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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spoken in Bhutan , Sikkim (India)
Total speakers First language: 130,000
Second language ~470,000
Language family Sino-Tibetan
Writing system Tibetan script
Official status
Official language in Bhutan
Regulated by Dzongkha Development Commission
Language codes
ISO 639-1 dz
ISO 639-2 dzo
ISO 639-3 dzo
Indic script
This page contains Indic text. Without rendering support you may see irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts. More...

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

Dzongkha bears a close linguistic relationship to J'umowa spoken in the Chumbi valley of Southern Tibet and to the Dranjongke language of Sikkim.[1] It has a much more distant relationship to standard modern Central Tibetan. Although spoken Dzongkha and Tibetan are largely mutually unintelligible, the literary forms of both are both highly influenced by the liturgical (clerical) Classical Tibetan language, known in Bhutan as Chöke, which has been used for centuries by Buddhist monks. Chöke was used as the language of education in Bhutan 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 (Wylie: '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.

"Bhutani" is not another name for Dzongkha, but a Balochi language, though the two are sometimes confused even in ISO 639 codelists.



In October 2005, an internal Microsoft proposal blocked the term "Dzongkha" from all company software and promotional material, substituting the term "Tibetan - Bhutan" instead. The International Campaign for Tibet cites the memorandum as saying Dzongkha "implies affiliation with the Dalai Lama, which is not acceptable to the government of China".[2][3] The Bhutanese, who have never been under the rule of the Dalai Lamas, even if they revere the 14th Dalai Lama,[4] were dismayed by the decision.[5] Linguists have pointed out that the word "Dzongkha" has no particular association with the Dalai Lama.[2] Ironically, the government of the People's Republic of China continues to use the term "Dzongkha" in its official publications.[6] However, the Chinese government did never use the name "Dzongkha language" (宗喀语), instead, they use the name "Bhutanese language 'Dzongkha'" (不丹语言“宗卡”). The term "Dzongkha" (宗卡) is transcripted in a strange way to make it different to "Tsongkha" (宗喀) in Tsongkhapa.[6]


  1. ^ van Driem, George (2007), "Endangered Languages of Bhutan and Sikkim: South Bodish Languages", in Moseley, Christopher, Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages, Routledge, p. 294, ISBN 070071197X  
  2. ^ a b Microsoft Outlaws Dzongkha
  3. ^ Microsoft Sensitive to Chinese Pressure on Bhutan Tibet Link [ Microsoft Sensitive to Chinese Pressure on Bhutan Tibet Link, International Campaign for Tibet
  4. ^ 30,000 Bhutanese on pilgrimage in India
  5. ^ Old story, new lessons
  6. ^ a b Bhutan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, last updated Jan. 2009. Retrieved on 2009-05-11.


  • Dzongkha Development Commission (1999). The New Dzongkha Grammar (rdzong kha'i brda gzhung gsar pa). Thimphu: Dzongkha Development Commission.  
  • Dzongkha Development Commission (1990). Dzongkha Rabsel Lamzang (rdzong kha rab gsal lam bzang). Thimphu: Dzongkha Development Commission.  
  • Yoshiro Imaeda (1990). Manual of Spoken Dzongkha in Roman Transcription. Thimphu: Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), Bhutan Coordinator Office.  
  • van Driem, George (2007), "Endangered Languages of Bhutan and Sikkim: South Bodish Languages", in Moseley, Christopher, Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages, Routledge, p. 294–295, ISBN 070071197X  
  • Dzongkha Development Authority (2005). English-Dzongkha Dictionary (ཨིང་ལིཤ་རྫོང་ཁ་ཤན་སྦྱར་ཚིག་མཛོད།). Thimphu: Dzongkha Development Authority, Ministry of Education. ISBN 999-663-3-5.  
  • Mazaudon, Martine. 1985. “Dzongkha Number Systems.” S. Ratanakul, D. Thomas & S. Premsirat (eds.). Southeast Asian Linguistic Studies presented to André-G. Haudricourt. Bangkok: Mahidol University. 124-57
  • Mazaudon, Martine & Boyd Michailovsky. 1988. “Lost syllables and tone contour in Dzongkha (Bhutan).” David Bradley, Eugénie J.A. Henderson & Martine Mazaudon (eds.). Prosodic analysis and Asian linguistics: to honour R.K. Sprigg. (Pacific Linguistics, Series C-104). 115-36
  • Mazaudon, Martine & Boyd Michailovsky. 1989. “Syllabicity and suprasegmentals: the Dzongkha monosyllabic noun.” D. Bradley et al. (eds.). Prosodic analysis and Asian linguistics: to honour R.K. Sprigg. Canberra. (Pacific Linguistics). 115-36
  • Michailovsky, Boyd. 1989. “Notes on Dzongkha orthography.” D. Bradley et al. (eds.). Prosodic analysis and Asian linguistics: to honour R.K. Sprigg. Canberra. (Pacific Lingustics). 297-301
  • Tournadre, Nicolas. 1996. “Comparaison des systèmes médiatifs de quatre dialectes tibétains (tibétain central, ladakhi, dzongkha et amdo).” Z. Guentchéva (ed.). L’énonciation médiatisée. Louvain_Paris: Peeters (Bibliothèque de l’Information Grammaticale, 34). 195-214
  • Watters, Stephen A. 1996. A preliminary study of prosody in Dzongkha. Arlington: UT at Arlinton Masters Thesis

