STEDT Workshop

Sino-Tibetan Etymological Dictionary and Thesaurus (STEDT) Workshop

At the 2013 ICSTLL 46 Dartmouth


This afternoon workshop will be the final presentation of the STEDT project at the ICSTLL conferences; the project ends in 2014 with the release of the Dictionary/Thesaurus (available now in partial drafts) and the database itself (partially available online now) early next year.

The workshop will familiarize the scholarly world with the accomplishments of this 25-year-old effort. The ultimate goal of STEDT has been to reconstruct as many etyma as possible for the Tibeto-Burman proto-language and its subgroups, relating them to Chinese roots when possible, and simultaneously tracking the semantic development that each etymon has undergone. These data have been organized into a thesaurus format, partial sections of which can be downloaded as PDFs at

A number of theoretical and practical issues have arisen in the course of our work, and these will be presented and discussed, with an emphasis on the challenges of doing etymological research in a language family where the sound laws governing the history of most of the languages is imperfectly known.

We will provide a layperson’s perspective on the internal structure and workings of the STEDT database, which now contains some 400,000 records and thousands of reconstructed roots.  The database is publicly available online (at and contains a wealth of data that is likely to be useful to any researcher interested in this language family.  The workshop includes a demonstration of the practical use of the database software, and the opportunity to interact with members of the STEDT team involved in its development and maintenance.