Yolmo language

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Helambu Sherpa
Native to Nepal
Ethnicity Yolmo
Native speakers
10,000 (2011 census)[1]
  • Eastern Yolmo (Sermathang, Chhimi)
  • Western Yolmo (Nuwakot District)
  • Lamjung Yolmo
  • Ilam Yolmo
Language codes
ISO 639-3 scp
Glottolog yolm1234[2]

Yolmo (Hyolmo),or Helambu Sherpa, is the native Tibeto-Burman language of the Hyolmo of south-central Nepal. Yolmo is spoken predominantly in the Helambu and Melamchi valleys in northern Nuwakot District and northwestern Sindhupalchowk District. It has a high level of lexical similarity to Sherpa (61% lexical similarity) and Standard Tibetan (66% lexical similarity).[3] The language is spoken mostly by older adults, with the younger generations having largely shifted to Nepali, though the language is being maintained for religious practices.[4]

Language Name

Yolmo is both the name of the language (glottonym), and the ethnic group of people who speak the language (ethnonym). Yolmo is also written Hyolmo, Yholmo or Yohlmo. The 'h' in all of these spellings marks that the word has low tone.[5] Sometimes the language is referred to as Yolmo Tam, tam is the Yolmo word for 'language'.[6]

The language is also referred to as Helambu Sherpa. This usage was common in the 1970s (see, for example, Clarke's work from the early 1980s).[7] This name appears to have been an attempt by Yolmo speakers to align themselves with the widely recognised and prosperous Sherpas of the Solu-Khumbu district. While there are many cultural affinities between the two groups, the Sherpa language is not mutually intelligible with Yolmo. With a growing recognition of Nepal's ethnic minorities (Janajati), Yolmo people have moved away from associating themselves with the Sherpas in recent decades.[8]

Language Family

Yolmo is part of the family of languages called Kyirong-Kagate.[9]

The language family is best considered to really be Kyirong–Yolmo.[10] Yolmo has far more speakers (at least 10,000) than Kagate (1,500), Yolmo speakers are found in multiple districts, including Melamchi, Lamung and Ilam, while Kagate speakers are based in Ramechhap. Also, Kagate is an exonym, and speakers now prefer the endonym Syuba, which carries less pejorative stigma than the caste-associated term Kagate ('papermaker).

This is part of a larger cluster of Tibetic languages, which all have their roots in the language that was the basis for Classical Tibetan.[11]


Yolmo does not have a written tradition although there are incipient attempts in Nepal to write the language in Devanagari. Two recent dictionaries write Yolmo in Devanagari and give a Romanisation as well.[6][12] On this page the orthography mostly follows Hari's transcription, as outlined in the phonology, with long vowels represented by double characters (e.g. [ɲíː] 'two' represented as ɲíi). Unlike Hari, representation of tone follows the International Phonetic Alphabet, with accents to mark high and low tone (e.g. 'rice' and 'stone' respectively). This avoids Hari's use of 'h' to represent both low tone and the sound [h].[13]


For more on the history of Yolmo speakers, see the Yolmo people page.

Yolmo speakers traditionally reside in the Helambu and Melamchi Valley region. Yolmo speakers migrated to the area across the Himalaya from the Kyriong, in what is now Southwest Tibet, over 300 years ago.[7] This migration appears to have occurred slowly over multiple generations, rather than one large migration event.[14] Main villages where Yolmo speakers reside include Melamchi Ghyang, Tarke Ghyang, Nakote, Kangyul, Sermathang, Norbugoun, Timbu, and Kutumsang. Melamchi Ghyang, Tarke Ghyang, and Sermathang.

Yolmo speakers are Buddhist of the Nyingma school. Yolmo Lamas are called upon to perform religious rituals for the Tamang-speaking communities that live in villages below the Yolmo-inhabited areas. This has created a strong socio-cultural link between the two groups that is reflected in traditional marriage practice where Tamang women marry into Yolmo villages.[15] There is also a tradition of bon shaman practice in the Yolmo area. This practice appears to be evolving to change to fit with the modern focus on Buddhism among Yolmo people. For example, blood sacrifices are no longer performed as commonly.[16]

Traditionally Yolmo people were yak herders and traders.[17] They currently practice a combination of mixed agriculture involving livestock herding, hotel management, restaurants, and trading. Although outward migrants would often return to village life[18], speakers of Yolmo are increasing settling in Kathmandu, or moving overseas, which has an effect on transmission of the language as speakers move towards dominant languages of formal education such as Nepal and English.[19]


Hari documented the variety of Yolmo mostly spoken around the villages of Sermathang and Chhimi. She also encountered speakers from other areas in the Melamchi and Helambu valleys, and suggested there are two dialects across this area mostly distinguished by vocabulary, the 'western' (mostly in Nuwakot district) and 'eastern' dialects.[20] While discussing these dialects Hari also observes that the variety spoken around Tarkeghyang is again different, suggesting there may be more than two dialects spoken in the area. There are also varieties of Yolmo spoken in other areas of Nepal, thanks to migration in recent centuries, including in Lamjung[21] and Ilam.[22] There are also closely related languages that should be considered when discussing Yolmo, including Kagate (Syuba) and Langtang.

