Nepal has over a 100 languages many of which have no written script and linguists and anthropologists are constantly finding new ones.

Because of Nepal’s position on the border between major civilisations it has developed a rich linguistic heritage formed by migration and trade.

Languages can be roughly divided up into Indo-Aryan (Sanskrit), Tibeto-Burman (Chinese), Mongolian, and various isolated local languages that mix the others together.

Common languages

Nepali (49%)
Maithili (12%)
Bhojpuri (8%)
Tharu (6%)
Tamang (5%)
Newari/Nepal Bhasa (4%)
Magar (3%)
Awadhi (2%)
Bantawa (2%)
Limbu (1%)
Bajjika (1%)

According to the 2001 national census 92 living languages have so far been identified in Nepal, with a 93rd group of those not yet catagorised.

The remaining languages are spoken by less than 1% of the population – many with less than 1,000 speakers.

Nepali or Nepalese is currently thelingua franca among different groups, largely because it has been the language of the dominant group for at least the past 3 centuries.

Hindi and English are also widely spoken amongst the educated, many of whom will have four or more languages (Newari, Nepali, Hindi, and English for example).


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