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What Language Do They Speak in Nepal?

What Language Do They Speak in Nepal

Key Takeaway Table

Quick FactsDetails
Official LanguageNepali (or Nepalese)
Spoken LanguagesOver 120 languages including Maithili, Bhojpuri, Tharu, Tamang, and more
Writing SystemDevanagari script
Percentage of People Speaking NepaliApproximately 45%


Nestled amidst the towering Himalayan ranges, Nepal is a nation rich in cultural diversity and heritage. While many associate Nepal solely with Mount Everest, there’s so much more to this beautiful country, especially when it comes to its linguistic tapestry.

Official Language of Nepal: Nepali

Nepali, often referred to as Nepalese in English, is the official language of Nepal. It is the most widely spoken language and serves as a lingua franca among Nepalese of different linguistic backgrounds.

Characteristics of Nepali:

  • Writing System: Nepali uses the Devanagari script, which is the same script used for Sanskrit, Hindi, and some other Indian languages.
  • Grammar & Structure: Its grammar is heavily influenced by Sanskrit.
  • Dialects: Even within Nepali, there are several dialects based on regions.

Linguistic Diversity: Beyond Nepali

Nepal, though small in size, is home to a remarkable variety of languages. With over 120 individual languages spoken, it is a melting pot of linguistic diversity.

Major Languages Spoken in Nepal

To give you an idea of the vast linguistic landscape of Nepal, let’s dive into some of the major languages spoken:

LanguagePercentage of PopulationRegions Predominantly Spoken
Maithili12%Eastern Terai region
Bhojpuri6%Central Terai region
Tharu5.8%Terai region
Tamang5.1%Central hilly region
Newar3%Kathmandu Valley
Gurung2%Western hilly region

Lesser Known Languages of Nepal

Apart from the major languages, Nepal is also home to numerous lesser-known languages. Some of these are:

  • Limbu
  • Magar
  • Awadhi
  • Rai languages

These languages, though spoken by smaller communities, add to the rich linguistic tapestry of Nepal.

Nepali as a Lingua Franca

Even with such diversity, how do people from different linguistic backgrounds communicate with each other in Nepal? The answer lies in Nepali’s role as a lingua franca.

  • Lingua Franca: It’s a language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different.
  • Role of Nepali: With approximately 45% of the population speaking it, Nepali serves as the bridge that connects different linguistic communities in Nepal.

Challenges & Preservation Efforts

With a vast number of languages, comes the challenge of preservation. Some languages in Nepal face the threat of extinction.

Factors Leading to Language Endangerment:

  1. Urbanization: Many people move to urban areas for better opportunities, leading to reduced use of native languages.
  2. Education: With education primarily in Nepali or English, there’s less emphasis on regional languages.
  3. Media: Most media content is produced in Nepali or English.

Efforts to Preserve Linguistic Diversity:

Several steps have been taken to ensure the preservation of Nepal’s linguistic heritage:

  • Education: Initiatives to include regional languages in the school curriculum.
  • Documentation: Documenting endangered languages to ensure they aren’t lost forever.
  • Community Involvement: Engaging local communities in preservation efforts.


Nepal is not just a country of scenic beauty and towering peaks; it is also a nation that boasts a diverse linguistic landscape. From the official Nepali language to the myriad regional languages, each adds a unique voice to the chorus of Nepal’s rich cultural tapestry. While challenges remain in preserving every one of these voices, the efforts undertaken are a testament to the country’s commitment to its heritage.