Melamchi Valley Yolmo

The variety of Yolmo documented by Anna Marie Hari is mostly spoken in the Melamchi Valley area. Hari produced a Yolmo-Nepali-English dictionary of the language with Chhegu Lama,[6] and a sketch grammar.[3]Hari's also translated the New Testament of the Bible into Yolmo.[23] Original cassette recordings of her work have been digitised and archived with PARADISEC.[24] Unless otherwise stated, all discussion of the grammar of Yolmo on this page is drawn from the work on Melamchi Valley Yolmo.


Northwest of the Yolmo-speaking areas in the Langtang valley of the Rasuwa District are three villages that speak a language that is mutually intelligible with Yolmo.[25] This language also shares features with Kyirong and is likely part of a dialect continuum between Yolmo and Kyirong.

Lamjung Yolmo

Lamjung Yolmo is spoken by around 700 people in five villages of the Lamjung District of Nepal.[21] Yolmo speakers have been residing in this area for over a century.[26] Gawne has written a sketch grammar[21] and a Lamjung Yolmo-Nepali-English dictionary.[12] There is also a digital archive of Lamjung Yolmo recordings archived with PARADISEC.[27]

Ilam Yolmo

A dialect of Yolmo is reportedly spoken in the Ilam District of far east Nepal,[22] although there is very little documentation of this variety. It is mutually intelligible with Syuba,[28] and recordings from the dialect are available as a subset of an online collection of Syuba materials archived with PARADISEC.[29]

Syuba (Kagate)

Although Syuba has a distinct name, and a separate ISO 639-3 code, linguistically it can be considered a dialect of Yolmo.[28] Syuba speakers say their families migrated to the area more than a century ago.[28] Hari, who worked on both Yolmo[3] and Syuba[30] observes that "to quite a large extent they are mutually intelligible dialects".[3] The lexical similarity between Syuba and Melamchi Valley Yolmo is at least 79%, with the similarity between Syuba and Lamjung Yolmo even higher (88%). There is a higher level of similarity between Yolmo and Syuba than there is between either of these languages as Kyirong.[31] This all suggests that the separated dialects may have more in common with each other than with the main dialect area.[32]

Grammatical Overview

The sections below contain an overview of the key features of the grammar of Yolmo. Information is mostly drawn from Hari's grammar of the language,[3] supplemented by the Yolmo-Nepali-English dictionary she co-wrote with Chhegu Lama.[6] Differences between this variety and other documented dialects are indicated where relevant.



There are 36 consonants in Yolmo, which are summarized in the table below. The form is given in IPA and then to the right in brackets is given the form more frequently used in Roman orthography if different.[3]

Labial Apico-Dental Lamino-post-alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Voiceless stop p t ʈ c (ky) k
Aspirated stop (ph) (th) ʈʰ (ʈh) cʰ (khy) (kh)
Voiced stop b d ɖ ɟ (gy) ɡ
Voiceless fricative s ɕ h
Voiced fricative z ʑ
Voiceless affricate ts
Aspirative affricate tsʰ (tsh) tɕʰ (tɕh)
Voiced affricate dz
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Voiceless liquid r̥ (rh)
Voiced liquid r
Voiceless lateral l̥ (lh)
Voiced lateral l
Semivowel w j (y)

Not all consonants are equally prominent. Looking through Hari's Yolmo-Nepali-English dictionary [r̥] and [l̥] are not frequent.


There are five places of articulation for vowels. There is a length distinction at each place of articulation. The form of each vowel is given in IPA and then to the right in brackets is given the form more frequently used in Roman orthography if different.

