ypically classified as member of the Tibeto-Burman
branch of the Sino-Tibetan linguistic family.
It is a mildly tonal language using two to four tones depending on
dialect. It is described as primarily isolating but agglutinative in some
It is spoken by approximately 6 million Tibetan people across the Tibetan
Plateau as well as by approximately 150,000 exile speakers.
Tibetan is written with a Sanskrit-derived script.
By means of agglutination, the Tibetan language has developed a
considerable grammatical system of word suffixes and is no longer strictly
isolating in structure. Agglomerations of consonants are often met with as
initials, giving the appearance of telescoped words -- an appearance which
historical etymology often confirms. Many of these initial consonants are
silent in the Gtsang dialects, or have been resolved into a simpler one of
another character. The language is much ruled by laws of euphony, which
have been strictly formulated by native grammarians.
Since at least around the 7th century when the Chinese came into contact
with the Tibetans, phonetics and grammar of Tibetan have been studied and
documented. Tibetans also studied their own language, mostly for
translation purpose for diplomacy (with China) or religion (from