A language of Nepal

Alternate Names
Mugali, Mugu, Mugum

6,500 in Nepal (2006 SIL). 25% monolingual (UNESCO 02). Population total all countries: 7,000. Ethnic population: 6,500.


Karnali Zone, Mugu district, Mugu, Mangri, Pulu, Kimri, and Dolphu VDCs; Jumla district, Jumla; Kathmandu. Also in India.

Language Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous). Language of recognized nationality (2002, NFDIN Act, No. 20, Section 2C).


Karmarong (Karani, Kar-ket, Karmai-kat), Mugom (Moe-ket, Mugali, Mugomba, Mumbai-kat). Intelligibility 89%–93% between dialect speakers (possibly higher). Definitely sufficient to understand complex and abstract discourse. Similar to Humla [hut], Dolpo [dre], and Loke [loy]. Lexical similarity: more than 85% between dialects, 75% with Tibetan [bod].


SOV; postpositions; content q-word in situ; clause constituents indicated by case-marking; ergativity; no passives or voice; tonal

Language Use

Vigorous. Home, friends; mixed use: Religion, work, education. All ages. Positive attitudes. Many also use Nepali [npi] and Tibetan [bod]; monks are bilingual in Tibetan; women are less bilingual in Nepali and Tibetan; some children are being introduced to English [eng]; some men also use Hindi [hin].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: Up to 22% in Nepali [npi]; men 30%, women 5%. Mugu District ranks very low in literacy among Nepal districts, especially among children and women. Strong affinity felt towards Tibetan [bod] and its writing system because of high lexical similarity. Poetry. Newspapers.
Tibetan script.
Other Comments

Karanis want recognition as a separate ethnic group. Mugalis may not accept materials written in Karani, and vice versa. Mugom value Nepali and English as a way to higher education. Mugalis see themselves a bit higher than Karanis, and are more influential as they travel and trade more. Buddhist (Lamaist).

Also spoken in:

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