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Languages of Bhutan

Kingdom of Bhutan, Druk-Yul. 2,185,569. National or official language: Dzongkha. Literacy rate: 15% to 18%. Also includes Assamese (40,000), Eastern Magar, Eastern Tamang, Limbu, Santali, Sherpa, Western Gurung. Information mainly from V. H. Coelho 1967; J. C. White 1971; N. Singh 1972; J. Matisoff 1991; Matisoff et al. 1996; G. Van Driem 1993; E. Andvic 1993. Deaf population: 105,435. The number of languages listed for Bhutan is 24. Of those, all are living languages.

Living languages

Adap

[adp]  South central, between Damphu and Shemgang, Ada village, Wangdue Phodrang District. Dialects: Lexical similarity 77% with Dzongkha, 62% to 65% with Bumthangkha, 41% with Tshangla.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Southern 
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Brokkat

[bro] 300 (1993 Van Driem). Dur in central Bumthang District. Alternate names: Brokskad, Jokay.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Southern 
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Brokpake

[sgt] 5,000 (1993 Van Driem). Population includes 2,000 in and around Mera, 3,000 in and around Sagteng. Sakteng Valley east of Trashigang District, mainly in Merak and Sakteng villages. Alternate names: Mira Sagtengpa, Dakpa, Brokpa, Dap, Mera Sagtengpa, Sagtengpa, Meragsagstengkha, Jobikha, Drokpakay, Damilo.  Dialects: Related to Monpa of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, India.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Southern 
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Bumthangkha

[kjz] 30,000 (1993 Van Driem). Central. Bumthang and in the whole of central Bhutan. Mangdikha is in Mangdi District around Tongsa. Tsamangkha is on the east northeast border of Kurto. Salabekha is in the Yangtse District and Tawang and southeast Tibet. Alternate names: Bumtanp, Bumthapkha, Bumtang, Kebumtamp, Bhumtam, Bumthang, Bumtangkha.  Dialects: Ura, Tang, Chogor, Chunmat. Khengkha and Bumthangkha are reported by one source to be intelligible with each other. Cuona Monpa is the same as, or closely related to, Bumthangkha (see Moinba in India and China). Lexical similarity 92% with Khengkha. 47% to 52% with Dzongkha, 62% to 65% with Adap, 40% to 50% with Sharchagpakha.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Eastern 
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Chalikha

[tgf] 1,000 (1993 Van Driem). In and around Chali area, Mongar District, east Bhutan, north of Monggar. Alternate names: Chali, Tshali, Chalipkha, Tshalingpa.  Dialects: Related to Bumthangkha and Kurtopakha.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Eastern 
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Chocangacakha

[cgk] 20,000 (1993 Van Driem). East of Dzongkha, in lower areas of Monggar District, Tsamang and Tsakaling villages, and Lhuntsi District, Kurmet village. Alternate names: Maphekha, Rtsamangpa'ikha, Tsagkaglingpa'ikha, Kursmadkha.  Dialects: Related to Dzongkha.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Southern 
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Dakpakha

[dka] 1,000 (1993 Van Driem). Near Brokpake. Dialects: May be a dialect of Brokpake. Has been influenced by Dzalakha, and Brokpake has not.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Eastern 
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Dzalakha

[dzl] 15,000 (1993 Van Driem). Northeastern in Lhüntsi, Kurto District. Alternate names: Dzalamat, Yangtsebikha.  Dialects: Khomakha.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Unclassified 
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Dzongkha

[dzo] 130,000 in Bhutan (2003). Population total all countries: 133,009. Ha, Paru, Punakha districts. Also spoken in India, Nepal. Alternate names: Drukke, Drukha, Dukpa, Bhutanese, Jonkha, Bhotia of Bhutan, Bhotia of Dukpa, Zongkhar, Rdzongkha.  Dialects: Wang-The (Thimphu-Punakha), Ha, Northern Thimphu. As different from Lhasa Tibetan as Nepali is from Hindi. Partially intelligible with Sikkimese (Drenjoke). Names listed as dialects may be separate languages. Lexical similarity 48% with Sharchagpakha, 47% to 52% with Kebumtamp, 77% with Adap.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Southern 
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Gongduk

[goe] 2,000 (1993 Van Driem). Eastern Bhutan, Mongar District, Gongdu Gewog, villages of Dagsa, Damkhar, Pangthang, Pam, Yangbari, Bala. Alternate names: Gongdubikha.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan 
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Khengkha

