A language of Nepal

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

21,090 in Nepal, all users. 19,600 (2011 census), decreasing. 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).


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.


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


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.

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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