Magar language

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मगर ढुट‎ (magar ḍhuṭ)
Native toNepal, India
RegionNepal; significant communities in Bhutan; Sikkim; Assam and Darjeeling district of India
Ethnicity2.0 million Magar (2021 census of Nepal)[1]
Native speakers
810,000 (2001–2006)[1]
Akkha script (official), Devanagari, Latin script
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
mgp – Eastern Magar
mrd – Western Magar
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Magar Dhut (Nepali: मगर ढुट, Nepali: [ɖʱuʈ]) is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken mainly in Nepal, southern Bhutan, and in Darjeeling and Sikkim, India, by the Magar people. It is divided into two groups (Eastern and Western) and further dialect divisions give distinct tribal identity.[3] In Nepal 810,000 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.[4] It is not unusual for groups with their own language to feel that the "mother-tongue" is an essential part of identity.

The Dhut Magar language is sometimes lumped with the Magar Kham language spoken further west in Bheri, Dhaulagiri, and Rapti zones. Although the two languages share many common words, they have major structural differences and are not mutually intelligible.[5]

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
plain sibilant
Stop voiceless p * t t͡s k (ʔ)
aspirated t̪ʰ* t͡sʰ
voiced b * d d͡z ɡ
murmured d̪ʱ* d͡zʱ ɡʱ
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.[6]

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 (27th ed., 2024) Closed access icon
    Western Magar at Ethnologue (27th ed., 2024) Closed access icon
  2. ^ "50th Report of the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in India" (PDF). 16 July 2014. p. 109. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 January 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  3. ^ "The Eastern Magar of Nepal". Archived from the original on 18 March 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)

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). Vol. 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]