SOAS University of London

Centres and Institutes Office

16th Himalayan Languages Symposium



2-5 September 2010 
Himalayan Languages
The Himalayan Languages Symposium
Medieval Tibeto-Burman Languages Symposium

Himalayan Languages

The world’s mightiest mountain range is also one of its richest regions in terms of linguistic, cultural, as well as biological diversity. It is estimated that roughly 600 languages, representing at least six language families, are spoken across the Greater Himalayan Region, an area which encompasses the mountains, hills and plateaux stretching from the Hindu Kush and Pamirs in the West to the highlands of Burma, Yunnan and Sichuan in the East. Few of these langauges have been researched in depth and many remain virtually undocumented.

The Himalayan Languages Symposium

The Himalayan Languages Symposium was first held at Leiden University in 1995 and is now well-established an as an annual open forum for scholars of all aspects of Himalayan languages. The focus of the conference is geographical rather than language-based, reflecting the huge linguistic diversity of the Himalaya, and the depth of contact and syncretism between Himalayan languages and cultures.

Contributions are welcome on any language of the Greater Himalayan Region, whether Tibeto-Burman, Indo-Aryan, Austroasiatic, Altaic, Hmong-Mien, Tai or an isolate. Although language is the focus of the Symposium, specialists from related disciplines such as philology, history, anthropology, archaeology and prehistory are strongly encouraged to participate and cast light from their respective angles on the study of Himalayan languages and language communities.

In 2010, the Himalayan Languages Symposium is to be held in the UK for the first time, and will run from 2 to 5 September at the School of Oriental and African Studies. As the UK has a long tradition of scholarship in Asian languages and cultures, we feel it is overdue that the Symposium is held here, and we look forward to welcoming participants to London.

We invite abstracts for presentations on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Descriptions of lesser-known languages
  • Language change and variation
  • Multilingualism and language contact
  • Historical-comparative studies
  • Typological studies
  • Field reports
  • Corpus-based analysis
  • Language death and language preservation
  • Language policy and language planning
  • Ethnology and folklore
  • Himalayan languages and new technologies

The list of speakers will be confirmed in due course

Contributions are also very welcome from anthropological, historical, or archaeological etc perspectives, so long as the papers deals centrally with a language or language community of the Greater Himalayan Region.


Dr Nathan Hill, 

Medieval Tibeto-Burman Languages Symposium

Further information about the Medieval Tibeto-Burman Languages Symposium on 1 September 2010.

Organised by: Centre of Chinese Studies , Centres and Programmes (REO)