Bantawa language

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Region Nepal
Native speakers
170,000 (2001 & 2011 censuses)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 bap
Glottolog bant1281[2]

The Bantawa language (also referred to as An Yüng, Bantaba, Bantawa Dum, Bantawa Rai, Bantawa Yong, Bantawa Yüng, Bontawa, Kirawa Yüng),[3] is an endangered Kiranti language spoken in the eastern Himalayan hills of eastern Nepal by Bantawa ethnic groups. They use a syllabic alaphabet system known as Kirat Rai.[4] Among the Kirat Rai people of Eastern Nepal, Bantawa is the largest language spoken.[5] According to the 2001 National Census, at least 1.63% of the Nepal's total population speaks Bantawa. About 370,000 speak Bantawa Language mostly in eastern hilly regions of Nepal (2001). Although Bantawa Rai is among the more widely used variety of the Bantawa language, it falls in the below-100,000 category of endangered languages.[6] It is experiencing language shift to Nepali, especially in the northern region.[7]

Bantawa is spoken in subject-object-verb order, and has no noun classes or genders.[8]


Most of the Bantawa clan are now settled in Bhojpur, Dharan, Illam, and Dhankuta. Recent figures show most of them are settled in Dharan. Bantawa is spoken in the following districts of Nepal.

Dialects are as follows.

  • Northern Bantawa (Dilpali)
Northern subdialects: Mangpahang, Raipachha, Awaichha, Rungchenbung and Yangma
  • Southern Bantawa (Chewali, Okhreli, Hatuwali, Hangkhim)
Southern and Northern Bantawa, similar, could be united as 'Intermediate Bantawa'.
  • Eastern Bantawa (Dhankuta)
Eastern dialect is the most divergent. It is most closely related to Dungmali language, though also related to Puma language, Sampang language, and Chhintange language.
  • Western Bantawa (Amchoke, Amchauke)
Amchaucke dialects: Sorung, Saharaja, Lulam, and Sukita
  • Wana Bantawa (also called simply Bantawa), spoken by the Bantawa subcaste. The Amchoke dialect is spoken in the Limbu area, especially in Ilam district.

Bantawa is also considered as a superior clan in the Kiranti family. Bantawa is also reportedly in use as a lingua franca among Rai minorities in Himalayan India and Bhutan. Meanwhile the language is just being introduced in a few schools at the primary level (Year 1- Year 5) [9] using Devanagari script.[10] [11]


  1. ^ Bantawa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Bantawa". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ "Bantawa". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-02-10. 
  4. ^ "Bantawa language and Kirat Rai alphabet". Retrieved 2017-02-10. 
  5. ^ "Language use among the Bantawa: Homogeneity, education, access, and relative prestige". SIL International. 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2017-02-10. 
  6. ^ "Bantawa: observations of a threatened language". Retrieved 2017-02-10. 
  7. ^ "Bantawa". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-02-10. 
  8. ^ "Bantawa". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-02-10. 
  9. ^ Jadranka Gvozdanovic. "Morphosyntactic transparency in Bantawa" (.pdf). Himalyan Languages: Past and Present, by Anju Saxena. Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
  10. ^ "The Bantawa Rai of Nepal". Archived from the original on 2008-03-05. Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
  11. ^ "Bantawa, A language of Nepal". Archived from the original on December 1, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-12.

Further reading[edit]

  • Winter, Werner. 2003. A Bantawa Dictionary. Trends in Linguistics - Documentation 20. Mouten de Gruyter: New York.
  • Doornenbal, Marius. 2009. A Grammar of Bantawa. Leiden University PhD Thesis. LOT Dissertation Series: Utrecht.
  • Nishi 西, Yoshio 義郎 (1992b). "バンタワ語" [Bantawa, Bantāwā, Bāntāwā, Bantava; Bontawa, Bontāwā; Buntāwā, Bāntuwā]. In 亀井 Kamei, 孝 Takashi; 河野 Kōno, 六郎 Rokurō; 千野 Chino, 栄一 Eichi. 三省堂言語学大辞典 The Sanseido Encyclopaedia of Linguistics (in Japanese). 3. Tokyo: 三省堂 Sanseido Press. pp. 380a–391a. ISBN 4385152179. 

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