Open main menu

The Sino-Tibetan languages form a language family composed of, at least, the Chinese and the Tibeto-Burman languages, including some 250 languages of East Asia. They are second only to the Indo-European languages in terms of their number of speakers.

East Asia
Linguistic classification:One of the world's major language families.
ISO 639-2 and 639-5:sit
Sino-tibetan languages.png
     Sino-Tibetan languages

The Sino-Tibetan languages are the daughter languages of the proto-language Proto-Sino-Tibetan, or a language made by unattested knowledge to show the relationships between different languages.



A few scholars, most prominently Christopher Beckwith and Roy Andrew Miller, argue that Chinese is not related to Tibeto-Burman. They point to an absence of regular sound correspondences, an absence of reconstructable shared morphology,[1] and evidence that much shared lexical material has been borrowed from Chinese into Tibeto-Burman. In opposition to this view, scholars in favor of the Sino-Tibetan hypothesis such as W. South Coblin, Graham Thurgood, James Matisoff, and Gong Hwang-cherng have argued that there are regular correspondences in sounds as well as in grammar.


  1. Cf. Beckwith, Christopher I. 1996. "The Morphological Argument for the Existence of Sino-Tibetan." Pan-Asiatic Linguistics: Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Languages and Linguistics, January 8-10, 1996. Vol. III, pp. 812-826. Bangkok: Mahidol University at Salaya.


  • Matisoff, James (2000). "On 'Sino-Bodic' and Other Symptoms of Neosubgroupitis". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 63(3):356-369.
  • _____(2003). Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: System and Philosophy of Sino-Tibetan Reconstruction (805 pages, 3.2 MB). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0520098439.

Other websitesEdit