The Languages of Bhutan - Part 2

By Stacey
Aug 19, 2016 · 3 min

The Tshanglas people are considered to be the aboriginal inhabitants of eastern Bhutan.

The Languages of Bhutan - Part 2 | One Hour Translation

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The Tshanglas people are more commonly known as the Sharchops: these people are considered to be the aboriginal inhabitants of eastern Bhutan. The Tshanglas people speak Tshanglakha and, according to historians, are the descendants of Lord Brahma. The Tshanglas people are typically inhabitants of Trashigang, Mongar, Pema Gasthel, Trashiyangtse, and Samdrup Jongkhar. The Tshanglas rear domestic animals to supplement their living and cultivate rice, maize, barley, wheat and vegetables. The women’s main occupation is weaving, and they produce beautiful silk and raw silk fabrics.


The Ngalops are of Tibetan origin, and they have mostly settled in the six regions of western Bhutan. Their language is Ngalopkha, which is a version of the national language of Bhutan – the Dzongkha language. Their main livelihood is agriculture, and they cultivate cereal crops such as maize, barley, wheat, rice, and a variety of other crops. Apples are cultivated as a cash crop in the regions of Paro and Thimphu.


It’s believed that the Lhotshampas migrated from Nepal in the 19th century due to employment opportunities in the Kingdom’s construction works, and these people settled in the southern foothills of Bhutan. They practice Hinduism and speak Nepali, or Lhotshamkha. There are various lineages in their society, such as the Chhetris, Bhawans, Limbus, Rai’s, Gurungs, Tamangs and the lLepchas. Today, these people are mainly employed in agriculture, cultivating cash crops of oranges, cardamom, and ginger.

Khengpas, Mangdeps, and Bumthaps:

The people who speak Khengkha, Mangdepkha and Bumtapkha live in Bhutan’s central areas -

  • The Khengpas are almost entirely dependent on agriculture, but they’re also known for their cane and bamboo craft;
  • The Mangdeps are reliant on the cultivation of wheat, rice, vegetables and maize, in addition to rearing domestic animals;
  • The Bumthaps cultivate potatoes and other vegetables and buckwheat. Some also rear sheep and yaks and produce fabrics of yak hair and wool.


The Kurtoeps can be found in the eastern part of Bhutan, specifically in the district of Lhuentse and the villages along the banks of Kurichu.

The Doyas:

The Doyas have their own unique dialect. They’re a tribal community that has settled in southern Bhutan and are considered to be the aboriginal inhabitants of central and western Bhutan who eventually migrated to and settled in the area of Dorokha.

The Bramis and the Brokpas:

The Bramis and the Brokpas are a semi-nomadic community who have settled in eastern Bhutan in the villages of Sakteng and Merak. Due to the high altitude, they do not typically grow crops but depend mostly on sheep and yaks for their livelihood. These people speak a different dialect and are experts in bamboo and cane crafts. They have their own unique dress which is made from sheep wool and yak hair.

The Layaps:

The Layaps speak layapkha and live in the extreme north of Bhutan. Their livelihood depends upon sheep and yaks, and like the Brokpas, these people are semi-nomadic. They barter with the people of Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang for salt, rice, and other consumables using the products of their herd animals.


The Monpas and the Doyas form a small community in Rukha and are considered to be Central Bhutan’s original settlers. Because they’re slowly being absorbed into mainstream Bhutanese society, their own unique dialect will eventually disappear.

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