A language of Nepal

Alternate Names
Dolkha, Dolpa Tibetan, Dolpali, Dolpike, Phoke Dolpa

1,670 (2011 census). Ethnic population: 8,000 (2010 K. Kopp).


Karnali Zone, Dolpa district, Barbung river valley, villages north and east of Kag; Tarap river valley, Lang village and north; beyond mountains west of upper Kali Gandaki river valley; confined by the Dhaulagiri Himal south and Tibet north; Suligag river valley, north of Rengi village and the lake area; headwaters of Karnali river; many small villages in Nangong, Panzang, Tarap, and Barbung river valleys.

Language Status

5 (Developing). Language of recognized indigenous nationality: Dolpo.


None known. Phoksumdo Lake, Barbung River, and Charka areas are slightly different, but intelligibility is good. The central valleys of Nankong and Dho Tarap are well understood by other varieties. Lexical similarity: 78% with Loke [loy], 69% with Lhomi [lhm], 68% with Lhasa Tibetan [bod], Walungge [ola], and Kyerung (Kyirong) [kgy], 67% with Nubri [kte], 66% with Helambu Sherpa [scp], 62% with Jirel [jul] and Sherpa [xsr] (2010 K. Kopp).


SOV; postpositions; noun head initial; no noun classes or genders; content q-word in situ; 1 prefix, up to 3 suffixes; clause constitutents indicated by case-marking; conjunct or disjunct verbal agree with subject with evidential marking in the verbal auxiliary; gender is marked explicitly in the noun phrase; ergativity; tense and aspect (aspect marked overtly as a verbal suffix); no passives or voice; 36 consonant and 7 vowel phonemes; tonal.

Language Use

Vigorous. Home, friends, religion, work. All ages. Positive attitudes. Also use Central Tibetan [bod], Loke [loy], Nepali [npi]. Used as L2 by Kaike [kzq].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: Below 10%. Literacy materials have been produced and are being tested. Non-formal classes are being planned (2010). Poetry. Dictionary.

Tibetan script [Tibt].

Other Comments

Buddhist (Lamaist).