A language of Nepal

Alternate Names
Bhujuwar, Kirati-Koits, Koits Lo, Mukhiya, Pirthwar, Sunuwar, Sunwari

38,200 (2011 census). 37,900 Sunwar, 290 Surel (2011 census). Very few monolinguals. Ethnic population: 95,300 (2001 census).


Janakpur Zone, Ramechhap, Dolakha districts, east hills; Sagarmatha Zone, northwest Okhaldhunga district.

Language Status

6b (Threatened). Language of recognized indigenous nationality: Surel. Sunuwar.


Surel. Lexical similarity: more than 80% with Surel dialect.


SOV; postpositions; genitives after noun heads; relatives before noun heads; noun heads both initial and final; 5 noun classes; content q-word initial and in situ; up to 2 prefixes and 3 suffixes; clause constituents indicated by split-case marking; verbal affixation marks person and number; causatives; comparatives; passives and voice; CV, CVC CVV, CCV, CCVC, V, VC; tonal; 24 consonant and 6 vowel phonemes; nasal contrastive pairs.

Language Use

Mixed use: Home, friends, religion, work. Adolescents and older. Some use among children. Language is passed down to children only in village areas (Toba, Toba, and Rai 2002). Positive attitudes. Younger people speak Nepali [npi] for trade, official purposes with low proficiency (1998 SIL). Most speak 2 or more languages, including Nepali (2002 UNESCO). Also use Bhujel [byh], Eastern Tamang [taj]. Used as L2 by Jirel [jul].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 20% (2010 L. Rapacha). Literacy rate in L2: Males 15% in villages, 20% in Kathmandu. Poetry. Magazines. Newspapers. New media. Radio programs. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 2011.

Devanagari script [Deva].

Other Comments

Traditional religion, Christian, Daoist, Hindu.