Learn Dzongkha (Bhutanese)

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About Dzongkha (Bhutanese)

Dzongkha is also known as Bhutanese and is the only official language of Bhutan, where it is spoken by about 65% of the population. It is also spoken in areas of India and Nepal. Its native speakers are vastly outnumbered by those who speak Dzongkha as a second language. Dzongkha is written with the Tibetan alphabet and is distantly related to Standard Tibetan, although speakers cannot generally understand each other.

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Fun facts — Dzongkha

  • Dzongkha is a language with two tones. Be careful to distinguish them. For example, 'pa' could mean either 'piece of meat' or 'photograph'. And 'se' could mean either 'kill' or 'gold'!
  • Dzongkha, like many Asian languages, has specific vocabulary to show respect. Words are replaced with their polite equivalents when speaking with and about someone respected. 'I don’t want' for example, is replaced with 'I humbly refuse'.
  • The name 'Dzongkha' literally translates as 'language of the fortresses'.
  • Bhutan measures Gross National Happiness and in 2015 it found that 91.2% of the population would describe themselves as happy.
  • There are fewer than 200,000 native speakers of Dzongkha.

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