Tilung (Nep. Tiluṅ) is the name of an unwritten Kiranti language, which is also known from the literature as ‘Tiling’ or ‘Tilling’ (Hanßon 1991). Based on my own research (Opgenort, forthcoming), Tilung occupies an independent position within the Kiranti language family and can be placed roughly between the Western languages Thulung, Khaling and Dumi, on the one side, and the Southern Central Kiranti languages Kulung, Chamling and Bantawa, on the other.
Tilung is spoken by a few elderly people living in several small settlements in Cyāsmiṭār Village Development Committee (VDC), on the northern bank of the Sunkośī river, Khoṭāṅ district, eastern Nepal. According to the 2001 Census of Nepal (with data from 1991), Cyāsmiṭār VDC had a population of 2,167 persons living in 412 households and there were some 310 speakers of Tilung. However, recent investigations have shown that there are only a few native fluent speakers of Tilung remaining. These speakers are all older than 60 years and fully bilingual in Nepali, which is the dominant language among the Tilung ethnic community.
My 2011 article ‘A note on Tilung and its position within Kiranti’ discusses the existence of phonological and lexical isoglosses in Tilung and other Kiranti groups on the basis of the scanty materials available to me before my fieldwork in the Tilung-speaking area in June 2011.
My manuscript ‘Initial grammatical sketch of Tilung. Field report on a moribund Kiranti language of eastern Nepal. With some historical observations and a vocabulary’, which is slated to appear in the proceedings of the 16th Himalayan Languages Symposium, presents the results of the research which I conducted among the Tilung in June 2011. The aim of this manuscript is to make accessible the available language data collected thus far and to boost our knowledge on this poorly studied language. The data presented here consist of my own field notes and audio transcriptions, which are supplemented by vocabulary and grammatical information available to me from previous studies. The manuscript discusses topics such as phonology, nominal morphology, verbal morphology, adverbs and syntax. A Tilung-English word list is also included.
Central Bureau of Statistics
2001. Population census. Kathmandu: National Planning Commission.
1991. The Rai of eastern Nepal: ethnic and linguistic grouping. Findings of the Linguistic Survey of Nepal. Edited and provided with an introduction by Werner Winter. Kirtipur/Kathmandu: Linguistic Survey of Nepal and Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University.
Opgenort, Jean Robert
Forthcoming. ‘Initial grammatical sketch of Tilung. Field report on a moribund Kiranti language of eastern Nepal. With some historical observations and a vocabulary’, in Proceedings of the 16th Himalayan Languages Symposium.
Opgenort, Jean Robert
2011b. ‘A note on Tilung and its position within Kiranti’, in Himalayan Linguistics, Vol. 10.1: 253-271.