February 01, 2012



One common ming mtha’ (a term used already in the Sum rtags) is kha. But kha does not seem to have the one and the same origin and meaning. One can speak of at least three meanings of kha. In some cases it is not easy to determine to which category a word with ka belongs.

(A) First, kha happens to be used in the sense of (or simply as an orthographic variant of ka and ga) and often with no additional meaning. Specially in modern (both literary and colloquial) Tibetan, I have a feeling that there is a tendency to make a bi-syllabic word out of a mono-syllabic one. For example, theoretically both las and las ka would mean “action, deed, work”). We could argue that las ka is used in the sense of “work, job” and never in the technical sense of “karma” (las). Cf. “This is my job” (’di nga’i las ka red). “This is my karma” (’di nga’i las red). 

1. rgas kha
2. rgyan kha “stake, gamble”
3. g.yer kha
4. sna/sne kha “type” (Bod rgya)
5. dgun kha “winter”
6. star kha “walnut”
7. ston kha “autumn”
8. rgyal kha “victory”
9. gling kha “park”
10. dpa’ kha = rgyal kha
11. spang kha “meadow”
12. pham kha “defeat”
13. phan kha “benefit”
14. phung kha “ruin”
15. lam kha “path, road”
16. gsol kha

(B) The second meaning of kha in such a word seems to be “brink,” “rim,” “fringe,” “mouth,” “point” (i.e. point of origin/basis/intersection, and so on).     

1. gter kha “mine”
2. ’chi kha “brink of death”
3. nyen kha “risk”
4. snying kha “heart-area”
5. snyug kha “nib”
6. thog kha “roof”
7. ’da’ kha “brink of death”
9. rma kha
10. chu kha “river bank/shore”
11. snod kha “brim of a container”
12. bsnol kha “point of intersection”
13. pha bong kha (i.e. rdo pha bong gi steng)
14. phar kha “yonder shore”
15. phur kha
16. mi kha

(C) Third, kha seems to be simply a component derived from kha mdog “colour.”

1. nog kha “tea-colour”
2. spu kha = spu mthog


  1. If sometimes the -kha actually means surface/face or mouth, it shouldn't be put in the same set with examples where it doesn't mean those things, or so I think.

    And does it sometimes mean 'moment when'/'moment of' or as you say 'brink of'? Then that ought to be a separate listing, too, shouldn't it?

  2. Thanks Dan, yes indeed, it is a good idea. Initially I have classified them into several groups but later I dumped them in one lump. D.