George van Driem

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George "Sjors" van Driem (born March 19, 1957 in Nassawadox, Virginia, USA) is a Dutch linguist at Leiden University, where he holds the chair of Descriptive Linguistics.


Van Driem earned a B.S. in biology at the University of Virginia in 1979, an M.S. in Slavic languages and linguistics at Leiden University in 1983, and a Ph.D. in linguistics at Leiden in 1987, with a doctoral dissertation on the grammar of Limbu, a language of Eastern Nepal and Sikkim. In 1999 he became a professor at Leiden University, his alma mater.


Van Driem directs the Himalayan Languages Project and participates in the research program Languages and Genes of the Greater Himalayan Region. He is an authority on Tibeto-Burman, a language family often considered a subgroup of Sino-Tibetan. He developed the Darwinian theory of language known as Symbiosism, and he is author of the philosophy of Symbiomism. Van Driem has been conducting field studies in the Himalayas since 1983. He was commissioned by the Royal Government of Bhutan to codify a grammar of the national language Dzongkha, design a phonological romanisation for the language known as Roman Dzongkha, and complete a survey of the languages and language communities of the kingdom. He and native Dzongkha speaker Karma Tshering co-authored the authoritative textbook on Dzongkha. George van Driem has also written grammars of Limbu, Dumi and Bumthang languages and a two-volume ethnolinguistic handbook of the greater...
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