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Language in Nepal

Table of Content

The diversity seen in Nepal is astounding for a country occupying an area  of only 147,181 square kilometers. Nepal has at least 193 languages, mostly of Tibeto-Burman or Indo-Aryan heritage.  

While the Nepalese people are extremely united, they also provide a wide range of cultural and culinary options. This variety holds true when it comes to Nepalese languages. When it comes to Nepalese languages, the 2011 census revealed that 123 languages are spoken as mother tongues in Nepal. This accounts for the country's diverse cultures. All 123 languages spoken in Nepal are living languages, emphasizing the country's cultural variety. Nepali is the predominant language of the country, spoken by 44.6% of the total population. Coming in second at 11.7%, is the Maithili language, which is a very ancient language that has managed to retain its worth and uniqueness. Aside from these two primary languages, Nepal has a number of additional prominent languages spoken by distinct ethnic groups. Twelve of the languages have been identified as having a larger percentage of speakers in Nepal. The remaining languages are spoken by fewer than 1% of the population, and several of them have been designated endangered. 


Official Language

Nepali in Devanagari script is the federal level's official working language. The constitution allows provinces to select one or more official languages in addition to Nepali. According to the Nepal Language Commission, Maithili and Limbu should be recognized as official languages in Province No. 1; Maithili, Bhojpuri, and Bajjika in Province No. 2; Tamang and Nepal Bhasa in Bagmati Province; Magar and Gurung in Gandaki Province; Tharu and Awadhi in Lumbini Province; Nepali (Khas BhasaKarnali )'s dialect and Magar in Karnali Province; Dotyali and Tharu in Sudurpaschim Province. 


Some of the languages you might encounter on your travels.

Many of Nepal's minor languages are becoming increasingly endangered. Try learning a few phrases in a local language the next time you're in Nepal–it's a little approach to assist raise awareness of Nepal's linguistic variety.


  • Newar

Historically, the Kathmandu Valley and adjacent areas spoke Newar rather than Nepali. From the 14th to the 18th centuries, Newar was the official language of the Kingdom of Nepal, but it was supplanted by Nepali when the Gorkha rulers took power in the 18th century. Today, there are over a million Newar speakers. The language is known as the 'Nepal language' in Nepal, however, it is absolutely unrelated to Nepali: Newar belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family, whereas Nepali is Indo-Aryan. Greet your Newar friends by saying Jwa-ja-la-paa and pressing your hands together.

  • Sherpa 

Trekking through the Sagarmatha National Park in the Solu-Khumbu District will take you through the traditional Sherpa heartland. Sherpa is not a professional title, but rather a cultural group with its own language that is connected to other Tibetan dialects. The Solu-Khumbu Sherpas are not to be confused with the Helambu Sherpas (also known as Yolmo), who dwell in the Helambu Valley and speak a separate Tibetan dialect. Tashi Dele, like with many Tibetan language groups, is the standard greeting.

  • Tamang

Tamang speakers may be found in Nepal's central hills. Tamang, which is actually a collection of dialects rather than a distinct language, is spoken by almost 1.5 million people. Some of these dialects are related to Spanish and Portuguese in their differences. Tamang is a member of the Tibeto-Burman group, which diverged from the Tibetan group before the 7th century. Tamang is connected to Gurung, which you may encounter while climbing in the Annapurna region.


  • Tharu 

Tharu is the most widely spoken language in the Terai area, and it is also spoken in other parts of India. Many Tharu dialects are spoken by over two million people. The dialect spoken around the Chitwan National Park is referred to as 'Chitwan Tharu.' It is an Indo-Aryan language, although the Tharu languages' place in the family is unclear following centuries of commerce and migration to this bountiful agricultural zone.


  • Nepali 

Nepali is the primary language of nearly half of the country's inhabitants, making it the most prevalent native speech. It is also the language of instruction in practically all schools (although a little language called English is also becoming popular). Many Nepali terms will be familiar to anyone who has studied Hindi or another language in that family. Even if you're a first-time visitor, you'll soon be greeting locals with a namaste.


The majority of the languages are only found in oral form. The Language Commission reports that fifteen scripts are now in use in Nepal.

  • Devanagari script
  • Dham script
  • Kaithi script
  • Khema script
  • Nepal Scripts
  • Ol Chiki script
  • Limbu script
  • Tamyig script
  • Mithilakshar script


Is English spoken in Nepal?

Nepal was never conquered by  English, and English was not recognized as an official language by the Constitution, but English has already become a fairly popular language in Nepal. Globalization and neoliberalism are the two main elements working in this anger. When Nepal opened its doors to outsiders in 1950, the influx of tourists, trade, research, development, religion, and education spread rapidly. With the introduction of foreigners, their language (mainly English) and culture began to influence, especially in big cities like  Kathmandu and Pokhara. With the development of the tourism industry, even illiterate people now speak English.

English is now the main language of business and education. So yes, English is spoken in a large population of Nepal, mainly in urban areas.