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Concern as Chhantyal language on verge of extinction

GALKOT:- The Chhantyal language of the Chhantyal people of Myagdi district is on the verge of disappearance.
This is so because of the growing influence of other languages and lack of effective measures from the state and the Chhantyal community itself to preserve the language under the Tibeto-Burman language family.
The Chhantyal elders have expressed worry that their language might disappear as a growing number of the younger generation seem not interested in learning and using their language. The Chhantyal language does not have its own script.
“One reason why our mother language is on the verge of extinction is that we have not been able to transfer the language to the new generation. It is rarely spoken by the youngsters and the language also does not have its own script,” said 83-year-old Yuwa Bahadur Chhantyal, expressing concern.
As he said, the other factors in leading to the gradual dying of the language is lack of a dictionary and the ‘influence of modernism’ due to which the youth hesitate to speak their mother tongue and rather opt to speak in Nepali.
“The Chhantyal language is slowly fading away with the death of the older people who speak it while the youths in increasing numbers start migrating to towns and cities or abroad leaving their ancestral trade,” said Kamal Chhantyal, a resident of Gurja which has majority Chhantyal population. “There is the risk of the Chhantyal language disappearing altogether also because it has no script of its own and dictionary,” he said.
According to the 2011 national census, the population of the Chhantyals is 11,810 in the country, said the Nepal Chhanyal Association, Myagdi. Of the total population, the community tops 70.2 per cent in mid Myagdi followed by 35.41 per cent in Baglung. According to the census, 36.27 per cent of the total population of the community speaks their mother tongue.
Some factors like the community living with mix settlements with other castes and communities, their allure to live in city and foreign countries and their attraction to Nepali language and foreign languages like English are blamed for the Chhanyal language being at risk of disappearance, said the Association secretary Maan Chhantyal.
Villages—Gurja, Malkwang and Machhim of Dhawalagiri Rural Municipality and Thadakhani and Kuinemangale of Raghuganga in Myagdi district— inhabited by the people of Chhantyal community.
Preparations are underway to introduce Chhantyal language in the local school curriculum in the area housing the community, said chair of Raghuganga Rural Municipality, Bhawa Bahadur Bhandari.

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