[Tibeto-burman-linguistics] Language and ignorance (and/or politics?)

B. Zeisler zeis at uni-tuebingen.de
Tue Feb 9 16:14:44 UTC 2016

Dear all,

I would like to know what you all think about this:

When choosing a language/ script in Fieldworks (SIL) you get the 
following options for Ladakhi:
Changtang Ladakhi India cna
Ladakhi China lbj
Ladakhi India lbj
*Central Ladakhi China lbj**
*Central Ladakhi India lbj
*Lower Ladakhi China lbj**
*Lower Ladakhi India lbj
*Nubra Ladakhi China lbj**
*Nubra Ladakhi India lbj
Upper Ladkhi India lbj

The entry in the ethnologue is different, though the section "also 
spoken in" is highly misleading. Most probably it means that Ladakhi, of 
which one not further specified dialect is spoken in China (in the 
eastern Changthang), has several dialects, namely those listed, but it 
could equally well be understood that all these dialects were spoken in 

Also spoken in:
Hide Details China <https://www.ethnologue.com/language/lbj#>
*Language name*Ladakhi
12,000 in China (1995).
Western Xizang Tibet Autonomous Region.
*Alternate Names*
Ladak, Ladaphi, Ladhakhi, Ladwags
Leh (Central Ladakhi), Nubra Ladakhi, Shamma (Lower Ladakhi, Sham, 
6b (Threatened). Language of recognized nationality: Tibetan.

Tibetan script [Tibt] <http://www.scriptsource.org/scr/Tibt>.

*Other Comments*
Buddhist (Lamaist).
View other languages of China 

While one can ask the question whether the language spoken in the 
eastern part of the Changthang (in the VR China) should be called 
Ladakhi at all (what are actually the defining properties?),
it is in no way acceptable to claim that the dialects of Nubra, Central 
and Lower Ladakh are spoken in China.
No part of Lower Ladakh is in China (or if so this can only be bits of 
non-inhabited mountain ranges).
As for Nubra, the Aksai Chin with the upper course of the Shayok has 
come into the hands of China, but the area is not inhabited.
What is spoken at the Shayok river that reaches into Ladakh, e.g. in 
Shayok or Laga, is not a Nubra dialect but a Changthang dialect.
I also wonder which parts of Central Ladakh could possibly reach into 
China, so that its dialects could be spoken there.
(Interestingly enough the Upper Ladakhi/ Changthang dialects are 
assigned solely to India.)

I would like to hear your oppinion whether such classifications are made 
out of sheer ignorance and/or what would be worse:
this kind of ignorance and neglect or the apparent political servitude 
towards China (which in the last years gave rise to the impression that 
it wants to claim more and more parts of what is actually Indian territory)?

I also wonder what kind of consequences we linguists should draw.
Should we just laugh and shrug our shoulders?
I, for my part, just wanted to test Fieldworks, but I am not sure 
whether I really want to go on with it.

Kind regards
Bettina Zeisler

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