A language of Nepal

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

19,600 in Nepal (2011 census), decreasing. Population total all countries: 20,410. Very few monolinguals. Ethnic population: 17,000.


Kosi 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.

Language Status

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


Eastern Yakkha (Ilam, Panchthar), Northern Yakkha (Sankhuwasabha), Southern Yakkha (Dhankuta). Dialects have minimal diversity. 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). Also use Nepali [npi]. Used as L2 by Limbu [lif].

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.

Devanagari script [Deva].

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, Buddhist, Hindu.

Also spoken in:

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