SOAS University of London

Tibetan Studies at SOAS

Languages of China & Inner Asia at SOAS: Tibetan

With the rise of the Tibetan empire in circa 630 the Tibetan language came to be spoken across the vast Tibetan plateau. Today the language has over two million speakers divided across nearly thirty dialects. Outside of Tibet, Tibetan speaking populations are found in Bhutan, Burma, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Tibetan is a branch of the Tibeto-Burman family together with Burmese, Chinese, and languages such as Newar, Tangut, and Meithei. Tibetan has an enormous literature with a range of genres matching that of any European language. In addition, Tibetan is used as the liturgical language of Vajrayana Buddhism across central Asia including in Mongolia, Russia, and China.

If you would like to learn Tibetan, contact Dr Marta Sernesi ( in the China and Inner Asia section, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.

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