Front Mid Back
High i iː (ii) u uː (uu)
Mid e eː (ee) ɔ (o) ɔː (oo)
Low a aː (aa)

Below are some minimal pairs that demonstrate the vowel length distinction:

tɕí 'one'
tɕíi 'what'
‘rice (cooked)'
tóo 'be hungry'

Vowel-length distinctions are not common across Tibetic language, but they are also attested in Syuba,[30] and in Kyirong for open syllables.[33]

Unlike many other Tibetic languages, including Kyirong, and Standard Tibetan, Yolmo does not have a front rounded [y]. This is true for all dialects of Yolmo documented to date, including Syuba. Langtang does have this vowel.[25]


Like other Tibetic languages, Yolmo has tone, which is located on the first vowel of a word. Hari presents a four tone contrast of Melamchi Valley Yolmo; high level, high falling, low level and low falling.[3] Acoustic evidence from Lamjung Yolmo and Kagate indicates that there is only acoustic evidence for a contrast between two tones; low and high.[12] In the orthography used on this page, tone is marked using the International Phonetic Alphabet transcription practice of using acute and grave accents over the first vowel of the word. Below are some examples of tone minimal pairs:

'body hair'
kómba ‘thirsty’
kòmba ‘temple’

Low tone words can be marked with breathy voice, but this is not always the case. Some Roman orthographies indicate low tone with a 'h' following the vowel, which indicates the breathy property of the low tone. The high tone is then left unmarked. In the first example above that would be pu 'body hair' and puh 'son'. The complication of this system is that [h] is also a consonant in the language.

Tone is predictable in some environments. It is always high following aspirated stops, aspirated affricates and voiceless liquids (which speakers treat as equivalent to aspirated). Examples of all of these include:

pháa 'pig', thí 'ruler (for measuring)', ʈháa 'blood', khyá 'you, plural', khá 'mouth', tshá 'salt', tɕhá 'pair', rhílmu 'round', lhá 'god'

Tone is always low following voiced stops, voiced fricatives and voiced affricates. Examples of all of these include:

'insect', 'arrow', ɖù 'grain', gyàa 'place', gùri 'cat', dzàdi 'nutmeg', dʑùbu 'huge/much', 'rainbow', ʑèe 'udder'

The only prefixes in the language are the negator prefixes mà- and mè-. Both have low tone, however if the following root has high tone it will not change tone because of the preceding low suffix.[3]

Syllable structure

Yolmo has the syllable structure (C)(C)V(C).[21] This means that the minimum a syllable needs is a vowel. Syllables can also have up to two consonants before the vowel and one after the vowel. There are some restrictions on which consonants can occur together before the vowel, and only a limited set of consonants can occur in the final position after the vowel.

C òo 'there'
VC ùr 'fly'
CV 'son'
CVC pùp 'keep warm'
CCV prù 'write'
CCVC prùl 'snake'

All consonants and vowels can occur word-initial, with a restricted set able to occur in the second syllable. The set of syllable initial consonant clusters includes /pr, br, kr, py, phy, sw, kw, thw, rw/.

All vowels can occur syllable-final, and final consonants include voiceless unaspirated bilabial /b/ and velar stops /k/, voiced liquids /l,r/, the voiced labio-velar /w/ and all nasals except the palatal /m,n,ŋ/.

Word order

Yolmo has the basic word order of Subject-Object-Verb.

ŋà=ki sà-sin
1sg-erg rice.cooked eat-pst
'I ate rice'


The noun phrase in Yolmo includes either a noun or a pronoun. The noun phrase with a noun can also include a determiner, adjective and number marker, while the options are more limited with a pronoun or proper noun. Noun suffixes include case markers, plural marker and numeral classifiers.

The order of the noun phrase is (Determiner) Noun=Plural(-Focus Marker)(=Case) (Numeral Classifier) (Number) (Adjective).[21]


The Yolmo definite determiner is the same as the third person inanimate pronoun 'it/this'. It occurs before the noun:

det child
'the child' (Hari 2010: 31)

The indefinite is marked using the numeral tɕíi 'one', which comes after the noun, as per other numbers:

person one
'a person' (Hari 2010: 91)


Singular Plural
First person ŋà òraŋ/ùu (inclusive)

ɲì (exclusive)

Second person khyé khyá
Third Person (masc.) khó

(fem.) mò

(inanimate) dì



Reflexive ràŋ

The first person plural òraŋ is more commonly found in the Western dialects of Melamchi and Helambu Valley Yolmo, as well as Lamjung Yolmo, while ùu is more common in the Eastern dialects. It is possible to create a dual form by adding ɲíi to the plural form (e.g. khyá ɲíi 'you two'), although this is optional.

Pronouns do not take determiners, number, or adjectives.

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns include people's names, place names and the names of deities. They do not take determiners, number, or adjectives.


The plural marker in Melamchi and Lamjung Yolmo is =ya.The plural is treated as a clitic as it occurs after an adjective if there is one:

kháŋba tɕímbu tɕhímbu=ya
house big big-pl
'the big houses' (Hari 2010: 28)

Plural marking is optional if an overt number is used with the noun, or if the number is clear from context:

pèmpiʑa súm
women three cop.pe
'there are three women' (Gawne 2016: 55)

The plural form in Syuba is =kya, which is more similar to the Kyirong form, suggesting the Yolmo =ya is an innovation.

