A language of Nepal

Alternate Names
Helambu Sherpa, Hyolmo Tam, Yholmo, Yohlmo, Yolmo

10,680, all users. L1 users: 10,200 (2011 census). L2 users: 480 (2011 census). Very few monolinguals.


Bagmati zone: north Nuwakot and northwest Sindhupalchok districts.

Language Maps
Language Status

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


Eastern Helambu Sherpa, Western Helambu Sherpa, LangDang Yohlmo, Lamjung Yohlmo. Melamchi river divides dialects. Understand other dialects even for abstract and complex subjects, including possibly Tarke Ghyang, Kahng-Kharka, Pahndang, but not Syuba [syw]. Lexical similarity: 66% with Dolpo [dre] and Walungge [ola]; 65% with Lhasa Tibetan [bod], Jirel [jul], and Kyerung (Kyirong) [kgy]; 63% with Loke [loy] and Sherpa [xsr]; 61% with Nubri [kte]; 60% with Lhomi [lhm].


SOV; postpositions; head noun initial; genitives, relatives before noun heads; articles, adjectives, numerals mostly after noun heads; no noun classes or genders; content q-word is usually the second word in the clause; maximum number of prefixes 1; maximum number of suffixes 4; clause constituents indicated primarily by case-marking, but word order distinguishes subject, object, indirect object some, but normally marked by postpositions; case of noun phrase indicated by postposition; split ergativity; rich system of tense and aspect; no passives or voice; causatives; comparatives; CV, CVC, CVV, CCV, CCVV, CVVC; tonal (4 tones); 36 consonant and 10 vowel phonemes.

Language Use

Home; mixed use: Friends, religion, work. Some young people, all adults. Also use Central Tibetan [bod], Hindi [hin]. Also use Nepali [npi], viewing it as useful.

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: 15%–25%. Literacy motivation not high, except in English [eng]. Radio. Dictionary. Grammar. Texts. NT: 2000.


Devanagari script [Deva].

Other Comments

They go to northern India as laborers or resettle in Kathmandu or in India. Buddhist, Christian, traditional religion.

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