|Native to||India, Nepal, China, Pakistan|
|Region||Ladakh (Leh and Kargil districts of Jammu & Kashmir), Baltistan|
The Ladakhi language (Tibetan: ལ་དྭགས་སྐད་, Wylie: La-dwags skat), also called Bhoti or Bodhi, is a Tibetic language spoken in the Ladakh region of India. It is the predominant language in the Buddhist-dominated district of Leh of the Jammu & Kashmir state and may be called Purigi or Balti in the adjacent Kargil district. Though a member of the Tibetic family, Ladakhi is not mutually intelligible with Standard Tibetan.
Ladakhi has approximately 200,000 speakers in India, and perhaps 12,000 speakers in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, mostly in the Qiangtang region. Ladakhi has several dialects: Lehskat after Leh, where it is spoken; Shamskat, spoken in the northwest of Leh; Stotskat, spoken in the Indus valley and which is tonal unlike the others; Nubra, spoken in the north of Leh; Purigi/Balti spoken in the Kargil district. The significant difference in the dialects remain in the tone or way of speaking. The varieties spoken in Upper Ladakh and Zangskar have many features of Ladakhi and also western dialects of Central Tibetan.
Ladakhi has seen a huge drop in identification as a mother tongue, from 100,000 in the 2001 census to 14,000 in the 2011 census, despite positive language attitudes in the community and vigorous use of the language by all age groups in most contexts.
Nicolas Tournadre considers Ladakhi, Balti, and Purgi to be distinct languages on the basis of mutual intelligibility (Zangskari is not as distinct.) As a group they are termed Ladakhi–Balti or Western Archaic Tibetan, as opposed to Western Innovative Tibetan languages such as Spiti Bhoti (Lahuli–Spiti) spoken in Himachal Pradesh.
Zangskari is a dialect of Ladakhi and has four subdialects, Stod, Zhung, Sham, and Lungna. It is written using the Tibetan script.
Ladakhi is usually written using Tibetan script with the pronunciation of Ladakhi being much closer to written Classical Tibetan than most other Tibetic languages. Ladakhis pronounce many of the prefix, suffix and head letters that are silent in many other Tibetic languages, such as Amdo, Khams, and Central Tibetan. This tendency is more pronounced to the west of Leh, and on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control, in Baltistan. For example, a Tibetan would pronounce sta 'axe' as [tá], but a Ladakhi would say [sta]. While a Tibetan would pronounce འབྲས་ (’bras) 'rice' as [ɳʈɛ́ʔ], Ladakhis say [ɖas], and the Kargilpa (Burig) pronounce it [bras].
The question of whether to write colloquial Ladakhi in the Tibetan script or to write only a slightly Ladakhified version of Classical Tibetan is controversial in Ladakh. Muslim Ladakhis speak Ladakhi but most do not read the Tibetan script and most Buddhist Ladakhis can sound out the Tibetan script but do not understand Classical Tibetan, but some Ladakhi Buddhist scholars insist that Ladakhi must be written only in a form of Classical Tibetan. A limited number of books and magazines have been published in colloquial Ladakhi.
The medium of instruction in most schools in Ladakh is English, with either Hindi or Urdu as a compulsory second language, and a choice of Arabic or classical Tibetan as the compulsory third language. Government schools in Ladakh are under JK SBOSE, which calls the Tibetan subject Bodhi. Private schools under the CBSE and the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies, Leh call it Tibetan.
A section of Ladakhi society has been demanding inclusion of a newly named language, Bhoti, to be added to the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. They claim that Bhoti is spoken by Ladakhis, Baltis, Tibetans, and throughout the Himalayas from Baltistan to Arunachal Pradesh.
- Ladakhi at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
Zangskari at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ladakhi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Zangskari". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- "Growth of Non-Scheduled languages - 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001, and 2011" (PDF). Census of India.
- Tournadre, Nicolas (2005). "L'aire linguistique tibétaine et ses divers dialectes" (PDF). Lalies. pp. 7–56.
- van Beek, Martijn (2008). "Imaginaries of Ladakhi Modernity". In Barnett, Robert; Schwartz, Ronald David. Tibetan Modernities: Notes from the Field on Cultural and Social Change. Brill. pp. 178–179.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-03-01. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
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