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Languages in Nepal

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The 2011 National census lists 123 language spoken as a mother tongue (first language) in Nepal.[2] Most belong to the Indo-Aryan and Sino-Tibetan language families. An overview of Nepali languages is found in the work of Toba, Toba, and Rai.

The official language of Nepal is Nepali, formerly called Khaskura then Gorkhali. According to the 2011 national census, the percentage of people with Nepali as the mother tongue is 44.6%.

Three quarters of the hundred or so languages native to Nepal belong to the Tibeto-Burman language family; this includes Nepal Bhasa (Newar) (the original language of Kathmandu), the Tamang, Magar and various Rai and Limbu languages.

However, the official and numerically most important language, Nepali, belongs to the Indo-Aryan (Indic) branch of the Indo-European family, so that Indic languages constitute 79% of the population to Tibeto-Burman's 18%, even though most languages of both families are spoken by small numbers of people.

The Dravidian languages are represented by Kurux, and the Munda languages of the Austroasiatic family by Santali and Mundari.

The indigenous languages of Nepal that predated the influx of Indic, Tibeto-Burman, and other families barely survive in the Kusunda language, which is nearly extinct today.

Nepal also has at several indigenous village sign languages, Jhankot Sign Language, Jumla Sign Language, and Ghandruk Sign Language, in addition to the Nepali Sign Language designed for national use.

Though Nepali (Khaskura bhasha) is the official language or the mother tongue of Nepal, there are as many as 126 listed languages spoken in Nepal. Out of these, three languages, Dura, Kusunda and Waling have become extinct. Apart from Nepali, the other most commonly spoken languages in Nepal are:

  • Awadhi
  • Newari
  • Hindi
  • Bahing
  • Limbu
  • Maithili
  • Mundari

Status Of Nepali Language

Spoken In Nepal, India, Bhutan, Tibetan
Region South Asia.
Total speakers 35 million approx.
Ranking 57
Language family
  • Indo-European
  • Indo-Iranian
  • Indo-Aryan
  • Pahari (Northern zone)
  • Eastern Pahari
Writing System Devanagari script