1,500 in Nepal (2001 census), decreasing. 1,200 in the original language area. High language loss among those who have left the language area.
Mechi Zone, Taplejung district, upper Tamar and Gunsa valleys. Also in China, India.
6b (Threatened). Language of recognized nationality (2002, NFDIN Act, No. 20, Section 2C).
Ghunsa River, Olangchung Gola (Upper Tamar River), Topke Gola (Mewa River). High intelligibility of Thudam [thw]. Similar to Tibetan dialect in Tingay District of Tibet. Lexical similarity: 71% with Lhasa Tibetan [bod], 68% with Dolpo [dre], Loke [loy], and Kyerung (Kyirong) [kgy], 66% with Lhomi [lhm] and Helambu Sherpa [scp], 64% with Nubri [kte], 57% with Jirel [jul], 55% with Sherpa [xsr].
Cut off from the Lhomi, with more links to Tibet. Some intermarriage with Lhomi and Tibetan. The people call themselves Sherpa. They do not have a specific language name which groups all varieties of the language together and distinguishes the language from other Tibetan languages. The word “Walungge” comes from a name of one of the main villages in the language area. Buddhist.