Kusunda language: unique to the tribe

Himalaya Times
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As part of preservation of languages that are on the verge of extinction, the Language Commission Nepal is working to run fourth level of ‘language class’ to preserve the endangered Kusunda language in Dang district. Earlier, classes upto third phase were completed on the Kusunda language.

Kusunda people speak a unique language of their own which may be Tibeto-Burmen or linked to Burusasky. It has no phonological, morphological, syntactic, or lexical similarities to any other language. The Kusunda language has three vowels and 15 consonants, according to researchers.

Member of Language Commission Nepal Amar Giri said that the Commission has brought programmes for the preservation of the Kusunda language. “Language is not limited to a particular community. This is of all. Concerned community should be conscious for keeping a language alive,” said Giri.

In the past, there was a lone speaker of this language but the recent efforts have increased the number of speakers.

The Kusunda are also called Banmanchhe and Banraja (man of the jungle). They are nomads who hunt animals in the jungle and search for tubers.

The Kusunda are likely to be the most endangered aboriginal ethnic people group in the country of Nepal. They have become more isolated and endangered because of the changing of clan names and marriages with other castes. These days nearly everybody of the Kusunda have an inter-caste or inter-tribe marriage. Kusunda people are slowly shifting away from their traditions. They have only recently begun agriculture as their work; before, they were hunters and gatherers of the jungle. They traditionally bury their dead but now have begun to do funeral rites.

The total population of Kusunda community is 161 in Nepal.

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