The Sino-Tibetan Etymological Dictionary and Thesaurus

STEDT is a long-term linguistics research project at the University of California at Berkeley. It is directed by Professor James A. MATISOFF of Berkeley's Linguistics Department. Our goal is the publication of an etymological dictionary of Proto-Sino-Tibetan (PST), the ancestor language of the large Sino-Tibetan language family. This family includes Chinese, Tibetan, Burmese, and over 200 other languages spoken in South and Southeast Asia. The project was founded in 1987 and has enjoyed the support of the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The first major dissemination of STEDT research came in the form of A Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: System and Philosophy of Sino-Tibetan Reconstruction, an introduction to the reconstructed phonology and lexicon of Proto-Tibeto-Burman and the philosophical underpinnings on which the STEDT project rests. This volume (HPTB) included over 1500 reconstructed Proto-Tibeto-Burman roots. In the next phase of the project, additional STEDT etymologies and data will be published systematically, by semantic field, in electronic form.

Current STEDTniks

New Data: Xiangjiao Laze

Thanks again to the generosity of Alexis Michaud, the STEDT database now contains 1,534 lexical items from Xiangjiao Laze.

Why Sino-Tibetan?

A correspondent asks:

Why is it that some scholars ... consider Chinese and Tibetan part of the same linguistic family even though Chinese is tonal and Tibetan non-tonal; Chinese is written using Chinese characters and Tibetan is written with a Sanskritic alphabet; Chinese uses sentence structures similar to English and Tibetan uses sentence structures similar to Sanskritic languages; and Chinese uses sentence conjugation instead of verb conjugation and Tibetan uses verb conjugation similar to that of the other Sanskritic languages?


New Data: Yongning Na

Thanks to the generosity of Alexis Michaud, the STEDT database now contains 2,033 lexical items from Yongning Na.


Yes, the STEDT web site has gotten a complete overhaul! Right now there are two "forums", one for database-related topics, and another for everything else. We can add more if there is interest, but the forum is officially open! (This CMS is new to me, so if something's not working right please do send me a message to let me know!)

STEDT Database Now Online!

We are pleased to announce that the database is now available for public use via the world wide web. The database contains (as of this announcement) 432,976 lexical items from 566 languages, protolanguages, and dialects of the Sino-Tibetan linguistic area.

An initial version of the web interface may be found here:

Older Announcements


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