This article or section should specify the language of its non-English content, using ((lang)), ((transliteration)) for transliterated languages, and ((IPA)) for phonetic transcriptions, with an appropriate ISO 639 code. Wikipedia's multilingual support templates may also be used. See why. (May 2019)
Native toNepal
RegionRapti Zone, Rolpa and Rukum Districts
Dhaulagiri Zone, Baglung District, Karnali
EthnicityWestern Magar
Native speakers
210,000 (2011 census)[1]
Official status
Official language in
No official status
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
kif – Eastern Parbate Kham
kgj – Gamale Kham
kip – Sheshi Kham
kjl – Western Parbate Pang
ELPGamale Kham
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Kham (Nepali: खाम भाषा)—narrowly defined—is a complex of Sino-Tibetan, specifically Magaric languages spoken natively in the highlands of the Rolpa and Rukum districts of Rapti and the westernmost part of Baglung district in Dhawalagiri Zone and Karnali region by western clans of the Kham Magar tribes, called collectively western Khams.[citation needed] Randy LaPolla (2003) proposes that Kham Magar and Dhut Magar may be part of a larger "Rung" group.[citation needed] However, both may ultimately go for separate ethnic identity as they have distinct linguistic and cultural barriers.

Geographical distribution

Ethnologue lists the following location information for the varieties of Kham.

Eastern Parbate Kham (dialects: Bhujel Kham, Nishel Kham) is spoken in the following villages of Baglung District, Dhawalagiri Zone.

Western Parbate Kham (dialects: Takale, Maikoti, Mahatale, Lukumel, Wale, Thabangi)

Taka-Shera is considered to be the center of the Western Parbate Kham variety.

Gamal Kham (dialects: Tamali, Ghusbanggi)

Gamal Kham is spoken in the western hills of Gam Khola, in Gam, Jhyalgung, Chalbang, Tamali, Dangadhara, Sheram, Ghusbang, Huiching, Guwakholagau, Maulabang, and Kuipadhara villages.

Sheshi Kham (dialects: Tapnanggi, Jangkoti)


Watters (2002:12) classifies the Kham dialects as follows.




Taka dialect[2] of Western Parbate Kham has 22 consonant phonemes while Gamale Kham possesses around 29 to 30 consonant phonemes.

Bilabial Alveolar Lateral Palatal Velar Glottal
Plain labial–velar
Nasal voiceless ŋ̊
voiced m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡s
voiced d͡z
aspirated t͡sʰ
Fricative voiceless s ɬ ç h
voiced z
Rhotic ɾ
Approx. plain l j
labial voiceless ɥ̊ ʍ
voiced ɥ w


Taka dialect of Western Parbate has 25 vowel phonemes.

  Front Central Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
short long nasal short long short long nasal short long nasal short long nasal
Close i ĩː y   ɯ ɯː ɯ̃ː u ũː
Mid e ẽː ø øː ə əː ə̃ː   o õː
Open mid ɛ      
Open   ɐ ɐː ɐ̃ː  


See vocal registers.



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Deva. ज़[4] झ़ न्ह म्ह व़ ह्ल ह्व ह्व़
trans. z zh nh mh hl hw hẏ
IPA z zV̤ ɥ ɬ ʍ ɥ̊
/kə/ /kʰə/ /ɡə/ /ɡə̤/ /ŋə/
/t͡sə/ /t͡sʰə/ /d͡zə/ /d͡zə̤/ /nə/
/tə/ /tʰə/ /də/ /də̤/ /nə/
/tə/ /tʰə/ /də/ /də̤/ /nə/
/pə/ /pʰə/ /bə/ /bə̤/ /mə/
/jə/ /rə/ /lə/ /wə/
/çə/ /sə/ /sə/ /hə/
क्ष त्र ज्ञ
/t͡sʰə/ /trə/ /ɡjə/


Vowels for Parbate Kham[2]
Devanagari Roman IPA
a ə
ā ɐ
i i
इ़ ü y
u u
उ़ ï ɯ
e e, ɛ
ए़ ø ø
ai əj
o o
au əw
h, ḥ
◌̃ ◌̃ː
◌̃, ṅ, n, ṇ, ñ ◌̃ː, ŋ, n
, . °, , ' ◌ː

Vowels for Gamale Kham

Orthography इ/ई उ/ऊ अं अः अँ ॱअ
Roman a ā i/ī u/ū e ai o au aṃ aḥ ã a'
IPA ə ɐ i u e, ɛ əj o əw ə̃ ə̤ ə̃ əʔ


Proto-Kham has been reconstructed by Watters (2002). Proto-Kham reconstructions from Watters (2002: 443–456) are given below.

A. Body parts
B. Pronouns/kinship terms/nouns referring to humans'
C. Foodstuff
D. Animal names or animal products
E. Natural objects or phenomena; the inanimate landscape; vegetable and mineral kingdoms
F. Artifacts and social organization
G. Spatial/directional
H. Numerals and quantifiers
I. Verbs of utterance, body position or function
J. Verbs of motion
K. Verbs of emotion, cognition, perception
L. Stative verbs with human patients
M. Stative verbs with non-human patients
N. Action verbs with human agent

Further reading


  1. ^ Eastern Parbate Kham at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Gamale Kham at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Sheshi Kham at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Western Parbate Pang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c Watters, David E., 1944- (2004). A dictionary of Kham : Taka dialect (a Tibeto-Burman language of Nepal). Kathmandu: Central Department of Linguistics, Tribhuvan University. ISBN 99933-52-65-9. OCLC 62895872.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Wilde, Christopher P. (2017-06-01). "A Phonological Comparison of Gamale, Sheram and Ghusbang – Three Kham Varieties". Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. 10 (1): 67–90. ISSN 1836-6821.
  4. ^ Wilde, Christopher P. (2016). "Gamale Kham phonology revisited, with Devanagari-based orthography and lexicon". Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. ISSN 1836-6821.