Chepang

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A language of Nepal

Alternate Names
Praja Bhasa, Tsepang
Population

36,800 (2001 census), decreasing. No monolinguals. Ethnic population: 52,200.

Location

Narayani Zone, Makwanpur, Chitwan districts; Bagmati Zone, southern Dhading district; Gandaki Zone, southern Gorkha district.

Language Status

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

Dialects

Eastern Chepang, Western Chepang. Bhujel [byj] is closely related to Western Chepang, but has difficult intelligibility with Chepang due to different pronominal suffix morphology. Dialects of Chepang differ in verb forms. Similar in morphology to Kirati languages. Lexical similarity: 98% with Bhujel [byh] (2004 R. Caughley, based on 100-item word list).

Typology

SOV; postpositions; noun head final; no noun classes or genders; relatives before or without noun heads; content q-word in situ; no prefixes, up to 8 suffixes; clause constituents indicated by case-marking; affixes indicate case of noun phrase; verbal affixation marks person and number; ergative; tense and aspect; voice; causatives; comparatives; CV to CCCVCCC with certain restrictions; 18 consonant and 6 vowel phonemes; nontonal (not phonemic, but phonetic pitch). Whistle speech

Language Use

Home; mixed use: Friends, religion, work. Young adults and older. Some use among children and adolescents. Positive attitudes. Speakers over 5 know some Nepali [npi]. It is often learned in school. Men can talk about most common topics and political affairs. Women know greetings and vocabulary for trade. Young people may sometimes speak Nepali to each other.

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 1%–5%. Literacy rate in L2: 40% men, 15% women in Nepali [npi]; 14% ethnic group (1991 census). Difficulties in reading Chepang: long words, consonant clusters. Written Chepang has lower prestige than Nepali. Motivation high for Nepali. Newspapers. Radio programs. Films. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 1993.
Writing
Devanagari script.
Other Comments

Traditional religion, Christian.