Dzongkha language

Dzongkha language

speakers=First language: 130,000 Second language ~470,000


Dzongkha ( _dz. རྫོང་ཁ Wylie: "rdzong-kha", Jong-kă) is the national language of Bhutan. The word "dzongkha" means the language ("kha", "jong") spoken in the "dzong" ("jong"), dzong being the fortress-like monasteries established throughout Bhutan by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the 17th century.

Dzongkha bears a linguistic relationship to modern Tibetan. Although the spoken varieties are largely mutually unintelligible, they share a common literary language, as well as a liturgical (clerical) Tibetan language ("Chöke" ) which has been used for centuries by Buddhist monks. Chöke was used as the language of education until the early 1960s when it was replaced by Dzongkha in public schools.

Dzongkha and its dialects are the native tongue of eight western districts of Bhutan (viz. Phodrang, Punakha, Thimphu, Gasa, Paro, Ha, Dhakana, and Chukha). There are also some speakers found near the Indian town of Kalimpong, once part of Bhutan but now in West Bengal. Dzongkha study is mandatory in all schools in Bhutan, and the language is the "lingua franca" in the districts to the south and east where it is not the mother tongue.

Linguistically, Dzongkha is a South Bodish language belonging to the proposed Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan group. It is closely related to Sikkimese (bo|w='Bras-ljongs-skad), the national language of the erstwhile kingdom of Sikkim; and to some other Bhutanese languages such as Cho-cha-na-ca "(khyod ca nga ca kha)", Brokpa "(me rag sag steng 'brog skad)", Brokkat "(dur gyi 'brog skad), and Laka (la ka)". Modern Tibetan is a Central Bodish language and thus belongs to a different sub-branch.

Dzongkha is usually written in Bhutanese forms of the Tibetan script known as Joyi "(mgyogs yig)" and Joshum "(mgyogs tshugs ma)". Dzongkha books are typically printed using Ucan fonts like those to print the Tibetan abugida.

Dzongkha is rarely heard outside Bhutan and environs. However, the 2003 Bhutanese film, "Travellers and Magicians" is entirely in Dzongkha.


In October 2005, an internal Microsoft proposal blocked the term "Dzongkha" from all company software and promotional material, substituting the term "Tibetan - Bhutan" instead. This was done at the request of the government of the People's Republic of China, who insisted the name "Dzongkha" implied an affiliation with the Dalai Lama, and hence, with Tibetan independentism. [ Microsoft Outlaws Dzongkha] ] [ [ Microsoft Sensitive to Chinese Pressure on Bhutan Tibet Link] ] The Bhutanese, who have never been under the rule of the Dalai Lamas, even if they revere the 14th Dalai Lama, [ [ 30,000 Bhutanese on pilgrimage in India] ] were dismayed by the decision. [ [ Old story, new lessons] ] Linguists have pointed out that the word "Dzongkha" has no particular association with the Dalai Lama.



* (CNWS publications Languages of the Greater Himalayan Region, 1566-1970 ; vol. 1) - A language textbook with three audio compact disks.




See also

* for a list of proverbs given in both romanized Dzongkha and English.

External links

* [ Dzongkha Development Authority] Thimphu, Bhutan
* [ Languages on the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas] - Nicolas Tournadre
* [ Ethnologue entry on Dzongkha]
* [ Podcast to learn conversational Dzongkha] - Shankar

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  • Dzongkha — Spoken in Bhutan …   Wikipedia

  • Dzongkha — རྫོང་ཁ་ Parlée au Bhoutan Région Provinces de Haa, Paro et Punakha. Aussi parlé en Inde et au Népal. Nombre de locuteurs 130 000[réf. nécessaire] Classification par famille …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Dzongkha — /zongˈkə/ noun The official language of Bhutan ORIGIN: Tibetan, language of the fortress …   Useful english dictionary

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  • Dzongkha — noun The national language of Bhutan …   Wiktionary

  • Dzongkha — ISO 639 3 Code : dzo ISO 639 2/B Code : dzo ISO 639 2/T Code : dzo ISO 639 1 Code : dz Scope : Individual Language Type : Living …   Names of Languages ISO 639-3

  • Dzongkha — n. Bhutanese, official national language of Bhutan (principality in the Himalayas) …   English contemporary dictionary

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