Case marking

Yolmo uses post-positional suffixes to mark the case of nouns. Similar to other Tibetic languages, Yolmo uses a single case form for multiple functions. Clitics come at the end of the whole noun phrase, rather than directly attaching to only the noun, which is why they are treated as clitics. Below the cases are listed with their functions:

Case marker Function
=ki genitive, ergative, instrumental
=la locative, allative, dative
=le(gi) ablative

The case markers are phonologically bound, with the =ki form becoming voiced in some environments, it is also reduced to =i in some environments.

Where there is also a plural the case marker comes after the plural, as in the example below:

tɕàmu=ya=gi kòŋa tɕu thál kyée
hen=pl=erg egg ten num.clf lay cop.pe
'the hens laid ten eggs' (Hari 2010: 23)

Ergative case

Yolmo has optional ergative case-marking. Ergative marking means that subjects of intransitive verbs are unmarked, the same as objects of transitive verbs. Subjects of transitive verbs are distinguistshed from both of these with the =ki marker (in contrast with nominative-accusitive languages like English, where the subjects of both intransitive and transitive verbs are marked in contrast with objects of transitive verbs).

Below is an intransitive sentence, with the subject ŋà taking no marking:

ŋà ŋù-sin
1sg cry-pst
'I cried'

In contrast with this ergative-marked transitive, where the subject ŋà is marked with the ergative:

ŋà=gi ɕò úp-sin
1sg=erg yoghurt cover-pst
'I covered the yoghurt' (Hari 2010: 39)

Speakers do not always use the ergative case:

ŋà sà-ke
1sg rice.cooked eat-non.pst
'I eat rice' (Gawne 2016: 69)

Ergative marking is more common for past tense, non-habitual actions. There also appears to be some effect of animacy, and a appears to be used as a strategy in discourse to mark agentivity.[34] This form of optional ergativity is common across the Tibeto-Burman family.[35]


As can be seen in the examples above, cardinal numbers can be used in noun phrases. A list of numbers in Yolmo is given in the section on common phrases below.

Numeral classifiers

Yolmo also has an optional numeral classifier thál. This is used to emphasise number. In the example above, the speaker is emphasising that the hens laid a large number of eggs.

Lamjung Yolmo also has the classifier mènda which can only be used with humans.[21]


Adjectives occur within the noun phrase. Adjectives usually come after the noun so 'small child' would be pìʑa tɕháme (lit. 'child small').

Adjectives can also occur before the noun, especially in casual speech.


There are three main types of verbs in Yolmo, lexical verbs, auxiliary verbs and copula verbs. The lexical verbs inflect for tense, aspect, mood and evidence and can take negation.

Copula verbs

The copula verbs and their functions are given in the table below. Copulas are not inflected for person, number or politeness level and many do not distinguish tense:[3][26]

Egophoric Dubitative Perceptual General Fact
Equation yìn/yìngen/yìmba yìnɖo
Existential yè/yèba

yèken/yèba (past tense)




Equation copulas are used to link to noun phrases, while existential copulas are used for functions of existence, location, attribution and possession.[26] The egophoric and perceptual are evidential distinctions, while the dubitative is used for reduced certainty. The general fact form is used for uncontroversial and universally known facts. Different varieties of Yolmo prefer different forms of the egophoric as the default; In Helambu they prefer yìn, in Lamjung yìmba and Ilam yìŋge. yèken/yèba are past tense forms of the existential. Some copula verbs can also be used as verbal auxiliaries, where they contribute evidential, tense or epistemic information.

Lexical verb stems

The Melamchi and Helambu Valley varieties of Yolmo exhibit verb stem alterations in the context of some verb structures.

Verb stems with short front vowels have their vowels lengthened (e.g. /i/→/ii/), short back vowels are fronted and lengthened (e.g. /o/ or /a/→/ee/, /u/→/i/). These changes occur mostly with perfective structures and imperatives. Below are some examples of this alternation using the verb má- 'say':

ŋà -ke
'I say'
ŋà mée-di yè
'I have said'
'say it!'

When these structures are negated, the negative prefix is lengthened rather than the verb stem, which maintains the vowel change (this does not occur in the imperative).