[xkf] 40,000 (1993 Van Driem). 60% monolinguals. Zhemgang, Mongar districts; near Bumthangkha. Middle dialect in northwest part of Zhemgang. Upper dialect is northeast of Zhemgang; also Mongar District. Lower Kheng is in southern Zhemgang. Alternate names: Khenkha, Khen, Keng, Ken, Kyengkha, Kenkha.  Dialects: Middle Kheng, Upper Kheng, Lower Kheng. Bumthangkha is closest related language. Intelligibility of Bumthangkha not sufficient for complex discourse. Intelligibility of Kurtokha only with difficulty. Lexical similarity 75% to 85% with Bumthangkha, 70% with Kurtokha and Nyengkha, 65% with Adap, 34% with Dzongkha, 40% with Sharchagpakha, and Chacangacakha, 28% with Tibetan, 22% with Tshangla, 75% to 100% between dialects.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Eastern 
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Kurtokha

[xkz] 10,000 (1993 Van Driem). Northeastern, especially in Kurto. The dialect around Tangmachu is more divergent. Alternate names: Gurtü, Kurtopakha, Kürthöpka, Kurteopkha, Kurthopkha, Kurtobikha.  Dialects: Related to Bumthangkha and Khengkha.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Eastern 
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Lakha

[lkh] 8,000 (1993 Van Driem).  Alternate names: Tshangkha.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Southern 
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Layakha

[lya] 1,100 (2003). Northern Punakha District, around Laya; Gasa District; Thimphu District, Lingzhi gewog. Dialects: Close to Dzongkha, but many divergent grammatical features significantly limit intelligibility between them. Spoken by Layabs, alpine yakherds in northern Bhutan, and Lingzhibs in Western Bhutan.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Southern 
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Lepcha

[lep] 35,000 in Bhutan (Johnstone and Mandryk). Lower valleys in the west and south. Alternate names: Lapcha, Rong, Rongke, Rongpa, Nünpa.  Dialects: Ilammu, Tamsangmu, Rengjongmu.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Lepcha 
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Lhokpu

[lhp] 2,500 (1993 Van Driem). South western Bhutan, between Samtsi and Phuntsoling in Samtsi District, in 2 villages of Taba and Damtey. Also in Loto Kuchu, Sanglong, Sataka, and Lotu villages. Alternate names: Lhobikha, Taba-Damey-Bikha.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan 
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Lunanakha

[luk] 700 (1998). North, northeastern quadrant of Punakha District, community of Lunana, on the Pho Chhu River north from Punakha, on the right fork about halfway up the valley. Dialects: Close to Dzongkha, but many divergent grammatical features limit intelligibility between them.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Southern 
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Nepali

[nep] 156,000 in Bhutan (1993 Van Driem). In the foothills the entire length of Bhutan, especially south central. Alternate names: Nepalese, Gorkhali, Gurkhali, Khaskura, Parbatiya, Eastern Pahari, Lhotshammikha.  Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Northern zone, Eastern Pahari 
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Nupbikha

[npb]  Around Trongsa town. Dialects: Related to Bumthangkha. Has phonological similarities to Khengkha.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Eastern 
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Nyenkha

[neh] 10,000 (1993 Van Driem). Sephu Geo. The Black River passes below their villages. Alternate names: Henkha, Lap, Mangsdekha.  Dialects: Phobjikha, Chutobikha. Related to Bumthangkha.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Eastern 
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Olekha

[ole] 1,000 (1993 Van Driem). The 2 dialects have the Black Mountains between them, central Bhutan. Alternate names: Monpa, Ole Mönpa.  Dialects: Retained complex verbal system of Proto-Tibeto-Burman. 2 main dialects.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Eastern 
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Tibetan

[bod] 4,673 in Bhutan (2000).  Alternate names: Bhokha.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Central 
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Tseku

[tsk] 6,255 in Bhutan (2000 WCD).  Alternate names: Tsuku, Tzuku.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Tibetan, Central 
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Tshangla

[tsj] 138,000 in Bhutan (1993 Van Driem). Population total all countries: 143,000. Eastern and southeastern Bhutan, especially in Tashigang and Dungsam. Also spoken in China, India. Alternate names: Sangla, Sharchagpakha, Sarchapkkha, Shachopkha, Shachobiikha, Sharchhopkha, Tsangla, Menba, Monpa.  Dialects: Standard variety in Tashigang. Lexical similarity 40% to 50% with Bumthangkha, 48% with Dzongkha, 41% with Adap.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Tibeto-Kanauri, Tibetic, Bodish, Tshangla 
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