A written grammar bestows status and prestige on a minority language, and renders its teaching possible.
Linguistics expert George van Driem spends several months each year trekking along river valleys to record the grammars of disappearing indigenous languages in the Himalayas. As it has grown, his project has embraced other disciplines,
such as genetics and archaeology, to help map the linguistic and migratory history of one of the most complex regions in the world.<br><br>To document the linguistic riches, he and his fellow researchers have written more
than 20 grammar books, which the Dutchman continues to co-author with his students in the Swiss capital of Bern. Van Driem, who spends up to five months a year in the Himalayas, immersing himself in the lives of the villagers he is
studying, recently launched the Bern Summer School of Descriptive Linguistics.<br><br>In 2015, much of Nepal, a focal point for his research, was struck by earthquakes, claiming the lives of more than 9,000 people. Van
Driem and his students have been raising funds for those who lost relatives and homes.