6,000 (1999 R. Huysmans), decreasing. No monolinguals. Phali dialect spoken by a few elderly speakers.
Khotang dialect: Sagarmatha Zone, Khotang district, Tap Khola river upriver villages, Baspani, Khartamcha, Phedi, and Patheka; Koshi Zone, Bhojpur district, Lahure Khola river headwaters, Okharbote; Syam Khola area, Kimalung, Nigale, Talakharka, and Surke; Dingla bazaar area. Phali dialect: Koshi Zone, Bhojpur district, Sangpang, a few elderly speakers.
6b (Threatened). Language of recognized nationality (2002, NFDIN Act, No. 20, Section 2C), Rai nationality.
Khotang, Phali. Mutual intelligibility between the Khartamcha variety and the Patheka variety of the Khotang dialect is high. Mutual intelligibility between the Khotang and Phali Sampang dialect is difficult to estimate but appears to be low.
SOV; postpositions; noun head final; noun classes or gender; content q-word in situ; 1 prefix, up to 6 suffixes; word-order clause constituents; verbal affixation marks person and number; split ergativity; tense and aspect; passives and voice; nontonal; 28 consonant and 20 vowel phonemes; distinctive pitch-accent, nasal vowel phonemes and syllabic nasals; a prominent role is played in the grammar by an imperfective nominalizing suffix; in nominal morphology, the ergative structure is breaking down through the introduction of the Nepali [npi] oblique case marker
Traditional religion, Hindu, Christian.