The Languages of Bhutan - Part 1

By Stacey
Aug 19, 2016 · 3 min

Bhutan is a remote, tiny (but legendary) Kingdom lying in the eastern Himalayas.

The Languages of Bhutan - Part 1 | One Hour Translation

In South Asia lies the country of Bhutan. Bhutan is a remote, tiny (but legendary) Kingdom lying in the eastern Himalayas, nestling between its powerful neighbors – China and India. Bhutan is a strikingly beautiful country: its people know it as Druk Yul - Land of the Thunder Dragon. It was in the 9th century that Bhutan was first settled by wandering migrants from China’s Tibet region, and it’s only really begun to open up to travelers since the 1970s. Prior to this, Bhutan was completely cut off for centuries, but today, whilst still guarding its ancient traditions, it’s trying to let in some aspects of the outside world.

Bhutan, with its population of 754,000 people, is a Buddhist kingdom located on the eastern edge of the Himalayas: it’s a land of fortresses (or Dzongs) and monasteries, with stunning dramatic topography. The capital of Bhutan is Thimphu, which as at the year 2011 had a population of 91,000 people.

The Languages of Bhutan

Linguistically, Bhutan is a rich country with more than 19 dialects spoken in this beautiful country. This linguistic diversity can be attributed to Bhutan’s geographical location with its deep valleys and high mountain passes. The inhabitants of this country were forced by these geographical features to live in isolation, but of course, this geography also contributed to their survival.

Dzongkha: The National Language of Bhutan

  • Dzongkha is not only the national language of Bhutan, it’s also the Ngalops’ native language. It’s also the language most in demand for translation. The language of Dzongkha is spoken in the massive fortresses known as Dzongs, which serve as monasteries and administrative centers.
  • Tshanglakha and Lhotshamkha are the two other major languages of Bhutan; the first coming from eastern Bhutan with the other language spoken in the south.

Other dialects spoken include –

  • Khengkha and Bumthapkha languages, spoken by the Khengpas and Bumthap people of Central Bhutan;
  • Mangdepkah language, spoken by the Trongsa inhabitants;
  • Cho Cha Nga Chang Kha language, spoken by the Kurtoeps;
  • Also having their own dialects are the Sherpas, Tamangs and Lepchas in southern Bhutan; and
  • Two dialects known as Monkha and the Gongduepkha are on the verge of becoming extinct.

For the translation of any documents in any of the languages of Bhutan, contact One Hour Translation for a free quotation. We have experienced translators ready to take your instructions.

The People of Bhutan

There are three main ethnic groups of Bhutanese people, and these are the –

  • Tshanglas,
  • Ngalops, and
  • Lhotshampas.

Other minority groups in Bhutan include the –

  • Khengpas and Bumthaps of Central Bhutan,
  • Kurtoeps of Lhuentse,
  • Doyas of Samtse,
  • Brokpas and Bramis of Merak and Sakteng in eastern Bhutan, and
  • Monpas of Rukha villages in Wangdue Phodrang.

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