RegionSW Bhutan (Samtse, Chukha)
Native speakers
(2,500 cited 1993)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3lhp
Lang Status 60-DE.svg
Lhokpu is classified as Definitely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

Lhokpu, also Lhobikha or Taba-Damey-Bikha, is one of the autochthonous languages of Bhutan spoken by the Lhop people. It is spoken in southwestern Bhutan along the border of Samtse and Chukha Districts. Van Driem (2003) leaves it unclassified as a separate branch within the Sino-Tibetan language family.[2]


George van Driem (2001:804)[3] notes that Lhokpu, although unclassified, may be more closely related to the Kiranti languages than to Lepcha. Gerber, et al. (2016)[4] also notes a particularly close relationship between Lhokpu and Kiranti. Furthermore, van Driem (2001:804-805) notes that Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan, may in fact have a Lhokpu substratum.

Grollmann & Gerber (2017)[5] consider Lhokpu to have a particularly close relationship with Dhimal and Toto.


Lhokpu is spoken by the Lhop—a Dzongkha term meaning "Southerners"—, who "represent the aboriginal [gdung] Dung population of western Bhutan.[6]


According to the Ethnologue, Lhokpu is spoken in Damtey, Loto Kuchu, Lotu, Sanglong, Sataka, and Taba villages, located between Samtsi and Phuntsoling, in Samtse District, Bhutan.


The Lhop people are animists rather than Buddhists, burying their dead rather than cremating them as Buddhists do. Their society is matrilineal and matrilocal.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Lhokpu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Driem, George van (2001). Languages of the Himalayas : an ethnolinguistic handbook of the greater Himalayan Region : containing an introduction to the symbiotic theory of language. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-9004103900.
  3. ^ van Driem, George. 2001. Languages of the Himalayas. Leiden: Brill
  4. ^ Gerber, Pascal, Tanja Gerber, Selin Grollmann. 2016. Links between Lhokpu and Kiranti: some observations. Kiranti Workshop. CNRS Université Paris Diderot, 1-2 Dec 2016.
  5. ^ Grollmann, Selin and Pascal Gerber. 2017. Linguistic evidence for a closer relationship between Lhokpu and Dhimal: Including some remarks on the Dhimalish subgroup. Bern: University of Bern.
  6. ^ Driem, George van (1998). Dzongkha = rdoṅ-kha. Leiden: Research School, CNWS. p. 29. ISBN 978-9057890024.
  7. ^ Gwendolyn Hyslop. 2016. Worlds of knowledge in Central Bhutan: Documentation of 'Olekha. Language Documentation & Conservation 10. 77-106.