ŋà màa-mé yè
'I have not said'

These alterations do not occur in Lamjung Yolmo[21] or Syuba.[5]

Auxiliary verbs

There is a small set of auxiliary verbs in Yolmo. The auxiliary - is the same as the lexical verb - 'sit' and is used to add progressive aspect:[3]

she eat aux-ipvf AUX
'she is eating'

A subset of the copulas can also be used as verbal auxiliaries; yìn, yè, yèken and. These contribute evidential information and for yè/yèken also some tense information. As you can see in the example above the dù copula is being used as an auxiliary, so they can co-occur with the other auxiliaries.


Yolmo has a major tense distinction between past and non-past. These are marked with suffixes on the lexical verb, -sin is the past tense marker and -ke or -ken is the non-past marker.[3]


There are a number of verb suffixes that are used to mark aspect, these broadly fall into categories of imperfective and perfective.


Mood is marked in Yolmo with a set of verb suffixes. The main mood suffixes are given in the table below:

Particle Function
-toŋ Imperative
-ka or -tɕo Hortative
-ɲi Optative
-ʈo Dubitative

It is worth noting that there is a small class of irregular imperatives; - 'eat' becomes .


Negation is marked on lexical verbs by prefix. There are two prefix forms, mè- is for negation in non-past tense (present and future), while - is used for past tense, as well as negation of imperatives (mà-tàp! 'don't fall'!).

ŋà mè-tàp
'I do not/will not fall'
ŋà mà-tàp
1SG NEG.PST-fill
'I did not fall'

The negated forms of copulas are slightly irregular. They are listed in the table below in brackets underneath the regular forms:

Egophoric Dubitative Perceptual General Fact
Equation yìn/yìngen/yìmba




Existential yè/yèba


yèken/yèba (past tense)










Yolmo has a series of sentence final particles that can be used to achieve a range of effects. The table below gives some of the particles in Yolmo and a brief description of their function.[3][26]

Particle Function
reported speech
yàŋ emphasis/focus
làa polite
óo invoking/encouraging

The reported speech marker is an evidential form, as it indicates the source of the information as someone else. This is part of the wider evidential system of Yolmo, which is also found in the copula verbs above.


Yolmo has a subset of honorific vocabulary which is used when talking to, or about, people of higher social status, particularly Buddhist Lamas. Honorific lexicon includes nouns, verbs and adjectives. The table below gives some examples, including the regular word, the honorific form, and the English.[3]

Regular form Honorific form English
tér nàŋ 'give'
ɲí lòo zìm 'sleep'
ába yàp 'father'
áma yùm 'mother'
káŋba ɕàp 'foot/leg'
gòo ú 'head'
ɕìmbu ɲéebu 'tasty'

The use of honorifics in Ilam and Lamjung is not as common, although some speakers still recognise and use these forms.[26]

100 Word Swadesh List

Below is a 100 word Swadesh list in Yolmo. The Yolmo forms are taken from Hari and Lama,[6] who note some variation between the Eastern (E) and Western (W) varieties in the Melamchi and Helambu Valley area. Where the form is different in other varieties this is indicated in the right-hand column of the table. This variation shows that the Lamjung variety and Syuba have more in common with each other lexically than they do with the Melamchi Valley variety.



