Referential Hierarchies in Morphosyntax description, typology, diachrony
A EuroBABEL Project


IP Leipzig/Zurich

Chintang is a language in Eastern Nepal that has differential object agreement but no differential case marking on objects, and that it is in close contact with a language that has differential case marking on objects but no differential object agreement. This language is the Indo-European language Nepali, the lingua franca of the Chintang-speaking area and much else beyond in the Central Himalayas. Chintang has been in contact with Nepali for at least about 150 years, and for the past few generations, most Chintang speakers have been bilingual in Nepali. Currently, all speakers are bilingual (in fact trilingual as they also speak a closely-related neighboring language, Bantawa).

The advantage of choosing a pair of languages that are in intensive contact is that (a) convergence in other parts of grammar (word order, clause linkage, discourse strategies, particle usage etc.) allows reducing confounding factors in typological comparison, and (b) we can also investigate to what extent differential agreement and case can mutually influence each other or whether there are any principled differences between the two systems that may block such influences. This second issue ties into a broader research issue that has been of long-standing interest in Himalayan linguistics: to what extent did Sino-Tibetan and Indo-European influence each other and in what directions?