Segmental phonological properties in Thakali: a typological perspective


  • Dan Raj Regmi Central Department of Linguistics, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
  • Ambika Regmi Linguistic Survey of Nepal (LinSuN)



aspirated, murmered, retroflex, cluster, syllable, typological


Thakali, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Nepal, exhibits some typologically interesting properties in the domain of segmental phonology. It presents a rich inventory of 33 segmental consonant phonemes and a set of six monophthongal vowels with murmured voice (i.e., breathy) counterparts. The syllable structure at the maximum consists of (C) (X) V (C), where X stands for a glide or liquid phoneme. Thakali as a Bodish language contains retroflex series as well as distinct alveolar fricatives and affricates and lacks phonemic voicing contrasts. As a member of the Gurungic cluster of West Bodish sub-section, Thakali shares such properties with other West- Bodish languages, viz., Chantyal, Manange, Gurung, Magar Kaike, Ghale, Seke, Nar-Phu, Western Tamang and Eastern Tamang. Unlike a Bodish language, Thakali lacks phonemically nasalized vowels. Thakali, like Chantyal, presents contrasts involving voice onset time and murmur. Such contrasts are attested in stops, affricates, fricatives, trills/taps and laterals in Thakali. However, unlike Chantyal, Thakali contains murmured trill/tap and murmured lateral with voiceless onset like Seke and Nar-Phu. Such properties are exclusively absent in other West Bodish languages. While uplifting Thakali, a shifting language, from sustainable identity to sustainable orality, such properties typical in South Asia (Noonan, 2003a: 316) have to be fully maintained.


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Author Biographies

Dan Raj Regmi, Central Department of Linguistics, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Dr. Dan Raj Regmi ( is Professor of Linguistics at Central Department of Linguistics (CDL), Tribhuvan University. Regmi, and former head of CDL and director of Linguistic Survey of Nepal (LinSuN). He has authored (and coauthored) grammars of Bhujel, western Tamang, and Bhakpur Newar among others. Dozens of articles to his credit have been published in national and international journals.

Ambika Regmi, Linguistic Survey of Nepal (LinSuN)

Dr. Ambika Regmi ( worked as senior researcher at Linguistic Survey of Nepal (LinSuN) under Central Department of Linguistics. She has authored books on Magar Kaike, and western Tamang. She has published in national and international journals.




How to Cite

Regmi, D. R., & Regmi, A. (2019). Segmental phonological properties in Thakali: a typological perspective. Gipan, 4, 142–161.