English Yolmo Variation
1. I ŋà
2. thou khyá
3. we ɲì
4. this
5. that òo òodi in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
6. who?
7. what? tɕí
8. not mè-, mì-
9. all thámdʑi dzàmmain Lamjung Yolmo, thámdze in Syuba
10. many màŋbu
11. one tɕíi
12. two ŋyíi
13. big tɕhímbu, tɕhómbo only tɕhómbo reported in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
14. long rìŋbu
15. small tɕhéemu tɕéemi in Lamjung YOlmo
16. woman pìihmi pèmpiʑa in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
17. man khyówa khyópiʑa in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
18. person
19. fish ɲà
20. bird tɕà-tɕìwa tɕádzuŋma in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
21. dog kyíbu, khyí khí in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
22. louse kiɕíkpa, kyíɕi ɕí in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
23. tree tòŋbo, tùŋbu only tòŋbo reported in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
24. seed sén
25. leaf làpti, lòma
26. root tsárkyi, tsárŋyi, tsárnɲe
27. bark páko, phíko, kóldaŋ phába in Lamjung Yolmo
28. skin páaba (E), páko (W) gòoba in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
29. lesh ɕá
30. blood ʈháa
31. bone rèko, rìiba (E) ròko in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
32. grease khyákpa tɕháa
33. egg tɕàmu kòŋa
34. horn ròwa rùwa in Syuba
35. tail ŋáma, ŋéma ŋámaŋ in Lamjung Yolmo
36. feather ʈò (E), ʈòo (W) ɕókpa in Lamjung Yolmo
37. hair ʈá
38. head gòo
39. ear námdʑo
40. eye míi
41. nose náasum (E), nárko (W) only náasum reported in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
42. mouth khá
43. tooth
44. tongue tɕéle tɕé in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
45. fingernail sému
46. foot káŋba
47. knee káŋba-tshíi tshíiŋgor in Lamjung Yolmo, pìmu in Syuba
48. hand làkpa
49. belly ʈèpa
50. neck dzìŋba
51. breast òma
52. heart níŋ
53. liver tɕìmba
54. drink thúŋ-
55. eat sà-
56. bite kàp-, áa táp-
57. see tá, thóŋ-
58. hear thée-, ɲìn- thée-, ɲèn in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
59. know ɕée-
60. sleep ɲí lòo- ɲàl- in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
61. die ɕí-
62. kill sé-
63. swim tɕál kyàp-
64. fly ùr-
65. walk ɖò-
66. come òŋ-
67. lie ɲàl-
68. sit tè-
69. stand làŋ-di té-
70. give tér-
71. say má-, làp-
72. sun ɲìma
73. moon dàwa, dàyum dàgarmu in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
74. star kárma
75. water tɕhú
76. rain nám kyàp-
77. stone
78. sand pèma
79. earth sása, thása, sáʑa, sáptɕi sébi in Syuba
80. cloud múkpa
81. smoke tìpa, tèpa only tìpa reported in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
82. fire
83. ash thála
84. burn tìi-, bàr-, tshíi-
85. path làm
86. mountain kàŋ
87. red màrmu, màrpu
88. green ŋòmbo, ŋùmbu
89. yellow sérpu
90. white kárpu, kármu
91. black nàkpu
92. night kùŋmu
93. hot ʈòmo ʈòmbo in Lamjung Yolmo and Syuba
94. cold ʈàŋmu
95. full kàŋ
96. new sámba
97. good yàabu
98. round kòrmu (circular), rhílmu (spherical)
99. dry kámbu
100. name mìn Unlike almost all other Tibetic languages, this word is /mìn/ and not /mìŋ/


Yolmo has a base-20 counting system.[36]

The Yolmo number system is very similar to that of Standard Tibetan and other Tibetan varieties. In the table below is the Yolmo number, taken from Hari's dictionary[6], alongside the Standard Tibetan[37] in both the Tibetan script and a Romanisation for those unfamiliar with Written Tibetan.

Yolmo Written




English Yolmo Written




English Yolmo Written




tɕíi གཅིག chig 1 khál tɕíi tɕíi ཉི་ཤུ་རྩ་གཅིག་ nyishu tsa ji 21 ʑìpkha བརྒྱ་བཞི་ kya zhi 400
ɲíi གཉིས་ nyi 2 khál tɕíi ɲíi ཉི་ཤུ་རྩགཉིས་ nyishu tsa nyi 22 ŋápkya བརྒྱ་ལྔ་ kya nyi 500
súm གསུམ་ sum 3 khál tɕíi súm ཉི་ཤུ་རྩགསུམ་ nyishu tsa sum 23 ʈùpkya བརྒྱ་དྲུག་ kya drug 600
ʑì བཞི་ zhi 4 khál tɕíi ʑì ཉི་ཤུ་རྩབཞི་ nyishu tsa zhi 24 tìngya བརྒྱ་བདུན་ kya dün 700
ŋá ལྔ་ nga 5 khál tɕíi ŋá ཉི་ཤུ་རྩ་ལྔ་ nyishu tsa nga 25 kyèkya བརྒྱ་པརྒྱད་ kya kyed 800
ʈùu དྲུག་ drug 6 khál tɕíi ʈúu ཉི་ཤུ་རྩདྲུག་ nyishu tsa drug 26 kùpkya བརྒྱ་དགུ་ kya ku 900
tìn བདུན་ dün 7 kál tɕíi tìn ཉི་ཤུ་རྩབདུན་ nyishu tsa dün 27 tóŋra སྟོང་ tong 1000
kyèe བརྒྱད་ gyed 8 khál tɕíi kyèe ཉི་ཤུ་རྩཔརྒྱད་ nyishu tsa gyed 28
དགུ་ gu 9 khál tɕíi kù ཉི་ཤུ་རྩདགུ་ nyishu tsa gu 29
tɕú བཅུ་ chu 10 khál tɕíi tɕú སུམ་ཅུ sum cu 30
tɕúuʑi བཅུ་གཅིག་ chugchig 11 khál ɲíi བཞི་བཅུ ship cu 40
tɕíŋii བཅུ་གཉིས་ chunyi 12 khál tɕú ལྔ་བཅུ ngap cu 50
tɕúusum བཅུ་གསུམ་ choksum 13 khál súm དྲུག་ཅུ trug cu 60
tɕúpɕi བཅུ་བཞི་ chushi 14 khál súm tɕú བདུན་ཅུ dün cu 70
tɕéeŋa བཅོ་ལྔ་ chonga 15 khál ʑì བརྒྱད་ཅུ gyed cu 80
tɕíiru བཅུ་དྲུག་ chudrug 16 khál ʑì tɕú དགུ་བཅུ gup cu 90
tɕúptin བཅུ་བདུན་ chubdun 17 khál ŋá བརྒྱ་ kya 100
tɕápkye བཅོ་བརྒྱད་ chobgyed 18 khál tìn tɕú ཁལ་ལྔ་དང་གཅིག kya tang ngap cu 150
tɕúrku བཅུ་དགུ་ chudgu 19 khál tɕú བརྒྱ་གཉིས་ kya nyi 200
khál ɕíi ཉི་ཤུ།་ nyishu 20 khál tɕéeŋa བརྒྱ་གསུམ་ kya sum 300

