The state language of Sikkim is Nepali. Some people also converse in Sikkimese (bhutia) and Lepcha. English is also understood and taught in schools and used in government documents. Sikkim is a multi lingual state. People of different communities reside together harmoniously. Other than these Sikkim languages, Tibetan, Gurung, Tamang are also spoken. Linguistic communities like Mangari, Rai, Newar etc. also reside in the state of Sikkim. Plainsmen have also migrated from different states of India to Sikkim.
Language spoken in Sikkim is of vast variety. Nepali is commonly used and spoken by the people of Sikkim, and can be termed as the most spoken language in the Indian state of Sikkim. It is very similar to Hindi and uses the Devanagri script. It has developed from Sanskrit. The working language of the government is English and Hindi is the official language of the state.
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Official Language of Sikkim
English is the official language of Sikkim. It is taught in schools, used in all government documents and spoken mainly in municipal areas. The state of Sikkim is highly diverse on the linguistic front. Ethically Sikkim has three main groups of people, namely Nepalese, Bhutias and Lepchas. The original inhabitants of the state of Sikkim are Lepchas who speak in Lepcha. Their dialect is not used to a great extent in Sikkim. They existed much before the Nepalese and Bhutias, who migrated to the state later.
Nepali is the local language of Sikkim. Main language of Sikkim is Nepali as 62% people living in Sikkim speak Nepali. However, English is also used frequently. Hindi, the official language of India, is also spoken in various parts of the state. English is mainly used in official matters and Hindi is understood and spoken by a maximum number of people. Beside these, there are numerous local languages spoken in Sikkim. These include Tamanga, Limbu, Lepcha, Newari, Gurung, Rai, Sunwar, Magar, Tibetan and Sikkimese. Out of these Lepcha, Tibetan and Sikkimese language are significant.
Nepali is the main language of Sikkim and regional language of Sikkim as Nepalese are in majority and dominate major part of this Indian state with their dialect. There are many other dialects that can be heard. Sikkimese is spoken by the Bhutias in Sikkim who refer to their own language as Dredzongke and their homeland as Dredzong in their language. Sikkimese is written using Tibetan alphabets and their writing style is described as “Bodhi Style”. The Sikkimese dialect dominates the state in minority. As per census, the major languages spoken in the state of Sikkim are as follow:
Acchami, Bajhangi, Bheri, Dadeldhuri, Darchulali, Purbeli, Humli etc. are few dialects of the language Nepali.
|Second State Language||Bhutia, Lepcha, Limoo, Newari, Gurung, Magar, Mukhia, Rai,Sherpa, Tamang,|
|Regional/Local Language||Tamanga, Limbu, Lepcha, Newari, Gurung, Rai, Sunwar, Magar, Tibetan and Sikkimese|
Sikkim language originally belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of Indo-European language family. Nepali is considered one of the most important Pahari languages. Historically, the language was first called Khas language, then Gorkhali then Nepali. The language resembles Hindi to quite an extent and has evolved from Sanskrit. It uses many derivations from Sanskrit. Nepali has had much influence from different languages and is said to belong to the same family as Bengali and Hindi. It virtually occupies the position of official language in the Indian state of Sikkim. Nepali is spoken in the environment of Tibeto-Burman speech in Sikkim. And, has been listed in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
Nepali is a lot like Hindi and is written in Devanagri alphabet. It is written from left to write. Devanagri is a form of alphabet and has forty-seven primary characters. Out of these fourteen are vowels. Nepali distinguishes between five nasal vowels and six oral vowels.
The oldest evidence of Nepali literature found is the Ashok Chilla’s bronze plate, which can be dated back to 1321. The oldest book found is KhandaKhadya, which can be dated back to 1642, whose writer is still unknown. Literature in Nepali developed fully within a short period of time of hundred years in the 19th century. Adhyatma Ramayana fueled this literary expansion. He wrote Sundaranandabara and Birsikka which was a collection of folk tales.
To make the study of Nepali literature easier, it can be divided in areas:
- Pre Bhanu Bhakta Era- from the beginning to 1871
- Bhanu Bhakta era- From 1872 to 1936
- Moti Ram era- From 1940 to 1976
- Pre Revolution era- From 1977 to 2007
- Post revolution Era- From 2007 to present
Sikkim language name is Nepali. Sikkim is a multi lingual state, where people from different communities reside harmoniously. This is proven by the name of the state “Sikkim”, which means “New House” in Limbu dialect. Napali has been listed in the Constitution of India and is spoken in many states of the country including West Bengal, Darjeeling etc. There are many other regional languages spoken too in the state. All this goes out to show how Sikkim as a state is so culturally rich.