A language of Nepal


344,000 in Nepal (2011 census), increasing. Population total all countries: 381,300. Relatively few monolinguals.


Eastern hills, east of Arun river; Kosi Zone, Dhankuta, Sankhuwasabha, Terhathum, Dhankuta, and Morang districts; Mechi Zone, Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, and Jhapa districts.

Language Status

5 (Developing). Language of recognized indigenous nationality: Limbu.


Chaubise (Charkhole), Chhatthare (Chatthare, Chhathar), Panthare, Phedappe, Tamorkhole (Taplejunge), Yanggrokke (Yanggruppe). Yanggrokke, Chaubise and Charkhole are minor variants of the Panthare dialect; Phedappe and Tamorkhole are similar. Chattare is less well understood by other dialect speakers. The dialect spoken in Sikkim, India, is same as Panthare. Intelligibility among all varieties 84% and higher.


SOV; postpositions; genitives, articles, adjectives, numerals before noun heads; noun head final; content question word in situ; bipolar question word final; maximum of 3 prefixes, 6 suffixes; affixes indicate case of noun phrases; verb affixes mark subjects, objects, indirect objects—obligatory; verbal affixation marks person and number; split ergativity; reflexes conjugated intransitively can be used as a kind of passive; passives and voice; antipassives; causatives; comparatives; 16 consonant and 13 vowel phonemes; V, CV, CVC, CCV, CCVC; nontonal.

Language Use

Vigorous. A main group in eastern Nepal. Home, religion; mixed use: Friends, work, education. Older adults and elderly. Some use among children, adolescents, and young adults. Positive attitudes. Panthare dialect is dominant in size, prestige, and language development. People prefer their own dialect, but are not negative toward others. Many adult speakers completed 5 years of school, and have good proficiency in Nepali [npi]. Nepali used often, especially among youth. Limbu is not replaced in any domain, though children now speak more Nepali than Limbu (UNESCO 2002). Some women also use Yakkha [ybh] due to intermarriage.

Language Development
Motivation for development is high among all. Literacy programs in progress to teach Sirijonga script (Salminen 2007). Poetry. Magazines. Newspapers. New media. Radio programs. Films. TV. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 2009.

Devanagari script [Deva], primary usage. Limbu (Kiranti, Sirijonga) script [Limb], dating to early 18th century.

Other Comments

Priestly high language, known by some older people and priests, is called Mundumban. Traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

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