See Also

External Resources

  • Open access digital collection of Anna Marie Hari's cassette recordings of Melamchi Valley Yolmo from the 1970s and 1980s at PARADISEC.
  • Digital collection of Lauren Gawne's documentation of Lamjung Yolmo (2009-2016) at PARADISEC (partly open access)
  • Three open access collections of Syuba, a dialect closely related to Yolmo, MH1 digitised from 1970s recordings, SUY1 documentation by Lauren Gawne (2009-2016), MTC1 a 2013 BOLD documentation by the Mother Tongue Centre Nepal.

Key References

  • Clarke, Graham E (1980). "A Helambu History". Journal of the Nepal Research Centre. 4: 1–38. 
  • Clarke, Graham E. (1980). "Lama and Tamang in Yolmo." Tibetan Studies in honor of Hugh Richardson. M. Aris and A. S. S. Kyi (eds). Warminster, Aris and Phillips: 79-86.
  • Gawne, Lauren (2011). Lamjung Yolmo-Nepali-English dictionary. Melbourne, Custom Book Centre; The University of Melbourne.
  • Gawne, Lauren (forthcoming). A sketch grammar of Lamjung Yolmo. Canberra: Asia Pacific Linguistics.
  • Hari, Anna Maria & Chhegu Lama (2004). Dictionary Yolhmo-Nepali-English. Kathmandu: Central Department of Linguistics, Tribhuvan University.
  • Hari, Anna Maria (2010). Yohlmo Sketch Grammar. Kathmandu: Ekta books.
  • Hedlin, Matthew (2011). An Investigation of the relationship between the Kyirong, Yòlmo, and Standard Spoken Tibetan speech varieties. Masters thesis, Payap University, Chiang Mai


