Dumi Rai » Introduction


Dumi is a less documented and a preliterate language spoken by an indigenous nationality referred to as ‘Dumi Rai’ inhabiting in the hilly region of Khotang district in the Sagarmatha Zone of eastern Nepal. ‘Kirat’ is an umbrella term, commonly used to refer to the people of the four separate Kirat ethnic groups: Rai, Limbu, Sunuwar and Yakkha. Among 25 different Kirat Rai speech communities, Dumi (639-3: [dus]) belongs to the western Kirati group of the Eastern Himalayish sub-branch of the Tibeto-Burman branch under the Sino-Tibetan language family. There are 21 pachha ‘clans’ under the seven Same ‘lineages’ in the Dumi ethnicity. The geographical boundary of Dumi includes other Kirat Rai communities like Thulung [tdh], Khaling [klr], Koyee [kkt], Sampang [rav], Nachhiring [ncd], Chamling [rab], etc. spoken in the surrounding of the Dumi speaking area. So, the Dumi people are in day-to-day contact with these Kirati languages of Rai group in the respective areas in socio-cultural and other daily activities.

Dumi is an ethnonym and a loconym referring to both the Dumi community and the language they speak. The total population of Dumi is 12,000 in Nepal (Eppele et al. 2012: 45). The latest CBS report 2011 shows the total population of the Dumi is 7,638 (4,078 or 53.4% female and 3,560 or 46.6% male) of which only 2,500 (i.e., 32.7%) of the total population of Dumi speak this language as the mother tongue. Eppele et al. (2012: 45-46) claim that there are three dialects: Kharbari (Jalapa), Lamdija (Baksila) and Makhipa (Makpa). Dumi is an endangered language which is spoken mainly in Makpa, Jalapa, Baksila, Sapteshwor, and Kharmi gradually in descending order.




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