The Amdo Tibetan dialect is spoken by up to 1.5 million people across three provinces of the PRC, including most of Qinghai Province, Gansu Province’s Khan lho (Ch. Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture) and Dpa’ ris (Ch. Tianzhu) County, and Sichuan Province’s Rnga ba (Ch. Aba) Tibetan/Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. Many native Amdo speakers are not ethnically Tibetan, and include members of the Salar, Hui and Mongolian ethnic groups.
Most Tibetans distinguish between two primary Amdo subdialects, referred to as Nomadic (‘brog skad) and Agricultural (rong skad) dialects. Pronunciation varies between these major subdialects, as it does also among the various regional subdialects throughout the vast Amdo-speaking region. Compared to the Tibetan Kham dialect, however, Amdo is known for a striking degree of uniformity, most Amdo dialect speakers being able to understand each other easily. Amdo is often said to use the largest number of archaic terms, compared to other Tibetan subdialects, and is sometimes therefore referred to as the “purest” of Tibetan dialects; this is especially said to be so for the Nomadic subdialect.
This website has been created for students of Amdo dialect. Although resources for the study of spoken Amdo Tibetan are few, there are a some good instructional materials, and a small but growing collection of films and radio productions feature native Amdo speech (as opposed to voice-over dubbing, which we do not list here) – these resources will be listed on menus on the right. We do not include songs in Amdo dialect on this site, as there are other sources online, such as the Plateau Music Project, devoted to the study of Tibetan songs. Publications in the field of linguistics can provide some students with insights into the peculiarities of this dialect – see Resources for further study for a few such studies. Over 2009-10, newly created audio samples of natural Amdo speech will be added, with transcripts, for further study.