Sherpa is a Southern Tibetic language spoken mainly in eastern Nepal, and also in northern India and Tibet in western China. In Nepal there were about 145,000 speakers of Sherpa in 2011 in the Sindhupalchok district of the Bagmati zone, Dolakha and Ramechhap districts of the Janakpur zone, and in Solu Khumbu district of the Sagarmatha zone. Sherpa is an official language in Nepal, and in Sikkim in India.
Sherpa is mainly spoken in villages, especially by older adults. In towns there is a shift to Nepali, younger people are more likely to speak Nepali, or other languages, and children are teased at school for speaking Sherpa. There is some literature in Sherpa, it is used in newspapers and on the radio, and it is taught in some schools.
In 2011 there were about 16,000 speakers of Sherpa in northern India, particularly in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal State, and in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim states. There were about 800 speakers of Sherpa in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China in 1994.
Sherpa is written with the Tibetan script by some older Sherpas, while younger Sherpas prefer the Devanagari script. However, Sherpa is rarely written, and relatively few Sherpa speakers are literate in their language.
Sherpa is closely related to Tibetan, and includes many words borrowed from Nepali and English.
Hear how to pronounce Sherpa:
तेरी मिमाङगी चिजिन तङ ओछाकी ग्युला क्येने ज्युन कुन्ङ्यम गिवी। खोङ तिवा तेरीकी रिक्पा ल्येमो खुर्ने हुङगु यिन तङ तेरीकी पर्ला चिग्डील हुङगु लाका कि गोकी।
ཏེརཱི མིམཿ ངགཱི ཙིཛིན ཏང ཨོཚཿཀཱི གྱུལཿ ཀྱེནེ ཇུན ཀུང྄ཉམ གིཝཱི། ཁོང ཏིཝཿ ཏེརཱིཀཱི རིཀ྄པཿ ལ྄ཡེམོ ཁུར྄ནེ ཧུངགུ ཡིང ཏེརཱིཀཱི པར྄ལཿ ཙིག྄ཌཱིལ ཧུངགུ ལཿ ཀཿ ཀི གོཀཱི།
t̪eriː mimʌŋaɡiː tsidzina t̪aŋa otsʰɑkiː ɟulʌ cene dʒuna kunɲama ɡiwiː. kʰoŋa t̪iwʌ t̪eriːkiː rikpɑ ljemo kʰurne huŋaɡu jiŋa t̪eriːkiː parlʌ tsiɡɖiːla huŋaɡu lʌkʌ ki ɡokiː.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Details provided by Biswajit Mandal (biswajitmandal[dot]bm90[at]gmail[dot]com), and Michael Peter Füstumum
Information about the Sherpa
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Page last modified: 30.06.22
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