For a country covering such a small geographic area of only 147,181 square kilometres, the diversity that you find in Nepal is simply astonishing. Home to 126 different ethnic groups, Nepal holds a high place in cultural diversity living in harmony with one another.
While you will find immense unity in the Nepalese people, they also offer with you a significant number of varieties in culture and taste. This diversity applies when we talk about the languages in Nepal as well. When it comes to the languages of Nepal, the 2011 census declared that there are 123 languages spoken as mother tongues in Nepal. This accounts for all the different culture in the nation. All of the 123 languages in Nepal are living languages, which makes cultural diversity even more prominent. Spoken by 44.6 per cent of the total population of the nation, Nepali stands to be the primary language in the country. Followed by the Nepali Language, the Maithili language holds the second position at 11.7 per cent, which is a very ancient language that has managed to keep its value and identity alive. Besides these two major languages, there are some other major languages in Nepal spoken by various ethnic groups. Twelve of the languages have been recognized to have a higher percentage among languages spoken in Nepal. The remaining are spoken by less than one per cent of the population, and many of them have been declared as being in danger of extinction. Below, we have described the various languages of Nepal, so it is easier for you to understand the languages of Nepal if you are planning for a holiday here.
Understood and accepted by all, Nepali language stands as the national language of Nepal. People called it 'Khas Kura' during ancient times. Since then it has come a long way and taken its original form as Nepali. Taking its roots the Sanskrit language, Nepali language reflects the glorious history of Nepal in every letter. Despite its derivation from Sanskrit, Nepali has some influence from Tibeto-Burman languages too. Because of its popularity among the citizens, it also serves as the Official Language of Nepal.
With the highest population of about 44.6 per cent of people speaking the Nepali language, it is the principal language in the country. With the highest number of native speakers of the language in Nepal, it is also spoken by people of Nepali origin worldwide. Derived from Sanskrit, the Nepali language is considered as the closest language there is to Sanskrit. The Nepali language uses the Devanagari script and is used widely in Nepali government documentations.
The Maithili language is the second most spoken language in Nepal spoken mostly in the Terai region of Nepal. The name for the Maithili language was derived from the Mithila region of Nepal which is known for its rich ancient culture. The significant demographics that speak this language live in the south-eastern Terai of Nepal. The main area where this language is expressed in the areas of the Janakpur, Sagarmatha and Koshi Zones in Terai. It is also spoken widely in parts of India like Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
With six per cent of the population of Nepal speaking Bhojpuri, it holds the position as the third most spoken language of Nepal. It is mainly spoken in the southern part of Nepal. Some of the districts that have the majority of people speaking Bhojpuri are Chitwan, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Bara, Parsa and Rautahat. It is also among one of the majorly spoken languages in parts of India.
Spoken by about 5.8 per cent of the total population, the Tharu language holds great importance among the Nepalese languages. People living in districts like Kailali, Surkhet, Saptari, Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Dang and many more have a majority of people speaking this language. Moreover, different variants of this language are also spoken in different parts.
With about 5.1 per cent of people in Nepal speaking this language, the Tamang language has different variants which hold an essential place in the list of Nepalese Languages. Five different dialects, eastern Tamang, Eastern Gorkha Tamang, western Tamang, northwestern Tamang, and southwestern Tamang are the major variants of this language. The language is spoken in places like the districts of Sindhupalchowk, Rasuwa, Makwanpur, Lalitpur, Dhading, Chitwan, Nuwakot, Dolakha and, Kavreplanchowk.
Popular as the language of the native Newari people of Kathmandu, the Nepal Bhasa is spoken by 3.2 per cent of the population of Nepal where the majority is the indigenous Newari people of the Kathmandu Valley. This is among one of the important languages in Nepal as it is widely recognized in the capital city.
With a population of about 3 per cent of Nepal speaking this language, it has become quite recognized among the languages of Nepal. This language is mostly spoken in different districts of Terai like Sarlahi, Rautahat and Mahottari. Bajjika is a Bihari language that serves as a swift transition between the Bhojpuri and Maithili languages.
According to the 2011 census, 2.97 per cent of people living in Nepal speaks the Magar language. This language is the mother tongue of the Magar ethnic group living in Nepal. The dominant language spoken by the Magar people is Magar Kura. This is mainly spoken in the mid-western, western and eastern hills. The far-west districts Kham Magars use the Kham Magar dialect while the Dolpa District Magars talk the Tarali or Kaike dialects.
With the primary demographic that speaks the Doteli Language residing in the western parts, this languages is one of the major languages of Nepal with about 2.97 per cent of the population of Nepal speaking the language. The major districts where people speak this language are Dadeldhura, Bajhang, Doti, Baitadi, Darchula, Bajura, and so on.
A population of about 2.6 per cent of people living in Nepal speaks the Urdu language making it one of the important languages in Nepal. The primary demographic speaking this language are the Muslims living in the Terai region.
Besides these significant languages spoken in Nepal, some other languages are more significant among the various languages of Nepal.
The varied linguistic heritage of Nepal developed from four main groups of languages: Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, Mongolian and various isolated indigenous languages.
Among the vast diversity of languages in Nepal, 109 are indigenous, and 13 are non-indigenous languages. Also, eight are institutional, and eighteen are evolving, twenty-eight are vigorous, fifty-eight are facing the trouble of existence, and ten are dying. Nepal, as a multilingual country, is home to more than one hundred languages, but with increasing spoken language generalizations, minor languages are disappearing. These wide varieties of languages of Nepal signify the rich culture and heritage and need to be protected.
If you are planning a trip to Nepal to explore all these beautiful cultures, you might want to know the status of the English language spoken in Nepal. In the past years, English has been adopted in Nepal as a foreign language. The growth of this language has been significant over the years among the various languages spoken in Nepal. Nepalese people speak English differently as they have a very distinctive accent and way of using the language. The language is more prominent in urban cities like Kathmandu, where people use English as a second language. To add to this, this language is widely used in the tourism business for years. Hence, when it comes to your travel to Nepal, the language barrier will be less of a problem than you'd think.
If you have any more queries relating to the languages of Nepal or anything related to the majestic nation of Nepal, feel free to contact Hop Nepal, and we will answer all your questions.