Tamang, Western


A language of Nepal

Alternate Names
Murmi, Sain

323,000 (2000), increasing. Population for all Tamang varieties: 1,350,000 (2011 census). Mostly monolingual below school age or over 60 years of age.


Bagmati Zone, west Nuwakot, Rasuwa, and Dhading districts; northeast Sindhupalchok district, Bhote Namlan, and Bhote Chaur, on Trishuli river west bank toward Budhi Gandaki river; Narayani Zone, northwest Makwanpur district, Phakel, Chakhel, Khulekhani, Markhu, Tistung, and Palung; north Kathmandu, Jhor, Thoka, and Gagal Phedi.

Language Status

6a (Vigorous). Language of recognized indigenous nationality: Tamang.


Northwestern dialect of Western Tamang (Dhading), Rasuwa, Southwestern dialect of Western Tamang, Trisuli (Nuwakot). Preliminary results showed 86% intelligibility of Rasuwa dialect, 81%–88% of Central-Eastern [taj], 78%–88% of Outer-Eastern [taj], 86% of Southwestern [taj]; 80% of Rasuwa with Trisuli, up to 70% of Outer-Eastern [taj]. Lexical similarity: 94% between Trisuli dialect and Northwestern Tamang [tmk], 82%–83% with Rasuwa, 80% with Southwestern Tamang [taj], 77%–79% with Eastern Gorkha Tamang [tge], 82%–83% between Rasuwa and Northwestern [tmk], 78% with Southwestern [taj], 72% with Eastern Gorkha [tge], 69%–81% between Western varieties and Eastern Tamang varieties.


SOV; postpositions; noun head both initial and final; genitives after nouns, relatives before nouns; no noun classes or genders; content q-word initial; up to 2 prefixes, up to 11 suffixes; clause constituents indicated by word order; ergativity; no passives or voice; 24 consonant and 5 vowel phonemes; CV, CVC, CCV, V, CCVC, CVCCC; tonal.

Language Use

Home, friends, religion; mixed use: Work, education. All ages. Younger population also uses Nepali [npi] due to education in the national language.

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: 25%–75%. Taught in primary schools, primary mother-tongue multilingual education program since 2007. Poetry. Magazines. Newspapers. Radio programs. Videos. Dictionary. Bible portions: 1977–1986.

Devanagari script [Deva]. Tibetan script [Tibt].

Other Comments

Murmi is the ethnonym used by the Lepcha and Kirati communities and Sain by the Newar. Traditional religion, Buddhist, Christian.