L1 users: 105,000 (2001 census). Total users in all countries: 117,000.
Himachal Pradesh state: Lahaul Spiti district; Jammu and Kashmir state: western Leh district, 250 villages and hamlets.
Leh (Central Ladakhi), Shamma (Lower Ladakhi, Sham, Shamskat), Nubra Ladakhi. Perhaps 30%–40% intelligibility of Tibetan [bod]. Leh users comprehend 90% of Zangskari [zau] and Changthang [cna]. Nubra and Shamma not adequately intelligible with Leh to use the same educational, literacy, or development materials. Changthang and Zanskar, while understanding Stod Bhoti [sbu] better than Leh dialect, identify more with Leh Ladakhi culture. 58% to 85% intelligibility of Leh by Changthang, 73%–81% by Zanskar. Lexical similarity: 71%–83% with Purik [prx], 53%–60% with Tibetan, 84%–94% among 5 main dialects.
SOV; postpositions; genitives, relatives before noun heads; articles, adjectives numerals after noun heads; suffixes indicate case of noun phrase; ergative; causatives; comparative; CCVCC or CCCVV maximum; nontonal.
Tibetan script [Tibt].
Written Ladakhi is distinct from spoken forms. Leh dialect is acknowledged as standard spoken Ladakhi. It is the medium of Leh radio broadcasts and standard medium of communication among all Ladakh dialects, including Changthang and Zangskari (Paldan 2002). Buddhist, Muslim.