Kham language

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Not to be confused with Khams Tibetan language.
Khamkura, Kamkura
खाम, खामकुरा, कामकुरा
Native to Nepal
Region Rapti Zone, Rolpa and Rukum Districts
Dhaulagiri Zone, Baglung District
Ethnicity Kham Magar
Native speakers
27,000  (2011 census)[1]
Official status
Official language in
No official status
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
kif – Eastern Parbate Kham
kgj – Gamale Kham
kip – Sheshi Kham
kjl – Western Parbate Kham
Glottolog kham1286[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Kham (Nepali: खाम) (also Khamkura खामकुरा or Kamkura कामकुरा)—narrowly defined—is a complex of Sino-Tibetan Magaric languages spoken natively in isolated highlands of the Rolpa and Rukum districts of Rapti and the westernmost part of Baglung district in Dhawalagiri Zone by western clans of the Magar tribe, called collectively Kham Magar or Northern Magars. Randy LaPolla (2003) proposes that Kham may be part of a larger "Rung" group.

More loosely, Nepali speakers west of the Kaligandaki use Kham (etc.) for non-Indic languages indigenous to the Middle Hills and southern parts of the Himalayas. Thus Nepali speakers also subsume with Kham the separate languages Kaike—spoken to the northwest in lower Dolpo—and Chantyal—spoken to the northeast in Baglung and Myagdi Districts, when in fact these are only distantly related. The Nepali speakers then use the term Bhote (भोटे) for Tibetan varieties spoken in culturally Tibetan borderlands such as upper Dolpo and northern Humla.

Regional varieties[edit]

The language consists of 3 main lects with several sub-lects:

  • Gamale - spoken in northeastern Rolpa along upper Lungrikhola, a tributary of the West Rapti River.
    • Tamali
    • Ghusbangi
  • Parbate
    • Eastern Parbate - spoken north of Gamle: in western Baglung district along upper Nisikhola (western tributary to Gandaki) and around Dhorpatan in upper valley of Uttar Ganga (eastern tributary to Bheri River).
      • Nishel
      • Bhujel
    • Western Parbate - spoken west of Gamale and Eastern Parbate, in eastern Rukum district, watersheds of Sani Bheri, and lower valley of Uttar Ganga.
      • Wale
      • Gamale
      • Thabangi
      • Lugumyal
      • Takale
      • Maikoti
      • Kolal
      • Rangsyal
      • Seemale
      • Hukam
      • Matale
    • The term Parbate is actually a cover term for all non-Sheshi/non-Gamale lects. The Takale variety is the prestige dialect and lingua franca of the Parbate group.
  • Sheshi - spoken in a slightly disjunct area to the southwest separated by Nepali speakers
    • Tapanangi
    • Jangkoti


The description below is primarily of Takale Kham.


Takale Kham has 22 consonants:

Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡s
voiced d͡z
aspirated t͡sʰ
Fricative voiceless s h
voiced z
Rhotic ɾ
Approximant central j w
lateral l
  • The rhotic /ɾ/ is realized as a trill [r] at the end words. Otherwise, it is a flap.


Takale Kham has 25 vowels:

  Front Central Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
short long nasal short long short long nasal short long nasal short long nasal
Close i ĩː y   ɯ ɯː ɯ̃ː u ũː
Mid e ẽː ø øː ə əː ə̃ː   o õː
Open   a ãː  


  • voice register




  1. ^ Eastern Parbate Kham at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Gamale Kham at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Sheshi Kham at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Western Parbate Kham at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kham". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.