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Tunzhi Sonam Lhundrop; Hiroyuki Suzuki; Gerald Roche

Published On


Page Range

pp. 17-48

Print Length

31 pages

1. Language Contact and the Politics of Recognition amongst Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China: The rTa’u-Speaking ‘Horpa’ of Khams

  • Tunzhi Sonam Lhundrop (author)
  • Hiroyuki Suzuki (author)
  • Gerald Roche (author)
This chapter looks at language contact along two dimensions: a horizontal dimension (associated more with linguistics) and a vertical dimension (power dynamics – language hierarchies). These two dimensions are argued to make up the politics of language contact. Using the case study of the rTa’u language, the authors show how lack of recognition from the state leads to a lack of prestige for minority languages, leading to language shift away from them; mis-recognition of rTa’u, in particular, by the Tibetan population also contributes to the conception of the language as non-prestigious and immoral. The possibility of recognition as a tool to reverse language shift is discussed, alongside the importance of accepting the presence of multilingualism in the Himalaya.


Tunzhi Sonam Lhundrop


Hiroyuki Suzuki


Gerald Roche