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Kham language of Magar communities nearly on verge of disappearance

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GALESHWOR: MARCH. 30 – The Kham language of the Magar community is on the verge of extinction even in the districts with the dominance of this indigenous community.

In the lack of protection of the Kham language and its lesser use among the youths in the Magar community, the language is disappearing gradually worrying the elderly native speakers and language conservationists alike.

The Magar community has strong presence in Myagdi, Baglung and Parbat districts. Despite the strong presence, in lack of seriousness to protect and promote the Kham language, the language is nearing extinction.

The elderly native speakers are dying and the new generation is least interested to learn the language which has resulted in the near disappearance of this language, one among the 129 languages spoken in Nepal, according to the leaders of the Magar community.

Although a majority of Magar individuals in the Myagdi district understand the Kham language and can speak colloquially, in absence of a script of the Kham language, they have not been able to correctly read, write and speak in this indigenous language.

There are mainly three languages in the Magar community. The language spoken in the ’18 Magarat region’ from Ridhi western part in Gulmi district to Karnali State is Kham dialect. Similarly, the language spoken by the Magar community of the ’12 Magarat region’ in Ridi’s eastern part is the Maidhunt dialect.

Likewise, the Kaikel language spoken in Sudurpaschim Province is the major language in the Magar community. Nepal Magar Association, Myagdi’s chairperson Dakmaya Paija shared that the number of speakers of these Magar languages in this dialect was negligible in the Magar community.

Although the elderly population of Magar is well-versed in their languages, the lack of interest of Magar youths in using their native language has emerged as a cause of concern.

Local Magar community leaders said youths are not interested in learning the Kham language in absence of its script and as a result, the language is on the verge of extinction here.

The role of any language is significant in protecting and promoting the relevant customs, culture and tradition and the people concerned are worried that whether the vanishing Kham language would have implications on the ethnic identity of Magars.

It is largely accepted that modernism is taking over the people’s cultural life and so is the case in the Magar culture as well. Local Deusara Pun sees the need for the State’s role to revive the Kham language amidst the dominance of the Nepali and Khas languages.

Magar language researcher Indra Bahadur Ale said the growing exposure of youths from the Magar community to the outer world is one of the factors discouraging them to communicate in their mother tongue back to home and locality.

More, the Kham language is not taught at schools and is not used as the official language and this has pushed the language at risk of extinction. The language is spoken in several parts of the Mygdi and Baglung districts.

The Magar community elders have suggested that the local governments should pay attention to the preservation of the Kham language and the Magar culture as both are under threat for a lack of clear policy on this by the state.

Ale, the researcher on the Magar language, urged the local levels in the districts to formulate a master plan for the preservation of the Magar languages and dialects, and for providing language classes to the new generation.

“There is a dense settlement of the Magar community in this area, but most of these communities lack the original Magar culture as well as knowledge about their mother tongue. Only a few persons can speak the Magar language,” he said.

All the Magar communities should be conscious of the promotion and protection of their language and culture.

-Dhurba Sagar Sharma/RSS

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