A language of Nepal

Alternate Names
Dewansala, Yakha, Yakkhaba, Yakkhaba Cea, Yakkhaba Sala, Yakthomba

14,600 in Nepal (2001 census), decreasing. Very few monolinguals. Population total all countries: 15,410. Ethnic population: 17,000.


Koshi Zone, south Sankhuwasabha and east Dhankuta districts, east to Arun river between Hinuwankhola north and Leguwakhola south. Northern Yakkha dialect: south Sankhuwasabha district and adjoining extreme north Dhankuta district; Southern Yakkha dialect: Dhankuta district; Eastern Yakkha dialect: Mechi Zone, Ilam and Panchthar districts. Also in India.

Language Status

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


Eastern Yakkha (Ilam, Panchthar), Northern Yakkha (Sankhuwasabha), Southern Yakkha (Dhankuta). Dialects have minimal diversity. Related to Lumba-Yakkha [luu], Phangduwali [phw], Chhintang [ctn], Chhulung [cur], Belhariya [byw], Lohorung [lbr], Limbu [lif], and Athpahariya [aph]. Lexical similarity: with Athpariya [aph], Limbu [lif], and Yamphu [ybi].


SOV; postpositions; noun head final; no noun classes or genders; content q-word in situ; 1 prefix, up to 10 suffixes (depending on analysis); clause constituents indicated by case-marking; verbal affixation marks person and number; ergativity; tense and aspect; passives and voice; nontonal; 22 consonant and 5 vowel phonemes

Language Use

Home, friends, religion; mixed use: Work, education. Children and elderly. Some use among adolescents, young and older adults (Toba, Toba, and Rai 2005). High bilingualism in Nepali [npi].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: 10% in Nepali [npi]. There are attempts to teach Yakkha at school, and textbooks are published up to grade 3, but not widely used. Poetry. Dictionary.
Other Comments

Considered by many a distinct group of Kirati not fitting neatly into either Rai or Limbu groups (Bista 1996:39); in terms of mythology and people’s own judgment, they seem closer to Limbu than to Rai groups. Traditional religion, Christian.

Also spoken in:

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