SOAS University of London

China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Dr Tim Bodt

BSc, MSc, PhD
  • Teaching
  • Research


Staff Silhouette
China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Research Associate

Dr Tim Bodt
Email address:
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings


Tim Bodt was educated at Wageningen University, where he studied Environmental Economics and Social Forestry. He has had a life-long fascination with the Eastern Himalayan region, and in particular with the Bhutan-India-Tibet borderlands, a region traditionally known as ‘Monyul’. His interest in this region brought him into early contact with Prof. Dr. George van Driem (Berne University, Switzerland) and Prof. Dr. Nathan W. Hill (SOAS, London) who were instrumental in nurturing his aspirations in linguistics. He spent most of the last two decades in various Himalayan countries. He did both his BSc and MSc thesis research in Bhutan, followed by a year working for an INGO in Tibet, two years teaching at the then only college in Bhutan, and he spent intermittent periods in Nepal and India. Between 2012 and 2017 he described the Duhumbi (Chugpa) language spoken in western Arunachal Pradesh, India, under the auspices of prof. Dr. George van Driem, and he was awarded the predicate ‘summa cum laude’ for the resulting doctoral dissertation. In addition to his native Dutch, he is fluent in English and Tshangla, a language spoken in eastern Bhutan and adjacent regions, and is also conversant in Dzongkha (the national language of Bhutan), Tibetan, Nepali, Hindi, Duhumbi and German, in addition to having some basic knowledge of French and Tawang Monpa (Dakpa). Tim Bodt joined SOAS in September 2018 as a postdoctoral researcher funded through a Swiss National Science Foundation’s Postdoc Mobility grant. His postdoctoral research focuses on the reconstruction of Proto-Western Kho-Bwa, the hypothetical ancestral language of the Western Kho-Bwa languages Duhumbi, Khispi, Sartang and Sherdukpen (Tibeto-Burman), all spoken in western Arunachal Pradesh in India.



Tim Bodt’s research focuses on the ethnolinguistic history and diversity of the area traditionally known as Monyul, i.e. the Tibet-Bhutan-India borderlands. In addition to his grammatical description of Duhumbi (Chugpa), a Western Kho-Bwa languages spoken in Arunachal Pradesh, and his present reconstruction of Proto-Western Kho-Bwa, his main fascination lies with the Tshangla people and their language. His interest is not just limited to linguistic description and documentation for academic purposes, but he also strongly supports the speech community’s goals and aspirations for the preservation, promotion and revitalisation of their languages. Tim Bodt is also a strong advocate of digital storage of, and open access to, acquired data.

At present, Tim Bodt is applying a computer-assisted approach to historical language comparison to reconstruct Proto-Western Kho-Bwa, the hypothetical ancestor language of the Western Kho-Bwa languages Duhumbi, Khispi, Sartang and Sherdukpen (Tibeto-Burman). He is using his own primary field data for this bottom-up approach to historical linguistics, establishing regular sound correspondences and reconstructing proto-forms for a large set of concepts. The combination of the traditional, manual method of language comparison and a more innovative, computerised approach is hitherto proving to be fruitful and promising. This 18-month postdoctoral project is financially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation through Postdoc Mobility grant P2BEP1_181779.