Yakkha

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A language of Nepal

Alternate Names
Dewansala, Yakha, Yakkha Ceya, Yakkhaba, Yakkhaba Cea, Yakkhaba Sala, Yakthomba
Population

21,090 in Nepal, all users. L1 users: 19,600 (2011 census), decreasing. L2 users: 1,490 (2011 census). Very few monolinguals. Ethnic population: 24,300 (2011 census). Total users in all countries: 21,900 (as L1: 20,410; as L2: 1,490).

Location

Kosi zone: south Sankhuwasabha and east Dhankuta districts, east to Arun river. South Sankhuwasabha and adjoining extreme north Dhankuta district (Northern Yakkha dialect); Dhankuta district (Southern Yakkha dialect).

Language Status

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

Dialects

Northern Yakkha (Sankhuwasabha), Southern Yakkha (Dhankuta), Eastern Yakkha (Ilam, Panchthar). Dialects have minimal diversity. Lexical similarity: with Athpariya [aph], Limbu [lif], and Yamphu [ybi].

Typology

SOV; postpositions; noun head final; no noun classes or genders; content q-word in situ; 1 prefix, up to 10 suffixes (depending on analysis); clause constituents indicated by case-marking; verbal affixation marks person and number; ergativity; tense and aspect; passives and voice; nontonal; 22 consonant and 5 vowel phonemes.

Language Use

Home, friends, religion; mixed use: Work, education. Children and elderly. Some use among adolescents, young and older adults (Toba et al 2005). Also use Nepali [npi]. Used as L2 by Limbu [lif].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: 10% in Nepali [npi]. There are attempts to teach Yakkha at school, and textbooks are published up to grade 3, but not widely used. Literature. Dictionary. Texts. Agency: Kirant Yakkha Chumma.
Writing

Devanagari script [Deva], used since 2011.

Other Comments

Considered by many a distinct group of Kirati not fitting neatly into either Rai or Limbu groups (Bista 1996:39); in terms of mythology and people’s own judgment, they seem closer to Limbu than to Rai groups. Traditional religion, Buddhist, Hindu.

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