Academic journal article Contributions to Nepalese Studies

Case Markers in the Chhathare Limbu

Academic journal article Contributions to Nepalese Studies

Case Markers in the Chhathare Limbu

Article excerpt


Limbu has four major dialects--Panthare, Phedappe, Taplejunge and Chhathare. Among them, the Chhathare dialect is quite distinct from other dialects because its speakers can easily understand other dialects but the speakers of other dialects can hardly understand it. It is spoken in the Chhathar area which covers parts of the Dhankuta district that includes villages such as Jitpur, Marek Katahare, Hatikharka, Murtidhungga, Dhankuta municipality, Bhirgaun, Tangkhuwa, Teliya, Parewadin etc, and the Terhathum district which includes villages such as Pancha Kanya, Hamurjang, Okhre, Dangapa and so on. It belongs to the Kiranti group of the Tibeto--Burman family of languages. Both native and non-native speakers have ignored this dialect because it has no status as a lingua franca within the Limbu community, nor is it used in religious ceremonies or socio--cultural exchanges. So far, some works viz. Widert and Subba (1985), van Driem (1987) and Michailovsky (2001) have done on the Panchthare, Phedappe and Taplejunge dialects respectively but until now, no work has been done on the Chhathare dialect. This article is an attempt to explore the case markers of the Chhathare dialect of Limbu.


Case is a grammatical category used in the analysis of word classes or phrases to identify the syntactic relationship between words. In the Chhathare dialect, it is indicated by variations in the morphological forms of the word. Nouns and parts of speech used as nominals can be inflected for case. Chhathare Limbu includes the following cases:

Absolutive: Absolutive is a term used in grammatical description of languages, which has an ergative system. This system has a formal parallel between the object of a transitive verb and the subject of an intransitive one, and these are referred to as 'absolutive'. For example,

(1) a. napmi--ngaa pu ser-u man-Erg bird kill-3.Sg. A3SgP Pret "A man killed a bird."

b. yangbaa-ngaa suba teps-u cat-Erg rat catch-3.Sg.A.3Sg P Pret "A cat caught a rat."

c. kaap-phaang-ngaa naapmi laps-u your uncle--Erg man beat-3.Sg.A.3.Sg P Pret "Your uncle beat a man."

In sentences given above in (1a,b,c) seru, teps-u and laps-u, are all transitive verbs and pu, suba and naapmi are objects which are unmarked. These unmarked objects can occur in the subject position without any change.

For example,

(2) a. pu pe bird- fly-3Sg. A. non-Pret "A bird flies."

b. suba lokk-a rat run-3.Sg.A-Pret "A rat ran."

c. napmi pher-aa man-come-3Sg.A-Pret "A man came."

The sentences in (2a,b,c) contain pe, lokk-a and pher-aa which are intransitive verbs and pu, suba and napmi are their subjects. They are unmarked. Between the object of the transitive verb and the subject of the intransitive verb, there is a formal parallel that is marked by <-ing> when definite but unmarked when it is indefinite. For example,

(3) a. a-ppaa taa my-father come-3.Sg.A. non-Pret "My father comes."

b. pu pey-aa bird fly-3.Sg.A-Pret "A bird flew."

c. henjaa kay-aa child fall-3.Sg.A- Pret "A child fell."

d. a-ppaa-ing taa my-father-Def come-3.Sg.A. non-Pret "My father comes."

e. pu-ing pey-aa bird-Def fly-3.Sg.A-Pret "The bird flew."

f. henjaa-ing kay-aa child-Def fall-3.Sg.P-Pret "The child fell."

The above sentences in (3a,b,c) contain the unmarked a-ppa, pu and henjaa as subjects to the transitive verbs taa, pey-aa and kay-aa respectively. They are indefinite subjects but the sentences in (3d,e,f) have definite subjects marked by the suffix <-ing>. Similarly, the objects of the following transitive verbs are unmarked when indefinite:

(4) a. koco-ngaa mendaak haar-u dog-ERG goat bite-3.Sg.A-3.Sg.P. Pret "A dog bit a goat."

b. kaat-tuba-ngaa phaak cepp-u your-grandfather-Erg pig cut-3Sg.A-3.Sg.P.Pret "Your grandfather cut a pig. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.