Kiranti languages

Ethnicity: Kiranti:Yakkha, Sunwar, Limbu, Rai, etc.
Nepal, Sikkim, Darjeeling
Linguistic classification:


  • Limbu
  • Eastern
  • Central
  • Western
Glottolog: kira1253[1]

The Kiranti languages (also called Bahing–Vayu in the terminology of Benedict (1972)) are a major family of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in Nepal, Sikkim and Darjeeling Hills by the Kiranti people.


The Kiranti languages are frequently posited to form part of a Mahakiranti family, although specialists are not completely certain of either the existence of a Kiranti subgroup or its precise membership.[2] LaPolla (2003), though, proposes that Kiranti may be part of a larger "Rung" group.


There are about two dozen Kiranti languages. The better known are Sunuwar, Bahing, Limbu, Vayu, Dungmali, Lohorung and Kulung. Overall, they are:


Eastern Kiranti

Central Kiranti

Western Kiranti

Ethnologue adds Tilung to Western Kiranti, based on Opgenort (2011).

Kiranti verbs are not easily segmentable, due in large part to the presence of portmanteau morphemes, crowded affix strings, and extensive (and often nonintuitive) allomorphy.


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Kiranti". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Matisoff 2003, pp. 5-6; Thurgood 2003, pp. 15-16; Ebert 2003, pg. 505.



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