Important Linguistic News From Nepal
witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Mon Apr 16 20:22:50 UTC 2001
For those interested in the substrate languages of South Asia, I quote a
message just received from P. Whitehouse, on the Mother Tongue list.
As is known, Kusunda is one of the few isolates in South Asia, next to
Burushaski, the ultimate substrate of Nahali etc., that cannot (or only
very difficultly so) be linked to any other language outside the
Kusunda, known only from the British colonial official B.Hodgson in the
early 19th c. and from a few papers in the Seventies, has been declared
dead quite a few times.
The news of its demise --just as that of INDOLOGY, we hope! -- have been a
bit premature, though not largely exaggerated:
For those of you interested in Kusunda, I have just been informed by B. K.
Rana that only last week he found two more elderly Kusunda speakers in
some remote rural area of Nepal.
There is still hope, therefore, that we will one day have a complete
lexicon and grammar of this important isolate.
For the biogeneticists amongst you, we need DNA samples from these people
(esp. mtDNA and y-chromosome) as a matter of urgency. Them and the Nihals.
K.B. Rana's earlier articles is in the Nepalese Journal Janajati, Vol 4.
For a summary on the Kusunda and Nahals, see EJVS Sept. 1999
and for recent additions to our knowdege of Nahali, see Asha Mundlay,
Mother Tongue II
http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/MT2.htm and vol.III
Our thanks to these intrepid scholars traveling through the difficult
terrain of Central Nepal and N. Maharastra in order to trace these First
If there were only more of them!
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138, USA
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home page: http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm
Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies: http://www1.shore.net/~india/ejvs
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