Kiranti languages generally have intricate non-transparent morphological systems including complex agreement patterns (with both agents and patients in the case of transitive verbs). Therefore great care is taken to collect comprehensive sets of paradigms. Other points of typological interest include relativisation and complementation structures displaying syntactic ergativity, clause chaining constructions with variable tense marker scope, light verb constructions with long-distance agreement, and the linguistic expression of spatial relations. By recording, transcribing, and annotating a large variety of texts and compiling a dictionary, the complexity of Chintang has been documented.

Language families in Nepal

More than a hundred languages are spoken in Nepal, but most of them have less than 10,000 speakers. Chintang and Puma are two highly endangered but almost totally undocumented languages, which are spoken in two small areas in the hills of East Nepal. Both languages belong to the Kiranti branch of the large Tibeto-Burman family, which includes more than thirty languages in East Nepal. Both Chintang and Puma are rapidly being supplanted by Nepali, the national lingua franca, and Bantawa, one of the bigger Kiranti languages. Nevertheless, the two language communities still have a distinct culture with a rich oral tradition, maintained by a decreasing number of knowledgeable elders, priests, and shamans.

Graph: Sino-Tibetan Family of Languages

The Tibeto-Burman language family (based on Michailovsky 1994, Van Driem 1991, 2001, Opgenort 2004)

Graph: Language Endangerment in Nepal

Language endangermant in Nepal (percentage of Nepalese who speak each language, based on CBS 2001 report, Yadava 2003)