Magar language

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Nepali: मगर
Native toNepal
Ethnicity1.9 million Magar people (2011 census of Nepal)[1]
Native speakers
840,000 (2001–2006)[1]
Devanagari, Magar Akkha
Official status
Official language in


Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
mgp – Eastern Magar
mrd – Western Magar
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Dhut magar (Nepali: ढुट मगर भाषा, Nepali: [ɖʱuʈ]) is the language of Magars, an ethnic group, indigenous native from Nepal. The Magar Language is mainly spoken in Nepal, but a small number of Nepali Magar people include from Southern Bhutan, Darjeeling, and Sikkim, India. It is divided into two groups (Eastern and Western) and further dialect divisions give a distinct tribal identity.[2] In Nepal, 788,530 people speak the language.

While the government of Nepal developed Magar language curricula, as provisioned by the constitution, the teaching materials have never successfully reached Magar schools, where most school instruction is in the Nepali language.[3] It's not unusual for groups with their own language to feel that the "mother-tongue" is an essential part of identity.

Dhut Magar language is sometimes lumped with Kham Magar language spoken further west in Bheri, Dhaulagiri, Karnali and Rapti zones. Although the two languages share many common words, they have major structural differences and are not mutually intelligible.[4]

Geographical distribution[edit]

Western Magar[edit]

Western Magar (dialects: Palpa and Syangja) is spoken in the following districts of Nepal (Ethnologue).

Eastern Magar[edit]

Eastern Magar (dialects: Gorkha, Nawalparasi, and Tanahu) is spoken in the following districts of Nepal (Ethnologue).



Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop voiceless p * t k [ʔ]
aspirated t̪ʰ*
voiced b * d ɡ
murmured d̪ʱ* ɡʱ
Affricate voiceless t͡s
aspirated t͡sʰ
voiced d͡z
murmured d͡zʱ
Fricative voiceless s h
voiced ɦ
Nasal voiced m n ŋ
murmured ŋʱ
Lateral voiced l
Approximant voiced w ɹ j
murmured ɹʱ

*-only occur in the Tanahu dialect.

[ʔ] is only a marginal phoneme.[5]

Phoneme Allophones
/p/ [p̚]
/pʰ/ [ɸ]
/t/ [tʲ], [t̚], [ʈ]
/tʰ/ [θ]
/d/ [dʲ], [ɖ], [ɽ]
/k/ [kʲ], [k̚]
/kʰ/ [x]
/ɡ/ [ɡʲ]
/t͡s/ [t͡ʃ]
/t͡sʰ/ [t͡ʃʰ]
/dz/ [dʒ]
/d͡zʱ/ [d͡ʒʱ]
/s/ [ʃ]
/h/ [ɦ]
/n/ [nʲ]
/ŋ/ [ŋʲ]


Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a


Phoneme Allophones
/i/ [i] [ɪ] [i̤] [i̤ː] [ĩ]
/e/ [e] [ɛ] [ẽ] [e̤] [e̤ː]
/a/ [ä] [æ] [ä̃] [äˑ] [ä̤] [ä̤ː]
/u/ [u] [ʊ] [u̟] [ṳ] [ṳː] [ũ]
/ʌ/ [ʌ] [ə] [ə̃] [ʌ̤] [ʌ̃]
/o/ [o] [o̟] [õ] [oˑ] [o̤] [o̤ː]


  1. ^ a b Eastern Magar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Western Magar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ "The Eastern Magar of Nepal". Archived from the original on 18 March 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
  3. ^ B. K. Rana. "Mother Tongue Education for Social Inclusion and Conflict Resolution". Appeals, News and Views from Endangered Communities. Foundation for Endangered Languages. Archived from the original on 16 February 2003. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
  4. ^ Kansakar, Tej R. (July 1993). "The Tibeto-Burman Languages of Nepal - A General Survey" (PDF). Contributions to Nepalese Studies. 20 (2): 165–173. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  5. ^ a b Grunow-Hårsta, Karen A. (2008). A descriptive grammar of two Magar dialects of Nepal: Tanahu and Syangja Magar. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. pp. 32–67.

Further reading[edit]

  • Nishi 西, Yoshio 義郎 (1992e). "マガル語" [Magar, (LSI) Māgarī, Magar, Mangar]. In 亀井 Kamei, 孝 Takashi; 河野 Kōno, 六郎 Rokurō; 千野 Chino, 栄一 Eichi (eds.). 三省堂言語学大辞典 The Sanseido Encyclopaedia of Linguistics (in Japanese). 4. Tokyo: 三省堂 Sanseido Press. pp. 28a–40b. ISBN 4385152128.
  • Shepherd, Gary, and Barbara Shepherd. A Vocabulary of the Magar Language. Comparative vocabularies of languages of Nepal. Kirtipur: Summer Institute of Linguistics [and] Institute of Nepal Studies, Tribhuvan University, 1972.
  • Shepherd, Gary, and Barbara Shepherd. Magar Phonemic Summary. Tibeto-Burman phonemic summaries, 8. Kirtipur: Summer Institute of Linguistics, Tribhuvan University, 1971.

External links[edit]