎县; traditional Chinese: 薩嘎縣; pinyin: Sàgā Xiàn) is a county of the prefecture-level city of Xigazê in the Tibet Autonomous Region, bordering Nepal to the west and southwest.
Dajia Lake and Jiesa Lake lies in the county.Tibetan language
Tibetan language may refer to:
Classical Tibetan, the classical language used also as a contemporary written standard
Standard Tibetan, the most widely used spoken dialect
Any of the other Tibetic languagesTingri County
Tingri County or Dhringgri County (Tibetan: དིང་རི་རྫོང་།, Wylie: ding ri rdzong, ZYPY: Tingri Zong; Chinese: 定日县; pinyin: Dìngrì Xiàn), is a county under the administration of the prefecture-level city of Xigazê in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
The county comprises the upper valley of the Bum-chu or Arun River, with the valleys of its tributaries plus the valleys of the Rongshar Tsangpo and the Lapchi Gang Tsanpo which flow south into Nepal. It is bordered on the south by the main range of the Himalayas including Mt. Everest (Tib. Chomolungma), Makalu and Cho Oyu. The present county administration is located at Shelkar, about 87 km (54 mi) east of Tingri (town).It is one of the four counties that comprise the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve (Tingri, Dinjie, Nyalam, and Kyirong).Vīrya
Vīrya (Sanskrit; Pāli: viriya) is a Buddhist term commonly translated as "energy", "diligence", "enthusiasm", or "effort". It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities, and it functions to cause one to accomplish wholesome or virtuous actions.
Tibetan language topics