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Bantawa

A language of Nepal

ISO 639-3bap

Population  371,000 in Nepal (2001 census). Less than 5% monolinguals. Population total all countries: 390,200.
Region  Koshi zone, Morang, Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Sunsari, Sankhuwasawa districts; Sagarmatha zone, Khotang, Udayapur districts; Mechi zone, Jhapa, Panchthar districts. Amchoke is in Limbuwan, especially Ilam District. Homeland is the Eastern hills but many migrated to the Terai. Also in Bhutan.
Language map  Eastern Nepal, reference number 5
Alternate names   Bantaba, Bantawa Dum, Bantawa Rai, Bantawa Yong, Bantawa Yüng, Bontawa, Kiranti
Dialects  Northern Bantawa (Dilpali), Southern Bantawa (Hatuwali, Hangkhim), Eastern Bantawa (Dhankuta), Western Bantawa (Amchoke, Amchauke). Southern and Northern Bantawa dialects are most similar and could be united as ‘Intermediate Bantawa’. Dialects are reportedly mutually inherently intelligible. Sorung and Saharaja are subvarieties of Western Bantawa. Rungchenbung and Yangma are subvarieties of Northern Bantawa. Eastern dialect is most divergent. Most closely related to Dungmali [raa]. Also related to Puma [pum], Sampang [rav], and Chhintange [ctn].
Classification  Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Himalayish, Mahakiranti, Kiranti, Eastern
Language use  Some shift to Nepali [nep] evident, especially among Northern dialect speakers (2003 SIL). Some varieties are used as traditional lingua franca among Rai minorities in Limbuwan, Sikkim India, and Bhutan, and as L1 among Rai of other origin. This is true for the Lambichong, Mugu, and Chhintange (Bradley 1996). Home, religion. All ages. Positive attitude. Most also use some Nepali. Wide range of proficiency. In some regions, young people prefer Nepali. Hindi common among ex-soldiers.
Language development  Literacy rate in L2: 54% in Bhojpur District. Literacy rapidly increasing. Taught in primary schools. Poetry. Magazines. Films. Dictionary. Grammar.
Writing system  Devanagari script.
Comments  SOV; postpositions; genitives, adjectives, numerals before noun heads; polar questions marked only with rising intonation; content questions same word order as assertive sentences or question word directly before the verb; affixes indicate case of noun phrases; verb affixes mark person, number, object—obligatory; split ergative; comparatives use Nepali word, ‘bhanda’; CV, CVC, CVCC; nontonal. Agriculturalists; pastoralists. Traditional religion, Hindu, Christian.