Lhasa Tibetan returns to the UW

Submitted by Joyce Parvi on

Members of the Winter 2023 course LING 580EF, Field Methods, were fortunate to be able to work with Tsering Yuthok, a native speaker of Lhasa Tibetan.  Yuthok patiently produced words and sentences for the class, who tackled the difficult structures of Lhasa Tibetan, which include tone, complex verbal morphology, and an egophoricity/evidentiality system.  One class assignment centered around transcribing and glossing a short text produced by Yuthok about thanka paintings.

One of the class readings was a 1980 dissertation on Lhasa Tibetan phonology by Willa Dawson, which had been supervised by none other than retired UW Linguistics professor Ellen Kaisse.  Yuthok knew Dawson and the speaker she had worked with, Nawang L. Nornang.  Another useful reading for the class was a pedagogical grammar written by Kun Chang (with wife Betty Shefts Chang), who began his academic career at UW and worked with Tibetan speakers in Seattle.

The class met in the department’s Linguistics Fieldwork Lab, directed by Prof. Myriam Lapierre.