Project completed! Looking back at the past 48 months, and forward to online grammars and more connected data

The completion date of the HimalCo project (2013-2016) is the day after tomorrow: December 31st, 2016. It’s a good time to look back at the past 48 months, and forward to more and more connected data: online grammars with one-click links to data, and other improvements for the greater benefit of linguistic research.

The aim of this project was to build several types of corpora (traditional stories and dictionaries) for unwritten and endangered Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in Nepal and in Tibetan areas of China (Khaling, Thulung, Koyi, Japhug, Zbu, Khroskyabs, Na), as well as to produce tools to analyze and format these corpora. We were able to develop a dictionary interface on the Pangloss collection website (, and an online tool of parallel corpus comparison ( and The Khaling, Thulung, Japhug and Na corpora of the Pangloss collection were also significantly enriched.

The software engineer Céline Buret collaborated with us during 24 months. She developed a python library which implements in XML the lexicographical norm LMF, with conversion tools from the MDF format (used by many fieldwork linguists to make their dictionaries) to LaTeX, HTML and DOC. PDF versions of the dictionaries have been generated using LaTeX, and a paper version of the Khaling dictionary has been derived from it.

In the wake of the HimalCo project, new tools are being developed for the library (conversion of the LMF dictionaries to Android format, graphical interface) to allow the production of multimedia dictionaries in other languages studied by linguists from CNRS and other institutions, in France and abroad.

For the Khaling dictionary, a set of PERL scripts have been written to (i) automatically generate the conjugation paradigms (ii) automatically convert from API to Devanagari script.

To sum up, this project has made possible to realize three types of corpora :

  • Three dictionaries of unwritten and endangered languages: Khaling, Na and Japhug. In the case of Japhug and Na, these dictionaries are the first to be available for these languages. As for Khaling, it is the first dictionary in a reliable transcription, which provides in addition the complete conjugation paradigms, of crucial importance in this language.
  • A corpus of 64 hours of audio recordings (and in part video) transcribed and annoted in four languages (Japhug, Na, Khaling, Thulung) has been archived in the Pangloss Collection, which is thus significally enriched (555 new documents added).
  • A pilot interface of parallel corpus comparator, using some of the traditional stories from the corpora of Kiranti languages.

Scientific publications based on these data can be looked up here (full-text, no login required).

We now look forward to further experiments and realizations in the publication and exploitation of the results of linguistic analysis.  The idea is to put together a complete set of linked electronic resources comprising grammars, dictionaries, text corpora, and multimedia documents. This work gradually consolidates the empirical basis of the formulations and models proposed in typology and language theory.

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Alexis Michaud (2016, 29 décembre). Project completed! Looking back at the past 48 months, and forward to online grammars and more connected data. Science ouverte : enjeux et méthodes en sciences humaines et sociales. (À l'origine, carnet d'un projet concernant des corpus himalayens.). Consulté le 15 juin 2024, à l’adresse

Alexis Michaud

I'm a linguist, focusing on un(der-)documented languages, in particular Na (Mosuo), a Tibeto-Burman language.

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