See also

External links

Dzongkha language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Dzongkha phrasebook article)

From Wikitravel

Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan.

Kuzu zangpo ( )
Hello. (informal
. ( Kuzu )
How are you? 
 ? ('Choe Ga Dhay Bay yoe?' ?)
Fine, thank you. 
. ('Lek shom Bay yoe' )
What is your name? 
 ? ('Choe Gi Ming Ga Chi Mo?' ?)
My name is ______ . 
______ . (Nge Gi Ming _____ .)
Nice to meet you. 
. (Choe Chegk Dhi Sem Gai )
. (Deh bay zeth ma da );this is wrong!!!
Thank you. 
ka drin che ( )
You're welcome. 
. (de bey ma sung )//only applies when someone says thank actually means"do not mention" or like someone says "no mention, please"
. (In )
. (Men )
Excuse me. (getting attention
. ( gom ma thay)
Excuse me. (begging pardon
. ( gom may thay)
I'm sorry. 
. (gom ma thay )
. (Log Dhi Jay gey )
Goodbye (informal
. (log di jay gey )
I can't speak name of language [well]. 
[Nga ...... lek shim bay mey shey ]. ( [ ])
Do you speak English? 
 ? ('Choe Gi In Ked Shey Ga?' ?)
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
Na Lu In Ked Shey mi yoe Ya? ( ?)
 ! (Charo Bey nang !)
Look out! 
 ! (wai !)
Good morning. 
. (kuzu zangpo )
Good evening. 
. (kuzu zangpo )
Good night. 
. ( chiru delek)
Good night (to sleep
. (lek shom ay zim )
I don't understand. 
. (may shey )
Where is the toilet? 
 ? ( chabsang ga tey yeth ga)


1 ; chi 2 ; nyi 3 ; sum 4 ; zhi 5 ;nga 6 ;dru 7 ;duen 8 ; gay 9 ; gu 10 ; chu tham 11 ; chu chi 12 ; chu nyi


Clock time

chu cheg=time o'clock: bazaar 8 o clock: bazaar gyed


duration : dhuetsey


Monday- Migma Tuesday- Lhap Wednesday- Phub Thursday-Pasa Friday- Pem Saturday- Nim Sunday- Daw


Writing time and date


Green- Changkha Red- Marp White- Karp Blue- Hoem Black- Naap Yellow- Serp Orange- Leewang


Bus and train



Identified by the yellow top(hood) and BT registration affixed before the number.

Taxi : la khor Fare : la how much : ga day chi mo


How much is this/it ? Ngultrum ga they chi mo


Meal : Toh /shay go

eating : shay go za ni

delicious : zhim bay

bitter  ; khag ta

sweet  : ngam

sour  ; chup

Water  ; chu

Tea  : ja

Curry  : tsoem

Soup  :thup

Chilly  : ema

Cheese  :datsi

cook  : toh bey ni

eat  : zhey


Alcoholic Beverage : Changg

Bar  : Changkhang

Tip  : soera

Whats the bill  : Ga de chi mo

I am drunk  : changg dang so ye

Water  : chu

Local Drink  : Ara

It is strong(spirit) : ah ni gag tra du

It is mild  : lha si si du


shop : tsongkhang

how much : ga de chi mo?

discount please : gong phab nang


Car : Numkhor

Drive : Numkhor tang ni

Licence : Lak Kher

Police  : thrim sung

Road  : Lam

High speed : joba joba shuk bay tang

Low speed  : drogay bay tang

please take caution(driving) : reb drim di tang

Lets go  : jogay

stop  ; numkor kag nang

Risky  : ngyen khag

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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  1. The national language of Bhutan


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