Tamang (language)

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Tamang (Devanagari: तामाङ; tāmāng) is a term used to collectively refer to a dialect cluster spoken mainly in Nepal, Sikkim, West Bengal (Mainly Darjeeling Districts - पश्चिम बङ्गाल राज्यको दार्जीलिङ जिल्लाको बिभिन्न भूभाग), some parts of Assam and North East Region. 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] Tamang likely split from the Tibetan languages some time before the 7th century.[5]

तामाङ, རྟ་དམག་ / རྟ་མང་
Native toNepal
Native speakers
1.35 million in Nepal (2011 census)[1]
20,154 in India (2011 census)[2]
Tibetan script, Devanagari
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)


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 Pradesh.
    • 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 distributionEdit

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

Eastern Tamang

Southwestern Tamang

Western Tamang

Eastern Gorkha 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].[6]

Writing systemEdit

Tamangic languages use Tam-Yig which is similar to Tibetan scripts and Devanāgarī. In many situations, however, Tamang is written in Devanāgarī proper.

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nuclear Tamang". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Ethnologue report for Spanish
  5. ^ Zeisler, Bettina (2009). Aboh, Enoch; Smith, Norval (eds.). "Reducing phonological complexity and grammatical opaqueness: Old Tibetan as a lingua franca and the development of the modern Tibetan dialects". Complex processes in new languages: 75–95.
  6. ^ 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 and 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. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External linksEdit