Nepal » Language in Nepal

There are some 120 native languages of Nepal, belonging to the Indo-Aryan, Sino-Tibetan, Austro-Asiatic and Dravidian language families.

The official language of Nepal is Nepali, originally called Gorkhali, which had 11 million native speakers within Nepal as of the 2001 census. Nepali is the lingua-franca of the country and also spoken in some parts of India and Bhutan.

Three quarters of the 120-some languages native to Nepal belong to the Tibeto-Burman language family; this includes Nepal Bhasa (Newari), the original language of Kathmandu. However, the official and numerically most important language, Nepali (Gorkhali), 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 Austro-Asiatic 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.

Nepal also has two indigenous Deaf sign languages, in addition to the Nepalese Sign Language designed for national use.

Major languages of Nepal
Nepali
Maithili
Newari/Nepal Bhasa
Tamang
Tharu
Magar
Bantawa
Gurung
Limbu

The remaining languages are each spoken as mother tongue by less than one percent of the population.