Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies


Vowel harmony in noun-and-particle words in the Tibetan of Baltistan1

R. K. Sprigg

In an earlier study, ‘Assimilation, and the definite nominal particle in Balti Tibetan’ (Sprigg, 1972), I dealt with vowel harmony in words in which the noun is colligated with the definite nominal particle, a particle that has the constant phonetic form po when in junction with the final syllable of a noun ending in a consonant (-Cpo), e.g. smenpo ‘the medicine’ sman, but variable phonetic features where the final syllable of the noun ends in a vowel: a share in the features of the resulting word-final long vowel, either -o: or -u: according to vowel harmony.


1 Based on a paper of the same title read at the Csoma de K⋯rös Symposium, Balatonfüred, September 1979.

Baltistan is not far from the scene of K⋯rösi Csoma's research work, in Ladakh; so it seemed to me appropriate that for a study in his honour I should choose a characteristic feature of the Balti dialect of Tibetan. Since Balti is highly conservative, it is reasonable to suppose that, during his stay in Zangskar and Bashahr (Duka, 1885, 39, 111), he may have heard phonetic forms similar to those which I am analysing here; indeed the recently published Zangskar vocabulary (Hoshi and Tsering, 1978) shows a high degree of similarity between the Zangskar dialect itself and the Balti dialect.