Linguistic Survey of Nepal


The National Planning Commission (NPC), Government of Nepal, having realized that the identity of indigenous and minority communities is tied up with their languages and cultures, has commissioned Central Department of Linguistics (CDL), Tribhuvan University, to conduct a linguistic survey of Nepal. It earmarked a budget for the survey for a period of seven years (2009-2016).


The vision of Linguistic Survey of Nepal (LinSuN) is to build a foundation for the linguistic rights of the citizens of multiethnic and multilingual Nepal so that they will be included without linguistic discrimination.


Although the Interim Constitution of Nepal (2007) grants numerous linguistic rights to the citizens of Nepal, there is not yet sufficient understanding regarding the diversity of its people and the languages they speak. Even the number of languages and dialects has not yet been identified. In order to make linguistic inclusion successful there must be a focused effort to understand the linguistic and ethnic diversity of Nepal.


The programmes and activities of LinSuN are guided by the following objectives:

· To prepare a sociolinguistic profile of the languages of Nepal including a mapping of languages and dialects;

· To produce a basic description of at least ten languages, including a working orthography, a grammar, a trilingual glossary, and publications of folk tales;

· To develop and maintain a complete database of the languages of Nepal including sociolinguistic information, grammatical information, oral and written texts, and vocabulary;

· To describe the use of mother tongues in education (formal and non-formal) to better understand the development needed for mother tongue curricula in the national educational system; and

· To produce high-quality written and electronic publications for each of its major research activities.


LinSuN is coordinated by members in charge of Social Inclusion at the National Planning Commission. There is also a steering committee comprised of senior linguists and government dignitaries. This committee has a supervisory and evaluative role in giving general guidance to LinSuN.

LinSuN also has Senior Management Committee (LISMAC) for the logistics of LinSuN consisting of Director, Member-Secretary and Members for the logistics of LinSuN.

Expected outcomes

On completion of the Linguistic Survey of Nepal, the following results are expected:

i. This survey will contribute to a database on languages spoken in Nepal including details about their geographical location, demographic description, mutual intelligibility of dialects, efforts to develop standardized forms, languages functioning as link languages, attitudes of mother tongue speakers to their own language and others commonly used, orate/literate development within languages, their vitality and viability, and their readiness for use in education and governance. This database will help policy makers at the governmental and political levels, linguists as well as language communities to plan and formulate language policies for the preservation and promotion of various languages through their standardization and use.

ii. This survey will provide a database for each language spoken in Nepal including an analysis of grammar forms, a dictionary and an ethnographic profile. These outcomes will serve as assets for preserving and revitalizing endangered languages and introducing various languages in different domains of language use such as education, media and local administration.

iii. This survey will address the inclusion of marginalized languages, including Nepali sign language, and thereby attempt to include linguistically deprived groups into national development.

iv. The host institution and other academic institutions can benefit from the findings of this study as they can incorporate this database and its analysis within their curricula in teaching linguistics and languages.

v. This survey will develop an exhaustive description of the use of mother tongues in education, including literacy programs, in order to understand what language development (including the development of orthography) and mother tongue curricula development is needed for educational purposes.

vi. In the initial phase of the survey, series of trainings will be conducted to orient the researchers in various methods and techniques (including language technology) required for field work and analysis of data. This will develop appropriate expertise required for linguistic studies in Nepal.

vii. During the survey, in order to create an atmosphere conductive to the development of Nepalese languages, a workshop for creative writing will be conducted in addition to the identification of writing systems and standardization based on the consensus of various language communities.

viii. In the various phases of this survey its findings will be disseminated through organizing seminars and workshops as well as publishing articles and books.

ix. All the findings of the survey will be published electronically as well as in book form.

x. The database will be archived at Central Department of Linguistics and made accessible to all concerned including language communities, policy makers and language researchers.

Linguistic Survey of Nepal (LinSuN)

Central Department of Linguistics (CDL)

Tribhuvan University

PO Box: 19817, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal

Tel: 977-1- 4330696

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