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Dzongkha is the official language of Bhutan and it is also the most common language spoken all over the country. It is one of 53 languages in the Tibetan language family. The script, here called Chhokey("Dharma language"), is identical to classical Tibetan. In the schools English is the medium of instruction and Dzongkha is taught as the national language. Besides Dzongkha and English there are two major languages spoken by the people of Bhutan: Sharchokpa (spoken in Eastern Bhutan) and Nepali (spoken in Southern Bhutan). 

Until the 1980s, the government sponsored the teaching of Nepali in schools in southern Bhutan. With the adoption ofDriglamNamzhag and its expansion into the idea of strengthening the role of Dzongkha, Nepali was dropped from the curriculum. The languages of Bhutan are still not well-characterized, and several have yet to be recorded in an in-depth academic grammar. Before the 1980s, the Lhotshampa (Nepali-speaking community), mainly based in southern Bhutan, constituted approximately 30% of the population. However, after conducting the purge of Lhotshaampas from 1990–1992 this number might not accurately reflect the current population.

Dzongkha is partially intelligible with Sikkimese and spoken natively by 25% of the population. Tshangla, the language of the Sharchop and the principal pre-Tibetan language of Bhutan, is spoken by a greater number of people. It is not easily classified and may constitute an independent branch of Tibeto-Burman. Nepali speakers constituted some 40% of the population as of 2006. The larger minority languages are Dzala (11%), Limbu (10%), Kheng (8%),and Rai (8%). There are no reliable sources for the ethnic or linguistic composition of Bhutan, so these numbers do not add up to 100%.

  1. Dzongkha
  2. Bumthang
  3. Kurtöp
  4. Dzala
  5. Khampa Tibetan
  6. Lakha
  7. Nyenkha
  8. 'Olekha (Monpa)
  9. Brokkat
  10. Chocangacakha
  11. Chali
  12. Dakpa
  13. Brokpa
  14. Nepali
  15. Lepcha
  16. Lhokpu
  17. Kheng
  18. Gongduk
  19. Tshangla
  20. Sharchopkha

 

 

 

 

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