Why study Tibetan at the UBC?

At the moment, we are the only Canadian university offering an introductory course into Classical and Spoken Tibetan on-site within the regular academic year.

Since the introduction of the Tibetan script in the seventh century, massive literal production of mostly religious but also secular forms of writings in Classical Tibetan has been taking place in Tibet over the last fifteen centuries. This brought forth a great variety of unique literary types ranging from a specific Sanskrit-Tibetan translation-literature collected in the Tibetan Buddhist Canon, over a vast variety of autochthonous and unique Tibetan literary forms, to the birth of a vibrant modern secular literature. Much of the richness of Tibetan literature—yet untranslated—is inaccessible for non-Tibetan native speakers or even researched on in-depth—Tibet can rightly be called a “book culture.”

Buddhist texts in Tibetan language are as well an essential link between East-Asian and Indian Buddhist text transmissions since a variety of texts from Sanskrit—partially lost—were only translated into Tibetan. Training students to gain the linguistic expertise to work with Tibetan source material and work on Tibetan Buddhism therefore immensely also contributes to other fields of Buddhist Studies.

The Spoken Tibetan language with its diverse vernaculars is used widely across the Tibetan plateau including many regions adjacent to it, such as Nepal, Bhutan, and India by very different ethnic groups and thereby connects these regions linguistically.

The globalization of Tibetan Buddhism and necessarily linked with it the acquisition of the Tibetan language—either Classical or Modern-—for understanding and translating religious teachings into various languages, attracts until today many non-native and non-heritage speakers to learn Tibetan and delve into the academic field of Tibetan Buddhist Studies.

We currently offer

Winter 2019

TIBT100 Introduction to Tibetan I Sections

Concepts, grammar, syntax of spoken and written Tibetan for beginners. Also covers aspects of Tibetan worldview.

TIBT101 Introduction to Tibetan II Sections

Focus on grammar, syntax, and structures to improve comprehension and communication skills. Also covers aspects of Tibetan worldview.

In addition, a two-weeks Intensive Language & Community Engaged Learning Course in the Tibetan Language is organized by the Himalaya Program at UBC every summer. For more information, please visit the Himalaya Program website.

A comprehensive list of courses in Tibetan Studies offered by the Department of Asian Studies can be found in the UBC Calendar.