Tamang language

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तामाङ, རྟ་དམག་ / རྟ་མང་/ मुर्मि
Native toNepal
Native speakers
1.35 million in Nepal (2011 census)[1]
20,154 in India (2011 census)[2]
Devanagari, Tibetan
Official status
Official language in
   Nepal Province No. 3(additional)
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
taj – Eastern Tamang
tdg – Western Tamang
tmk – Northwestern Tamang (not distinct)
tge – Eastern Gorkha Tamang
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
Selected ethnic groups of Nepal; Bhotia, Sherpa, Thakali, Gurung, Kirant, Rai, Limbu, Nepal Bhasa, Pahari, Tamang (note that Kulu Rodu (Kulung) territories are mistakenly marked as Tamu/Gurung territories in this map)

Tamang (Devanagari: तामाङ; tāmāng) is a term used to collectively refer to a dialect cluster spoken mainly in Nepal, Sikkim, West Bengal (Darjeeling) and North-Eastern India. It comprises Eastern Tamang, Northwestern Tamang, Southwestern Tamang, Eastern Gorkha Tamang, and Western Tamang. Lexical similarity between Eastern Tamang (which is regarded as the most prominent) and other Tamang languages varies between 81% to 63%. For comparison, lexical similarity between Spanish and Portuguese, is estimated at 89%.[4]


Ethnologue divides Tamang into the following varieties due to mutual unintelligibility.

  • Eastern Tamang: 759,000 in Nepal (2000 WCD). Population total all countries: 773,000. Sub-dialects are as follows.
    • Outer-Eastern Tamang (Sailung Tamang)
    • Central-Eastern Tamang (Temal Tamang)
    • Southwestern Tamang (Kath-Bhotiya, Lama Bhote, Murmi, Rongba, Sain, Tamang Gyoi, Tamang Gyot, Tamang Lengmo, Tamang Tam)
  • Western Tamang: 323,000 (2000 WCD). Sub-dialects are as follows.
    • Trisuli (Nuwakot)
    • Rasuwa
    • Northwestern dialect of Western Tamang (Dhading) — separate ISO code. Population 55,000 (1991 census). Spoken in the central mountainous strip of Nuwakot District, Bagmati Province.
    • Southwestern dialect of Western Tamang
  • Eastern Gorkha Tamang: 4,000 (2000 WCD). Sub-dialects are as follows.
    • Kasigaon
    • Kerounja

The Tamang language is the most widely spoken Sino-Tibetan language in Nepal.

Geographical distribution[edit]

Ethnologue gives the following location information for the varieties of Tamang.

Eastern Tamang

Southwestern Tamang

Western Tamang

Eastern Tamang


Some grammatical features of the Tamang languages include:

Phonetically Tamang languages are tonal.



Labial Dental/
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop voiceless p t ʈ k
aspirated ʈʰ
palatalized ʈʲ
labialized ʈʷ
Affricate voiceless ts
aspirated tsʰ
palatalized tsʲ
labialized tsʷ
Fricative s h
Nasal m n ŋ
Rhotic r
Approximant w l j


Front Back
Close i iː u uː
Mid e eː o oː
Open a aː

Nasality only marginally occurs, and is typically transcribed with a [ã] mark.


Four tones occur as high falling [â], mid-high level [á], mid-low level [à], very low [ȁ].[5]

Writing system[edit]

Tamangic languages use Tibetan script (Tam-Yig variant). In many situations, however, Tamang is written in Devanāgarī script.

See also[edit]


  1. Eastern Tamang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Western Tamang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Northwestern Tamang (not distinct) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Eastern Gorkha Tamang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". www.censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  3. "50th Report of the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in India" (PDF). 16 July 2014. p. 109. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 January 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  4. Ethnologue report for Spanish
  5. Mazaudon (2003)
  • Perumal Samy P. (2013). Tamang in LSI Sikkim, volume I Page Nos. 404-472. Published by Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner,India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
  • Hwang, Hyunkyung; Lee, Seunghun J.; P. Gerber; S. Grollmann (2019). "Laryngeal contrast and tone in Tamang: an analysis based on a new set of Tamang data". Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan (23.1): 41–50. doi:10.24467/onseikenkyu.23.0_41.

External links[edit]

Template:Languages of Bhutan Template:Languages of Nepal

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