Limbu

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A language of Nepal

Alternate Names
Yakthung Pan
Population

366,200 in Nepal, all users. 344,000 (2011 census), increasing. 22,200 (2011 census). Relatively few monolinguals. Total users in all countries: 403,500 (as L1: 381,300; as L2: 22,200).

Location

Kosi zone: Dhankuta, Morang, Sankhuwasabha, and Terhathum districts; Mechi zone: Ilam, Jhapa, Panchthar, and Taplejung districts; all in eastern hills, east of Arun river.

Language Status

5 (Developing). Language of recognized indigenous nationality: Limbu.

Dialects

Panthare, Phedappe, Tamorkhole (Taplejunge), Chaubise (Charkhole), Chhatthare (Chatthare, Chhathar), Yanggrokke (Yanggruppe). Yanggrokke, Chaubise and Charkhole are minor variants of the Panthare dialect; Phedappe and Tamorkhole are similar. Chattare is less well understood by other dialect speakers. The dialect spoken in Sikkim, India, is same as Panthare. Intelligibility among all varieties 84% and higher.

Typology

SOV; postpositions; genitives, articles, adjectives, numerals before noun heads; noun head final; content question word in situ; bipolar question word final; maximum of 3 prefixes, 6 suffixes; affixes indicate case of noun phrases; verb affixes mark subjects, objects, indirect objects—obligatory; verbal affixation marks person and number; split ergativity; reflexes conjugated intransitively can be used as a kind of passive; passives and voice; antipassives; causatives; comparatives; 16 consonant and 13 vowel phonemes; V, CV, CVC, CCV, CCVC; nontonal.

Language Use

Vigorous. Limbu is not replaced in any domain, though children now speak more Nepali than Limbu (UNESCO 2002). A main group in eastern Nepal. Home, religion; mixed use: Friends, work, education. Older adults and elderly. Some use among children, adolescents, and young adults. Positive attitudes. Panthare dialect is dominant in size, prestige, and language development. People prefer their own dialect, but are not negative toward others. Many also use Nepali [npi], especially among youth and educated. Some also use Yakkha [ybh], especially women due to intermarriage.

Language Development
Many adult speakers completed 5 years of school, and have good proficiency in Nepali [npi]. Motivation for development is high among all. Literacy programs in progress to teach Sirijonga script (Salminen 2007). Literature. Newspapers. Periodicals. Radio. TV. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Texts. NT: 2009.
Writing

Devanagari script [Deva], primary usage. Limbu (Kiranti, Sirijonga) script [Limb], dating to early 18th century.

Other Comments

Priestly high language, known by some older people and priests, is called Mundumban. Traditional religion.

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