A language of Nepal

Alternate Names

20,430 in Nepal, all users. L1 users: 19,300 in Nepal (2011 census), decreasing. L2 users: 1,130 (2011 census). Total users in all countries: 20,880 (as L1: 19,750; as L2: 1,130).


Kosi zone: Morang and Sunsari districts, 51 villages; Mechi zone: Jhapa district, 24 villages. Eastern and western dialects are separated by Kankai river in Jhapa.

Language Status

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


Eastern Dhimal, Western Dhimal. 75%–80% intelligibility between eastern and western dialect speakers. Lexical similarity: 80%–82% with dialects.


SOV; postpositions; noun head final; no noun classes or genders; content q-word in situ; genitives, demonstratives, relatives before noun heads; 1 prefix, up to 3 suffixes; clause constituents indicated by case-marking; verbal affixation marks person; non-ergative; tense and aspect; passives and voice; nontonal; 31 consonant and 16 vowel phonemes (includes 5 basic vowels, 5 long vowels and 5 nasalized vowels); honorificity is marked for first person when speaking with in-laws.

Language Use

Home, friends, religion; mixed use: Work. Some young people, all adults. Adolescents and older. Some use among children. Positive attitudes. Also use Hindi [hin], Nepali [npi], Rajbanshi [rjs].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: 39% (1991 census). Literature. Periodicals. Radio. Dictionary. Grammar. Texts. NT: 2017. Agency: Dhimal Ethnic Development Centre.


Devanagari script [Deva], used since 1999.

Other Comments

Traditional religion, Christian, Hindu.

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