  1. ^ Yolmo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Helambu Sherpa". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Hari, Anne Marie (2010). Yolmo Sketch Grammar. Kathmandu: Ekta Books. 
  4. ^ Endangered Languages Project
  5. ^ a b Gawne, Lauren (2013). "Notes on the relationship between Yolmo and Kagate". Himalayan Linguistics. 12(2): 1–27. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Hari, Anne Marie; Lama, C. (2004). Yolmo-Nepali-English Dictionary. Kathmandu: Central Dept. of Linguistics, Tribhnvan University. 
  7. ^ a b Clarke, Graham E. (1980). "A Helambu History". Journal of the Nepal Research Centre. 4: 1–38. 
  8. ^ Desjarlais, Robert (2003). Sensory biographies : lives and deaths among Nepal's Yolmo Buddhists. Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press. p. 8. ISBN 9780520936744. OCLC 52872722. 
  9. ^ N. Tournadre (2005) "L'aire linguistique tibétaine et ses divers dialectes." Lalies, 2005, n°25, p. 7–56 [1]
  10. ^ Gawne, Lauren (2013). "Notes on the relationship between Yolmo and Kagate". Himalayan Linguistics. 12(2): 1–27. 
  11. ^ Tournadre, Nicolas (2014). "The Tibetic languages and their classification". In Owen-Smith, Thomas; Hill, Nathan W. Trans-Himalayan Linguistics: Historical and Descriptive Linguistics of the Himalayan Area. De Gruyter. pp. 103–129. ISBN 978-3-11-031074-0.  (preprint)
  12. ^ a b c Gawne, Lauren (2010). Lamjung Yolmo - Nepali - English Dictionary. Melbourne: Custom Book Centre, The University of Melbourne. 
  13. ^ Gawne, Lauren (2016). A sketch grammar of Lamjung Yolmo. Canberra: Asia Pacific Linguistics. pp. 5–6. ISBN 9781922185341. OCLC 961180469. 
  14. ^ Pokharel, Binod (2010). "Adaptation and Identity of Yolmo". Occasional Papers. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  15. ^ Clarke, Graham E. (1980). "Lama and Tamang in Yolmo". In Richardson, Hugh; Aris & Phillip, Michael; Aung San Suu Kyi. Tibetan Studies in honor of Hugh Richardson. Warminster: Phillip. pp. 79–86. 
  16. ^ Torri, Davide. Il Lama e il Bombo : sciamanismo e buddhismo tra gli Hyolmo del Nepal. Rome: Sapienza Sciamanica. ISBN 9788868123536. OCLC 903903900. 
  17. ^ Bishop, Naomi H. (1989). "From zomo to yak: Change in a Sherpa village". Human Ecology. 17(2): 177–204. 
  18. ^ Bishop, Naomi H. (1993). "Circular migration and families: A Hyolmo Sherpa example". South Asia Bulletin. 13(1&2): 59–66. 
  19. ^ Hari, Anna Maria; Lama, Chhegu (2004). Yolmo-Nepali-English Dictionary. Kathmandu: Central Dept. of Linguistics, Tribhnvan University. p. 702. 
  20. ^ Hari, Anna Maria (2010). Yohlmo grammar sketch. SIL International. Kathmandu: SIL International and Central Department of Linguistics, Tribhuvan University. p. 4. ISBN 9789937101080. OCLC 707486953. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f g Gawne, Lauren (2016). A sketch grammar of Lamjung Yolmo. Canberra: Asia Pacific Linguistics. ISBN 9781922185341. OCLC 961180469. 
  22. ^ a b Thokar, Rajendra (2009). "Linguistic fieldwork in Jhapa and Ilam districts". Paper presented at the Linguistics Society of Nepal Annual Conference, Kathmandu, Nepal. 
  23. ^ Hari, Anna Maria (2000). Good news, the New Testament in Helambu Sherpa. Kathmandu: Samdan Publishers. 
  24. ^ Hari, Anna Maria (1980). "Hyolmo songs, stories and grammar drills". Paradisec. 
  25. ^ a b Kvicalova, Radka; Slade, Rebekha; Gawne, Lauren (2017). "BOLD documentation of the Langtang language (Rasuwa)". Nepalese Linguistics. 32: 33–39. 
  26. ^ a b c d e Gawne, Lauren (2013). "Report on the relationship between Yolmo and Kagate" (PDF). Himalayan Linguistics. 12 (2): 1–27. 
  27. ^ Gawne, Lauren (2009–2016). "Yolmo (also known as Helambu Sherpa, Nepal)". Paradisec. 
  28. ^ a b c Gawne, Lauren (2017). "Syuba (Kagate)". Language Documentation and Description. 13: 65–93. 
  29. ^ "Kagate (Nepal)". Paradisec. 2016. 
  30. ^ a b Höhlig, Monika; Hari, Anna Maria (1976). Kagate phonemic summary. Kathmandu: Summer Institute of Linguistics Institute of Nepal and Asian Studies. 
  31. ^ Hedlin, Matthew (2011). An investigation of the relationship between the Kyirong, Yòlmo, and Standard Spoken Tibetan speech varieties (unpublished MA thesis). Chiang Mai, Thailand: Payap University. 
  32. ^ Gawne, Lauren (2010). "Lamjung Yolmo: a dialect of Yolmo, also known as Helambu Sherpa". Nepalese Linguistics. 25: 34–41. 
  33. ^ Huber, Brigitte (2005). The Tibetan dialect of Lende (Kyirong) : a grammatical description with historical annotations. Bonn: VGH Wissenschaftsverlag. pp. 20–21. ISBN 3882800690. OCLC 60613565. 
  34. ^ Gawne, Lauren (2016). A sketch grammar of Lamjung Yolmo. Canberra: Asia Pacific Linguistics. pp. 66–68. ISBN 9781922185341. OCLC 961180469. 
  35. ^ Chelliah, Shobhana L.; Hyslop, Gwendolyn (2011). "Introduction to Special Issue on Optional Case Marking in Tibeto-Burman". Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 34(2): 1–7. 
  36. ^ Hari, Anna Maria; Lama, Chhegu (2004). Yohlmo-Nepali-English Dictionary. Kathmandu: Central Department of Linguistics. p. 710. 
  37. ^ Tournadre, Nicolas; Dorje, Sangda (2003). Manual of Standard Tibetan: Language and civilization. Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1559391898. OCLC 53477676. 
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