May 24, 2022, Tuesday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Three dozen languages spoken in Nepal have less than 1,000 speakers

The Nepal Weekly
February 22, 2022

International Mother’s Language Day was observed on Monday by organizing various programmes. There are 123 languages currently spoken across the country, according to experts. About one hundred languages are the original languages of Nepal.

At a seminar jointly organised by the Nepal Academy and UNESCO in Kathmandu on Monday to mark the occasion, it was revealed that 37 languages spoken in Nepal have less than 1,000 speakers and 23 of the 37 languages were on the verge of extinction. The Language Commission has already started preservation of a total of 37 languages.

Presenting a working paper, the commission’s Chairperson Dr Lavdev Awasthi said the commission began preservation of those languages with the assistance from the University Grant Commission.

On the occasion, scholar Sulochana Manandhar presented a paper on popular Nepali fairy tales and interrelated relations between humans and the environment, while Balkrishna Bal shed light on the technical process of translation of languages.

Inaugurating the event, the Academy’s Chancellor Ganga Prasad Uprety said, “The programme is aimed at helping preservation as well as conservation of all mother languages in a multi-lingual society like ours.”

Similarly, Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Maheshwor Neupane expressed the view that the government should ensure the mechanism, infrastructure, and human resources to provide education to students in their respective mother languages as mandated by the constitution.

There are 74 languages with less than 10,000 speakers. The highest number of languages is 113 in Bagmati Provinces followed by 55 in Karnali Province . In Nepal, 4.09 percent of the population speaks 104 languages and 95.91 percent speak 19 languages The commission has recommended 11 languages for official use.  Earlier, there were 123 languages spoken in Nepal according to the census of 2068 BS. But now there are 131 languages, according to the commission. The endangered languages include Raute, Sam, Manange, Dhulesi, Fangduwali, Surel, Malpande, Khariya, Kurmali, Baram, Lungkhim, Sadhni, Kagte, Vanakaria and Kaikal. The Language Commission has stated that all these languages are facing crisis.