A language of Nepal

Alternate Names
Mugali, Mugu, Mugum

6,500 in Nepal (2006 SIL). 1,630 monolinguals (2002 UNESCO). Ethnic population: 6,500. Total users in all countries: 7,000.


Karnali zone: Jumla district, Jumla; Mugu district, Dolphu, Kimri, Mangri, Mugu, and Pulu VDCs; Kathmandu.

Language Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous). Language of recognized indigenous nationality: Mugali.


Mugom (Moe-ket, Mugali, Mugomba, Mumbai-kat), Karmarong (Karani, Kar-ket, Karmai-kat). Intelligibility 89%–93% between dialect speakers (possibly higher). Definitely sufficient to understand complex and abstract discourse. Reportedly similar to Humla [hut], Dolpo [dre], and Loke [loy]. Lexical similarity: more than 85% between dialects, 75% with Tibetan [bod].


SOV; postpositions; content q-word in situ; clause constituents indicated by case-marking; ergativity; no passives or voice; tonal.

Language Use

Vigorous. Home, friends; mixed use: Religion, work, education. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Some also use English [eng], especially children. Some also use Hindi [hin], especially men. Also use Central Tibetan [bod], Nepali [npi].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: Up to 22% in Nepali [npi]; men 30%, women 5%. Mugu District ranks very low in literacy among Nepal districts, especially among children and women. Strong affinity felt towards Tibetan [bod] and its writing system because of high lexical similarity. Literature. Newspapers.


Tibetan script [Tibt].

Other Comments

Karanis want recognition as a separate ethnic group. Mugalis may not accept materials written in Karani, and vice versa. Mugom value Nepali and English as a way to higher education. Mugalis see themselves a bit higher than Karanis, and are more influential as they travel and trade more. Buddhist.

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