George van Driem




Contact Information

Prof. Dr. George van Driem
Himalayan Languages Project
Languages and Genes of the Greater Himalayan Region
Leiden University
P.O. Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands

telephone +31 71 527 2510
facsimile line +31 71 527 7569


Positions Held and Professional Experience

George van Driem has conducted field research in Nepal, Bhutan, northeastern India and
the western Indian Himalayas since 1983 and produced several in-depth grammars, a
number of grammatical sketches and coordinated the endangered language documentation
of the research team of the Himalayan Languages Project since 1993. Since 2001 he also
participates in Languages and Genes of the Greater Himalayan Region, a European
research programme which he conceived in 2000. Since 2002, he coordinates the
Austroasiatic languages research programme between Leiden University and l’École
française d’Extrême-Orient at Siem Reap. At Leiden he teaches undergraduate and
graduate students and gives guidance to Ph.D. fellows and post-doc scholars.

  • December 1999 to present Professor (hoogleraar)
  • April 1996 to November 1999 Reader (hoofddocent)
  • April 1995 to March 1996 Lecturer (universitair docent)
  • April 1990 to March 1995 Fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of
    Sciences (Akademie-Onderzoeker)
  • April 1986 to April 1990 Lecturer (universitair docent)
  • August 1984 to March 1986 Research Assistant (wetenschappelijk assistent)

Programmes Established

  • 1987     Founder and Head of the Undergraduate and Graduate Studies Programme in
    Tibeto-Burman Descriptive and Comparative Linguistics at Leiden University.
  • 1993     Founder and Director of the Himalayan Languages Project, a research
    programme of Leiden University for the documentation of endangered
    languages of the greater Himalayan region.
  • 1995     Founder and Permanent Secretariat of the Himalayan Languages Symposium,
    an annually convening international open scholarly forum.
  • 2001     Languages and Genes of the Greater Himalayan Region, an ESF-funded
    interdisciplinary and international research programme to reconstruct Asian
    population prehistory.
  • 2002     Euro-Asian Cooperation in Austroasiatic Linguistics, a Franco-Dutch research
    and exchange programme centred at l’École française d’Extrême-Orient at
    Siem Reap and at Leiden University.


Invited Lectures

Honours and Awards


  • Leiden University, 1983-1987 (PhD, A Grammar of Limbu)
  • Leiden University, 1981-1983 (MA Slavic, BA English, MA General Linguistics)
  • Leiden University, the Netherlands, 1979-1981 (BA Slavic)
  • University of Virginia at Charlottesville, 1975- 1979 (BA Biology)
  • Katholieke Universiteit te Nijmegen, 1978-1979
  • Watling Island Marine Biological Station on San Salvador in the Bahamas, 1977
  • Duke University at Durham, North Carolina, 1976

Sojourns as Visiting Sholar

  • 1988 The University of Hong Kong
  • 1990-’93 Institute of Oriental Studies of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Leningrad
  • 2001 City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon
  • 2002 Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taipei
  • 2003 Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie, Leipzig
  • 2004 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris

Meetings Organized

  • 1995     Old Chinese Seminar, Leiden
  • 1995     1st Himalayan Languages Symposium, Leiden
  • 1996     29th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics,
  • 1996     Old Chinese Forum, Noordwijkerhout
  • 1996     2nd Himalayan Languages Symposium, Noordwijkerhout


  • Dzongkha Development Authority, Royal Government of Bhutan, 1989-present
  • Commission for Nationalities Languages, Royal Nepal Academy, 1995-1998
  • Comité Scientifique de l’Unité Propre de Recherche «Langues et Civilisations à Tradition
    Orale», Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, 1995-1999
  • Visiting Committee, Linguistics Institute of the Academia Sinica at Taipei, 2001
  • Selection Committee for the Indology Chair, Uppsala University, Sweden, 2003
  • Parket van de Procureur des Konings, Antwerpen, Belgium, 2003

Grant Applications Reviewed

  • European Science Foundation (ESF), Strasbourg
  • Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung, Vienna
  • National Science Foundation (NSF), Washington DC
  • Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO), The Hague
Visiting Scholars at the Himalayan Languages Project, Past and Present

  • William Hubbard Baxter, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Suhnu Ram Sharma, Deccan College, Poona
  • Sergei Starostin, Moscow University of the Humanities, Moscow
  • Karma Tshering, Himalayan Languages Project, Bhutan
  • Dr’âsho Sanggä Dorji, Dzongkha Development Commission, Bhutan
  • Hâp Tsentsen, Dzongkha Development Commission, Bhutan


  • Editor, Languages of the Greater Himalayan Region (Brill, Leiden), 1998 to present


  • Director, Himalayan Languages Project, Leiden University, 1993-present
  • Head, Undergraduate and Graduate Studies Programme in Tibeto-Burman Descriptive
    and Comparative Linguistics, Leiden University, 1983-2003
  • Permanent Secretariat Himalayan Languages Symposium, 1995-present

Summer Courses

  • Summer Institute of the Linguistic Society of America, University of California at Santa
    Barbara, 2001

Training: Research Fellows Having Completed Their Ph.D.

Dr. Anton Lustig

Dr. Gerard Tolsma

Dr. Jean Robert Opgenort

Dr. Leopold Roland Rutgers

Training: Current Ph.D. Candidates

Dörte Borchers

Heleen Plaisier

John Timothy King

Joyce van Hoorn

Kristin Meier

Mariëlle Prins

Mark Turin

René Huysmans

Tej Man Angdembe


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